Central Private buys land for new campus, plans 2021 opening

    Central Private School has bought a 27-acre tract on Gurney Road for its planned new campus.

    The first phase of construction is slated to begin in January, says Brennan Easley, chairman of the school’s board, and is expected to last one year. 

    Describing the construction timeline as “aggressive,” Easley aims for the new campus to be open to students at the midterm of the 2020-2021 school year. The entire project is expected to cost between $22 million and $25 million. 

    The first phase is covered by an $11 million FEMA grant, which Easley hopes will pay for academic buildings, a gym and a cafeteria, but says they won’t know for sure until they issue bids this fall. 

    “We’re only building what we can afford,” Easley says, adding they plan to fundraise and bolster the school’s enrollment to pay for the rest of the project, which mostly consists of athletic fields. 

    Plans for the new campus were made after Central’s campus was inundated by the 2016 floods. The property, which the board closed on earlier this week for $1 million, was attractive because it’s located outside of flood zones.

    About 400 students are currently enrolled, but the new campus will accommodate up to 750 kids. The school plans to bolster enrollment through marketing, according to Easley. It recently joined the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and in May, changed its mascot from the Rebels to the Red Hawks in order to be “more attractive and noncontroversial.”

    “We did it because we thought it was a better marketing tool to grow the school and separate it from the bad parts of the past,” Easley says, adding there are also plans to soon launch a capital campaign.

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