by Charles Lussier
Advocate staff writer
June 15, 2012
Lee High is reopening in August, but exactly what kind of school it will be and whom it will educate is still being decided.
To help figure that out, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is holding a community forum at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mayfair Middle School, 9880 Hyacinth Ave.
Interim Superintendent Carlos Sam told the School Board on Thursday that he’s looking at reopening Lee High with grades eight to 12, which would be a little larger than a traditional high school, and limiting Mayfair Middle to sixth and seventh grades.
“We want to make sure we do this right,” he said.
The school’s attendance zone, educational offerings and leadership are still undecided.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to design a school that we’ve never seen before,” Sam said.
School Board President Barbara Freiberg said that down the road, perhaps by fall 2013, the school could offer more courses for advanced students, perhaps a magnet program similar to Baton Rouge Magnet High, or something more like the gifted classes at McKinley High.
She noted that Baton Rouge Magnet High has a long waiting list. She said, though, there’s little time to try to get an advanced student program in place by Aug. 8, when the 2012-13 school year begins.
“We’re looking at this coming year as a planning year,” Freiberg said.
Freiberg said she hopes the board can vote on how a reopened Lee High should be organized initially at the board’s June 21 meeting.
Lee High, the traditional public high school for most of Baton Rouge south of Interstate 10, was closed in summer 2009 and its students were reassigned to McKinley, Tara and Woodlawn high schools. The school, which had fewer than 600 students, was a potential takeover target by the state Department of Louisiana. The School Board closed the school rather than run that risk.
In August 2010, students from Baton Rouge Magnet High took up temporary residence at the old Lee High. They are moving out this summer as Baton Rouge Magnet completes an expensive renovation and expansion, leaving Lee High’s campus empty once again.
With McKinley and Woodlawn high schools overcrowded, the school system is looking at reopening Lee High as a way of easing the burden on those schools.
Sam said the school system also needs to figure out ways to allow seniors to choose which high school they want to attend and to allow athletes to maintain their eligibility with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
He also said another idea is to house the senior class of the recently closed EBR Lab Academy at the reopened Lee High.
“There’s a variety of issues we need to work out so that we’re sensitive to the students,” Sam said.