School Board OKs purchase of former state Vo-Tech facility

John Dupont
A building that once served as a state vocational/technical college is now property of the Iberville Parish School Board.

A building that once served as a state vocational/technical college is now property of the Iberville Parish School Board.

The Iberville Parish School Board last week voted 8-1 to pay $250,000 for the cash purchase of the facility from the state.

The building – which dates back to the 1950s – served as Westside Vo-Tech for many years and later became the Louisiana Community Technical College.

The School Board began its lease agreement during the tenure of then-Superintendent Dr. Edward Cancienne

The school system had leased the building for nearly three years, Iberville Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion said.

The acquisition will open the door for the parish to move its technology department into the building. The School Board has used the building for maintenance and transportation, including a parking site for dozens of parish school buses.

The agreement on the price came after state appraisal of $1.5 million on the facility, while the School Board tagged its value at $795,000.

“We’ve done a lot to fix it up, but we feel like we’re getting a great facility for a very reasonable price,” Joffrion said.

The School Board paid $227,000 for limestone for the facility during Cancienne’s administration.

Board member Darlene Ourso, who cast the opposing vote, said the extent of work by the School Board should have yielded a lower price tag.

“We spent a lot of money over there, and the building was in horrible shape when we took it over,” she said. “It looks very nice and we did outstanding work, but my take was that we did all that work, and we didn’t own the building.

“I felt like we were giving them more money than it was really worth,” Ourso said. “I’m a little disappointed in that, but I’m okay with whatever the majority for the board did.”

The School Board now must fund repairs for the roof on the facility – a project which will likely exceed the price tag for the building itself.

The acquisition of the building still comes at a “bargain basement” price, considering the use the School Board will get from the large facility.

“It has a lot of square footage, and while the repair of the roof will come at a significant cost, but when you have a building of that quality, it provides us with adequate space for employees to work in a quality facility, and it affords us a lot of space for bus parking,” Joffrion said. “Before this they were trying to work out of warehouses, so this is a great purchase.”