School board authorizes $ 30 million loan to revive Hurricane Ida repairs – L’Observateur

LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board voted Thursday to approve a $ 30 million loan to fund Hurricane Ida repairs to school sites.

Toby Cortez, managing director of Stifel Financial Corp., said the proceeds from board members’ insurance and FEMA money can be used to pay off the loan. This process has been used by other school districts including Calcasieu, Vermillion, and St. Landry to move forward with hurricane repairs pending insurance and federal money.

“This instrument is put in place so that you can resume your activities as quickly as possible,” he said.

Cortez said the best offer on the loan has a rate of 1.75%, interest only, for five years. The school board would have the option of repaying the loan as of 2023, one year after closing.

This week’s loan approval was the culmination of a process that began just over two months ago. At the time, Board member Debbie Schum said the school board was just “pre-approved” for a $ 30 million loan, but it might not need to. ‘borrow the full amount.

At the December 9 meeting, Cortez recommended withdrawing the entire $ 30 million based on the low interest rate and the number of bills owing.

LaPlace Elementary and Emily C. Watkins school sites suffered the most damage during Hurricane Ida and are not expected to reopen by the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Meanwhile, East St. John students are still following an A-Day and B-Day model at the Leon Godchaux site while awaiting campus repairs.

Attorney Jason Akers of Foley & Judell, LLP told the school board the loan can only be used for costs associated with hurricane recovery, such as renovating facilities or cleaning up the environment. on school sites.

Ali Burl III, a member of the school board, was concerned about authorizing the loan without a financial director in place to oversee it.

“I think we have to be very careful about how we spend these funds because we are going to have to return the money. We need to make sure we’re spending this money properly, and I’m very concerned that we don’t have a team in place to watch it and make sure we’re spending it all on hurricane issues, ”said Burl.

The motion to authorize the loan was passed with 10 votes in favor and one school board member absent.

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