Haven’t we been here before?
John Dilworth opted not to seek a renewal of his contract as superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish public school system last year, pointing to frequent dissension among board members and saying that he wasn’t a good fit with the board.
Those divisions were supposed to improve after the board hired Bernard Taylor to replace Dilworth. But after a year on the job, Taylor also seems challenged in trying to forge a strong relationship with the board.
That problem was evident during a recent meeting in which the board voted 7-4 to make big changes in the school system budget, reversing Taylor’s plans to replace some student deans and time-out moderators with cheaper personnel. The move was aimed at cutting expenses in a budget that already relied on reserve funds to balance the books.
By reversing Taylor’s spending ideas, the board put a significant amount of extra spending back in the budget, apparently placing additional stress on the school system’s financial reserves.
A flabbergasted Taylor said that the deans and time-out moderators have already changed jobs. The board’s about-face will cause a staffing nightmare as the new school year begins.
“This is going to cause chaos,” he told the board.
The board has the authority — and the obligation — to review the school system budget. The board also has the authority to make changes in the budget, but no one is served when these changes emerge on such short notice, and with little apparent discussion between Taylor and the board.
That kind of discord can only further diminish public confidence in a school system that desperately needs greater community support to advance its mission.