Ascension Parish voters asked to renew property tax for school construction

Ascension Parish voters asked to renew property tax for school construction
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With several hundred new students joining every year, schools in Ascension Parish are running out of room. School leaders have plotted out where they need new schools, but they need the money to build them.

The school system has already bought the land. Outgoing Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol said for the last five years, they have been buying property in anticipation of where the growth would be.

Pujol said people moving into the parish is great, but it sometimes presents a problem with school overcrowding. Ascension Parish schools have added 400 to 600 students every year for the last 10 years and are running out of room.

"Some of these primary schools are hitting almost 1,000 kids, and that is just to many young children to have in one space," Pujol said.

The district is currently using 118 temporary buildings for classes because there is no room.

On April 9, the district will be asking voters to extend an existing property tax so they can build at least four new schools.

"It is to extend the existing millage that we have had on the books for more than 30 years. We have used it to construct all of our schools. It's 15.08 mills we use for construction bonds. There will be no raising of anyone's millage.

Three primary schools would be built with the money collected as well as a new middle school. The 18-acre proposed site for the parish's new middle school is down Bluff Road in Prairieville.

School leaders said a new middle school is needed to take pressure off Dutchtown and Prairieville Middle schools.

"With the idea that we're going to put about 800 to 900 students in them, we don't want them bigger than that because we want to keep the personal touch with students."

Spanish Lake, Oak Grove and a new primary school would all feed into this new middle school. Those students would then attend Dutchtown High.

Evening out student population would also help with traffic.

Pujol said she hears all the time from parents complaining about backups around the schools during intake and dismissal.

She said these proposed new schools would help that.

There is currently no target date to have the new middle school open. Pujol said first, they need voters to approve the funding and approve the tax extension.

School representatives will be out this weekend at the St. Elizabeth Family Fest at Lamar Dixon with more information on where they would like to build those new schools.

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