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Editor/Consulting Writer

A land purchase agreement has been signed and in several months the construction phase for the $36 million Helix AI and Medical Academy is expected to begin, St. Landry Parish School Board members were told Tuesday night.

The charter school facility located on 17 acres purchased from Our Saviors Church on Interstate-49, will initially educate students in kindergarten through fifth grade, said Preston Castille, who operates a similar Helix-funded school in Baton Rouge.

At this point Castille expects the school to be ready for operation for the start of 2025-26..

Last year the Board approved an educational partnership agreement with Helix officials that also allows the School District to assist with curriculum development.

Eventually the school is expected to have enough classroom capacity for adding at least three more grade levels, Castille told board members.

The charter school arrangement with Helix will enable the District to count the students at the Academy as part of the annual state Minimum Foundation Program, which provides funding for every St. Landry public school student.

Ecole St. Landry in Sunset is also a District-affiliated charter school.

Castile told board members that the Helix school is strategically located, since it will be built near a hospital and several existing medical facilities.

Artificial Intelligence, Castille said, has become a “way of life in the world and in the workplace,” while careers in the medical fields continue to expand.

Funding for the project, Castillel noted, is originating from private donations and grants. 

“We are not asking for more money from the District. However we have been surprised at the reception that we have received from the community. I think as we go along (the District and the public) will be amazed at the amount of resources that we have,” Castille added.

Castille, who last year was elected to a second term as a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, referred to what he said is the strategic location of the Academy.

“There is a lot of development going on in that area and we think the property is located in what you could call the gateway to Acadiana. We think that we will be able to offer to the children who attend there a chance to prepare for the jobs of the future, which are going to be very different from the jobs that you see right now,” Castille added.