St. James Parish eyes bond issue for school upgrades



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LUTCHER, La. (AP) — St. James Parish school officials plan to ask voters to approve a $56 million bond issue on the May 2 ballot that could greatly reorganize the school system and upgrade where the parish's children go to school.

Officials say the proposed changes, including the relocation of the parish's west bank high school, St. James High, are coming in part to make way for industrial growth coming to the northern half of the parish's west bank.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1AaPBEU ) voters will be asked to extend for 20 years an existing 10-mill property tax that the system uses to retire long-term debt.

The board has already decided to put the existing 46-acre St. James High property up for sale at minimum price of $9.85 million.

The $1.85 billion Yuhuang Chemical Inc. methanol plant is planned near the school. Once built, school officials have said, the future plant and other existing industrial facilities would "completely box in" the River Road high school.

School officials suggested last week that relocation of the high school is already part of the bond issue plan but other details are still being debated.

School system Superintendent Alonzo Luce said school leaders want the public's input this week on six different options.

They include possibly consolidating the west bank's three elementary schools into one new school at the site of the future St. James High or reconfiguring the use of the parish's east bank elementary schools in Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina.

The board plans to decide what the bond issue would do at a special meeting on Feb. 19.

Luce said the bond issue would not put a new tax on property owners but would extend the life of the existing property tax.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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The Associated Press

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