Active discussion precedes split vote on School construction plan

Plans to close two of the parish’s elementary schools and renovate two others was approved on a 7-4 vote at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board, after an hour-long impassioned debate that was as spirited as we have seen in almost 14 years of covering the agency.

Here’s what got voted on:

Hillcrest Elementary – $25,410,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, multi-purpose gym, new lobby and administration, restrooms, and storage­ including, site work, furnishings and fixtures
  • New Covered Bus Drop-off  and Extended Sidewalk
  • New Parent Pick-up Driveway
  • Parking Lot Additions  and extended driveway
  • Cafeteria Improvements
  • New Playground Equipment
  • Landscaping

Glen View Elementary – $27,454,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, multi-purpose gym, new lobby and administration, restrooms, storage-  including site work, furnishings, fixtures, and demolition of west classroom wing                                                                       
  • New Covered Canopy for Parent Drop-off, New Covered Bus Drop-off  and Extend Sidewalk                     
  • New Parent Pick-up driveway                                                        
  • Parking Lot Additions  and extended driveway                          
  • Cafeteria Improvements                                                                
  • New Playground Equipment                                                         
  • Landscaping                                                                                   

Central Office Relocation – $5,000,000.00

  • Renovate Cypress Springs Elementary Campus or another Facility, or New Construction

Ruston High School – $4,951,000.00

  • New Covered Multi-purpose Facility, including artificial turf, site work and landscaping
  • Relocate existing road

Ruston High Baseball Complex – $2,185,000.00

  • New 500-seat Grandstand with Pressbox, including concrete base and demolition of old grandstand
  • Replace Backstop and fencing

Simsboro School – $10,000,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, Agri-science Shop, and restrooms, including furnishings  and equipment
  • Gym Renovations and Lobby Addition, including furnishings
  • Parking, driveways, drainage, dirt work, and landscaping
  • Replace Lighting on Baseball and Softball fields
  • New Pre-K playground
  • Replace Auditorium seating

Ruston Elementary and Cypress Springs Elementary will be closed, and the Lincoln Early Childhood Center will be repurposed as a day care for teacher’s children.

A Saturday, April 29 election will be called for voters to approve, or not, issuance of the bonds to pay for the projects.

See here the documents.

Some of the objections were:

David Ferguson (District 2) – “We have received no statistics of any kind to say this program is going to work. I wish we would just table this is issue and get some kind of information that’s going to show us what we’re going to do will work.”

George Mack, Jr (District 11) – “Transparency, you can’t fake it.”

Joe Henderson (Police Juror, and husband of Lynda Henderson – District 9) – “We’re perceiving that everything’s going across I-20. We already have two Rustons divided by I-20”

District Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that the plan would eliminate elementary children having to attend several different schools in early grades, and would allow later morning pick-up by school buses.

There was some discussion whether putting pre-k students in with elementary-age students was a good idea.

Voting for the plan were: Doss, Smith, Hancock, Phillips, Canterbury, Mitcham, and Abrahm.

Voting no were: Ferguson, Williams, Henderson, and Mack.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a four-year extension of Durrett’s contract.

Also approved was the 2023-24 school year calendar. The personnel report was presented near the end of the meeting.


19 Responses to “Active discussion precedes split vote on School construction plan”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It’s only $75 million, we can knock that out in a few months…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, boy: more property taxes.
    How much the payments be?

    • Anonymous Says:

      It’s the same millage you’re paying now. Only Simsboro will vote on a higher millage.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Just what we need: not only inflation, looming recession, collapsing US economy and chinese virus, now 75 million more rocks to carry. Who is gonna vote for this? It can’t get the dead vote.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    wow, a day care for teachers’ children!!!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Even a new baseball press box makes more sense than converting a large school into teacher day care.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I got a pretty good education at Ruston Elementary back in the sixties despite no school nurse, guidance counselor, librarian, or even air conditioning! Teachers brought fans from home to keep us cool. But we learned and most of us went to college and succeeded in life. Does all the money spent in today’s educational world provide a better education than we received? I have my doubts.

    I know federal oversight had much to do with the configuration of our schools and all the busing across town, etc. but there’s value in small, neighborhood schools.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    What do you do with a failing school? Close it and disperse the students to other, more successfull schools north of I-20.
    Ignore the racial mix of the schools; it is totally irrelevant.
    Big question is: LPSB obviously knows how to operate quality schools; among the best in the state. Why then is there a failing school?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Look very carefully at the wording on the ballots that attempt to pass these mils and PLEASE vote your conscience. The next votes will be attempts to at least double the mils you already pay. Just vote and be engaged. The pj is not the only government entity in the parish that’s full of bs.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Sort of like the ball park: this only pays the construction bonds, not the operating costs. How much more will costs of operation increase?
      We would certainly have gold-plated schools but is that necessary?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Sadly, you are mistaken. Only Simsboro is voting on a millage increase. The Ruston millage will be the same as this year’s millage. What changes is the valuation of your property. If the valuation goes up, you’ll pay more taxes. If the valuation goes down, you’ll pay less taxes. Valuation changes when you sell your property or when the Tax Assessor re-values your property every four years by State law.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Chris Hyde can show you how to waste/siphon off that money

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Remember how this Durrett was appointed? And now he’s in charge of what will be one of the biggest tax hikes in parish history if all this passes voter approval, and it probably will considering the usual turn-out rate. Apathy and disengagement at its finest.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    $75 million! Are facilities the best way to improve a student’s education? Will they make a significant difference in how much students learn or succeed in life? How about spending money to teach students how to be expert auto mechanics, HVAC technicians, plumbers, etc. in addition to academics. New playgrounds?? All we needed was a ball of some kind. This list of projects is meant to entice everyone to vote yes–the sports guys, the moms who wait in the car line, etc. but very little of this has anything to do with improving education.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Just a look at millages of our neighboring parishes. This is total millages, not school board only:

    Lincoln: 62.84 – 130.13
    Bienville: 99.33 – 115.78
    Ouachita: 88 – 154
    Claiborne: 74 – 82 (assessor’s site a little hard to read)
    Jackson: 95.59 – 106.82 (again, assessor’s site hard to read)

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