WBR School Board to demolish historic Cohn High School buildings

The West Baton Rouge Parish School Board made its first steps Wednesday toward demolishing the old Cohn High School campus, authorizing school district officials to begin the bidding process to tear down the historic buildings. The board’s action comes after years of complaints that the campus, closed for several decades, had … Continue reading →

Board: Career Academy will close at end of school year

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Kenyata Jones says,

After months of fruitless efforts to secure a home, the board of directors of Career Academy agreed unanimously Wednesday the career-oriented high school will close its doors next month when this school year ends. The board is holding off a decision on whether to relinquish the school’s five-year charter with the East Baton Rouge Parish school … Continue reading →

House panel OKs bill to shrink EBR School Board

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  The exterior of the East Baton Rouge School Board offices building on South Foster Drive.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School District came under legislative fire on two fronts Wednesday, with a state House committee approving a bill that would shrink the size of the local board from 11 to 7 members. The plan, House Bill 1178, cleared the House and Governmental Affairs Committee 6-2 and next faces action, and heated … Continue reading →

Ascension school district employees get 3 percent raise

The Ascension Parish School Board approved a 3 percent pay raise Tuesday for all school district employees, the first permanent raise since 2008. “We have such a committed and excellent group of employees,” Superintendent Patrice Pujol said before the board voted. “It’s certainly less than they deserve, but we certainly recommend they get … Continue reading →

State school superintendent gets good annual job review

State Superintendent of Education John White got a favorable review in his annual job evaluation, officials said Tuesday. The review was done by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Board President Chas Roemer made the announcement after an hourlong, closed-door meeting with White and the panel. The scores mean that, for … Continue reading →

Teach for America contract renewed

After a renewal of yearly arguments, the state’s top school board Tuesday narrowly approved a $1 million contract for Teach for America. The group recruits top college students, puts them through five weeks of training initially and more later and sends them to some of the nation’s most challenging public schools for at least two years. … Continue reading →

Bad heater sets fire to living room on Seneca Street

A malfunctioning gas floor heater sparked a fire in the living room of a 3121 Seneca Street house Tuesday morning, burning a wall before firefighters were able to get it under control, said Curt Monte, a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Fire Department. Three people living in the house were able to escape unharmed. The fire was … Continue reading →

White restates Common Core support

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Superintendent of Education John White testifies in front of the House Committee on Education during debate on HB946, authored by State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, in March at the Louisiana State Capitol.

State Superintendent of Education John White said Tuesday that continuing acrimony over Common Core test plans has sparked a “state of chaos” for teachers already planning exams for next year — a comment that suggests a widening split between him and Gov. Bobby Jindal. “Just from a teacher’s perspective, it is deeply confusing and probably troubling that … Continue reading →

Resident takes Iberville School District to task

A resident criticized the Iberville Parish School Board and Superintendent Ed Cancienne on Monday, saying the school district is allocating more of its resources and attention toward the parish’s more affluent students while ignoring the plight of children from lower income families. In an impassioned statement, Ferrante Dominique chided school district officials … Continue reading →

Central School Board awards bids

Construction will begin in late May to add a ninth-grade academy to Central High School at roughly the same time demolition will begin on the old Central Middle School, the Central School Board decided Monday. In a surprise move, after a lengthy discussion Monday night the board agreed unanimously to award the bid for $5.25 million to … Continue reading →

Barry says lawsuit necessary

One week after U. S. Sen. Mary Landrieu touted federal aid as a way to address coastal erosion, author John Barry offered a different view Monday. “It is unlikely we are going to get anything from the federal government anytime soon,” Barry told the House Transportation Committee. “Hope is not a plan,” he said. Barry … Continue reading →

College degrees lacking in state

With a college degree, a person is less likely to live in poverty, less likely to be unemployed and, according to a Pew Research study, more likely to have fared well during the recent recession. Just three in 10 working-age adults in Louisiana held either a community college or a university degree in 2011, … Continue reading →

Police and fire briefs for April 15, 2014

A Baton Rouge man armed with a handgun on Monday forced his ex-girfriend to drive her empty school bus from her residence to his home almost six miles away, a police spokesman said. Jock Jones, 37, released the victim as police arrived, but barricaded … Continue reading →

House members urge Jindal to drop Common Core tests

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that a gubernatorial order for the state to drop controversial Common Core tests is a “very viable option” if state lawmakers fail to act. Jindal made the comment in response to a letter from eight House members who said the governor can opt the state out of the exams and should … Continue reading →

LSU students seek to ban e-cigarettes from campus

MadVapes store manager Robert Everhart uses an electronic cigarette at MadVapes in Charlotte, North Carolina. Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, but concern still lingers nationwide about their safety. e-Cig culture includes

The wave of the future may get snuffed out with the past. Regardless of whether the decision comes down to make LSU’s campus smoke-free, tobacco-free or somewhere in between, electronic cigarettes may well be placed under the same on-campus restrictions as its traditional counterparts. The LSU smoke-free campus committee voted unanimously to recommend smoking … Continue reading →

Legislative critics of EBR schools face easier path

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is under legislative fire for the third consecutive year with one key difference: Critics have an easier path to success this time. Hotly-debated bids to create a new school district in southeast Baton Rouge failed in 2012 and 2013 when backers had to line up super majorities in both chambers … Continue reading →

Rockets, robots featured at Scotlandville magnet school expo

Rockets flew and robots swam at Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Academy Magnet on Saturday during the school’s third annual Engineering Expo. The children who turned out for the event visited 20 different stations to participate in activities from shooting off water bottle rockets to making hand sanitizer. The purpose of the engineering expo was to … Continue reading →

Southern board punts on vote

After two years of sometimes contentious debate, Southern University’s Board of Supervisors was supposed to turn a corner Friday. Board members were set to vote on the final piece of President Ronald Mason’s plan to overhaul the inner workings of a network of campuses in the midst of an economic crisis. But … Continue reading →

Report: Minority students have more ineffective teachers

Students from poor families in Louisiana are more likely to have ineffective teachers than their wealthier classmates, according to a report issued Friday. Minority students face the same disparities on teacher quality compared to others, a study by the Center for American Progress shows. “Based on the new evaluation data, a student in a school in … Continue reading →

BR High alumni ask White to reverse agency’s magnet decision

Alumni of Baton Rouge Magnet High School sent Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White a letter Wednesday asking him to reverse his agency’s recent decision to exclude magnet schools such as theirs from consideration for a prestigious national award. The U.S. Department of Education gives Blue Ribbon School of Excellence honors to schools that either are … Continue reading →

Panel sides with student

Advocate Photo by WILL SENTELL -- Episcopal High School student Clement Mubungirwa

Torn between an Episcopal High School student’s dream and football safety, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at giving Clement Mubungirwa another chance to suit up this fall. The proposal, Senate Bill 633, would require third-party arbitration on eligibility issues — the sticking point in whether Mubungirwa can play at the … Continue reading →

Legislation to revamp EBR school district advanced

Reopening a volatile topic, a state Senate panel approved a bill Wednesday night that would overhaul the East Baton Rouge Parish school system largely by giving principals sweeping new authority. The measure passed the Senate Education Committee without objection after three hours of often passionate testimony. State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central and sponsor … Continue reading →

Common Core test withdrawal sparks dispute

State Superintendent of Education John White during House Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday.

A top critic of Common Core and state Superintendent of Education John White disagreed Tuesday on how the state could cut its ties with the group that oversees tests tied to the new academic standards. The critic, state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, says the withdrawal process is unclear, and may be as simple as Gov. Bobby … Continue reading →

Districts embrace career overhaul

Three of four public school districts in Louisiana will take part in a bid to revamp career and technical education training, the state Department of Education announced Monday. The program, which is called Jump Start, is supposed to align school districts, two-year colleges and private firms into regional teams to prepare high school juniors and … Continue reading →

Southern Univ. president aims to set higher standards

Photo provided by SU Media Relations/Naville Oubre -- Southern University students on the Baton Rouge campus.

Southern University will probably never be on the same level as Harvard and the nation’s other elite schools, but one day, the 134-year-old historically black university could become much more selective than it currently is. But in order to become a highly selective institution, Southern President Ronald Mason will likely have to change the minds of … Continue reading →

Grambling State president retiring

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Grambling State University President Frank Pogue, during  a Louisiana System board meeting Monday at which Pogue addressed the room, at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge. Grambling players voted Monday to return to practice, after deciding not to play the team's scheduled game against Jackson State on Saturday, resulting in a forfeit.

Five years after taking over one of the state’s most financially unstable universities, Grambling State University President Frank Pogue is stepping down, effective June 30. Pogue made public his decision to retire Friday, at the end of a year in which the university made national news — in a bad way. Upset over the firing … Continue reading →

EBR School Board considering employee pay increases

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  The exterior of the East Baton Rouge School Board offices building on South Foster Drive.

The East Baton Rouge School Board on Thursday advanced a proposal to increase pay for seven categories of employees, including cafeteria workers and bus drivers, much as the board increased pay levels for some teachers last summer. The same motion also moved forward a related proposal to give modest “demand stipends” to teachers who agree to transfer … Continue reading →

La. official leaves with little fanfare

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Finance at the Louisiana State Capitol in this May 9, 2013, Advocate file photo.

Louisiana has been without a top higher education executive for the past two weeks, but not too many people have noticed. Jim Purcell, the state commissioner of higher education, walked away from his job March 20, making a quiet exit three years after he was brought in to guide the state’s colleges and universities. His tenure … Continue reading →

EBR Taylor gets extra month for corrective plan

State Superintendent of Education John White has granted East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Bernard Taylor another month to submit a corrective action plan to ensure no repeat of the problems found in a recent state audit of several years’ worth of graduation records. In a short letter sent Wednesday to Taylor, White agreed, without explanation, to the … Continue reading →

Bill to rein in TOPS costs shelved

The Legislature’s latest attempt to do something about the rising cost of TOPS — the state’s popular college scholarship program — was shelved indefinitely Thursday to allow legislators more time to study its moving parts. State Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, voluntarily deferred House Bill 997 to give his colleagues in the House Education Committee more … Continue reading →

Bodi White, BRAC join forces on EBR school bills

Often at odds in the past, state Sen. Mack “Bodi” White, R-Central, has joined forces with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to push legislation to shrink the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and to take power from the board and the superintendent and give it to school principals. Late Tuesday, White filed … Continue reading →

Common Core ‘pause’ in works

Superintendents statewide are negotiating with sponsors of a bill that critics said would end Common Core in Louisiana, triggering charges Monday of backroom dealmaking on the eve of a key vote. The proposal, House Bill 381, would set up a 30-member panel of educators to draft standards that would replace the national academic goals that Louisiana and … Continue reading →

BR lawmakers seek to restructure school system

Baton Rouge lawmakers Steve Carter and Dalton HonorĂ© on Monday submitted two bills that would shrink the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board from 11 to 7 members and shift most of the board’s and the superintendent’s power to more than 80 school principals. The bills also would create three “community enrollment zones,” … Continue reading →