Breakaway school district gets approval from Senate Education Committee

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 5:06pm

It’s a new session, but an old familiar subject, the bill to create the Breakaway School district passed through the Senate Education Committee Thursday without opposition from committee members.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School system serves 43,000 students every day, but it’s a number some feel is just to high to sustain.

"There’s about 40 students to one teacher. These are classes that are required to graduate, and there's not much that can be done with 40 students to one teacher," explained Carol Lester to the Senate Committee. Lester is a 10th grader at Woodlawn High School. Woodlawn would be one of the schools in the Breakaway Community School District if it was created.

"If you walk into Woodlawn High sometimes, it's almost like a zoo. I think every child, regardless, should have a fair chance at a good education," added Tonya Jackson, a mother of two Woodlawn High students.

That's why Jackson and other parents and students like her are pushing to break up the East Baton Rouge School District and create the Southeast Community School District with the help of Senator Bodi White. White authored the bill that would create the Breakaway District.

"We want to bring community back to education. All we ask you is that we can bring this to a vote of the people," said Norman Browning of the Local Schools for Local Children group.

The East Baton Rouge School Board has continued to come out strongly against the idea. Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor claims the new district will drain money and resources from EBR and create major divides.

"You will have a poorer district, you will have a more racially isolated school district and you will have programs that are thriving now that will be in serious peril," Taylor stated.

Several parents agreed with Taylor, claiming that the split isn’t the right choice.

"I firmly believe that East Baton Rouge public education will be stronger, safer and more successful if we keep our resources together," said parent Janet Moulder.

"You are going to be taking dollars out of my students' classrooms so I would appreciate your careful consideration in this matter," said Belinda Davis of the One Community, One School District.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor. Last year it made it to the House floor before being killed there.


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