DENHAM SPRINGS – Livingston Parish may one day have its 10th high school, probably south of Interstate 12, according to Buddy Mincey Jr., president of the Livingston Parish School Board.
And while there are no plans yet for that school, the board has to prepare for the future, Mincey said.
The high school was among the topics the Denham Springs area board member talked about with the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club on Thursday, Jan. 31.
“You look at the (student) numbers in the last 16 years and the increase, we’ve got enough room at campus for another 500 students,” Mincey said. “Take the growth and project it forward, it could be a long time before we need that high school."
“The Denham board members felt the responsibility to prepare. The responsible thing to do is to utilize, maximize the footprint in all of our campuses.”
While taking questions from the audience, Mincey discussed two tracts owned by the school system on 4-H Club Road.
The school system was watching residential growth south of the interstate, Mincey said, and negotiated with a developer to donate 15 acres.
The School Board then bought 50 acres, which could be used for a future high school, he said. The 15 acres are encircled by Nickens Lake - a DSLD residential development - while the 50 acres has 1,300 linear feet facing 4-H Club.
“There’s no timeline on a high school,” Mincey said, “In event we need it, we have 50 acres.”
The school system also owns 108 acres on Cook Road, he said.
“What an investment,” Mincey said, “bought for an elementary, junior high, and high school, then look at what developed around it. With the interstate and surrounding development, it’s not the best location (for a school). It’s better as a business investment.”
The property value has increased with the proximity of the tract to the Juban Crossing shopping center.
“At the right time, we will sell it,” Mincey said.
Mincey also discussed the makeup of the new School Board, as the 2018 elections saw four members retire and be replaced, as well as its per capita spending per student.
“We’ve got a phenomenal school system because of our people, community and our employees,” Mincey said.
“If you take all the monies brought into the school system and divided by students, per capita, statewide we’re 64th of 69 at the bottom,” he said.
“Four or five systems bring in less than us. If you look at what we produce with that, it is truly amazing,” Mincey said, “I’m going to give all the credit to our employees and our community.”
Meanwhile, the election of four new members to the School Board last fall has changed the makeup of the board, he said.
Mincey said when he was first elected to the School Board, 20 years of experience was common among the other members.
“Dr. (Milton) Hughes was on the board 40 years. That’s a tremendous amount of experience and wisdom to fall back on,” he said. “That helped me tremendously.
“We lost a lot of experience on the board,” Mincey said. “Sid Kinchen had 38½ years as a teacher and board member, Jim Richardson had 32 years as a teacher, principal and board member, Karen Schmitt had 28 years as a teacher and board member and Malcolm Sibley had 20 years as a board member.
“That’s 118½ years of experience we lost.”
“We have a great board coming up, a diverse board,” he added. “I’m happy to be in a leadership position to help with any transition.”
Mincey said he is now the second-longest serving board member, beginning his 13th year on the board. He was board vice president for eight years before he was elected board president.
Asked what will happen to the buildings that make up Denham Springs Elementary’s temporary campus, Mincey said the board has options.
“We have an option to purchase them or sell back,” he said about the portable building on Hatchell Lane on the grounds of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. “We don’t know what it looks like, down the road. But we have some options."