RPSB pursuing bond issue to update District 62 Schools, including Arthur F. Smith

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Many Rapides Parish Schools are over 50 years old and in need of updates, especially the 21 schools in Alexandria's city limits that make up District 62.

Photo Source: KALB

On Tuesday night, the Rapides Parish School Board voted to take a step toward creating a bond issue, to get the money they need to make it happen.

They allotted $250,000 to have contractors assess all District 62 schools. The assessments will help the board come up with an accurate bond total.

The bond won't find it's way to a ballot until March 2021, which is why board members said this needs to be done as soon as possible.

They have worked to fix moisture and maintenance issues at Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet this summer. Their goal is to put new heating and cooling units in every classroom. But, for now, the district is repairing current units.

They said those repairs, combined with dehumidifiers and filtration units, will provide adequate air quality for students next week.

Superintendent Jeff Powell has also been working to assess every school in the district.

"Recently, I was able to go visit Arthur F. Smith, just a week and a half or so ago," Powell said. "We were able to get crews on the ground very quickly to remediate some of the concerns that both of the administration has, as well as the community. So, we are seeing some progress in that vain. But, the reality is our district has a lot of aging facilities.

"As I said at the public forum, we have to be very, very strategic with what we do with our funding sources. One of the five questions that we are answering in our 100-day plan is what do our buildings tell us, what do our buildings say? We are beginning that process of reviewing, assessing everything going on at each one of our buildings. Again, the financial resources are limited, you only have this amount of money. So, we have to be able to make sure that we are utilizing those financial resources at the highest benefit for what their intended purposes are."

"We are assessing all of our facilities to be able to build a strong, strategic plan for trying to provide the most updated facilities that our kids can have, that we can afford."

Permanent solutions for Arthur F. Smith issues will once again be discussed at August committees.

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