Taylor outlines plan to boost EBR schools’ status

Superintendent Bernard Taylor laid out a 90-day timeline Thursday to start putting into action a wide-ranging plan approved last month that aims to catapult the East Baton Rouge Parish school system into the top 10 statewide by 2020.

The strategic plan was approved by the School Board on Aug. 15, but it was more than two years in the making and sat on the shelf for 20 months.

Taylor made clear he will move more quickly to implement the 21-page document and help advance the status of the school system, currently ranked 51st out of 71 districts in the state.

Over the next 30 to 60 days, Taylor plans to meet with each of the 11 School Board members to get their take on strengths and weaknesses in the school system, as well as hold meetings in all 11 districts to get feedback from parents. Taylor said he wants board members to champion specific initiatives going forward.

During that time span, Taylor also plans to meet with school staff, nonprofits, faith-based groups, elected officials and other “stakeholders.”

After 60 days, Taylor says he’s going to compile findings from all these meetings, develop proposed plans that will be shared with the public, and begin tackling five things most likely to improve student learning.

In 90 days, or by the end of November, Taylor wants a final action plan in place, complete with “timing, metrics and targets.” This will all be tracked via a “dashboard” aimed at keeping the public informed and educators accountable, he said.

“We need to focus on how whatever actions we take impact student achievement,” Taylor said.

The strategic plan focuses on attracting, retaining and rewarding the best teachers, giving principals much greater financial and operational authority, and improving the quality of classroom teaching in general.

To make schools more attractive to middle-income families, the plan offers multiple options, ranging from improving the drawing power of neighborhood schools to greater school choice.

Board member Jill Dyason said she would like Taylor to be creative in reaching what Taylor describes as “underrepresented stakeholders.”

Dyason said that includes many families that have bypassed public schools for private and parochial schools and consequently have tuned out of conversations about public schools.

Taylor said he respects that parents, especially for religious reasons, chose private schools. He suggested that board members can help bridge that gap.

Board member Craig Freeman invited Dyason to join him in reaching out to private school parents.

Here’s a page with the strategic plan and related documents: http://news.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/ebrstrategicplan/