FOR MUCH OF THE LAST TWO YEARS, the proposed St. George breakaway school district has been front and center in the conversation about local poli- tics and education.
It is the proposal by a group of citizens in what is currently Baton Rouge to break away and incorporate the City of St. George. This controversial plan has led to several pieces of state legislation and aggressive action by the Baton Rouge Metro Council.
Though all of those bills failed to put a moratorium on it, so did legislation by Senator Bodi White that sought to create a “transition district” that would pave the way for the creation of the St. George School District.
Because of the failure of this bill, School Board President David Tatman is working to
make sure a plan to shrink the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is implemented by local government instead of legislators.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber and others who support shrinking the board, have said the measure would provide for more efficient operations of the school board and save money by having to pay fewer school board members.
These supporters cited the success- ful breakaways of Zachary, Central and Baker and the formation of those individ- ual school districts leaves the school board with less territory to cover and assert that it, thus, makes sense to reduce school board membership.
Opponents of this plan feel that it would result in unnecessarily large school districts that would be difficult to manage and make it easy for local business leaders to unseat people with whom they disagree.
Either way, Tatman said he wants to have it complete by this year’s election. In 2013, article 4 of the voting rights act was struck down. Thus, for the first time, Louisiana and other formerly segregated states will not have to get clearance before re-draw- ing districts.
Tatman said two board members—who he is not at liberty to name—will also not be seeking re-election. School Board Rep. Craig Freeman of District 6 has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. District 11 member Mary Lynch has not announced if she will seek re-election.
By Terry Young II