EBR board delays action on proposed school changes

Will hold workshop to discuss issues

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted Thursday to put off discussion and votes on the redistricting for some students at Woodlawn Elementary School as well as possible changes at Polk and Brookstown elementary schools until the board can hold a workshop to discuss the issues in January.

The discussion about Polk and Brookstown started in November when Superintendent Bernard Taylor expressed a desire to expand the system’s magnet program, including the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet.

The proposal calls for expanding the foreign language magnet to Polk Elementary School, with the 227 students now attending Polk being slowly moved out to attend Buchanan and University Terrace elementary schools, starting with next year’s kindergartners.

Brookstown, meanwhile, would be converted to a middle school that would accommodate about 225 magnet students.

The redistricting suggestion around Woodlawn Elementary School comes from a concern that new housing developments in the area could create an overcrowding issue at Woodlawn Elementary.

To try to head off that problem, the proposal would have 78 Jefferson Terrace students move to Westminster and 148 students move from Woodlawn Elementary School to Jefferson Terrace Elementary.

School Board member Vereta Lee asked that the board postpone action on the proposed program changes and redistricting issues involving Woodlawn, Jefferson Terrace, Westminster, Polk and Brookstown elementary schools until board members can discuss it further at a workshop in January.

“I have the same concerns as Ms. Lee. This was kind of thrown at us,” said Kenyetta Nelson-Smith, board member.

Taylor urged the board to act on the items at Thursday night’s meeting and not wait until the Jan. 16 meeting to vote on them.

“People are making decisions on where to send their children in January,” he said. The sooner the board makes a decision, the more time parents will have, he said.

Board member Jill Dyason also urged the board to move forward with the discussion and vote to give parents more certainty and more time over the holidays to decide what schools their children will attend in the fall.

Taylor said there have been meetings with parents and staff at the schools involved.

However, several parents of students at Woodlawn Elementary School asked the board to hold off until January to give parents more time to discuss the issues surrounding the possible moves.

“You’re moving my child so other children can come to the school,” said Monica Williams, parent of a Woodlawn Elementary School.

The students who would be shifted live in the area bordered by Perkins Road, Interstate 10, Bluebonnet Boulevard south to where Perkins Road crosses the interstate.