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Istrouma High School's ribbon cutting and grand re-opening ceremony on Sept. 12, 2017.

ADVOCATE STAFF FILE PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

Istrouma High School, which reopened in August, may add a magnet program next year to sync up with and attract students from a middle school magnet program already in operation.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the idea. If, as expected, it receives final approval when the board meets Oct. 19, Istrouma High would be the sixth high school in Baton Rouge with a magnet program.

The estimated cost would be $154,000 for the 2018-19 school year, falling to about $81,000 a year for the two years after that.

Istrouma High reopened Aug. 9, three years after the state closed the school in 2014. The north Baton Rouge high school has about 400 students, all in either ninth or 10th grades, but has capacity for about 1,200 students as it expands. The school system is spending $24.1 million to renovate the 66-year-old facility.

The renovations were only partially complete at the start of the current school year. Consequently, a companion Istrouma Middle School, which has 118 students, is spending the first semester at the former Eden Park Elementary School, 1650 N. Acadian Thruway East. Istrouma Middle is scheduled to take over the ground floor at 3730 Winbourne Ave. in January.

The middle school’s magnet program has two parts: an honors academy with a college prep focus and a broadcast communications academy for students interested in newspaper journalism, radio, television, public speaking and satellite communications.

The proposed high school magnet program at Istrouma would be set up the same way. And like the middle school, there would be minimum academic admissions requirements.

Heretofore, the plan was for the middle school’s magnet program to end in eighth grade. The high school would offer an honors track as well as a range of career and technical courses that would serve as a draw for children from the middle school.

Superintendent Warren Drake said his staff have been talking for months about whether that needed to change. The principals of both the high school and middle school, as well as board member Kenyetta Nelson-Smith, who represents the area, have pressed to continue the magnet program into high school grades. They were concerned that, absent that, most of the graduating middle school magnet students would transfer to other high schools with magnet programs.

“There’s no other school where there’s an abrupt stop to the magnet program,” Drake said.

Magnets use the allure of specialized programming to try to create racially and socioeconomically diverse classrooms.

On Thursday, the board also voted unanimously to give tentative approval to creating a “priority zone” for Mayfair Lab, a four-year-old magnet school at 9880 Hyacinth Ave. The board is expected to approve the idea when it meets again Oct. 19.

The proposed zone would cover neighborhoods close to the school. Students living in the zone would be given preference for admissions to the popular school, which has a A letter grade from the state.

Associate Superintendent Adam Smith said the proposed priority zone would allow the school to target students who currently attend private schools but live nearby.

The proposed zone would be bounded by Interstate 10 on the north, Nicholson Drive on the south, Siegen Lane on the east, and Kenilworth Parkway on the west.

In other action, the board gave tentative approval to repairing Greenbrier Elementary’s 12203 Canterbury Drive campus in Monticello subdivision. The plan is to complete repairs by August 2018 in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Greenbrier students spent last year at Broadmoor Middle School. And as most flooded schools in Baton Rouge reopened in August, Greenbrier remains displaced. It’s operating 5 miles west of Monticello at the former Howell Park Elementary, 6125 Winbourne Ave.

The projected budget for repairing Greenbrier is $5.5 million, of which up to 90 percent is eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Three more flooded public schools in Baton Rouge have yet to be fully repaired: the former Lanier Elementary, the former Prescott Middle and Glen Oaks High School. School officials expect to ask for construction at those schools in the next couple of months.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier