DALLAS — The Louisiana State Bond Commission approved $11 million of taxable revenue bonds for a high school military academy in New Orleans at its monthly meeting Thursday.
The federal tax-credit bonds for the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy will be issued by the Louisiana Community Development Authority. The authorization includes $8 million of taxable qualified zone academy bonds and $3 million of taxable qualified school construction bonds.
The public charter school will use the proceeds to gut and renovate two existing structures at the Federal City complex. A third facility will be built on the site of two old metal buildings that will be razed.
The military academy is part of the Federal City project located at a historic U.S. Navy support base in the Algiers section of New Orleans. The school is outside the confines of the Marine Corps Support Facility, New Orleans, a secure military compound that is national headquarters for Marine Forces Reserve.
The Marine Academy opened in fall 2011 with a ninth-grade class. Commandant Bill Davis, a retired Marine Corps colonel, said the school will expand to the 10th grade in fall 2012, and plans to be a four-year high school by the end of the spring 2015 semester.
“We have 103 hard-charging cadets on deck in our first class,” Davis told the commission. “The bonds will allow us to build out to 620 to 650 students on deck.”
Davis said the academy is the only public school in the New Orleans area that requires participation in Marine Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Commission director Whit Kling Jr. said the complex arrangement calls for the bonds to be supported in part by state per-student aid in excess of the academy’s needs, as well as federal tax credits.
In his report on the Gulf Opportunity Zone program, Kling said Louisiana exhausted all but just $180 of the $7.8 billion allocated to it under the federal program, which ended Dec. 31, 2011.
The tax-free private-activity bonds helped finance 150 projects, Kling said, including a $1.6 million cogeneration facility that serves several refineries and a $1 billion petrochemical complex.
State Treasurer John Kennedy, who is also chairman of the Bond Commission, praised Congress for extending the program a year past its original termination of Dec. 31, 2010.
“All of us criticize Congress at some point, but the extension for another year was a great benefit,” he said. “I’m glad we were able to use our allotment.”
Kling said the state has $4.5 million of capacity remaining from the Hurricane Ike bond program, which will expire at the end of the year.
The commission also approved $450 million of solid-waste disposal revenue bonds for a biofuels production facility in Rapides Parish. The private-activity bonds are expected to be issued in late 2012.