NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — On Oct. 14, Orleans Parish voters are being asked to renew a millage dedicated to the maintenance and repairs for school facilities.
In advance of the vote, NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams and Orleans Parish School Board President Olin Parker stopped by WGNO’s Good Morning New Orleans show to discuss the millage.
“In 2014, New Orleans voters overwhelmingly approved a millage to keep our school facilities in good condition. After the storm, the federal government invested $2 billion in our schools. The voters of New Orleans stepped up and said, ‘Yes, we want to continue taking care of these schools this Saturday.’ We’re just asking voters to do the same thing, renew a tax that they’ve already been paying. It’s not a new tax and it’s something that benefits every single student and every single teacher in our parish,” said Parker.
This time, voters would be asked to renew the tax for a 20-year term.
“It’s important for long-range planning. When we think about capital planning, we know that even with our newest facilities, they’re going to need new HVAC systems and new roofs, and heaven forbid we have any natural disasters. We have to be ready to make those repairs and renovations as necessary. We just want to make sure that we have an opportunity for long-range planning and commitment for our new strategic plan of action is operational excellence. This is part of it. Our scholars deserve to learn in safe and healthy buildings that allow them to do innovative things to prepare them for their future,” said Williams.
Some voters may question why we need to keep investing in all these new schools.
“Think about a school like Carver, which was rebuilt after the storm. Those schools are going to need those new items that Dr. Williams mentioned. Just like my house was renovated in 2009. About ten years later, my air conditioner and my dishwasher broke within three months. That’s going to happen on a really grand scale. We know it’s coming. So, this is just good government. This is us preparing for that moment when all of these schools that were built at the same time are going to need those types of repairs,” said Parker.
“It’s exciting to go into McMain’s auditorium and just to be able to see how we’re restoring historical buildings, historical spaces within our facilities. It gives our alumni a sense of nostalgia when they walk into those buildings. But again, the biggest thing is it allows our scholars and even our teachers to work in safe and healthy buildings. The thing that gives me a sense of pride is that typically across our nation, you don’t see investments like this, especially when the student body is predominantly Black and predominantly in poverty. It gives me a sense of pride to know that we’re defying what typically happens in school districts nationally,” said Williams.
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