BAKER — The Baker School Board voted unanimously Tuesday in naming Herman Brister Sr. its next superintendent of schools.
Brister, who serves as associate superintendent for student support services in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, will begin as the superintendent of Baker schools as soon as his contract is finalized.
That’s expected to happen at a special School Board meeting Thursday.
The terms of his contract are likely to be similar to those of outgoing superintendent Ulysses Joseph, who makes $118,000 per year plus benefits, board President Elaine Davis said after the meeting.
Joseph submitted his resignation March 31 and will leave his position Thursday.
The vote came after a meeting during which Brister took questions from board members and Baker residents alike.
Brister began his presentation by distancing himself from a charter school organization founded by his son, Herman Brister Jr., and others. The Community School for Apprenticeship Learning is the management organization for the school sharing its name, as well as Madison Preparatory Academy and the Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy. Brister said his role in the organization is strictly advisory and he does not serve as an active board member.
Charter schools are simply competition, Brister told the board.
“Money comes with student count. Student count will increase when academic performance in the schools increases, when we hold teachers accountable. I’m not worried about charter schools, that’s competition. Parents need choices. I’m not going to get upset because momma made a choice (to send a child to a charter school),” he said.
Brister said he is confident that Baker schools can compete with the charter schools by offering a high-quality education to students.
“We need to care about the students. Treat them like our own,” he said.
Board member Shona Boxie asked Brister about his plans for improving Bakerfield Elementary School. After four years as an F school, Bakerfield was nearly taken over by the state’s Recovery School District at the end of the school year. The district has one year to improve the school or again face the threat of takeover.
Brister said he has been involved in several reconstitution plans for failing schools in his position with the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. The important elements in turning around schools are strong support teams from the district level, leadership at the school level, finances to pay for quality teachers and leaders, maximizing student and teacher potential, finding out how to make each individual student succeed, and holding people accountable, he said.
The last remark drew applause from the audience.
One mistake Brister felt was made in East Baton Rouge Parish was being too quick to close schools, bowing to what he called “outside influences.”
“We could have fought a little harder,” he said.
Brister was the sole candidate brought in for an interview with the board out of eight candidates.
He graduated from Southern University in 1976, received a master’s degree in special education from LSU in 1979 and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2007.
He has held various positions in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system since 1997, including principal of Capitol Middle School.