Though there is no funding mechanism in place, the Lafayette Parish School Board last night unanimously approved Baton Rouge-based CSRS’ $1.1 billion master plan for improving the parish’s school facilities.

The long-range plan, which was presented to the board May 19, is the culmination of three years of work on the board’s part, which included agreeing to the recommendation by the Community Coalition of Lafayette Schools that professional consulting firm CSRS be hired at a cost of $900,000. The board voted only to accept CSRS’ plan; breaking down the master plan’s components and deciding how to proceed with funding and implementation will be discussed at the board’s next regular meeting. There is widespread speculation the board will ask parish voters to approve a property tax increase to fund the repairs and new construction.

Among CSRS’ recommendations in the first phase of work are replacement of Lafayette High, Northside High, L.J. Alleman Middle, Carencro Heights Elementary, G.T. Lindon Elementary, Katharine Drexel Elementary and J.W. Faulk Elementary, along with construction of both a career and technical high school and an auditorium/performing arts theater at Comeaux High. The latter would entail eventually moving the parish’s performing arts program from Lafayette High to Comeaux, which has been the plan since the Schools of Choice program was conceived about a decade ago. Comeaux currently houses the Academy of Visual and Applied Arts, so the move would consolidate the specialized programs for the visual and performing arts at one site.

Superintendent Burnell Lemoine said, should the move take place, parents would be notified in time to make a decision about where to send a freshman student. Lemoine also took the opportunity to correct speculation that there has been any discussion of moving the program next year. “That could be years from now,” he said. “We’re talking about quite some time.”

CSRS estimated the first phase will cost $592 million based on a start date of January 2011 and will take six years to complete.

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