The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is holding an all-day retreat Saturday at Southern University to talk about how it plans to improve 32 of its lowest performing schools.
The school system has a deadline of March 1 to submit “strong evidence-based plans” for improving its “persistently struggling schools” and perhaps be eligible for as much as millions of dollars in grants to fund those plans. Those plans are required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.
Saturday’s retreat is the School Board’s chance to weigh in the school system’s still evolving plan. The retreat is taking place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Donald C. Wade House on the Southern campus, overlooking the Mississippi River.
Quentina Timoll, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position, is the school system’s point person on this issue. Hired in August, Timoll previously held the same position in St. John the Baptist Parish public schools.
There are 32 schools with D and F grades that require “comprehensive intervention” the school system is focusing on. Twenty-two are neighborhood schools, most in north Baton Rouge. Six are alternative schools and four are district-sponsored charter schools.
Timoll spoke briefly to the board on Feb. 1 on what she will talk about Saturday. Timoll said the plans for schools can’t just be the same old, same old.
“I pushed myself and the people who are working around this work to challenge the status quo mindsets and practices within this district that really perpetuate our students being in underperforming schools,” Timoll said.
She also said the plans will differ by school, they will not be “one-size-fits-all.”
East Baton Rouge’s lowest rated public schools are likely to become part of a new “transformation zone,” where school leaders will get years o…
The school system last fall landed a $30,000 planning grant from the state to help figure out what it will do with these schools. Timoll has been working with the nonprofit New Schools for Baton Rouge as well as Recovery School District in Baton Rouge. RSD is calling its plan, a “Transformation Zone” but it’s not clear how closely East Baton Rouge will be participating in that effort.
“Several schools discussed might be located in the RSD Transformation Zone, but the RSD Transformation Zone is not a part of the presentation,” said Timoll in an email Friday.
Timoll said Feb. 1 that she’s brought on two consultants: Star Wallin of the Washington, D.C.-based Bell Creek Consulting, and local consultant, Ron Jackson.
Wallin’s speciality is “school district reform” and has worked in schools in Philadelphia, Denver and Washington, D.C., Timoll explained. Jackson is a local consultant with a background in “leadership development, organization development, change management and coaching,” she said.
“We thought it very necessary to have someone who knows the Baton Rouge context,” Timoll said about Jackson.
One area of high interest in developing the plans has been to deal with widespread student mobility.
“We want to use this as an opportunity to solve that issue, to problem-solve, to troubleshoot the fact that kids constantly move,” Timoll said.