School makes repairs, parent concerns still stand
SLAUGHTER - In September 2018, some parents reached out to 2 On Your Side regarding the condition of the school their children attend in East Feliciana Parish. The parents were concerned Slaughter Elementary School was falling apart and nothing was being done to make it better.
"The safety hazards are the biggest thing to worry about right now," one parent said.
Since then, Superintendent Carlos Sam says changes have been made to make the school safer and more enjoyable for students.
That includes repairing structural issues with the school's breezeway where students and faculty walk on a daily basis. In 2018, 2 On Your Side reviewed photos of missing boards and rotting wood. Sam says the area is now structurally complete and a request for a new breezeway will be presented to the board. The maintenance crew says water leaks have been addressed and discolored ceiling tiles have been replaced. Tubing and wiring hanging in within a student's reach have been properly secured. Temporary buildings on site that are boarded up have been placed out for bid to be purchased and removed from the site.
Sam also said in his time as superintendent the school has updated its HVAC system and put a new roof on the cafeteria.
Sam, who oversees five schools in the parish says updates are needed at each one of the properties, but funding is limited.
"Would I like to have brand new buildings, absolutely," he said. "What school system doesn't want brand new buildings? But unfortunately, we don't have the means to do that."
Parent Cierra Ramos says more needs to be done and her number one concern remains safety.
"A huge liability for our children and for the school system," Ramos said. "I think all the schools need some structural repairs done. If we're having safety issues, those need to be addressed first."
East Feliciana Parish Schools currently has a $9 million backlog of maintenance needs across the district. The yearly allocated budget for all maintenance and upgrades is about $260,000 and $100,000 is used to purchase cleaning and maintenance supplies.
During Sam's first year as superintendent, he says the district pursued an Energy Efficient Program and acquired nearly $4 million through bonds. That money has been used for upgrades and repairs, but there is still much more funding needed. Sam hinted at a new tax.
"If parents really want to be involved in the school and the school system we ought to talk about our millages," he said.
Something that could be supported if parents knew more about how the money would be spent.
"We need to see a lot more action," Ramos said. "In this parish, we have had a lot of misappropriation of funds so we're very, very leery of approving anything like that."
There are plans and money available to repave the school's bumpy parking lot. Sam is hopeful the project will be done over spring break.