Opinion – Randy Brown – Bossier Parish School Board Doing a Great Job

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Bossier Parish School Board Doing a Great Job 

Bossier City is said to be the fastest growing city in Louisiana in terms of overall percentage growth. Bossier Parish is also growing at an ultra rapid rate. As such, a huge growth demand is being placed upon Bossier Parish schools. In direct correlation to Bossier’s rapid growth, the Bossier Parish School System has also been designated as one of the fastest growing school systems within the state of Louisiana. Simply put, our Bossier Parish schools can hardly grow fast enough.
For sure, this is an amazing growth trend in which we find ourselves. And, projections show this trend to continue well into the forseeable future. However, this brings to mind a question. How does our Bossier Parish School Board (and those charged with making the decisions to keep our schools well ahead of perpetually constant growth and population/demographic changes) handle such a growth situation?
After much planning and detailed analysis regarding the needs of our schools, the Bossier Parish School Board proposed restructuring an existing millage. An election was set and in April of 2012, the well informed voters of Bossier Parish approved the much publicized $210,000,000 bond referendum set to fund the Bossier Parish School System’s growth needs over the next 10 years.
The growth plan is divided into two phases (1 to 5 years..and 6 to 10 years). By virtue of these two phases, improvement projects and new school wing expansions are set to take place at almost every school within the parish. The plan also called for two brand new schools (Kingston Elementary and Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) in Phase 1 (years 1-5). In Phase 2 (years 6-10), many more school expansion/new school wing projects are slated to take place including either a new high school or a new middle school in Benton.
Most definitely, the Bossier Parish School Board worked tremendously hard for a long..long time to identify the needs of our school system in reference to the 2012 bond referendum. And as a result, the board devised a great/highly thought out plan for what was needed to address the needs of a school system located in a parish growing at hyper-speed. As a result of the rapid growth within the parish over the last several years, even two new elementary schools that have been opened in Bossier Parish over the last almost 8 years (W.T. Lewis (2008) and Legacy (2008)) have both already had to have new wings added to their school facilities after only seven years.
Moving forward to 2016, so many beautiful and much needed school projects have been completed including two brand new schools. Both Kingston Elementary School and the Bossier Parish School for Tecnology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) are amazing school facilities. I have toured both schools on a few occasions and they are both outstanding! Though so much has been accomplished by the Bossier Parish School System in terms of addressing our school growth needs, there is so much more to do.
Last week, I attended a Bossier Parish School Board meeting and heard a report from the Building and Grounds Committee stemming from a committee meeting that had taken place two days prior. The committee addressed where the school building program stands at this point in time in terms of the expenditures realized from the school expansions funded by the 2012 bond referendum with a careful eye turned toward the funds remaining and the school projects that still need to be done/completed.
Of the $210 million from the 2012 referendum, $94 million is still to be expended. Due to the growth experienced in Bossier Parish since the bond referendum, original expenditure plans will have to be somewhat altered. At last Thursday’s meeting, the board exercised very impressive fiduciary responsibility in voting to extend discussion/decision on these expenditures to it’s next board meeting.
“Major Kudos” to the Bossier Parish School Board for being such an excellent guardian of the taxpayer’s money. We are fortunate to have such a carefully wise and financially responsible school board.

Randy Brown is Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune.
He can be reached at rbrown@bossierpress.com