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Photograph: St. Landry Parish School Board member Milton Ambres listens to discussions for the sale of property previously used for Morrow Elementary School on La. 71. (Photograph by Bobby Ardoin)

Editor/Consulting Writer

The St. Landry Parish School District is prepared to purchase a state-owned campus in Opelousas, while school board members are contemplating the sale of property in the northern portion of the parish.

Each financial transaction which has previously been considered for nearly a decade, was discussed on Tuesday night by a Building, Lands and Sites Committee.

Final approval for buying the 12-acre bio-medical facility next to Opelousas High and selling nearly nine acres once used for Morrow Elementary, will be considered again when board members meet Sept. 7 for a regular meeting.

Bio-Med Complex
Operations Director Claudia Blanchard told the Committee that following extensive negotiations, state officials have agreed to sell the classroom facility and property to the District for $55,767.

Blanchard also explained to the Committee that the sale is contingent on whether the District is able to provide within two years, a new roof for the entire building and adjoining gymnasium.

Cost estimates for the roof repairs are estimated at nearly $1 million, Blanchard said.

The District has been using the building for Bio-medical career learning without cost for the last 12 years through an agreement with the state, said Blanchard.

Through the memorandum agreement, the State has allowed the District to use the building as long as the District provides maintenance.

The District also paid for the classroom modifications and renovations.

“If (the District) can change the roof over the two-year period the state will consider it to be an even exchange. The price is low, but we will have to change the roof. The building cannot be given away,” Blanchard added.

At this point Blanchard indicated that there is money budgeted in order to fix the roof on the building in order for other purchase details to proceed.

Morrow Elementary Property
Board members have discussed the sale for the 8.61 acres of the Morrow property on La. 71 several times over the past few years.

The property, which is now overgrown and contains a building partially damaged by fire, also includes another two acres which was donated for a school site.

However, according to several board members, the donated portion of the school property is scheduled to be given back to the original owners when the land ceases to be used for educational purposes.

The District has previously appraised the Morrow property several times, but the Board has never agreed to sell it.

Board member Milton Ambres said his grandfather, also named Milton Ambres, was one of several men who donated property for a Morrow-area school. Ambres said it would be difficult now to locate the heirs associated with the other individuals who donated the two-acre tract.

“I’d say sell it. The land was donated originally to build a school for Black kids many years ago. There is no way that you can find all the people who own that two acres. Sell the property and clean it up, because I’m not,” Ambres said.

Board member Bianca Vedell said individuals from the Morrow area have met and are concerned that the property represents a hazard.