BAKER — More than 40 people attended a Baker School Board work session Tuesday night to hear about a proposed reconstitution plan for Bakerfield Elementary.
Bakerfield has received a grade of F from the state Department of Education for the past four years, making it eligible for takeover by the Recovery School District.
The school has 192 students enrolled, School Board member Elaine Davis said.
The plan for improving the school, written by Baker School District Director of Elementary Education Iris Walker and others, was submitted to the RSD two weeks ago and is still under review by the agency.
If the RSD agrees not to take over the school in 2015-16, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would still have to accept the Baker School District’s plan before it could be implemented, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said.
Joseph stressed that the plan is only a draft and still subject to change.
The plan cites two of the reasons for Bakerfield’s failing grades: teacher absenteeism and high staff turnover.
As of February, 24 percent of teachers had been absent at least 11 days during the 2014-15 school year, according to the plan.
Steps proposed to rectify the problems include increased teacher training and mentorship, and financial incentives for teachers not missing school days.
Under the plan, all staff and nontenured teachers at the school, including the principal, would have to reapply for their jobs. Tenured teachers could be reassigned to positions more in line with their strengths if necessary, Walker said.
The plan also calls for extending the school year by four weeks, adding one pre-K teacher and one pre-K assistant teacher, and improving instruction with supplementary programs in both mathematics and literacy run by specially trained teachers.
More arts education is also in the plan, including adding speech and theater, instrumental music, and visual and graphic arts to the existing choral program at the school.
A partnership with the Southern University’s mathematics and science doctoral program to improve students’ mathematics and science skills is also included in the proposal.
The projected budget for running the school under the new plan for the 2015-16 school year is $2.4 million.
Interviewed after the meeting, Joseph could not confirm how much it costs to run Bakerfield.
When asked why the proposal was submitted to the RSD before showing it to the board and the public, Joseph said that sending the draft to the RSD was a way of giving them a heads-up and that changes could still be made.
Jerrie Williams, whose child attends Baker High School, was among the parents and residents who expressed concern over the lack of community and parent involvement with the proposal.
The first of many forums will be held for parents and others to see and discuss the plan at 6 p.m. Monday at Bakerfield, Davis said.
East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Vereta Lee urged all those in attendance to support the Baker School Board in improving Bakerfield. If the RSD takes over the school, getting it back will be difficult, she said.
“The RSD doesn’t want anything except the money coming in. The children (attending Bakerfield Elementary) are just money to them,” she said.