The East Baton Rouge Parish (La.) school system is putting together a “wish list” for school construction over the next decade that envisions up to 15 new schools, including both creating new campuses and replacing existing facilities.
The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that three of the proposed new schools would be at unspecified locations in southeast Baton Rouge, a fast-growing area with few public schools. The other new campuses would involve tearing down and rebuilding existing schools.
Some of the schools that might be completely rebuilt include Brownfields Elementary, Glasgow Middle, Southdowns School and Westdale Middle School.
As part of the plan, as many as 11 existing schools could also close, and another 16 schools could see major renovations to at least part of their campuses.
All of the facility upgrades are contingent on renewal of a sales tax supporting the school system that voters approved in 2008. Once the school board approves a final list of construction proposals, the package would be put before voters, likely on the April 28 ballot.
School officials have yet to estimate the total cost, but believe the envisioned projects would cost far more than the $477 million a renewed sales tax would provide between 2019 and 2030.
The East Baton Rouge Parish system has 80-plus schools in operation with about 41,000 students.
The 1-cent sales tax was first approved in 1998 and was renewed by wide margins in 2003 and then again in 2008.
Over the past two decades, the district has spent an estimated $557 million to improve school campuses. Despite all that work, East Baton Rouge public schools remain old — on average they date to 1968, almost a half-century ago — and many need a lot of work. The total amount of deferred maintenance on all district school buildings runs to nearly $150 million.