School Board OKs bond election results for new junior high school at Patterson

Hattie Watts Elementary Principal Niki Fryou was recognized during Thursday’s meeting of the St. Mary Parish School Board for earning designation as a National Distinguished Principal. A poster recognizing Fryou, the only principal from Louisiana to earn the honor, was presented to the school board to be posted at the Central Office Complex. A duplicate poster was presented to Hattie Watts. Fred St. Clair of Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company, a company that provides retirement plan services for educators and sponsored the award, recognizes Fryou during the school board meeting. (Photo by Jean L. Kaess)


CENTERVILLE — The first steps toward construction of a new building for Patterson Junior High School were taken Thursday night.
Voters approved a 15-mill property tax to replace Patterson Junior High and add a multi-purpose building to Hattie Watts Elementary on Oct. 19. In this, the first meeting of the St. Mary Parish School Board since the election, the board officially accepted the election results.
The measure was supported by 73 percent of the vote, which cleared the way for $21 million in bonds to be issued. They will be paid over 20 years.
Alton Perry, school system chief financial officer, said he expects the bond sale to occur in the second or third quarter of 2014. Until then, design work and some demolition work will be paid with a separate fund loaning money to the project as necessary, Perry said.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard said the tax first will appear in the 2014 assessments.
The board also approved the demolition of a building and concrete slab adjacent to the property in conjunction with the project.
The facility will face Catherine Street instead of the current location, which faces First Street.
Finally, the board appointed architect Jim Firmin to design the new junior high and the multi-purpose building at Hattie Watts. According to the contract, his payment will be computed on a percentage of construction costs.
The board also received updates on other ongoing projects.
The Morgan City High School library project drawings are scheduled for completion by the end of next week. Bids will be received Dec. 11.
The project consists of renovation to the existing “old girls gym” for a new library, computer lab, conference room, multi-media studio and work area. A commons area will connect existing corridors. The base bid also will include replacement of air conditioning equipment that serves all of the second floor classroom and lab areas.
Also, the District III Maintenance Committee reported that it took under advisement a plan to replace window walls at J.B. Maitland and M.E. Norman elementary schools.
Preliminary estimates by architect Carl Blum are $931,000 at Maitland and $548,000 at Norman. The increased cost at Maitland primarily is to change existing radiator heating attached to one of the window walls.
Meanwhile, the District I Maintenance Committee declared Crowell gym, the adjoining Crowell former cafeteria building and vacant property as surplus and offered it for sale. The committee also authorized appraisals on the property.
At Bayou Vista Elementary, a principal’s request to use $7,397 in funds left over from the Bayou Vista Elementary School playground project to purchase Learn Pads was approved.
In other action Thursday, the board:
—Announced supplemental pay checks will be handed out Dec. 13. Full-time employees each will receive $605, while part-time employees get half that amount. The state approved the supplemental pay at the beginning of the year for teachers. The district followed that by approving the supplement for all employees.
—Held an hour-long executive session to discuss a lawsuit concerning Section 16 lands on Bateman Island. They later expanded the agenda at the advice of their attorney to hire law firm Jones, Swanson, Huddell and Garrison from New Orleans. Attorney Eric Duplantis said issues have come up during the current lawsuit that indicate the board should have all of its Section 16 lands evaluated in order to protect them.

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