BACK TO SCHOOL: Ascension students return to class

Michael Tortorich
Students in Melanie Guillory’s kindergarten class at Spanish Lake Primary School work on an assignment Wednesday morning. Spanish Lake is one of three new public schools to open this year in Ascension Parish.

Ascension Parish students started the new school year Wednesday.

Three new public schools opened for the first time – Spanish Lake Primary, Central Primary and Lakeside Primary.

The school system has opened eight schools within the last seven years. And with the parish's population growth and projections of more residents to come, more new schools will be needed.

Officials have said the parish's population is expected to double by 2030.

Aside from the need for new schools, some of the district's existing schools need improvement.

The School Board in June unanimously voted to place a proposition on the Oct. 17 ballot to extend an existing parish-wide millage for four years to give the district money to renovate schools.

The proposition would ask voters to extend an existing 15.08 millage, which currently runs to 2025, for another four years to 2029. This would bring in about $100 million to fund the system's most-needed renovation projects.

Some of the campuses in the parish are 50 to nearly 80 years old, Superintendent Donald Songy said.

Correcting the disparity among the schools would allow the accommodation of more students and more modern technology.

After voters approved the tax requests in 2005, the district has built five new elementary schools.

Pecan Grove Primary and Prairieville Primary both opened in August 2008.

The Central K-8 school has been restructured into a middle school.

A sixth elementary school is set to open in August 2010. Formerly known as Orange Grove Primary, the board approved the naming of the school as Sorrento Primary. It will be located on Hwy. 22 in Sorrento.

For more on the new school year, look for the next issue of the Weekly Citizen and check back at weeklycitizen.com.