Jeff Davis scales back on Elton Elementary renovations

Published 6:52 am Saturday, January 22, 2022

High construction costs are forcing the Jeff Davis Parish School Board to scale back plans for renovations at Elton Elementary School.

Superintendent Kirk Credeur said school officials have worked with the architect to find ways to cut costs in hopes that the project will fall more in line with the budget when the project to let for bids again later this year.

“We have reduced some of the scope of the work and made some changes to try to get kit within the budget of today’s exorbitant prices,” Credeur said. “We think we have a plan that will work and get it within the correct budget.”

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The School Board rejected bids for the project in May after the project exceeded the $4 million budgeted for the project.

“We did some serious reductions in the project to try to make sure it did come into the proper price under these new conditions,” Credeur said.

School officials have blamed the need for cuts on Inflation costs, supply chain issues and a shortage in workforce.

Credeur said a large cement parking lot will now be turned into a crushed limestone in an effort to keep the project within the budget. A storage building has also been removed from the original plans and some changes were made in the cafeteria designs.

“Right now we still think we can meet our obligation within the time frame,” he said. “We still think we can make it work and we would like to try that first, then only if we run into another crazy pandemic, hurricane world challenge then we will start looking at flexibility.”

In November 2019, voters in School District 22, which includes Elton and a portion of Allen Parish, approved a 20-year, $4 million bond issue to help fund school improvements at both Elton elementary and high schools.

“It’s time that something happens,” Credeur said.

The School Board hopes to rebid a modified version of the project soon.

Original plans for the project called for construction of a new classroom wing for students in grades pre-kindergarten through second. The wing would have replaced an older section of the school known as the Katie B. Thomas wing.

The project also included upgrades and improvements to the cafeteria, library, administrative offices, bus canopy area and parking lots.

Bonds for the project were sold last March to Robert W. Baird and Company, an American multinational independent investment bank and financial services company. The company was the lowest of two bids electronically submitted with a 3.1 percent interest rate.

Portions of the money have already been used to demolish the old auditorium at Elton High School, which was damaged by a storm in 2005. It had not been used in years due to its deterioration.