Empty since May, Broadmoor Middle School in Baton Rouge is set for a $15 million remodeling project soon, but that’s likely to get pushed back at least a year as school officials struggle to figure out what to do with the 58-year-old facility.
The delay would allow for input from whoever replaces Warren Drake as superintendent after he retires June 30 from his position leading the East Baton Rouge Parish public school system. Austin-based JG Consulting was recently hired to head up the search.
The $15 million for Broadmoor Middle is one of 22 “named” projects in a decadelong construction package known as the “Tax Plan” and one of four scheduled to start during the 2019-20 school. The 22 projects were approved by voters on April 28, 2018 as part of the renewal of a 1-cent sales tax earmarked for education.
The original idea floated when the Tax Plan was developed in late 2017 was to move a popular foreign language school, BR FLAIM, to the building housing Broadmoor Middle once it was renovated. But some parents resisted the move, so the idea was dropped. BR FLAIM ended up relocating from downtown Baton Rouge to the former Valley Park Junior High campus.
“They are happy where they are,” Drake said.
Several ideas have been floated since then, but nothing has been settled on.
With the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board scheduled to vote Thursday whether to give Superintendent Warren Drake authority to lay off empl…
In the meantime, the school system moved forward with closing the neighborhood middle school in May and reassigned its 376 students to nearby middle schools.
On Oct. 28, the parish School Board held a workshop to discuss the state of the Tax Plan, including what to do with 14-acre property at the corner of Goodwood Boulevard and Sharp Road. The board’s discussion left the matter still undecided.
Drake suggested consolidating Central Office there but found little support for that idea.
For the past couple of years, Drake has pressed for moving the Central Office from 1050 South Foster Drive to a place that would be large enough to consolidate a dozen different administrative offices into one location.
“We can provide a better service to the community,” Drake said “We’re in silos. We’re not efficient economically.”
ST. FRANCISVILLE — East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members attending a two-day retreat were presented with $21.3 million in potential bud…
The search for that one location, including a brief look at the mostly empty Cortana Mall, has been fruitless thus far.
“We’ve looked at several buildings around Baton Rouge,” he said. “They just weren’t the right size.”
Broadmoor Middle is centrally located and, with some work, could work well as the Central Office, Drake said. The cost of renovations could be more than offset by selling no longer needed property now used for administrative sites, he said.
But Drake’s idea didn’t appeal to board members.
“I hate to take away a potential student learning site and in the middle of a neighborhood and put in this commercial building,” said board member Jill Dyason.
Board President Mike Gaudet suggested that a year delay in proceeding with renovations at Broadmoor Middle would be helpful, saying things may become clearer then as to use of the building that makes the most sense.
Any delay would have to be approved by the Oversight Committee, a special citizen’s committee that oversees spending arising from the 1-cent sales tax.
Drake said he’s fine with leaving this decision for the next superintendent. Broadmoor Middle is a good building, despite its age, he said, and could work as a variety of different kinds of schools.
“We had the architects go through it. It’s got really good bones. It’s solid,” Drake said. “It would just need to be renovated from top to bottom.”
What to do instead remains an open question.
Drake said the school system currently doesn’t need more middle school seats.
Even with closing Broadmoor Middle, several middle schools in town have plenty of extra space for more kids. Also, the new Jefferson Terrace Academy, set to open in August, will have 300 more middle school seats.
Jefferson Terrace Elementary is slated to be rebuilt on 20 acres of nearby vacant property, with construction scheduled to begin in February.
Dyason, who went to Broadmoor Middle years ago, has not given up on the idea of seeing her old school reopened as a middle school. She suggested that a careful redrawing of attendance zones could make it viable. Dyason has sought to free up space at Woodlawn Middle, the most crowded of the public middle schools in town.
Meanwhile, there’s a glut of elementary schools in most of Baton Rouge, including several charter schools that have opened in recent years. Just down Goodwood Boulevard from Broadmoor Middle are two public elementary schools, Audubon and Broadmoor Elementary schools, as well as one private school, St. Thomas More Catholic School.
Mark Bellue, who represents the Broadmoor area on the School Board and also attended Broadmoor Middle, said one possibility is to link any future work at Broadmoor Middle with $25 million in renovations at nearby Broadmoor High, set to start in 2027.
In the meantime, Bellue’s fine with a delay.
“I hate for us to commit that much money for a project when we don’t have a clear vision of what we want it to be,” he said.
But, Bellue said, the delay shouldn’t be allowed to stretch on too long.
“We can’t have that property just sitting there,” he said.