The ball is officially rolling on several major projects that will see St. Charles Parish’s public schools receiving upgrades and renovations courtesy of the 2019 sales tax bond that earmarked $15 million for those purposes.
Work on the projects began this year and the goal is to have all finished by the end of 2023, according to John Rome Jr., Chief Plant Services and Security Officer for St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
The 2019 bond is the third major bond project over the past decade. The 2012 bond issue led to the elimination of portable classrooms and addition of new school wings. In 2015, the targeted areas were upgrades to safety and security measures, including camera, fencing, lighting upgrades and safety-related building modifications.
The current project agenda is more diverse. Included among things to be tackled will be: Key system, lock and access control upgrades at Allemands Elementary; HVAC air handler units and control replacements at the school district’s central office; a roof replacement at E.J. Landry Alternative Center; an HVAC replacement at Schoeffner Elementary; repair replacement of cafeteria structural beams at Luling Elementary; stadium concrete and grout repairs at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools; a track replacement at Destrehan High School; renovations to three buildings at Mimosa Park Elementary; gym expansion and renovation at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools; drainage improvements at the Performing Arts Center, R.K. Smith Middle and the Satellite Center; stadium light fixture replacement at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools; and a main canopy and concrete replacement at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools and the Satellite Center.
“It’s a long list of projects … this bond gives us the chance to address the maintenance and preservation of our existing facilities,” Rome said. “We’re ready to get running on this first phase, and over the next few years, everything will roll in.”
The bond comes from sales tax revenue, thus the projects require no increased in taxes for the public.
Some of the work has been completed already, like the Destrehan and Hahnville high stadium grouting and concrete repairs, which was finished over the summer.
One of the projects ticketed for completion soon is the installation of a new track at Destrehan High’s football stadium. Danny Hebert will be the engineer handling the task. This track installation will mirror that at Hahnville High’s stadium in 2012, mirroring its blueprint while the track system installed will match. Rome said the authorization of bids will likely come in October, with acceptance of the winning bid most likely in January of February.
“That gives us time to accept the low bid, sign the contract, get all the materials and start on it right after track season,” Rome said.
That installation would take place over next summer and be completed, ideally, by the beginning of next school year.
Another major upcoming project with school athletics will be the renovation and expansion of the Hahnville and Destrehan high gyms, which were constructed originally when the two schools were at the 3A level of enrollment—the schools have long been classified as 5A, which groups the schools with the largest enrollments together for competition.
Typically, Hahnville and Destrehan play one another in basketball at R.K. Smith Middle School, which has a gym that can seat more people than either high school’s home gym—and even then, the rivalry has been known to bring attendance to maximum capacity. Moreover, the LHSAA mandates that a 5A playoff game must be played in a gymnasium that seats at least 1,000 patrons.
“We don’t have that now, but we will after the renovations,” Rome said. “We want our facilities to live up to that 5A standard no matter the sport.”
The expansion will also create additional space that can be used for P.E. and health class instruction, as well as after hours for other sports and extracurricular activities.
“Space at the gym is always at a premium with so many groups competing to utilize it. So we want to offer an opportunity for more people to use it and get the most mileage out of that, and less having to compete for time there,” Rome said.
Rome credited the district’s Chief Financial Officer, Donna Post, as well as his staff, and the School Board for enacting a comprehensive plan to address the district’s needs.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about providing a safe, well-maintained and functional learning environment for our students and our teachers,” Rome said.