Questions still loom over the future of Southside High School and the costs associated with expansion.
With a new elementary school under construction, KATC’s Dannielle Garcia is getting answers about cost comparisons.
The new cost for a new wing at Southside High is about the same as the cost to build a new elementary school, but the district’s priorities have put the the high school’s wing on hold.
“There’s no budget or plan for phase 2 of Southside High School,” said Assistant Superintendent Joe Craig.
It would cost the school board $18.5 million to build another wing at Southside High to accommodate an extra 600 students. That addition was in the original plans, but costs forced them to cut back.
School board member Jeremy Hidalgo said yesterday, “To expect future growth, we knew it was coming. When the bids came back in, the budget did not allow us to build a school to accommodate 2,000 students.”
The cost of that wing is similar to that of a brand new elementary school. For example, the new Billeaud Elementary School, which will hold 750 students, is costing the district $22.5 million.
“Typically, a high school campus is going to be more expensive. You have a broader variety of programs. You can get more kids into an elementary classroom than a high school classroom. Classrooms have to be bigger for a high school students,” said Craig.
Right now, the school board says it’s prioritizing elementary schools in the parish. That’s why they don’t have the money for an additional wing at Southside High.
“We really bonded out at capacity right now, so it will take a couple years before we’ve paid down some of our debt before we can look at a bonding issue again. But, a lot of money has been spent in the southern portion of the parish, and I think other districts would like projects to be addressed in their district,” said Craig.
For parents like Jacob Held, the district’s plans leave them with concerns.
“I’m glad they got the school here, but at the end of the day, we missed it. They missed the zoning. They could’ve done more studies and see where the growth is; they know it’s in Youngsville, yet we have an overcrowding issue. But at the end of the day, we’re punishing people who are right here in Youngsville who live right next to the school,” said Held.
The school board says it will likely have to revisit building a new wing when its debts are paid off in the next five years.
The board will discuss putting butler buildings on the campus during Thursday’s meeting.