After publicly pleading for emergency structural repairs last month following years, Audubon and Lusher charter schools now appear to be among a handful of schools slated for work to prevent further deterioration at their campuses.
The Orleans Parish School Board decided this week to fund “stabilization” at seven school sites, including Audubon’s Carrollton campus, Audubon assistant principal Dawn Collins told the charter school’s governing board at a Saturday morning meeting to applause and cheers from the board and the small audience.
District officials could not be reached Saturday, but a meeting agenda available online shows that the other campuses slated for repairs were Lusher’s elementary and high school campuses, Bethune, McDonogh No. 35, Warren Easton and Edna Karr. Audubon’s understanding is that $4.5 million has been designated for the projects, and that consultants will determine the most critical needs at each school before deciding exactly where that money will be spent, said Alisa Dupre’, business operations manager at Audubon Charter.
For the Carrollton campus, the first priority would clearly be the roof, she said — long-neglected leaks allow water in every time it rains, and termites are adding to the damage. Other pressing problems at the Carrollton site include termite-ridden floors, dilapidated bathrooms and antiquated gas heaters in the portable buildings, she said.
“The Orleans Parish School Board has sent facilities people out over the years, so they’re well aware of these problems,” Dupre’ said.
Last month, two Uptown town-hall meetings hosted by state and local school officials to guide decision-making on school campuses were dominated by Audubon and Lusher supporters asking for emergency repairs. FEMA awarded $2 billion for school construction and renovations, but several schools urged officials to meet the needs of existing programs first before embarking on major new projects.
“We’ve been going to meetings to say, if we’re going to be here a while, there’s some work that needs to be done,” Dupre’ said. “The meetings added weight, because it wasn’t only Audubon Charter.”
The Carrollton campus, originally the Carrollton city courthouse, has been somewhat neglected because it is considered a temporary location for Audubon until a permanent second site has been found. Audubon has requested the Allen building currently used by SciHigh, but Lusher also wants to expand there, and no clear plan or timetable has been set to decide on Audubon’s second campus.
Dupre’ said many Audubon parents would love to see the Carrollton building designated as Audubon’s long-term home, but it’s unclear whether district officials see that as a viable option. The historic restoration work would likely be expensive, and the opinion of the surrounding neighborhood has never been gauged.
“It’s only a mile from our other campus,” Dupre’ said. “Parents have expressed they would like this as a permanent location, but they (OPSB) have never indicated they would be willing to renovate it.”
Lusher officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
To read our live coverage of the meeting, click “Replay” in the box below.