School Board weighs demolition of Cloutierville School after alternative offer

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Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Laurie Mathis from Cloutierville presented a plan May 10 to the School Board to rehabilitate the Cloutierville School building into a childcare center. “With that daycare center we would like to partnership with the Natchitoches School Board because I was here for a meeting and heard the concerns about kids coming into school, primary grades, and not being able to read or meet the curriculum,” she said. Her stated goal is to gradually expand the usage of the building to include youth, senior and community programs. “Keep it a part of that community because people need it,” she said.

This article published in the May 14, 2022, print edition.

Finance Director Lee Waskom presented an alternative plan developed with Altec Environmental to demolish the school. He reviewed three bids for demolition and asbestos remediation. The lowest bid, in the amount of $374,965, was from Bayou Rapides Construction of Alexandria, along with bids of $380,000 and $546,149 from Lathan Construction and Gulf Services Contracting respectively. “The price of $374,000 is to basically get rid of everything, concrete, all of it.” Waskom pushed the plan based on the expiration period. “We might be able to make this decision at the June board meeting, but it’s not past 60 days (for the bids to expire).”
Board Vice-President Steven Harris requested to delay the decision for more thorough evaluation by board members. “Is there capability of abating asbestos?” he asked. “That would only be done through us slowing down just a little tad so we can ask those questions,” He asked for more time to assess the building’s value. “We have a person who has offered to buy a building, and we are going to pay for a demolition of a building, so I think just slowing down a little bit makes us wise with the people’s property.”
Waskom also updated the board on the removal of a metal building from the Cloutierville School premises. Waskom initially authorized a private contractor to remove the building for private use. He later revoked permission to remove the building after it was assessed to be a community asset. He stated the contractor did not communicate the decision to its subcontractor and the building was removed anyway. Waskom conceded the transfer of School Board property was performed inappropriately but that he has not reported it as theft, despite knowing who was in possession of the property.
Board member Emile Metoyer expressed frustration with the building’s removal. “I don’t want the building. I want what was (done illegally), give the building or sold the building, corrected even if we have to write somebody up or even if we have to arrest somebody.” He stated for the record that he is not interested in owning the building. “I don’t know where that lie started, because I have served on the board long enough to know I can’t accumulate School Board property because I don’t have no money to give Louisiana Board of Ethics and I’m not going to jail over some crazy stuff,” he said. “We could have bidded it out as surplus. That’s what we’re supposed to do with School Board property.”