CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - This week marks five years since the community of Central separated from East Baton Rouge to form it's own school system. Officials were quite vocal about the rundown Central Middle School they inherited. But after voters approved a property tax increase, there's something new for students to return to.
Work is winding down on Central's new education complex. Next Monday, 2,400 kids in six grades will be on campus. 88 acres of land will house Central Intermediate (grades 3, 4, 5). It was paid for by a half-cent sales tax voters approved. The old intermediate school was being leased. The complex will also be home to the new Central Middle (grades 6, 7, 8). Voters approved an increase in property taxes to pay for it.
"Obviously the facilities are in much better shape than old school," said Kristen Besse, an eighth grade science teacher.
Superintendent Michael Faulk says teachers were asked by the school contractor, to give their input on what they wanted. Besse says they got exactly what they asked for: more room and storage.
All science labs are 1000 square feet. Every classroom is 750 square feet. Faulk says each room has wireless Internet and the latest technology.
Besse says things are much brighter in the new building, compared to the grim hallways and classrooms at the old school. There's even a view that overlooks the courtyard. Even the library has a place inside the school; on the old campus it was housed in a temporary building.
"We have enough available space, if we decide to build a Pre-K through second grade Early Learning Center - we have enough space to put that on this property," said Faulk.
Even the new cafeteria can feed 800 students at a time. That's 400 for each school.
And space is definitely one thing students will notice. Even the teachers are still learning their way.
"I've made the joke with several of my colleagues you're going to hear on the intercom 'Miss Besse, please find your way to your room', because if I don't come in the same way I tend to get lost."
Additionally, Faulk says they've added a choir program to the middle school and the intermediate now has a band program.
The campus has four entrances: three on Sullivan Road and one on Devall. Open houses are being held over the next few nights, so students can get familiar with the new complex.