Parents Push SE School District
Southeast EBR Would Comprise New Independent School District
BATON ROUGE — Sen. Bodi White (R-Central) said Wednesday he is negotiating in good faith with East Baton Rouge Parish school officials to see if there is an alternative to creating the new Southeast Baton Rouge School District.
“Obviously, creating the new district would be the best thing to do,” he said. “But we are giving a good faith effort at reaching a compromise.”
“The window of opportunity to reach a compromise is short,” he said. “We can have a bill in the hopper in 30 minutes, if we need to.”
Meanwhile, leaders of Local Schools for Local Children, the group promoting the new school system, said their enthusiasm is high and that they believe a legislative victory could be at hand.
Josh Hoffpauir, one of the leaders of the Local Schools organization, said his members are highly motivated, larger in number, and more determined than last year.
“In the legislature, we are holding our support from last year and reaching out to additional members. We have an excellent chance for success,” he said.
Hoffpauir said, “This is really about the future of Baton Rouge and enabling us to come back together and grow our community. We need to get people back to the public schools. Private schools should not be the only option.”
Norman Browning, president of Local Schools for Local Children, said his group is motivated by a desire to have true community schools with full participation by parents, teachers, and administrators.
“Look at Zachary and Central,” he said. “People got involved. They hired good principals and good teachers. They adopted good curricula. Within two years, each of them was among the top school districts in the state!”
The Southeast Baton Rouge school system would be bounded by I-12 on the north, I-10 on the west, the Amite River on the east, and Bayou Manchac on the south.
There are 10 public schools in that geographic area — Woodlawn High, Woodlawn Middle, Southeast Middle, and seven elementary schools — Cedarcrest, Jefferson Terrace, Parkview, Shenandoah, Wedgewood, Westminster, and Woodlawn.
Browning said it is difficult to estimate the number of students who would initially enroll in schools in the new district, but one estimate puts it at 7,200.
The district would have its own elected school board and would be self-governing.
In response to the charge made Tuesday by Belinda Davis of One Community, One School District, Hoffpauir said “I’m surprised they are pulling out the race card so early this year. This is not about race but about offering quality education to people in our community.”
Creation of a new school system requires the passage of an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution.