Natchitoches Central to get $7.2 million upgrade

Construction on a new parking lot at the transportation center on Parkway Drive has stopped due to 1960s covenant prohibiting commercial use next to a residence. Photo by Hannah Richardson

By Carolyn Roy,

The Natchitoches Parish School Board accepted the bid of $7.2 million from Descante Construction of Bunkie for improvements and additions to Natchitoches Central High School at the board meeting Tuesday. The improvements will be paid for from proceeds of a bond issue passed by voters to improve schools in the city.

The improvements include a new classroom wing; new athletic field house; new grandstand restroom and concessions building; renovation of existing field house for spring sports; renovation of boys and girls basketball locker room; renovation of girls softball locker room; recrown and seeding of football field; renovation of restrooms; new carpet; new cooler and freezer; replacement of boiler and cooling tower and retrofit of interior school light to LED. L.P. Vaughn will get an upgrade of its overflow parking lot.

Because of the persistence of board member Dorothy McGaskey, the gravel in the parking lot will be upgraded to #610 limestone that is crushed limestone gravel mixed with crushed limestone. The mixture packs down well to form a pad base. It will be easier to walk on that large gravel. The lot was originally scheduled to get a gravel base at a cost of $10,000 but McGaskey lobbied for a better surface. It will cost about $15,000 and should be finished before school starts. The lot will have 20 spaces.

Construction on a new parking lot at the transportation center on Parkway Drive has stopped. Supervisor of Finance Richard Foshee said he received a letter from Parkway Drive property owners stating that the neighborhood covenant adopted in the 1960s prohibited commercial use of the property that is next to a private residence. Foshee said the project was approved by the planning and zoning commission and the City issued the building permit. School board attorneys are investigating.

The board voted to roll forward the property tax millage for 2020. That will give the school board approximately an additional $148,000. Board members Emile Metoyer and Tan’Keia Palmer voted against rolling the millage forward.

In other business:

•Palmer and Supt. Grant Eloi will visit L.P. Vaughn to meet with principal Natalie Ducote to determine conditions of the Pre-K playground.

•Pat Williams Construction got the bid for the Marthaville School parking lot for $402,669.

•The board will advertise for bids for security camera systems for East Natchitoches Elementary and L.P. Vaughn Elementary; intercom system for Lakeview Jr./Sr. High; and reading assessment and progress monitoring systems.

•Bids were awarded to SYSCO Foods for frozen food products; Ralston Exterminating for pest control; Terry Goynes for hazardous waste disposal; D&D Distributors for milk and milk products; Daxwell, Economical Janitorial & Paper supplies, Interboro Packaging Corp., and Unipak Corp for paper and cleaning supplies.

•The board terminated a lease with Northwestern State on property on University Parkway where magnet and alternative schools were once located. •Four board members voted against receiving a budget update. They were Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Emile Metoyer and McGaskey. The report shows that expenses were $1.1 million more than revenue; the main question was about salaries exceeding the budgeted amount by $313,000, some of which was caused by having two superintendents because Eloi was hired before Dale Skinner retired.

•The board will accept grants from The Rapides Foundation for Healthy Behaviors not to exceed $39,450 over 12 months and the youth Volunteer School District not to exceed $6,700 over 12 months.

•The cell phone policy will emphasize teaching students to use cell phones responsibly rather than suspending them over use in the classroom; it will keep students in class but with consequences for classroom use.