New Elementary School graphic

JENNINGS — A proposed new elementary school in Jennings will soon have a name with help from the community.

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board is asking the public to help name the new school, which should be under construction by the spring.

The new school will combine students from Jennings Elementary and James Ward Elementary on one campus.

Ideas for naming the school will be solicited from voters of the Jennings School Board Election district beginning Sept. 23, according to Superintendent Kirk Credeur.

"I am interested in and looking forward to hearing from the community on what name they would like to see on the facility," Credeur said, adding he does not know what to anticipate.

Jennings residents wanting to submit a name for consideration can pick up a name nominating petition from the School Board Office, 203 East Plaquemine St., through Oct. 4.

A minimum of 50 signatures of registered School Board Election district voters supporting the name must be submitted to the School Board Office by Oct. 7. A letter of recommendation for consideration of the proposed name must be submitted with the completed petition.

Under the board's policy, no school, school building or other public building can be named after any living person. The policy does allow for an existing athletic facility or a street maintained by the School Board that is not a state of federal highway to be named in honor of a living person.

The superintendent will publish the certified suggested names Oct. 14-21 on the School Board's website, area newspapers and on social media. The information will also be sent home with students.

"We want to give the public an opportunity to look at what we have and have some discussion on it and contact their board member to tell them what they like or dislike about those names," Credeur said.

The public will also have an opportunity to voice their opinion at the School Board's Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Ten people from each side — for or against — drawn from registered voters showing their voting card at attendance, will be given two minutes per person to voice their concern or support of the name being recommended for consideration.

The Building and Grounds Committee will use the information and public input to make a recommendation to the full School Board at 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

"The full board will have the ultimate say," Credeur said.

Plans for the new school call for a two-story structure with classrooms on both floors. It will be built on a 20-acre site located on the west side of La. 26 south.

Voters approved a $29.5 million bond issue and a separate half-cents sales tax to fund the project in March.

The school would be designed for 1,500 students.

Preliminary plans call for the Pre-K through second grade and students with profound disabilities to be located on the first floor of the school. Third- to sixth-grade students will be located on the second floor.

Other tentative plans include a cafeteria with seating for 450 students and two serving lines, a library, multipurpose space, gym and band room with stage and seating area. The gym could be closed off for weekend use by the public.

The facility would also include several security features including secured entrance and gates. Doors would also allow classroom pods to be "shut off" so students cannot wander out on their own.

An elevator and fire escape would provide quicker access to the outside for students on the second floor.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students would also have their own restrooms and be connected to their own fenced-in playground. A separate playground would be provided for older students.

Separate pickup and drop-off areas are also being considered for buses and vehicles.

Construction of the school is expected to begin by April 2020 and take two years to complete.

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