Holy Rosary Institute was a beacon of education for black students during the days of segregation, students not only from Lafayette’s northside but from other segregated areas as well, making any public effort to save the now crumbling campus worth pursuing.

But should Holy Rosary be saved by taking $200,000 already going to 24 existing nonprofits?

One such effort involves HB 420, a pre-filed House bill by state Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, both Lafayette Dems, who are calling on a redirection of $200,000 of the state’s cut of Lafayette’s hotel/motel tax toward Holy Rosary. Since 1998, that money, which in recent years has totalled between $1.6 and $2.6 million, has been going into the coffers of the Cajundome and its convention center, and if taken could prove problematic, says Director Greg Davis, a school alumnus. Each year, $1 million is used right off the top to cover the Cajundome's 25-year bond payment, issued 12 years ago to fund development of the convention center.

"We use that money to help us pay off that bond, we give a portion to LCVC (the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission) to help attract tourism, and it goes to maintaining and repairing our facilities," says Davis. “I most certainly see the value of [Holy Rosary's] restoration; I went there through eighth grade, and my brother graduated high school from there. But for the Cajundome ... if the Legislature says give that [$200,000] to someone else, we would have to find a way to keep covering the costs of maintaining a 28-year-old  building and a convention center that's 12 years old."

One likely scenario for the Cajundome recouping the $200,000 involves 24 public nonprofits from throughout Lafayette Parish. Since 1998, when the Legislature approved allocating the state's cut of the local tax, the Cajundome has redirected $200,000 from its yearly allocation to the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission.

“It still remains uncertain which portion of the money they’re trying to capture," says LCVC Executive Director Ben Berthelot.

For 14 years, Berthelot says, LCVC's portion of the tax has annually been given, through his office, to nonprofits, all public, from throughout the parish. If HB 420 passes and $200,000 are directed to Holy Rosary, the Cajundome could be forced to forgoe directing the same amount to the nonprofits via LCVC.

The following two graphs, provided by Berthelot, show the entities funded in 2012 (first) and prior (second):

enterprise_fund_1

Here's the remaining benefactors that got a cut of the annual distribution between 1998 and 2011:

visitor_fund2

The IND placed three phone calls to Pierre, the bill's author, leaving two voice mails and one message with a secretary at his office, who said she would text the legislator. He has yet to respond.

It remains unclear to us who will receive and be accountable for managing the $200,000 each year. Just how far would this money go toward saving the deteriorating Holy Rosary structure and what would it be used for? 

The bill only states that the redirected money will go to "the Holy Rosary Redevelopment." Based on a review of the Louisiana Secretary of State's corporate database, the bill is likely referring to a private, Lafayette-based non-profit corporation created in 2010 under the name Holy Rosary Redevelopment, though the property is actually owned by Holy Family Sisters, of which the bill makes no mention.

After closing its doors in 1993, the school property was donated in December 2010 by the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette to the Holy Family Sisters.

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