Warren Drake is poised to stay on for two more years as East Baton Rouge Parish school superintendent, but his contract extension still needs more work.
In a procedural vote Thursday, the School Board gave itself two more weeks to tinker with a 19-page document extending Drake's three-year contract through June 30, 2020.
Drake’s current three-year contract expires in June 2018. The board will take up the extension at its Sept. 21 meeting.
The hangup is over a list of performance goals that, if met, could add up to $20,000 to Drake’s pay each year. A few board members expressed interest in more-precise targets for improving the district’s lowest-performing schools.
Warren Drake once again has earned a favorable evaluation from the East Baton Rouge Parish S…
That board members will ultimately extend Drake’s contract is not really in question. Drake has received two consecutive strong evaluations from the board’s nine members and several of them reiterated their support for him Thursday.
“I think we all agree that this district has a very, very good superintendent, and I personally would love to keep him for a very long time,” said board President Evelyn Ware Jackson.
Board member David Tatman echoed Ware-Jackson.
“We have the best superintendent in the state of Louisiana,” Tatman said.
If approved, Drake, 65, would be the first East Baton Rouge Parish superintendent whose contract has been extended since Charlotte Placide in 2007. He is set to be the longest-serving superintendent since Placide, who held the job for five years.
“I love what I do and I look forward to many, many more years as superintendent,” Drake said after Thursday’s discussion.
Board Vice President Connie Bernard said she has confidence in Drake and wants his contract extended, but she wants more “teeth” in the document.
“We want certain measures in the contract,” she said.
Ware-Jackson briefly floated the idea of delaying the final vote on Drake’s contract extension not just for two weeks but another six weeks, noting the board members did not see a revised draft of the contract until Thursday morning. But several board members said that's too long a delay and two weeks should be plenty of time.
Drake was appointed parish schools superintendent as a well-respected educator who’d spent a decade leading Zachary, the state’s highest-ranked school district. Prior to running Zachary schools, Drake spent most of his career in East Baton Rouge Parish schools as a teacher and later an administrator. He served as principal of Tara High in Baton Rouge from 1996 to 2002.
He landed the superintendent job in East Baton Rouge Parish with a unanimous vote after being one of 10 applicants and the only person interviewed for the job.
Drake’s time running the state’s second-largest school district has often been tumultuous.
His most high-profile success has been persuading the state to return control of Istrouma High School to the school district and then last month reopening the school after a $24.1 million renovation.
Academically, Drake’s first year saw growth in almost all academic indicators, but year two saw declines at many schools.
Drake’s second year was waylaid by the historic August 2016 flood which damaged 10 schools along with provoking widespread student and employee upheaval. It was the toughest year of his professional life, Drake has acknowledged.
After the flood, Drake spent months preparing an extensive district reorganization plan that consolidated several schools, but at the last minute pulled his most controversial proposals.
Drake’s hand-picked number two administrator, Michelle Clayton, surprised many by resigning in May. She later took a job as an administrator with an online charter school in Baton Rouge. Her departure prompted Drake to reorganize his Central Office for the second time since taking over.
Warren Drake’s tenure as superintendent of Louisiana’s second largest school district is at …
Increasing competition from charter schools has also bedeviled Drake, as it has his predecessors. The state approved contracts for two charters in Baton Rouge in 2016 over Drake’s objections. Since then, Drake has agreed to bring in four other charter operators, a couple of them with ambitious expansion plans.
Charter schools are public schools run by private groups via charters, or contracts.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted unanimously Thursday to a three-year contract…
The proposed extension of Drake’s contract would renew his base salary at its current level of $249,411 a year. He would continue, though, to earn 3 percent annual pay raises, assuming he continues to receive favorable evaluations. His next evaluation, if favorable, would increase his annual salary to $256,791. He started in 2015 making $235,000 a year.
As far as performance goals, Drake’s initial contract had 17 goals, while the latest draft of his contract extension shrinks that to 10. Some goals are identical or substantially similar.
There’s a proposed new goal calling on Drake to provide leadership toward the successful renewal this coming spring a 10-year, 1-cent sales tax that funds employee salaries and school construction.
A couple of goals that he achieved already — for instance, creating a district leadership academy — are being dropped.
Another goal that’s no longer there was to “implement the district’s strategic plan,” which was approved in 2013. Drake said that strategic plan is getting old and needs to be revised, but he said renewing the 1-cent sales tax will take up a lot of time so the strategic plan revamp will likely wait until after that election.