LIVINGSTON – The first of three schools that had to be demolished after the Great Flood of 2016 has a contractor to build a replacement – and a target date.

The Livingston Parish School Board approved the low bid from Blount General Contractors on Thursday for a new Denham Springs Elementary School. Jim Ziler, of Ziler & Associates, project architect, said Blount submitted a base bid of $15,690,000.

It also submitted an alternate bid of $368,000 for repairs to the multi-purpose building, the only building that remains at the Range Avenue campus.

This brought the Blount bid to a total of $16,058,000, Ziler said. The target date for completion is March 2021.

Three of the seven bidders were within $700,000 of each other, Ziler added.

The other bidders, with the repair alternate bid, were:

• Matherne, $15,890,000 ($491,000).

• Stewart, $15,893,000 ($523,000).

• M.D. Descant, $16,400,000 ($499,000).

• Dumite, $16,960,000 ($530,000).

• L. Burks, $17,312,000 ($577,900).

• F. Amzalone, $17,17,000 ($482,000).

Bids will be sought for the joint Southside Junior High-Southside Elementary complex, which will replace the other two schools lost to the flood.

“Three years,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said, “It has been three years. People on this board know this.

“We appreciate your dedication and commitment,” Murphy told Ziler. “It’s not an easy project working with FEMA and HUD.

“It’s a massive undertaking and can be frustrating,” Murphy continued. “Sometimes you get pretty worked up. This is a big moment for this board and our parish.”

“I’ve worked hard to get you the best project I can. It means a lot to me,” Ziler said. “I’ve enjoyed working with y’all. Y’all are one of my favorite clients. You’ve always treated me well.”

The board also accepted the low bid by McLin Construction for the Center for Academic and Behavioral Support in Holden. McLin submitted a bid of $169,900, with an alternate bid of $17,200 to replace the floor, for a total of $187,100.

Other bidders on the project, and their alternate floor bids, were: Mashon & Associates, $207,319.05 ($8,000), and Kelly Construction Group, $231,600 ($7,200).

The board also went into executive session for almost an hour to discuss the recommended expulsion of a student.

Supervisor of Instruction Ed Foster addressed the board on the agenda item, “Personal appearance request of Corey and April Smith, patrons of Denham Springs High School.”

The Smiths’ daughter, a 10th-grader, was recommended for a two-semester expulsion, Foster said. After a due process meeting, the superintendent upheld the expulsion, he said.

Before Foster could identify the student or why the expulsion was recommended, he was interrupted by board President Buddy Mincey Jr.

“I think we need to go into executive session to discuss this,” Mincey said.

“I was about to recommend that,” Foster replied.

After a 52-minute executive session, the board returned to open session. On a motion by board member Bo Graham, the board voted 8-0 without discussion to uphold the superintendent’s decision.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a change order for the baseball and softball complex at Live Oak High School.

Chris Bankston, of Blount General Contractors, said changes were needed to the asphalt driveways and parking area, at a cost of $17,159, bringing the total cost of the project to $6,939,713.72.

• Heard Murphy invite the board to a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotic Center at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Murphy said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, state Sen Dale Erdey, state Rep. J. Rogers Pope and Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry have confirmed they will attend.

The 3 p.m. event is not open to the public, Murphy said, but the STEM center will be open to the public from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with students taking classes there on hand to explain what they are studying.

• Heard the next board meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.

• Voted to retain First Financial Group as the third party administrator for the “cafeteria plan” of benefits for employees for the 2020-21 and 2021-2022 calendar years.

Assistant Superintendent Steve Parrill told the board the third party administrator oversees a number of voluntary benefit programs, ranging from deferred compensation and individual and group medical life insurance to dental and vision coverage and long-term care.

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