I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, parents, students and community partners who offered their support to me and the East Baton Rouge Parish School system during my tenure as superintendent of schools.

When my leadership role here began, the district faced a number of immediate threats. I was asked to testify before the Louisiana Legislature to stop passage of a measure that would have allowed a portion of the district to break away. Four district schools were being considered for takeover by the Recovery School District in the event the schools’ individual academically unacceptable status remained unchanged. State officials had a plan to create a so-called “Achievement Zone,” explaining this was necessary as most of the schools north of Florida Boulevard would soon be placed in the Recovery School District. The district had to contain costs associated with retiree health care, as soaring costs threatened the fiscal viability of the district. The district’s budget issues required cuts approaching $30 million. To say these issues were daunting for an incoming superintendent would be an understatement.

Three years after I took office, the district remains intact; no schools have been taken over by the Recovery School District due to academic deficiencies, student achievement is improving and the retiree health care issue has been amicably resolved. More than 90 percent of eligible retirees are enrolled in Humana Medicare Advantage Plan, and the district has achieved savings of $6 million in the first year of implementation. This year’s proposed general fund budget will provide step increases for all employees; no increases in health care premiums for district employees and retirees; and the smallest use of the district’s $41 million fund balance from the district’s general fund in recent years. Construction of Lee High School is on schedule, and ground will soon be broken on the new Career and Technical Center.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School system is poised to achieve its strategic plan goal of becoming one of the state’s premier districts. Please visit the schools and learn more about the outstanding work that is being done every day. Consider becoming a mentor, tutor or volunteer. I have had the privilege of working with outstanding staff who perform a variety of duties that help children learn and succeed. Their collective efforts and the support of the community will ensure that the district continues on its path of excellence. From the youngest student in pre-K to our high school students, these young people are special and have served as inspirations for me. I can only hope that the future continues to see the East Baton Rouge Parish school system moving forward.

The opportunity to serve as superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has been a blessing. Please accept my best wishes to each and every one of you as we continue to be committed advocates and supporters of children and education.

Bernard Taylor

superintendent of schools

Baton Rouge