Terrebonne Parish public schools continue to make adjustments after damage from Hurricane Ida rendered many campus buildings unuseable.
Officials discussed the issue during a School Board Buildings Committee meeting Tuesday evening. Among updates:
All Grand Caillou Elementary students have moved to Elysian Fields Middle School in Houma as of Jan. 10. Previously, Grand Caillou's pre-K and kindergarten students went to Honduras Elementary in Houma, and first- through fourth-graders went to Dularge Elementary.
Upper Little Caillou Elementary students will move Jan. 24 to East Houma School, a building that had been closed for years. Previously, Upper Little Caillou students in pre-kindergarten through first grade went to Village East Elementary, while second through fourth grades went to Montegut Elementary.
Upper Little Caillou parents have cited safety concerns and the distance needed to commute from their community to Houma. Driving distance between Upper Little Caillou Elementary and East Houma School is about 11 miles one-way.
Some Upper Little Caillou teachers have said it’s important for students to be together in one place.
School Board member Maybelle Trahan shared those teacher sentiments at the committee meeting and said it's good to see older and younger siblings reunited on the same campus.
“We're not real happy on the bayou that our kids will be all the way in Houma, but we're going to be OK with that. And we know that it's going to be right across from the hospital in case a medical emergency happens,” Trahan said. “I'm very pleased that Upper Little Caillou will have a building and be together again. That’s something worth celebrating.”
Hurricane Ida, which hit Aug. 29, destroyed or damaged many of the system's buildings and prompted changes in scheduling and other procedures.
The School Board is preparing to sell $200 million worth of bonds for repairs and rebuilding and expects most of the costs will be paid by insurance proceeds, federal grants and reimbursements and FEMA aid. The board has not set a firm timetable for when repairs will be complete.
Meanwhile, temporary modular buildings should be ready by June 1 at the Ellender and South Terrebonne high school campuses, two of the most heavily damaged, officials said. Eight buildings, space for 54 classrooms, will be set up on each campus.
Mold and moisture have been removed from South Terrebonne High, but FEMA has not yet determined whether the building will be repaired or demolished, schools Superintendent Philip Martin said.
“That [initial work] has not happened yet at Ellender because it was much worse than South Terrebonne,” Martin said.
The School Board has spent more than $30 million so far to repair and reopen schools, he said.
Martin said he wants residents to know how much has been done so far despite complaints from some that the work is not progressing quickly enough.
“People that are criticizing don't know what they're talking about. I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings. But just to give an idea, we have schools such as Houma Junior High, Evergreen, Bayou Black — if we were in any other place, they still wouldn't be open. H.L. Bourgeois still wouldn't be open,” Martin said.
“We have many, many schools that have severe damage. It seems like some people feel that since we opened so fast, there must have been not too much damage. They [district employees] have done miracles.”
This article originally appeared on The Courier: Terrebonne schools continue to adjust in Hurricane Ida's wake