East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake is asking the School Board for feedback at a retreat Saturday on a series of changes that would close, reconfigure, merge or relocate a dozen schools.
These include merging six schools, closing two, expanding two, and relocating two more. In the process, Glen Oaks High would add a middle school, two new elementary schools would open that would focus on grades kindergarten through eighth, BR FLAIM would relocate to the former Valley Park Junior High campus, and Mayfair Lab would add high school grades.
Saturday’s retreat is the second weekend gathering in a month’s time.
The cost of repairing flooded schools in Baton Rouge is estimated at more than $62.5 million…
Instead of meeting offsite as it has in the past, the board plans to hold this retreat at the Instructional Resource Center, 1022 S. Foster Drive, next to the School Board Office, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. That’s a bit shorter than the most recent board retreat held Feb. 4.
The meeting is structured as a workshop, where board members can speak at length on a small list of topics but no votes will be taken. The agenda was finalized Friday morning.
The first order of business Saturday will be the presentation of a new “Academic Innovation and Efficiency Plan.”
It starts with what Drake is calling A3+ C, which stands for Academics, Arts Integration, Athletic Activity and Character. The academic part is an update of current practices built around the 2012 book, “The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core.” All of the proposals are to take effect this fall, except districtwide arts integration, which would begin in fall 2018.
Drake has other issues he wants the board to talk about:
— Facility use. Drake is suggesting several changes to help fill up more of its buildings, many of which are well under capacity. The board is also to receive updates on post-flooding reconstruction plans for 14 schools and administrative centers.
— Attendance zones. A couple of board members have been pressing for new maps to better reflect the communities where schools are located. The flooding has scrambled those maps even more. Also, the reopening of Istrouma High is forcing school rezoning among high schools.
— Tax Plan. That is school system shorthand for the construction projects paid for by a 1-cent sale tax first approved by voters in 1998. It is up for renewal in 2018. In advance of that election, the school system is developing a new list of projects that the renewed sales tax would fund.
The parish school system has about 41,000 students and remains the second largest in Louisiana. But enrollment has been on the decline for years due to flight to private and suburban public schools, as well as new school districts in Baker, Central and Zachary. Competition has also increased thanks to seven district-sponsored and 19 independent charter schools that all draw students from the parish. And then there’s vouchers and tax rebates that public school children can use to attend private schools at public expense.
East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Drake on Saturday is asking School Board members for feedback on several new proposals:
— Close White Hills Elementary in May and send its 150 students to nearby schools. Drake saved White Hills, located at 5300 Bentley Drive near Baker, from closing nearly two years ago in one of his first moves after he took over as superintendent. Its enrollment, however, has continued to slide.
— Relocate Park Elementary and its 290 students this fall from 2700 Fuqua Street to nearby Capitol Elementary, 4141 Gus Young Ave. The $20 million for improvements to Park Elementary would be shifted to other projects, pending approval of a citizens oversight committee.
— Merge Capitol Elementary and Middle schools into one K-8 school. The two schools have 440 and 430 students, respectively. They would operate at Capitol Middle’s campus at 5100 Greenwell Springs Road.
— Merge Howell Park Elementary at Claiborne Elementary rather than return Howell Park to 6125 Winbourne Ave. The two schools have 250 and 570 students, respectively. Howell Park, which flooded in August, has shared space since it was at Claiborne, which is at 4707 Denham St.
— End $750,000 contract with AMI Kids to educate students with disciplinary problems. About 40 students from the school system currently attend AMI.
— Merge Broadmoor elementary and middle schools into one K-8 school in August 2018 when Broadmoor Elementary’s new, rebuilt facility at 9650 Goodwood Blvd., is complete. Broadmoor Middle’s nearby campus would be vacated.
— Close North Banks Middle and send its 180 students in May 2018 to Glen Oaks High. The high school would in turn add middle school grades. Glen Oaks High flooded in August. Everyone had to relocate, but the high school is slated to be rebuilt. North Banks, at 5959 Cadillac St., was created in 2013 after some Glen Oaks High parents complained about having middle school students on the high school campus.
— Relocate BR FLAIM’s students in fall 2018 to former Valley Park Junior High campus at 4510 Bawell St. The foreign language immersion magnet school, which has about 450 students, would vacate its campuses at 802 Mayflower St., and 408 East Polk St.
— Add high school grades to Mayfair Lab, located at 9880 Hyacinth Ave., starting in 2019. Its first graduating class would be in spring 2023. Mayfair Lab, which opened as a magnet school in 2013, currently has about 240 students.