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EBR School District Revamp Back to the Drawing Board

The state House has rejected a proposal to restructure the East baton Rouge Parish School District. 

In making his closing argument for the bill in the House, Rep. Steve Carter rattled off dire statistics about test scores and arrests at parish schools. 

“The entire business community recognizes the fact we need to do something," Carter said. 

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber offered the plan to restructure the parish district. 

BRAC had opposed previous failed bids to form a breakaway school district in southeast Baton Rouge, and has come out against the St. George incorporation petition to allow for a separate district. 

The bill voted down Wednesday would have created enrollment zones, required parent councils in each zone, and set up new accountability and autonomy for principals in the parish district.

Rep. Ted James was among those saying it was hastily conceived. 

“The people the chamber says know best — those are the parents, the educators, the principals, the community members that oppose this measure," James said. 

Forty principals at EBR schools signed on to a letter urging House members to vote against the restructuring, saying it could have unintended consequences — leaving schools without enough money to maintain old facilities and pulling principals away from instructional leadership. 

Ultimately, the vote on the House floor wasn’t close, 31 yeas, 60 nays. 

BRAC President Adam Knapp says the chamber will now look to the fall school board elections to bring forth the kind of changes they were after with the restructuring bill. 

“Well, If there are no other options, what options are out there in terms of elections driving change within this district," said Knapp.