Following through on commitments outlined in the plan What Will it Take?, Recovery School District (RSD) and Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) officials today announce a revised set of amendments to the School Facilities Master Plan — changes that more than double the number of projects in order to serve every child in every Orleans Parish public school.
The revised plan, initiated following public comment generated over the summer, increases the number of funded projects in the next phase of the plan from 23 to 52 facilities; and identifies additional savings and revenues of about $242 million to expand the project's impact.
The Master Plan revisions are posted online at www.rebuildingnolaschools.com. They will be presented during a citywide public meeting on Thursday, October 13 at 5:30 p.m. at McDonogh 35 School, 1331 Kerlerec Street in New Orleans.
"We listened to the community, and we went back to the drawing board to make sure every child attends school in a new, renovated, or refurbished building," said RSD Superintendent John White. "Using new revenue and newfound savings, we are more than doubling the number of funded projects in Orleans Parish."
OPSB Superintendent Darryl Kilbert said, "In this recommended plan, every school building that will remain in 2016 will receive the necessary funds to ensure it is sustainable. We think that this proposal goes far towards making the best decisions for children with the revenue that remains."
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu praised the revised plan. "Superintendent White and his team have listened to the public and come forward with a master plan I believe is far superior to the original," Sen. Landrieu said. "The revamped master plan guarantees that every child will benefit from the rebuilding of our schools. The new plan calls for school placements and capacities that are more appropriate and efficient. In addition, the community as a whole will benefit more from greater engagement with our local skilled workforce."
The first phase of the historic rebuilding plan is well underway. Seven schools have been built or renovated and 19 schools are under construction or in design.
Highlights of the changes to phase two of the project are:
An increase in the number of funded projects in the next phase of the plan from 23 to 52 facilities, including:
- Full restorations to five additional schools.
- Refurbishments to 22 additional buildings, meaning repairs to ensure that they are protected and sustainable for future years.
Additional revenues/cost-savings of $242 million to expand the plan's impact include:
- Cost-savings totaling more than $139.1 million through building redesign, revised labor assumptions and use of design prototypes.
- Revenue totaling more than $102.5 million through reallocated Restart funds, state historic tax credits and new market tax credits.
Prevailing wage pilot strategy
- Initiation of Community Development Block Grant-funded construction projects in which labor rates correspond with Davis-Bacon requirements.
Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) promotion
- Enforcement of Louisiana resident worker requirements
- Reporting and enforcement of Federal DBE targets
- Aggressive match-making between general contractors and sub-contractors
Capital Investment Commission
- Blue ribbon panel will make recommendations on long-term capital investment and maintenance strategy for New Orleans public schools.
Matching fund for future improvements
- Competitive program will receive a $2.6 million annual allotment from Harrah's revenue.
- Schools can receive matching grants to cover school investments in improvements, such as painting, professional signage, lighting updates, and landscaping.
The revised plan will go before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for final approval on Tuesday, October 18. The Orleans Parish School Board also will consider the revised plan this month.
Following board action on the plan, the RSD will move forward with matching school operators with facilities best suited to assure the success of educational programs. The district will release siting criteria on Monday, October 31, and announce final siting decisions in December.
The revisions follow the RSD's September release of What Will it Take? In the report, the RSD makes 12 commitments to ensure that every student in New Orleans is on track to graduate from college or to attain a professional career. Commitment 11 promises that the Facilities Master Plan will serve all New Orleans public school children in a new, renovated or refurbished facility.
To view the proposed changes, learn more about the School Facilities Master Plan Review process, or to view comments received during biennial review public meetings, go online to www.rebuildingnolaschools.com.
Artwork provided courtesy of the Recovery School District.
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