Voters OK bond proposals for schools

Westlake, Maplewood areas impacted

Calcasieu Parish School Board bonding District 23 passed its $42 million bond proposal in Saturday’s election with 342 votes in support and 234 in opposition. The 20-year bond will fund campus improvements at Maplewood Elementary and Middle schools, Westwood and Western Heights Elementary schools, S.P. Arnett Middle School and Westlake High School.

Damon Hardesty, board president and District 23 representative, thanked voters for supporting the next generation of students in Westlake and Maplewood.

“If you don’t support the next generation then the community starts to die. That’s the bottom line,” he said.

He said all bonding districts are in great need for upgrades and renovations due to new class offerings, especially with growing curriculum emphasis in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Ten, 15, 20 years ago they didn’t offer as many classes or these special type of classes. We’re having to bus students from school to school to meet the need.”

Hardesty said Westlake residents will see new roofing prioritized with the bond money as well as new wings, pods and classrooms added at each school and a variety of other “much-needed improvements.”

Westwood Elementary’s gymnasium will be completely gutted and remodeled, a costeffective measure, compared with tearing it down completely, Hardesty said. Western Height’s open-air pavilion will be enclosed to serve as a multipurpose facility for schoolcommunity events.

S.P. Arnett’s car pick-up will be extended with interior renovations to classrooms and rest rooms, as well. Westlake High School will add an agriculture building to its campus for the first time and also see renovations in the band hall.

Billy Breaux, another District 23 representative, said its funds will go toward finding efficient methods to improve its campus infrastructure, which includes buildings that are 60-70 years old.

“You get more for your money when you think outside of the box,” he said.

Like many Calcasieu campuses, Maplewood is landlocked, “so there’s only room to go up,” he said.

In addition to interior renovations, construction will begin on a two-story building with computer labs.

Technology is a vital component to a successful school, Breaux said, and contrary to popular belief, bonds help cover that cost as well.

“A lot of people don’t realize …. They think the state ends up giving everyone computers for free but they haven’t done that in the past 10-15 years ago. We’ve got to spend that on technology.”

Technology is a vital component to a successful school. Contrary to popular beliefs, bonds help cover that cost, as well.

Billy Breaux

District 23 representative

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