The St. Charles Parish Public Schools School Board was authorized by 8.3% of registered parish voters in Saturday’s special election to issue new bonds not to exceed $35 million for capital improvement projects.
The new bonds will be serviced by renewing 1.2 mills – which expired in December 2021 – of the total 5.01 debt service millage.
Of the 36,163 registered voters in the parish, only 3,010 participated in this election. Voting for the passage of the bond issue were 1,711 voters, while 1,299 voters did not support the measure.
Superintendent Dr. Ken Oertling said the passage of this bond issue allows for renovations of outdated facilities built in the late 1950s and 1970s.
“It will also allow for new additions to be added to sites currently at capacity and make much needed improvements and upgrades to technology infrastructure and equipment,” he said. “In addition, it allows for installation of additional security cameras while upgrading existing cameras, and enhancement and expansion of career and technical educational opportunities.”
Oertling said the bond issue funds will be issued in phases as needed for different aspects of the projects.
“Saturday’s result was a vote of support for public education, St. Charles Parish Public Schools, our students and our employees,” he said.
Chief Plant Services and Security Officer John Rome, Jr. said the school system has been fortunate to have several bond issues passed since 2012.
“These past bond issues have provided a blueprint for the completion of all projects promised to our public in a timely manner,” Rome said. “As done during past bond issues, the 2022 bond issue projects will be completed in phases. Due to the large number of projects under the 2022 bond issue and the large amount of Hurricane Ida Restoration work that still needs to be completed, the bond issue projects will be split into three phases and take approximately five years to complete.”
The phased approach, Rome said, will allow for the school system to begin the design and bidding portion of phase one projects, award the projects, and commence construction within the next year to year and a half.
“Once construction has commenced, the school system will begin design of phase two projects,” Rome said. “This process will be repeated until all phase three projects are complete.”
During phase one, Rome said upgrades to technology infrastructure, upgrades to security/surveillance systems, and large screen device installation will begin during the 2022-2023 school year. Phase one will also include the East Bank Head Start Renovation and Addition Project and the R.K. Smith Middle School Building A Addition and Flooring Project. Rome said these projects were strategically selected for phase one as their completion will allow the school system to address the need for additional classroom space at these two sites.
The East Bank Head Start project and the R.K. Smith Middle School project will enter design phase in the summer and fall of 2022 with the hopes of awarding contracts for the work and commencing construction by the summer of 2023.
Career and Technical Education Renovations at Destrehan High School, Hahnville High School, and the Satellite Center are slated for phase two of the 2022 bond issue projects. The remaining identified 2022 Bond Issue projects will take place during phase three, the final phase.
“As the past few years of challenges with COVID and Hurricane Ida have taught us, we need to remain flexible and adaptable with our plans,” Rome said. “We look forward to completing these exciting projects in a timely manner and appreciate the community’s patience and support through the process.”
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