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New school district bill passes Senate Education

Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 5:12pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — Parents in the southeastern part of the East Baton Rouge parish are one step closer to forming their own school district tonight. That's after two bills helpful to their cause passed through the Senate Education Committee today.

The original bill, authored by Senator Bodi White, allowed for ten schools in that region to break away from the current East Baton Rouge Parish School System. However, an amendment proposed by Senator Dan Claitor, changed the boundary lines in the bill. That takes two schools out of the proposed district. Six out of those eight schools have a C or lower.

Senator White says the smaller district would help the community to make those schools better.

"It's not an easy issue," White explains. "It's tough on everybody, but it's right the right thing to do sometimes. You can't do everything for everybody, but you're trying to the best for the most."

Dozens of concerned parents, teachers, and community members showed up to that meeting today to let their lawmakers know they want a shot at fixing their schools.

"When I look at the chart right now, and I see D's on those schools, I just cannot believe that this community would allow this to happen, that the state would allow this to happen," says Dorothy Rumfellow.

She was one of many people to stand up in support of the decision to split from the EBR Parish School District. They say that right now East Baton Rouge ranks 54th out of 70 school systems across the state.

"We want to take back control of our community kids, form our community-based schools because they deserve it," says Norman Browning.

However, school officials with East Baton Rouge parish say splitting up their parish will hurt the system. "If we lose these ten schools, our school district would go to a crisis by losing at least nine to 11 points in our district performance score overnight," says interim superintendent Carlos Sam.

They don't think it's far for all students.

"We can't treat education like the Titanic. We can't let some people get in the lifeboat, and let the others hope for the best. We have to get everybody in the lifeboat," says newly chosen superintendent, Dr. Bernard Taylor.

But parents say they just want a chance to change the future for their children. "Today you have an opportunity to see parents, grandparents, educators, business people who are saying to you, we want to try. We want to make these schools better. We think we can do it," says Rumfellow.

The school district still has a long way to go before it becomes a reality. It will go before the Senate Finance Committee next. Then, it still has to pass a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate before voters get a chance to weigh in on it in the fall.

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