School set to open soon

Published 12:53 am Sunday, January 20, 2008

FERRIDAY — Five months after a fire rendered its main campus unusable, workers are moving through the smoke-stained halls of the Concordia Education Center to ready it for students once again.

Concordia Parish school district Business Manager Tom O’Neal said he has a target date of having the school ready for students by mid-March, but CEC Principal Lillian Franklin doesn’t have any problems hiding her excitement about moving back to the main campus.

“I hope it’s before March,” she said.

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The school, which has approximately 80 students, is being temporarily housed at the old vo-tech building at Ferriday High School.

“It gets cramped at times, but I work with a group of talented people and a very spirited group of students, and we are making the best of the situation,” Franklin said.

The school’s students are taking the temporary situation in stride.

“We take in new students all the time, and they are having to adjust to the new location having never experienced the other site, but those who were present last school term have not let it affect them,” Franklin said.

The renovation process the school is going through right now is called fire eradication, O’Neal said.

All of the ceiling tiles and insulation have been torn out, and a process similar to sandblasting that uses dry ice is being done on the walls.

After that, a sealer will be used on the walls so workers can begin painting, O’Neal said.

The electrical work needed in the restoration project was done earlier in the school year at a cost of $57,058.

The rest of the restoration work, which is being completed by Paul Davis Restoration, of Alexandria, will be finished at a cost of $330,843.

The fire damaged the school Aug. 3, when two teens — then age 14 and 15 — allegedly started the conflagration in a maintenance workroom, where it damaged an electrical box and a sofa in an adjoining teacher’s lounge.

The 14-year-old student was reportedly a student at CEC, which serves as the parish alternative school.