Our Views: District idea lacks specifics

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber raised some good points in announcing its opposition to proposed legislation that would create an independent southeast school district in East Baton Rouge Parish.

In opposing the legislation, which has already cleared a state Senate panel, BRAC noted that there are still big questions regarding how legacy costs will be handled between the new school district, if it becomes a reality, and the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

“Additionally, the proposed legislation does not address facility needs in the new district,” BRAC noted in announcing its opposition. The chamber added that its research “shows that should this district be created, the high school in the new district would already be above capacity, without accounting for new enrollment from current private school attendees.”

BRAC also mentioned that the boundary lines for the proposed new district could create racial imbalance, possibly causing renewed intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice. “The parish only recently resolved the 47-year-old Department of Justice mandate to desegregate public schools,” BRAC said.

The current legislative package for the proposed district includes a bill that, if approved by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Legislature, would allow the proposed district to be considered by voters on a statewide ballot. If approved by a majority of voters statewide and within the East Baton Rouge Parish school district, the new district would become a reality.

Questions about the logistics of a proposed southeast school district helped lead to the defeat of similar legislation last year. Those concerns are still valid, and we urge lawmakers to reject this year’s legislation, too.