South LC voters to decide $49 million in school improvements

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) - Thousands of voters in the south Lake Charles area will decide on a $49 million dollar bond proposition to provide school improvements at Barbe High, S.J. Welsh Middle and six elementary schools.

If approved by voters an additional property tax of 15.9 mills would be collected, bringing the total to 27.2 for homeowners in the district.  It's estimated the additional cost to homeowners would be as follows:

0 for those whose homes are valued at $75,000 or less.
$47.70 homes valued at $105,000 
$119.25 homes valued at $150,000
$198.75 homes valued at $200,000

The money would provide a wide range of improvements at the various schools from new construction of driveways and drop off areas to, new classrooms and cafeterias, restrooms and such at some schools plus a wide variety of different renovations to meet specific needs at specific schools.

At St. John Elementary-- there are often some hair raising moments for crossing guard Patsy Fults. "It's been pretty close hitting me a couple of times. I estimate some of them going as much as 50, 55 mph down this road."

Patsy and many others would welcome any improvements to alleviate traffic problems and to get everyone to and from school safely. A new driveway and walking path are among the improvements planned here and at other schools if voters approve a property tax to provide for a $49-million dollar bond issue. That bond issue would provide new construction and renovations at six elementary schools, S.J. Welsh Middle School and Barbe high.

School Board member Annette Ballard says the proposal addresses serious needs. "In several cases we're going to have drives that will go around the back of the property and come out and exit at another point. Depending on which school we're talking about. But it's to get heavy, heavy traffic off of our highly traveled roads. And the citizens who live in those areas have been so patient but they've put up with some bad traffic for a long time."

And she admits it's not just to address the aggravation drivers face, but safety. "Sometimes not only for our children who are dropped off but for the staff in each school. The individuals who have to be out there directing traffic and trying to get buses and cars and walkers in and out of school in a safe manner. It's always a challenge."

And there is a long list of improvements planned at the various schools including will also renovations and new classrooms to replace temporary buildings at some schools..Voters at 24 precincts will decide whether to approve the 15 mill tax and bond issue. By law the money can only be spent within the district where voted.

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