If you missed the Evangeline Parish School Board meeting Wednesday, then you didn’t learn the board decided on a proposal for voters to consider July 19.
The parish has been under a desegregation order, and recently the U.S. Justice Department filed motions with the court claiming the district has not fulfilled its obligations to make the necessary changes to Ville Platte High, both facility-wise and education-wise. The Justice Department has asked the court to intervene, so a hearing has been set for the Monday after the election. If the proposal is approved by voters, the hearing will not be held.
The parish’s legal representation and Superintendent Toni Hamlin believe this is the city’s last chance to save its high school. If the proposal is not approved, Ville Platte High will be closed and its students will be bussed to other high schools in the parish.
In the fall of 2007, voters were asked to approve a 26.5 mills tax to build a new high school on Highway 29 and make repairs to Chataignier Elementary and the old Ville Platte High, which would be turned into a junior high school. The proposal, which was for 40 years, failed by 299 votes. In her message to the public, Hamlin said the district was proposing to build a new high school and make repairs to Chataignier, just like in the original proposal, but it would not ask for money to repair the present high school. She said that facility, along with the rest of the facilities in the parish, would be included in a five-year-plan to make repairs to the other campuses in the district.
“We listened to the public,” she said in reference to the public hearings and meetings she held throughout Ward One.
This proposal, which voters will have to decide on in July, would be for 18.7 mills, and it would generate 21.5 million. Property bonds would be sold and 10.5 million would be financed for 30 years through a rural development loan and 11 mills for 25 years in the private sector. The rural loan would give the district a very low interest rate.
In other business, the board accepted the school calendar for the 2008-2009 school year. School will start August 13, and end May 28, 2009. Thanksgiving will be observed November 24, to November 28. Christmas and New Years would begin December 22, and end January 2, 2009. Days for Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Day and Mardi Gras would be observed as holidays. Easter break would be April 10, through April 17, 2009.