The St. Helena Parish School District has asked a federal court in Baton Rouge to impose a property tax on residents to support bonds that would help rebuild its aging schools.

The request is being considered by U.S. District Court Judge James Brady as part of the school board's 57-year-old desegregation case.

None of the parties to the case have objected to the taxes.

The tax plan includes two separate levies. Officials said the district needs a property tax to support $27.5 million of 20-year general obligation bonds to rebuild three schools and a tax to generate $2 million a year for salary increases over 20 years.

Voters have rejected the school district's request for property tax increases four times since October 2007.

In a court filing last week, school board attorney Nelson Taylor said that imposition of the tax by the court was the only solution to enhancing the district's finances.

"The white community not only abandoned the public school system physically, it withdrew its financial support as well," Nelson said in the brief.

In an affidavit filed with the court, superintendent Daisy Slan said the district's three buildings are at least 40 years old and cannot be adequately maintained with current revenues.

The proposed tax would total $155 a year for a $100,000 home with a homestead exemption.

The school district has no rated debt and is approximately 40 miles east of Baton Rouge.

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