RSD, parents ask more of each other

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 6:00am

The head of the Recovery School District told parents he wants greater involvement from them next year.

Superintendent Patrick Dobard began a series of parent meetings with a session at Dalton Elementary Wednesday night.

He said the primary goal of the RSD is to bring positive results to schools with a history of failure. Its secondary goal, in light of declining enrollment at several of its schools, is to get parents to trust it.

"Just because a school is under the RSD's jurisdiction, doesn't mean that that's synonymous with a lesser educational opportunity," Dobard said.

Dalton Elementary is a local success for the RSD. Its school performance score rose 14 points last year. Parents praised the effort of principal Marilyn Taylor.

"Ms. Taylor's passionate about what she's doing with these kids," Kenyatta Drake said, "cause she's pushed it up a good little bit for the length of time she's been here."

"I'm pleased with the leadership we've shown in our schools," agreed Dobard. "But I do have a higher expectation that we're gonna improve next year."

Dobard and Taylor both stressed accountability in their comments, saying that if more is expected of students, teachers, and parents, children will get a better education system. Lynette Allen, the school's parent liaison, sees a difference every day.

"The kids are following rules," she stated. "They are enjoying learning. We have a high attendance rate. They come, they come eager to learn."

Drake has a second grader at Dalton, and another child in Pre-K whom she would like to place at Dalton, as well. She said the determining factor for her would be whether the RSD offers more programs for gifted and talented students, such as her oldest son. Otherwise, she will look to enroll them in magnet schools.

"If they can implement a program for him to excel more than what he's doing, and he keeps that straight-A path, he could stay here," Drake said. "And I'll be more than happy to back RSD all the way."

Taylor said one of her goals for Dalton in the coming year is to look into the possibility of becoming a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) school. She said a partnership with ExxonMobil has proved successful, and she hopes to extend and increase it.

The toughest question Dobard faced was about the RSD's long-term strategy of finding charter operators to run its schools. One audience member told him that if the RSD is the best choice to lead the turnaround, it should maintain control once the school stabilizes.

Dobard responded that beaurocrats should not be in the business of running schools, so the best thing the state could do would be to give control to passionate local groups.

Dobard will host meetings at the other six RSD-run schools in Baton Rouge on the following dates:

April 18, Lanier Elementary School, 6:00 p.m.

April 24, Glen Oaks Middle School, 6:00 p.m.

April 25, Crestworth Middle School, 6:00 p.m.

May 1, Capitol High School, 6:00 p.m.

May 2, Istrouma High School, 6:00 p.m.

May 16, Prescott Middle School, 6:00 p.m. (at Istrouma High School) 


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