Breakaway from EBR schools planned again

Supporters want out of EBR schools

A Central area state senator said Friday he plans to file legislation seeking, for the second year in a row, to create a new school district in southeast Baton Rouge.

At a public meeting in January, state Sen. Mack “Bodi” White, R-Central, said he would move forward again with the legislation but was open to negotiations with the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, from which supporters of the new southeast district are seeking independence.

In an interview Friday, White said he has since had some talks with Superintendent Bernard Taylor but those discussions have not resolved concerns of residents in that area. He said it’s been at least two weeks since he’s heard anything from Taylor.

“We offered some suggestions that would maybe satisfy that people in that part of the parish,” White said.

A public notice of intent to file this legislation appeared this week in The Advocate.

White said the legislation he’s filing this year is very similar to the legislation that the Legislature considered a year ago.

That legislation called for moving 10 public schools in the parish school system to the newly-created Southeast Baton Rouge Community School District. The proposed district, which would be the fifth school district in the parish, would extend southeast from the Interstate 10/12 split, south of I-12 and east of I-10 to the parish lines.

White said the number of schools and the geographic boundaries are the same in the new legislation, which he said he’s still writing, but estimates about the number of students affected will change.

Last year, White’s legislation passed the Senate, but stalled in the House.

The biggest hurdle was a constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber, or 70 votes in the House. The plan got 66 votes on the first tally, then dropped to 61 on the second and final try.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party is holding a luncheon at CafĂ© Americain, 7521 Jefferson Highway at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Norman Browning and Lionel Rainey III, with the group Local Schools for Local Children, which supports the new Southeast district, will discuss plans for the second attempt at the district’s formation.

If approved by the Legislature, a statewide referendum would be held. It would need to pass both in East Baton Rouge Parish and statewide. The next available election slot for such a referendum would be fall 2014.