The Livingston Parish School Board recently finalized the purchase of a near 20-acre plot of land in Albany, a spot that one board member hopes will one day be the site of a new elementary school as his district continues to grow.
Located on Farkas Lane just off Highway 43, the 19.5 acres sold for roughly $212,000. The purchase, which includes 620 feet of frontage, was finalized in June, according to records from the Clerk of Court’s Office.
School Board member Devin Gregoire of District 9, which encompasses the Albany schools, said the plan for the land is to build a new elementary school to alleviate some of the congestion currently felt at Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School.
Speaking recently to The News, Gregoire said the new school is “much-needed” given the town’s recent and projected growth over the next few years.
“Albany is growing fast,” Gregoire recently told The News. “We have upwards of 300 new housing units coming into the Albany school district in the next two-to-three years. And with that influx of students, we’re not going to have room for them.
"Right now, we’re a 3A school, but we might be moving to 4A pretty soon.”
Currently, Albany Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary are located next to each other off of Highway 43, roughly a half-mile south of Highway 190. Together, those two schools have around 900 students up to 4th grade.
Under the new configuration Gregoire envisions, a new school would be built for Upper Elementary, which would move 1.5 miles north to the new land on Farkas Lane. The new campus would house students in grades 3-5, freeing up classroom space the Lower Elementary and at nearby Albany Middle. Currently, Albany Middle houses students in grade 5-8.
In the new configuration, Gregoire said Albany Lower would acquire around 20 classes from the existing Upper Elementary campus if it were to move to the new site. And with fifth-graders being taken out of Albany Middle, that campus would acquire another “six to eight classes” for grades 6-8.
“This would give both of those campuses plenty of room to expand,” Gregoire said, who said the new campus would also have room for expansion.
Gregoire said a new school would also solve other issues under the current configuration, such as lunch.
“We have over 900 kids in the elementary schools, so we’re feeding from both Lower and Upper elementary in that cafeteria starting at 10 a.m. through 1 p.m.,” Gregoire said. “This would help that.”
A public meeting will be held at the next School Board meeting Aug. 5, when board members will vote whether or not to call for an election to authorize the levy of a sales and use tax and the issuance of general obligation bonds.
Gregoire said the idea for a new school is a “preemptive measure” but one that will ultimately be necessary as growth continues in the area.
“We’re in a position now to where we’re going to need to do something,” Gregoire said. “If it comes up on us and we get to a point where we have to go back to portable buildings and T-buildings, it’s not going to be an easy time for us.
“And the bond market right now is the best that it’s going to be for a long time, so if we get a bond right now, we’ll get it at a really good rate.”