State to reopen Prescott Middle School

In August, Prescott Middle School faculty and students will return to their historic home at 4055 Prescott Road after spending this past school year 10 blocks away at Istrouma High.

The faculty of the north Baton Rouge middle school learned of the move at an after school faculty meeting Tuesday. The school also sent letters home with children explaining the shift.

In a telephone interview, Patrick Dobard, superintendent of the state-run Recovery School District, which operates Prescott and six other schools in north Baton Rouge, said he hopes the return, coupled with redoubled recruiting, will help boost enrollment at the school, which has about 200 students. That’s a fraction of the number of students the school used to educate before 2008 when it was run by the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

Dobard said there have not been no problems with having the middle schoolers on the Istrouma campus. He said in the meantime, the RSD has made some repairs to the old Prescott buildings, including improvements to its air conditioning system.

Prescott’s empty campus, except for some RSD administrative offices, has been a source of frustration for East Baton Rouge Parish school officials, who have tried repeatedly to get the RSD to return the campus to the parish school system to relieve overcrowding at other middle schools.

Earlier this month, a parent group, One Community, One School District, began floating an online petition seeking Prescott’s return to the parish school system.

Dobard said that’s not happening, noting that many of the schools the East Baton Rouge Parish school system runs have grades of D and F.

“To just give a school back goes against our basic theory of action that we want to do something that is significantly better for kids,” Dobard said.

However, the schools overseen by the RSD have been marked by frequent management changes, teacher turnover and falloffs in students enrollment. Though some have made modest strides academically, all remain F schools.

Dobard said that something significantly better will be “high quality” charter management organizations to run its schools. The RSD has been working with a nonprofit group, New School For Baton Rouge, to recruit good charters, starting in fall 2014. The application deadline is May 1.

Parents of Prescott students will receive more information at 6 p.m. May 16 at Istrouma High. This is the last of seven parent meetings for RSD schools. The first two are this week, including Wednesday at Dalton Elementary and Thursday at Lanier Elementary. Both start at 6 p.m.