Education

Apr 9, 2013 10:40 AM by AP

Panel: More space in Lafayette schools

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A committee of citizens has agreed that Lafayette Parish elementary schools need more space on campus to accommodate growing student populations.

The Advertiser reports the Community Education Plan Committee met Monday to review facility needs for the district's 23 elementary schools.

Before the committee began its work, principals submitted wish lists of facility needs, including more classrooms, restrooms, renovations to existing facilities like auditoriums and cafeterias, and multipurpose rooms.

Several committee members said those lists should be trusted, because principals know their campuses and student needs better than most.

"We didn't see anything that was unreasonable," said Bobby Badeaux, principal of Edgar Martin Middle School. "These schools are 50-plus years old. If we're going to grow as a community and grow as a school system, we're going to have to do something. These are necessities. These principals are not going to blow smoke and tell you they need a new teachers' lounge. They're going to tell you what they need to be successful."

Although many principals and committee members have suggested removing portable buildings in favor of permanent structures, Nathan Norris, head of the Downtown Development Authority, said the temporary classroom concept should not be dismissed entirely.

In addition to needing more space, some on the committee also noted that any new school additions or renovations need to take technology into account, such as a wireless infrastructure.

The committee, composed of volunteers representing a cross-section of the community, is reviewing Lafayette Parish facility and programming needs.

They are also looking for ways to pay for the work, including a $540 million tax proposal - a combination of property and sales taxes - suggested by Superintendent Pat Cooper.

The committee is expected to make its final recommendations to the Lafayette Parish School Board in June.

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