Ground broken on new South Plaq. High SchoolSep 22nd, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: top story
Members of the Plaquemines Parish School Board, along with Superintendent Denis Rousselle, broke ground last week on the new South Plaquemines High School just south of Empire on the site of the old Buras Middle School. The group later traveled a little farther south to turn sand on a new teacher’s housing complex as well.
Construction on the new, state-of-the-art South Plaquemines High School is expected to take about two years, with students in attendance at the new school for the 2012-2013 school year.
“This is a milestone for the Plaquemines Parish School System,” Rousselle told the crowd gathered Sept. 13 for the event. “There is so much going on, and we’ve done this in two years.”
When Rousselle became superintendent in 2008, the Plaquemines Parish School System was facing a massive rebuilding task, with no construction manager to oversee the task. Shortly after Rousselle became superintendent, HOV/Meridian entered the picture to fill that role.
“We did not have a construction manager [at the time] and we were getting ready to build $200 million worth of schools,” Rousselle said. “HOV, I don’t know how we can thank you enough for the job you have done in helping get these projects started and moving forward.”
Rousselle also heaped a lot of thanks on representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for helping make the agency’s funding guidelines fit the school system’s needs. FEMA restricts construction in high velocity wind zones and will only replace the square footage that existed prior to a disaster. Rousselle said the school system was able to consolidate and transfer some of its square footage to better adapt to the needs of the parish.
For South Plaquemines High School, FEMA and the school board consolidated Buras High School and the Port Sulphur High School Science Building. FEMA funded more than $40.7 million toward construction of South Plaquemines High School. The new 150,000 square foot facility will include 30 classrooms, a cafeteria, a media center, gymnasium and an auditorium.
The school will be elevated close to 20 feet to protect against potential flooding.
Mike Karl, interim director of FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office, was on hand to offer his congratulations on the important milestone.
“This promises a return to normalcy for the community because it will replace temporary facilities with a permanent one. It promises a great future for the parish because it will be a center of learning, an incubator if you will, to develop your future leaders,” Karl said. “And it comes with a 32-unit housing complex as an incentive to attract well qualified instructors.”
The nearby faculty housing complex will cost about $8.5 million.
Both ceremonies kicked off two years of intense rebuilding for the school system, which will see construction begin on new schools on both the Eastbank and Westbank, a new transportation facility and new housing for teachers.
Rousselle admitted its going to be a busy – but great – two years of rebuilding.
“These projects are going to be happening at the same time, which is going to be great for Plaquemines Parish,” he said.
To close the groundbreaking cermony, South Plaquemines High School principal John Bartholemy Jr. offered somewhat of a benediction for the new school.
“As we break ground on the future of South Plaquemines High School, may we view each brick as a symbol of our resilience, strength and courage. May we honor the past yet look forward to the success of our future,” Bartholemy said.