Baker board considers adding three grades to Park Ridge

Study would explore adding grades to Park Ridge Magnet

A proposal to study the addition of three grade levels to Park Ridge Academic Magnet and make it into a K-8 school caused a dozen concerned residents and parents to briefly take over the Baker School Board meeting Tuesday night to air complaints about the school system.

“We can’t pay teachers at Baker Middle School. How are we going to add three grades and pay those teachers at Park Ridge? You’re not making any changes at Baker Middle School. Those are the changes we need right now,” parent Mekel Johnson said.

Park Ridge was formed in 2011 and serves grades K-5. The study would be conducted by Baker School System staff and would not cost the district any money, board member Elaine Davis said.

“If you are concerned about Baker Middle, the staff would be happy to talk to you,” board member Dana Carpenter said.

Johnson said she had emailed the superintendent and board members and received only one return phone call.

At least three other audience members filled out cards to speak. Board President Shona Boxie told them that their questions did not concern agenda items and added that they should leave their contact information.

“This is not a grievance session,” she said.

Carpenter, Davis and Shona Boxie voted in favor of conducting the feasibility study. Doris Alexander voted against the measure. Troy Watson was absent from the meeting.

After the meeting, Stand for Children organizer Derrius Montgomery said the group would hold a community meeting to inform residents about steps they can take to improve the schools 6 p.m. Dec. 17, at Baker City Hall. Stand for Children is a organization that works to improve public schools.

Other business before the board included:

SALARY SCHEDULES: The board asked the superintendent and staff to solicit proposals from three consulting firms to study the salary schedules for Baker School System employees. Most likely, salaries would need to be raised across the board, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said.

When the school system was formed in 2003, Baker adopted the East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s salary schedule. East Baton Rouge has since updated their pay scale, but Baker hasn’t, Davis said.