UPDATE: $32M in FEMA funding can be used for new St. Louis campus

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

The new St. Louis High School campus is expected to break ground this summer.

This progress was jump-started by a $32 million Federal Emergency Management Agency obligation announced by the office of U.S. Congressman Clay Higgins, R-La., on Monday. The funding is available due to the major disaster declaration for Hurricane Laura.

Following the announcement of the FEMA obligation, there was public confusion on how the funding would be utilized. Higgins released a statement on Thursday that stated his office “worked closely with both parties to move many of their applications through the review process.” He continued by stating the Diocese had authority to determine how the funds will be used.

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“Due to the extent of damages and cost of the project scope, these facilities qualify for replacement or repair. Ultimately, it’s up to the Diocese, in conjunction with FEMA, to determine how and where these funds will be used,” he said

The Diocese of Lake Charles said in a release on Monday the obligation is a “significant step forward in replacing the former campus that was destroyed.”

Rob Acord, director of advancement, told the American Press earlier this week that following the announcement of the FEMA obligation, architects at Champeaux, Evans, Hotard have been contacted to finalize the bidding process.

The new campus will be about five miles away from the current campus, which has been operating out of temporary modular buildings on about 15 acres. It will encompass 42 acres and be located on the Northeast corner of E. McNeese Street and Corbina Road. This land was purchased in December 2022.

The site plans for the new academic building includes 40,000 square feet of “dedicated educational spaces.”

He said the projected cost for the “foundational elements” of the new campus — main academic building, practice fields, infrastructure, athletic fieldhouse — is about $33 million. The full project needs more funding, and the Diocese is taking steps to secure what is required.

“While this marks significant progress, it represents only a portion of our comprehensive vision for the new campus. To fully realize this vision and provide our students with a complete high school experience, we have begun a capital campaign aimed at securing funding for additional essential areas.”

The Diocese has stated that a larger campus is needed to offer St. Louis students a well-rounded education and more opportunities.

In 2022, the Rev. Nathan Long, rector of St. Louis Catholic High School, said told the American Press “curriculum development requires the right facilities, ministry opportunities call for a beautiful worship space, and reaching more students means more classrooms.”

“All of this will soon be possible. We will all be blessed to have a school that truly addresses future needs: one that can navigate the tough cultural waters ahead, allow for growth over time, and honor God through worship in a full-sized chapel.”

Acord said that two years later “modernizing St. Louis Catholic while preserving the tradition remains a top priority for everyone associated with this project.”

The new campus will provide St. Louis faculty and staff with more resources to ensure that the school’s “commitment to delivering the highest quality education possible in Southwest Louisiana” is fulfilled.