Two new schools are in the works for Youngsville's Sugar Mill Pond traditional neighborhood development ' a Christian high school that would get seed money from Lafayette jewelry magnate Matt Stuller's Stuller Foundation and a Diocese of Lafayette elementary school.
"We've structured them to where they both can happen," says Sugar Mill Pond developer Robert Daigle. He stresses that neither deal has been finalized.
Anna Larriviere, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Lafayette Diocese, could not be reached for comment on the status of the elementary school, which would serve K-8 students.
But Stuller Foundation has already committed to make a multi-million dollar donation toward establishing a Christian-based high school. "It would be strictly matching grant money," says Stuller, who declined to release the specific grant amount. Sugar Mill Pond has agreed to donate the real estate for both ventures.
Stuller maintains it will be imperative that the high school operates debt-free so that tuition is affordable and teachers earn competitive salaries. He envisions an institution that serves a diverse population of students and emphasizes extracurricular activities and some less traditional sports, like swimming and rowing.
"We'd like to do a high school that is very heavy in the arts," Stuller says.
No decision has been made on whether the school will associate with an existing feeder system. "All I can say right now is that we've talked to most every school," Stuller says. "We don't want to compete; we just want to meet the growing demand." The businessman says while the new institution needs a plan for establishing a consistent student base each year, that objective may be accomplished solely on the demand for more Christian high schools.
"We understand their populations and their increases in population," Stuller says. The maximum number of students at the new high school will be 700-800, which he believes won't meet impending demand. "One more high school will not meet the needs, but it will certainly help."
In addition to the influx of students from hurricane ravaged areas, some of Acadiana's Christian schools will face new enrollment challenges in the years ahead. St. Thomas More, the city's largest Catholic facility, accommodates about 1,080 students each year and as of last week had an additional 93 displaced students, according to Development Director Babette Werner. Next year, the expanded St. Pius campus will begin feeding ninth graders into STM, which may be forced to tighten some admissions requirements. "I don't think it's going to be a problem for students who are educationally sound and have no discipline records," Werner says.
An expansion of Christian-based elementary and middle schools and enrollment increases at existing ones will further strain local high schools, Werner says. She suggests most schools welcome talk of new facilities to accommodate parents and students who favor a Christian-based curriculum. "It's interesting for us," Werner says. "Because we think another school enhances all of our programs."
While the seed money and land donation are a promising start, Stuller contends the project needs more momentum. Even under the most ambitious financing and construction timeline, the high school would not be fully operational for at least three years. "We really do need to get a groundswell of people excited about it," he says. ' Leslie Turk
TAKING A NEW ROUTE
Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent James Easton is recommending that the Lafayette Parish School Board not renew school system Transportation Director Daniel Michel's contract at its meeting this Wednesday.
Michel, who was hired in February 2004, came under fire last year after a new bus route reorganization plan resulted in mass confusion between students, parents and bus drivers. While the confusion has settled, the plan still has not resulted in the financial savings that were originally projected.
Easton declined to attribute the move to any specific issue. "It's the same thing with a principal or any other position," he says. "It's just to strengthen our leadership."
The move did not come as a shock to the school board, which was set to review Michel's contract before it expires in February.
"I'm not surprised," says board member Mike Hefner. "It's just been too much of a struggle. Daniel has worked really, really hard. I think the superintendent just felt that the department hasn't been as effective as it could be, and it may be no fault to Daniel himself."
Easton plans to conduct a national search for the school system's next transportation director. ' Nathan Stubbs
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.