School Board’s FEMA reimbursement funds in hand

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Hurricane repair work will soon resume at Calcasieu Parish School Board campuses thanks to the $89.9 million FEMA reimbursement the district received on Tuesday. The same day the district also closed on its $25 million loan for repairs.

“That allowed us to, as of this afternoon, notify all architects and contractors on the jobs that the suspension is lifted tonight at 12 o’clock,” Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said.

A total of 40 jobs will open back up for progress but the schedule of completion will have to be adjusted due to the suspension.

“We’ll probably have a 50-day void that’ll have to be filled there,” he said.

While the funds are in hand, it may take little time to re-engage and mobilize crews back to their worksites. The suspension was written in such a way, however, that new contractors will not need to be secured.

“The suspension allowed us 60 days whereby the contractors were still engaged to us,” Bruchhaus said. “Since we were able to get it done in about 40 (days), all of the contractors are still on board.”

Within the next two weeks, all campuses should see progress resuming, he added.

Now that the suspension is lifted, the district will also begin re-bidding projects. There are 30 more projects left to bid and the process will likely be spaced out between now and February.

“We hope to receive the benefit of pricing, hopefully, coming down a little bit if that happens,” he said.

Bruchhaus said he was hopeful that progress should move along fairly smoothly now as the district engages in permanent repair work, FEMA’s “Category E Projects.”

“We submit all of that to FEMA. They essentially approve the project and we can draw progress payments as we have need to pay the contractors. We feel like as we start using money on hand, Category E will start kicking into gear,” he said.

“This allows us to move forward without using anymore of our general fund money…We are not counting on the need for another suspension from now until early 2023 when we feel like we’re near the end.”