Baby Ben on Jefferson reopens after renovation

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Ben Franklin Elementary’s historic building on Jefferson Avenue was closed during the renovations. (Google Maps)

From NOLA Public Schools

Officials with NOLA Public Schools, the Orleans Parish School Board and Benjamin Franklin Elementary Mathematics and Science School staff celebrated its newly renovated school building Friday (Feb. 7) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on campus.

Approximately 150 people gathered at the intimate ceremony, which also marked the return of students to the building. The event was moderated by OPSB Board Vice President Woody Koppel.

“Benjamin Franklin Elementary Mathematics and Science School has stood out as one of our exceptional schools for many years,” said Henderson Lewis Jr., superintendent of NOLA Public Schools. “We are thankful to FEMA for providing the funding needed to give our students and Ben Franklin family a better building that offers more of the resources and amenities that they deserve.”

The more than 100-year-old building’s renovations included installation of an elevator and HVAC system, roof repairs, termite damage repairs, kitchen upgrade, new fire sprinkler system, as well as interior upgrades including refurbishing wood floors and windows.

The $8 million FEMA-funded project is a part of the schools rebuilding program that funded Orleans Parish schools after the levees failed in Hurricane Katrina.

“This represents one of the many investments the district has taken to ensure schools throughout Orleans Parish meet the needs of our very deserving students and teachers,” said Ethan Ashley, Orleans Parish School Board president, District 2 member. “There is more work to be done and I look forward to continuing our efforts to provide our students and teachers across New Orleans with the accommodations needed and deserved.”

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School’s Jefferson Avenue campus serves students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. Ben Franklin Elementary was the first parish-run school to reopen after Katrina, according to 20o5 news reports.

As a part of the ribbon-cutting celebration, students marked their return to the school and gave a nod to Black History Month with a performance of “Black Men Rising” and provided musical entertainment for the celebration.

“Benjamin Franklin Elementary Mathematics and Science School is grateful for all of the renovations that have been made to our pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade school facility,” said Charlotte Matthew, the school’s principal and CEO of Legacy of Excellence Inc., the charter that operates the school.

“When we returned to the building, we instantly recognized the improvements made to increase our comfort level as well as the safety of our students,” Matthew said. “While our first priority is to educate students, it helps to do it in an environment that is more conducive to learning.”

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