Strategic plan for schools delayed, but on the way
The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is likely to soon get a presentation on a long set of recommendations on ways the parish school system can move from 48th to one of the top 10 school districts in Louisiana by 2020.
Board leaders had hoped to have a revised document ready for a board vote in October, but one of the two leaders of a citizens committee that’s led the effort said restarting the work is taking more time than expected.
The 33-member Committee for Educational Excellence developed the “strategic plan” throughout much of 2011 and released a draft version in December.
The far-reaching document suggests giving principals greater say in the teachers they hire and more control of their school budgets, automatic firing of teachers whose students show the least test score growth, firing of principals who fail to meet three-year performance goals, higher pay to teachers willing to work in struggling schools, as well as greater openness to innovation and school choice.The draft plan and supporting documents are posted on the school system’s website — http://news.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/ebrstrategicplan/ — but the proposal was never formally presented to the board.
A lengthy and contentious search for a new superintendent accounted for much of the delay. The board in March unanimously selected Bernard Taylor, who had led the Grand Rapids, Mich., school district.
Taylor, however, did not start work until mid-June. Late that month, the new superintendent sat down with the citizens committee and suggested four things that need further development in the document: technology and how it should be used in instruction, career and college readiness, safety of school buildings, and funding schools based on the need of students.
Dennis Blunt, co-chairman of the citizens committee, said he participated in a meeting with Taylor and others a few weeks ago to restart the strategic plan effort. Blunt, however, said he’s still trying to find out when the heads of the subcommittee can start work.
“We had a timetable, and we are far off that timetable,” said Blunt, a Baton Rouge attorney and former president of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge.
David Tatman, board member and fellow co-chairman of the citizens committee, said he doesn’t want to rush the process, but would like to get it moving. He said November is looking more likely for a board vote on the strategic plan.
“I am hopeful and optimistic that we will have strategic plan done by the end of the year,” Tatman said.
Blunt and Tatman, who both attended the recent meeting with the superintendent, said Taylor offered more thoughts on additional changes, including possibly incorporating school turnaround ideas that Taylor has been discussing with state education leaders.
Blunt and Tatman also said the draft strategic plan may need to be reviewed to see if it meshes with new state education laws approved by the Legislature this spring.
Board members and Taylor have indicated a desire to hold forums to showcase the plan before voting on it.
“I think it would be good to bring it back out to the community,” he said. “I just want to make sure we hear any and everyone’s voice.”
Charles Lussier writes about education in East Baton Rouge Parish for The Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com.