Last Modified: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 8:46 PM
Administrators at Barbe High School are waiting to see if a request for $1 million will be approved by the Louisiana Bond Commission.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley confirmed Monday that, if approved, the money would be used for improvements to the school’s athletic facilities.
Since he was elected to the Legislature, Kleckley said, members of the school’s coaching staff have asked him for assistance in getting financing for athletic department improvements.
“Barbe does not have any kind of tax for their facilities or anything else,” he said. “They always want improvements. I am sure other high schools in the state have gotten money over the years. It is a capital improvement.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed capital outlay legislation — House Bill 2 — last month. An estimated $2.7 billion in construction projects are on the list.
The Barbe project is listed in the bill as “Facilities Improvements, Planning and Construction ... Payable from General Obligation Bonds ... Priority 2.”
A large part of the money is supposed to fund the installation of synthetic turf at the school’s football stadium.
“When you talk about cost savings, the turf will save money. Thousands of dollars are spent on cutting, watering and painting the field,” Kleckley said. “Now there will be multiple uses, and nobody will have to worry about the turf being torn up. There are long-term benefits.”
Calcasieu Parish School Board member Bill Jongbloed, who represents the Barbe district, said no elected school official had anything to do with the request.
“When I was told, it was a shocker to me. I thought it was a joke. In fact, for a long time I thought it was a joke and that nobody could pull this off,” he said.
Jongbloed, who served as principal at the school, said he would not turn the money down, but that there are other, more pressing public issues.
“They are closing health centers, cutting higher education and we at the School Board have positions we won’t fill to balance our budget. As I see it, this strictly will benefit the football program,” Jongbloed said.
“My understanding is that the type of field they want costs in excess of $600,000. It is going to improve the facility. The only other one is at Westlake, and they paid for that with a bond issue. For us this is a pure shock. Would I have asked for this? Of course not. I could not do it with all good conscience.”
The school could receive the money this year.
Kleckley stands by his support of the school.
“I don’t think it is out of the ordinary for a coach to ask for help like this,” he said.
Posted By: P.Q. On: 7/12/2012
Title: More jails?
If the sheriff needs for space for local prisoners, why don't he get rid of those he is housing for other agencies and then the people of Calcasieu Parish don't have to pay for other peoples criminals.that money would also buy a lot of bibs for all the people crying.
Posted By: hard rock miner On: 7/9/2012
No one mentioned that the money could also be used to build more jails and put more people behind bars.
Posted By: Brady Broussard On: 7/5/2012
Title: Total B.S.
Total bull___t.Pay for it yourself Chuck.What rymes with Chuck?You no the maddogs feelings,Cause the maddog says so!
Posted By: Suzie On: 7/5/2012
Title: Think Long and Hard
On KPLC News it was stated that the School Board would discuss the Barbe football field 'donation' at the Tuesday meeting. In a news story on Tuesday, Mr. Jongbloed said he would not have asked for it, but will accept it if it is approved. Before the board members vote on Tuesday, they need to think about the message they will be sending if they take the money. There are positions which are being cut, programs downsized, adjustments to departmental budgets because of a decrease in funds. While this is not 'local money' in the most absolute form, it is taxpayer money. To spend $1,000,000 for improvements to a football field in the current economic climate is beyond ridiculous. For years before Barbe had its own stadium, they shared the faciities at LaGrange High School. If the conditions at Barbe are so desperate that the field can not be used, perhaps they should revert back to the facilities at LGHS.
Posted By: Karen On: 7/4/2012
What a ridiculous waste of taxpayer funds - money that you and I pay to our state so that we can have necessities like higher ed, hospitals, etc. Obviously he has a vested interest in Barbe...so where does that leave every other school?
Posted By: PTF On: 7/3/2012
Title: Sports Sports Sports
It's always the same thing in High School Education. Sports and not academics always come first. Just look at the Barbe Baseball Facility and see where their priorities are. The school is horrible looking and the Sports Facilities are superb.
Even the football field is first class and a new turf is the least thing the school needs. The maintenance on the actual school buildings are always band-aid repairs, and you just don't see that on any of the Sports Facilities. Someone thing is definitively wrong with this picture. With the new voucher system, their won't be any kids in the public schools anyway.
Posted By: Let's be realistic On: 7/3/2012
Title: Solution to the problem
So a turf field does'nt require maintenance ? So I am sure that the paint used on the field will last forever. What happens to the income of the people who have maintanined the field in the past, are they going to be no longer needed? That's a real good solution to the problem. Spend $1 million dollars that the state can't afford and possibly add to the unemployment roles. Makes sense to me. If this is such a necessity for the school then why not get some of the parents to sell some of the high dollar cars that their kids drive to school and donate the money to the school. They "could" ride the buses that the school board already pays for. Problem solved with no added expense to the taxpayer !
Posted By: Disgusted On: 7/3/2012
Title: Misplaced priorities
This news is incredibly frustrating. Our students are forced to weather the elements by walking outside to unsightly, temporary pods placed on campuses throughout Calcasieu Parish. SJ Welsh is busting at the seams from student overcrowding. Our teachers are not paid enough. Support staff and teachers are losing their jobs due to budget deficits. But, apparently, those facts can be overlooked!! Use that money to improve the school facilities, not a football field. Barbe having a turf field will do nothing to increase the value or quality of our children's education.
Posted By: Lynn On: 7/3/2012
Title: Makes Me Wanna Scream
Really? As a higher education employee who hasn't had a raise in over 4 years and is at risk of losing my job, I am absolutely appalled at the thought of this happening. Kleckley is a 'friend' to Jindal so of course this will get done. Anyone who speaks or acts against them loses out! Just like any other politician, it's all about their agendas and what's in it for them. I agree with Mr. Jongbloed in saying that it will solely benefit the football program at Barbe. Come on man, we gotta be fair to everyone in this state! Pretty soon we are going to be nothing but a state that is full of sickly, uneducated people...but we'll have great football programs and facilities! Let's use a little common sense, for once, in this state!
Posted By: Sean On: 7/3/2012
Tens of Millions of dollars in cuts to higher education, and hospitals across the state on the chopping block, but Barbe will get a $1 million football stadium upgrade??? Not only am I an alumni of Barbe football, but I have also been a staunch supporter of Kleckley from the beginning, but this is a real bonehead move. This is tantamount to a father who is struggling to pay his house note, and growing deeper in debt by the day, going out and buying his son a boat. It's an unnecessary expense that can be made with pride when times are good, but in current economic conditions, it is wholly irresponsible.
Posted By: Fed Up On: 7/3/2012
Title: Where's the Real Benefit
This is really pathetic. Funding is being cut from all sorts of programs in the state and local area having to do with education, yet a school is asking for $1M to put astroturf on a football field? Maybe the school should get some artificial teachers as well; that would save a whole lot of money.
Where's the Real Benefit?