A small Baton Rouge alternative school for students with disciplinary problems is vacating the run down former elementary school it’s long occupied in Scotlandville and will share space during the spring semester with another still-to-determined disciplinary school.
Interim Superintendent Adam Smith on Wednesday said a decision will be made this week about which of the handful of alternative school campuses in Baton Rouge will house EBR Readiness Superintendent’s Academy for the spring. Smith said enrollment at EBR Readiness is down since so many students are learning virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, some students already at the school were leaving because their disciplinary period ended with the end of the fall semester.
“We’re expecting that only 5 to 10 kids will show up,” Smith said.
Donna Sedevie, a longtime teacher at the school, said she's still waiting for more information on not only where they will have school, but also their work schedule, how much she'll teach at home versus on campus and her role generally.
“I don’t know what to expect," Sedevie said. "It’s just weird.”
In going this route, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is setting aside an earlier plan to move EBR Readiness to the former Glen Oaks Middle School, which is located 2 miles east of the alternative school’s current home at the former Banks Elementary.
Both Banks and Glen Oaks Middle are in poor shape and have been candidates for demolition in the past. Banks is in worse shape, with a roof that needs replacing. By contrast, parts of the Glen Oaks campus are either new or recently renovated.
A proposal to move a small Baton Rouge alternative school for pupils with disciplinary problems from its current dilapidated campus to another…
In preparation for the proposed move, the school system spent about $50,000 to clean up Glen Oaks Middle, spraying cleansers on grimy walls, carting off trash, replacing broken windows, filling potholes and trimming trees.
Even so, a couple of board members, including Dadrius Lanus, who represents the Glen Oaks area and also attended and taught at the middle school, criticized reusing the campus again unless the district makes major improvements. The proposed move also reignited a long-running debate about the sometimes shabby treatment of such schools and their troubled students.
Smith ultimately pulled the plug on moving immediately to Glen Oaks Middle because it would not be fixed up enough by Jan. 5.
“Fire alarms, intercom and all of those things would have not been ready in time,” Smith said.
Smith said he hopes to settle on a permanent home for EBR Readiness in the next couple of months, which would take effect at the start of the 2021-2022 school year in August.
Finding a suitable permanent location for the alternative school has proved difficult because there are few vacant facilities available that are set up for older students. Co-locating the school on the same campus with a more traditional school also is problematic because some EBR Readiness students have juvenile or adult criminal records.
And, while enrollment is low at present, the alternative school has had as many 200 high schools enrolled in years past, so it needs enough room to meet peak demand.
Glen Oaks Middle school is looking less likely to be that permanent home.
Smith said that, with some additional improvements, the facility at 5300 Monarch Avenue would make good “swing space” — a temporary locale for students whose home campus is being renovated or rebuilt. The school system has plans to renovate or rebuild a handful of secondary schools over the next decade, including McKinley High, Glasgow Middle and Broadmoor High schools.
Smith said while he thinks the School Board should seriously consider demolishing Banks, he sees Glen Oaks Middle staying a school for years to come.
“I don’t foresee Glen Oaks Middle place being removed from our inventory list,” he said.