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Bond commission approves $15 million for Calcasieu school projects

Updated: Jan. 6, 2017 at 9:51 PM CST
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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Several schools in Calcasieu Parish will soon see new additions to their campuses after a $15 million bond approval from the Louisiana State Bond Commission. The money will be used to build pods which include between four to 16 classrooms. The pods will help to handle schools with populations that are over capacity.

"When we have expanding population of schools - once it gets to the point where we can't house the students that we have - we'll bring in a temporary building," said Wilfred Bourne, chief financial officer for the Calcasieu Parish School Board. "The pods basically replace those temporaries when we see that we have permanent population increase then we'll replace those permanent pods."

With the increase in population in the parish, there is a need for more space, so the school board requested a $15 million bond in order to add additional classrooms.

The 12 schools receiving the pods in the parish include Bell City and Sam Houston high schools, E.K. Key and Lebleu Settlement elementary schools, Iowa middle and high schools, Positive Connections, Sulphur and Lagrange High high schools, S.J. Welsh Middle, Nelson Elementary and the College Street Vocational Center.

A few of the principals from these schools said the timing of the pods is perfect.

"We were the third biggest high school in the state last year; that number hasn't dropped a whole lot, so I can only see us getting bigger,so it's very timely." said Sulphur High School Principal Robert Barrentine.

"We're pretty maxed out right now; we can probably handle it one more year; it just depends. I've had to get creative with our space; hopefully this can rescue us and give us some breathing room for years to come." said Nelson Elementary Principal Adam Caldwell.

The economic boom in the parish is said to be one of the driving forces behind student growth but with the economic expansion, there are some who question why there's no talk of building new schools. School board Member Wilfred Bourne said that such a venture isn't easy to do.

"Expansion of school campuses generally involves bond issues; those come along every so often; they're depending on the districts ability to bond and their willingness to bond," Bourne said.

The parish will pay back the $15 million in bonds over 10 years. Construction is expected to begin sometime this summer.

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