- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

HOUMA, La. (AP) - For the third time in about two years, the Terrebonne Parish School Board has approved a study to address the district’s aging and deteriorating facilities.

The board on Tuesday unanimously approved the study, which will be led by Superintendent Philip Martin, The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/1LfwJdZ).

The measure, authored by board member L.P. Bordelon, would update a 2005 facility study.

“This needs to be addressed immediately,” Bordelon said.

Officials have long pointed to aging and overcrowded facilities as one of their priorities to address.

The average age of the parish’s public school buildings is more than 60 years and some, including Gibson Elementary, are more than a century old.

A 2013 schools task force listed facility upgrades as the second-most pressing issue facing the school board but recommended a study and master plan be completed before moving forward on any construction.

The board had already twice voted for the study, with the first vote occurring in spring 2013. Board members disagree over why the prior measures did not move forward.

Bordelon’s proposal calls for a task force, comprised of community members and parents, to review whatever plan comes from the study. Task force specifics, he said, will be determined later.

The board also approved a separate proposal to speed up the evaluation of Southdown Elementary School.

Built in 1952 as the parish’s only public, blacks-only high school, the buildings have received very little work over the last six decades.

Board member Roger DeHart said the school is in the worst shape he’s seen in many years.

Board President Roosevelt Thomas said he believes the assessment will result in a new Southdown, which he hopes will open around 2017.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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