The wait may soon be over for students and staff of Boley Elementary School in West Monroe.
Construction on the new campus may be completed just a few weeks before the three-year anniversary of the fire that leveled the original campus, according to Kenneth Slusher, supervisor of safety and construction for Ouachita Parish Schools.
"It's scheduled to finish probably in the month of March," Slusher said. "They were installing kitchen equipment last week."
However, the mid-March completion date has construction roughly four months behind schedule.
Slusher said at the January meeting of the school board the delays have been caused by weather, ranging from rain to the ice storm last year.
Should construction wrap up in mid-March, that will have the campus done in time nearly three years after the school burned down on April 13, 2019. The fire was caused by a lightning strike that led to a fire in the attic space. Because the fire occurred above smoke detectors in the building — along with rainy weather that made the smoke hard to see from outside — the fire was not able to be put out in time.
Boley principal Sandy Bates said teachers will start moving into their classrooms at the end of the school year and will work at the new campus through the summer. Students will get to set foot at their new school starting with the 2022-23 school year.
"The teachers and I have toured the building, and we're very excited about the size of everything and how pretty and different everything is," Bates said.
Since the fire, Boley students have moved around to several different locations to keep up with their schooling. They finished the school year split up between Crosley and George Welch. Then starting with the 2019-20 school year, the students moved over to 1007 Glenwood Drive, a building that was formerly a nursing home in West Monroe.
Bates said the current facility at Glenwood Drive is a bit cramped. In October 2021, the school reported a total enrollment of 218 to the Louisiana Department of Education. The new campus can hold about 300 students, allowing them to spread out in the classroom as well as enable growth in the student body.
Slusher said construction has remained close to the school board's budget of $9 million but has gone a little over that amount.
In June 2020, the school board approved the budget for constructing a new Boley Elementary with money set to come from the insurance claim and a sales tax in western Ouachita Parish. Since then, Slusher said there have been change orders that have resulted in extra funds as well as money back on the project.
One of the earlier change orders occurred August 2020 as part of issues with soil boring and a faulty sewer pipe. This resulted in a cost of $120,000.
Construction issues: Bad dirt leads to change order on Boley Elementary construction
Slusher said the next steps in construction include pouring the parking lot and finishing interior details, such as paint and flooring.
Support local journalism by subscribing at https://cm.thenewsstar.com/specialoffer.
This article originally appeared on Monroe News-Star: New Boley Elementary set to finish before 3-year anniversary of fire