Our Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) is proposing a ½ cent sales tax to be collected for a 10-year period to fund needed construction to replace temporary classrooms currently housed in portable metal buildings and funds for building maintenance. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Why is LPSS proposing this tax? Funds from the proposed tax will replace temporary classrooms. Lafayette schools have relied heavily on temporary metal outdoor classrooms over the past 30 years rather than expanding permanent building facilities. The decision to use temporary metal container classrooms was made solely because they are – initially – less expense than permanent construction. With school budgets stretched very thin, this decision was considered the best option at the time. Many of those temporary classrooms, to meet the needs of a growing student population, have been in service for more than 40 years.
2. How widespread is the problem? Currently there are 420 temporary classrooms across traditional LPSS campuses. Those outdoor classrooms are used by thousands of students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, every school day.
3. There were temporary classrooms when I went to school. What’s the big deal? The extent of individual school reliance on temporary classrooms has created a system-wide problem. For example, Iberia Parish has 10 temporary buildings in service compared to Lafayette Parish with 420 classrooms in temporary buildings. At some schools, the number of outdoor temporary classrooms have a larger campus footprint than permanent school classroom construction. The use of temporary classrooms creates a number of problems: •
When it rains, children moving from one temporary classroom to another, or to a restroom, may get soaked.
Because the buildings are metal, a teacher’s voice can sometimes be impossible to hear over the noise of rain hitting the metal roof.
Students are required to use mesh backpacks to expose potential safety hazards. This requirement means students going from class to class between outdoor buildings with mesh backpacks in the rain can have books, papers and projects ruined.
During weather alerts and warnings, students in temporary outdoor classrooms must be brought inside to more secure buildings until it is safe for them to return.
Maintenance of elevated temporary metal buildings is difficult and a number of temporary classrooms rest on rotting tires or bare axles where tires disintegrated over time.