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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2009
Contact: Christina Stephens, christina.stephens@la.gov

State of Louisiana Approves $3.5 Million for Chalmette High School Walkway, Clinic

When completed, classrooms now under construction across busy East Judge Perez Drive will be linked to the consolidated Chalmette High School campus via a LRA-funded elevated walkway and medical clinic.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The state of Louisiana has approved $3.5 million for construction of the Chalmette High School Elevated Walkway and Clinic, allowing the St. Bernard Parish School Board to access federal Community Development Block Grant dollars needed to implement the project.

The funding comes from the Primary and Secondary Education Program, a pool of federal CDBG money set aside by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development to help rebuild school facilities and cover expenses not eligible for reimbursement by FEMA.

After Hurricane Katrina, the St. Bernard Parish School Board voted to consolidate three public high schools into the existing Chalmette High School campus, incorporating the cleared site of a former elementary school located across heavily traveled East Judge Perez Drive.

The funding will help construct a proposed elevated walkway for high school students who must cross the four-lane boulevard to participate in classes and activities at the consolidated campus. In addition, a clinic will be built in conjunction with the walkway to provide medical services for the expanded school population.

"FEMA has determined this project is not eligible for public assistance funding, since the elevated walkway and clinic expand the pre-storm facilities at Chalmette High School," Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Paul Rainwater said. "However, the health and safety of high school students in St. Bernard Parish will be enhanced greatly by this project, which contributes to the school district's master plan for recovery. It is not enough to just repair our schools. We must focus on creating better school communities. I am pleased to see this CDBG disaster recovery money helping to thoughtfully expand services for students."

St. Bernard Parish School Board Superintendant Doris Voitier said, "This project is a symbol of our parish's determination to come back stronger than ever. As part of our district's master plan for recovery, we consolidated three schools, renovated six schools and built two new schools. Construction of the Chalmette High School Elevated Walkway and Clinic demonstrates that St. Bernard Parish is moving forward to offer its high school students a first-rate education at a state-of-the-art facility."

The state's Primary and Secondary Education Program supports the rebuilding, repair and enhancement of school district facilities in the most heavily impacted communities in the state. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the LRA's request to reallocate $47.5 million in CDBG dollars to the program, bringing to $247.5 million the total amount of funding available to the parishes through the Primary and Secondary Education Program. Funds are distributed through the LRA/Office of Community Development among the parishes according to a formula based on estimated housing and infrastructure damages inflicted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In total, the LRA has allocated $39.7 million in CDBG funds to the St. Bernard Parish School Board through this program.

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