St. James School Board Approves Resolution For Bond Election

LUTCHER, LA (AP) — The St. James Parish School Board has approved a resolution authorizing a spring election to finance the construction of the new St. James High School complex and other school improvement projects.

         Bond attorney Hugh Martin said voters will decide May 2 whether to issue $56 million in general obligation bonds, a proposed ballot proposition that will not raise taxes.

         Martin spoke to the board on Tuesday.

         St. James Superintendent Alonzo Luce tells The Advocate’s Kate Stevens the bonds will be repaid from property taxes already levied for school system debt at the current rate of 10 mills.

         Martin said the school district has reduced its current debt by retiring old bonds while the parish's growth in assessed value has brought in extra funds.

         The bonds would cover the cost of the construction of the new St. James High School in Vacherie and would finance school improvements throughout the parish, including replacing decades-old heating and cooling units and upgrading electrical systems.

         School officials are planning to move St. James High School from the heavily industrialized location on the west bank of the parish to a 54-acre tract of land near LA 20 and LA 3127.

         A parish master plan has indicated more corporations will move to the already industrialized area and drive homeowners to other residential areas.

         The School Board has a letter of intent from Yuhuang Chemical, a subsidiary of China-based Shandong Yuhuang Chemical Co. Ltd., to purchase the 46-acre property on which the school sits. Yuhuang Chemical plans to construct a $1.85 billion ethanol plant adjacent to the school site.

         Luce has said the school is "completely boxed in" by industry with the school's rear property line backed by the Union Pacific Railway, Yuhuang Chemical's soon-to-be-constructed ethanol plant on one side of the school and property available for purchase on the other side of the school.

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