Among Warren Drake's plans for East Baton Rouge schools: Value teachers, remove disruptive students from classroom _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Warren Drake, lone finalist to be the next East Baton Rouge Parish school superintendent, speaks before the parish School Board, Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015, at the Instructional Resource Center. Drake, the former superintendent of top-rated Zachary schools, was named the finalist by the school board last Wednesday after just 45 minutes of examining the 10 applicants for the job.

No one has expressed himself more freely on the subject of helping new Superintendent Warren Drake get his feet on the ground in his new job than outgoing Superintendent Bernard Taylor — but not enough to lose any paychecks. Taylor has a contract, and he’s sticking to it.

So while Taylor remains the super de jure, Drake will be a consultant to the East Baton Rouge Parish public schools until July. Taylor’s contract expires June 30.

While Drake notes there is only one superintendent at a time, he’s being pretty even-keeled about what could otherwise be an awkward interim.

The main difficulty so far has been that Taylor, with little regard for the appearances, dumped a list of 112 promotions in mid-March, making it more trouble for a new superintendent to make key personnel changes. Not impossible, just more difficult.

Once again, Drake’s low-key response betrays a welcome sense of avoiding the drama that often marked Taylor’s tenure. “I’m sure there are some (interim) people there that deserved permanent status, but I don’t think the timing was good,” Drake said.

No drama, but considerable understatement.

The interval before July 1 may serve Drake’s needs well. As a former teacher and principal in the system, he can, as a consultant and superintendent-to-be, meet with those who have followed in his footsteps. A surer touch with the troops in the trenches of public education would be helpful as the system seeks to improve. There is also a lot of communing to do with the community in the coming weeks, so a somewhat less-pressured schedule might serve Drake well.

The new superintendent will wind up his work at the Louisiana Department of Education before taking the consultancy. Even if he won’t have the title, we suspect that there are more than enough people wanting to bend his ear, or take his measure, during the months ahead.