POSTED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 6:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 6:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — It's homecoming week for the East St. John Wildcats, but more than two months after Hurricane Isaac the 1,400 high schoolers are still without a permanent school building. And school administrators have said the two schools that were destroyed in the flood waters can't reopen without millions of dollars in help from the state.
A third of the district’s students are currently spread across eight temporary locations, many going to school in shifts, while the administration looks for the money they need to rebuild.
"It's like devastating being in Leon Godchaux, we want to be back at the Wildcat building. So i think it's very important for them to get back over there so they can have the (Wildcat) spirit again," explained senior Dalaceia Davis.
With their high school destroyed students have been temporarily shifted to the Leon Godchaux building, which previously housed adult education classes. The facility is much smaller and the students are forced to go to class in shifts.
"Friends are on different schedules, brothers and sisters are on different schedules. You can't really see nobody, and some people want to be on the morning shift and some want to be on the evening shift, it's difficult," Davis continued.
Rebuilding is the goal, but officials say it’s going to take time and money, $41 million by last estimate.
"Everything is gone, everything is done. All of our teachers, we have teachers that have been teaching 40 years. All the supplies that they've accumulated over the years, all the binders, all the resources, everything is gone," Patricia Triche, principal at East St. John High School explained.
FEMA will take care of $26 million of that, and insurance is paying out another $6 million. But the district is responsible for the rest, which comes in at about $9 million. Heidi Trosclair, Director of Curriculum for the board, explained that the District does have about $4 million in a rainy day fund that they can utilize. But that still leaves $5 million dollars in damages, and no clear plan where that money is going to come from.
"John White, was here yesterday, and he was also here with some elected officials. And he's going to do everything he can do to appeal to the legislature to make sure our school system gets back the money that we need," Triche added.
While no one has the answer yet for where the final millions will come from, all agree for now at least they've just got to concentrate on getting through this school year.
"It’s going to be ok, it's going to be ok. We’re going to survive this. It’s not the school and the walls that make us, it's the people who fill them," Triche said.
The 700 students from Lake Pontchartrain Elementary are divided by grade between six buildings. Administrators hope to have both schools ready and rebuilt for next school year.