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
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.