North Baton Rouge schools focus of community meetings

A local group called Better Baton Rouge is asking those interested in schools in north Baton Rouge to lay out their ideas for what they think “excellence in education” looks like.

Rev. Raymond Jetson, pastor of Star Hill Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, is helping to organize two “community dialogues” asking people to address the question. The first is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at S.E. Mackey Center, 6534 Ford St., and second is planned for April 18 at Star Hill, 1400 N. Foster Drive.

“Parents, teachers, students, alums and stakeholders” are invited to the community dialogues, according to the flyer.

The group held community meetings on education in October and November.

“The only way real change happens in our community is when the people take responsibility for what is happening,” Jetson said.

Better Baton Rouge members said they plan to take what’s said at these dialogues to compose a “community compact.” Jetson said the group will then take the compact to local educational leaders and heads of education interest organizations ask them to use it to form a “leaders compact.”

“The simple premise we operate on is that every kid deserves an excellent school,” said Jetson, a former state legislator.

He said it doesn’t matter whether the school is in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district or in the state-run Recovery School District because, “we’re not in that kind of turf war.”

Education is one of three areas of interest for Better Baton Rouge, along with initiatives on healthy food and youth leadership. Jetson said about 30 people are involved with the education component of the group.

Better Baton Rouge is an arm of a nonprofit started by Jetson in 2011 called MetroMorphosis. The nonprofit’s website describes Better Baton Rouge’s education effort as “focused on exploring ways to support the successful development of the North Baton Rouge Achievement Zone.”

Jetson emphasized the group is not affiliated with the similarly named Baton Rouge Achievement Zone, organized by the Recovery School District.