EBR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS DID NOT RENEW SUPERINTENDENT NARCISSE’S CONTRACT

Last Thursday, by a 5 to 4 vote, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board rejected an opportunity to continue the rapid improvement in student achievement we have seen over the past two years since the appointment of Dr. Sito Narcisse as district superintendent. The board declined to renew and extend Dr. Narcisse’s contract for four years, halting the momentum and culture of improvement that Dr. Narcisse brought to Baton Rouge schools. Without a contract extension, Dr. Narcisse’s contract will end in June.

The accomplishments the district has seen over the last two years are numerous and significant. For the first time ever, we are seeing gains for ALL students. EBR improvements include:

Leadership

  • Initiated the first authentic Strategic Plan in over 20 years created in close collaboration with the Board, the public and staff.
  • Established a scorecard where families and community members can view student and school performance across the district.
  • Established the Baton Rouge Innovation Coalition with the Mayor, post-secondary schools, and community nonprofits to establish innovative technology solutions for broadband and technology.
  • Partnered with both BRPD and the Sheriff’s office to provide safe schools and a community policing model.

Student Academic Achievement

  • EBR attained significant improvements in performance indexes in 2022 SPS and DPS data:
    • K-8 and HS Assessment Index = +3.3 growth
    • K-8 Assessment Index = +3.5 growth
    • K-8 Interest & Opportunities = +2.3 growth
    • Drop Out Credit Accumulation Index = +5.4 growth
    • High School Assessment Index = +1.6 growth
    • ACT Index = +1.4 growth
  • 63 percent of district schools earned an ‘A’ or ‘B’ in Progress (Growth); 90 percent earned an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’.
  • Mastery on LEAP assessments in elementary and middle schools with 85 percent or higher students classified as Economically Disadvantaged increased by an average of 3.66 points as compared to the state average of 3.2 points in the same metric.
  • 13 Equity or Opportunity award honorees (top 10 percent for performance among students with disabilities, English Language Leaners, or Economically Disadvantaged students – with no Intervention Required status).
  • Increased the promotion rate of first-time ninth grade students by 4 percent from the 2020-2021 school year to 2021-2022. The on-track for graduation percentage rose from 68 percent to 87 percent.

Early Childhood

  • Broadened access to preschool by adding 2,200 seats to promote early literacy and kindergarten readiness, while increasing the availability of high-quality early education for families in need through innovative and diverse delivery models.

 Literacy

  • Improved literacy rates through a $20 million investment in instructional materials and by hiring 53 in-school literacy coaches.
  • Working collaboratively with organizations across the city, led the project to create and begin implementation of the Literacy Blueprint which will redesign the teaching of the Science of Reading across the district.
  • Created a Department of Literacy within the district to focus and coordinate our efforts to improve literacy.

Finance/Budget

  • Balanced the budget with a $111 million surplus balance at the end of the 2022-2023 school year – the largest surplus in district history. With a healthy budget, Dr. Narcisse sought a teacher pay raise, which was denied by the board.
  • Instituted financial transparency by creating a searchable database dashboard for citizens and taxpayers.

School Choice

  • Provided full funding parity for Type 1 charter schools.
  • Created and implemented the Focus Choice model with community partners:
    • Eva Legard Center for Coastal and Environmental Studies – LSU
    • Park Elementary Medical Academy – Baton Rouge General Hospital
    • J. K. Haynes Teacher Prep and Leadership Academy – Southern University
    • Future Performing Arts Focused Choice option
  • Steered the return of Capitol High School back to EBRPS from a series of failed Recovery District selected charter operators. The school will operate as a hybrid traditional/Focus Choice school with a medical focus (a continuation from nearby Park Elementary).

Increased Student Opportunities

  • Greatly expanded opportunities for all high school students to take advanced courses for college credit (AP and dual enrollment) and industry-based certifications from about 20 percent to 80 percent, leading the nation.
  • Implemented bold programs like Focus Choice Schools and Pathways to Bright Futures to provide students the greatest scope of career and college options ever offered in East Baton Rouge.
  • Doubled down on 9th grade supports to improve the number of students on-track to graduate on time. Working with BRAC, initiated a district-wide senior internship program with one of the largest participations in the nation and it will significantly grow this year.
  • Summer academic, enrichment and athletic opportunities were greatly expanded through cooperative efforts with BREC, the YMCA and others.
  • Formal athletic programs were begun or expanded in all elementary schools for pre-K to 5th grade students.

Teachers

  • First superintendent to have an outside third party conduct a districtwide salary survey which recommended a 12 percent salary increase.
  • Provided new teacher bonuses and stipends when his proposal for a permanent teacher pay raise was refused by the board.

Refusing to extend Dr. Narcisse’s contract puts all of these achievements in jeopardy. Additionally, a new superintendent search would result in lost time and opportunity, introducing instability into programs that are stable and are showing verifiable results.

Please contact the board members who voted to renew Dr. Narcisse’s contract and thank them for fighting for Baton Rouge’s students and families. They are Mark Bellue, Mike Gaudet, Dadrius Lanus, and Shashonnie Steward.

Please also contact the members who voted against the contract, asking them to reconsider their action and support the continuation of the progress we’re achieving in Baton Rouge. They are: Emily Chatelain, Carla Powell Lewis, Cliff Lewis, Nathan Rust, and Patrick Martin.

-Brigitte Nieland

Stand For Children Louisiana Government Affairs Director