Less than a year ago, the EBR School Board developed and approved a robust student-centered strategic plan that includes key performance indicators in priority areas to maintain a high level of transparency and accountability for making progress.
Since then, fulfilling his charge to implement that plan and bring about the progress expected by the board, Dr. Narcisse proposed – and the board has approved – strategic investments that expand quality early care and education seats, literacy and math coaches in schools, mental health supports for students, stipends for teachers and support staff, and professional development supports to help educators and school leaders improve their practice.
East Baton Rouge – for the first time we can remember – is being touted at the state and national levels for its work to improve outcomes for all kids and for being the only district in the state that has created robust online dashboards so parents, the community, and taxpayers can see how the district is moving toward the key performance indicators and investing federal dollars to achieve success for students. The board and superintendent should be applauded for these efforts.
As is expected of any agency when implementing a new strategic plan, budgeting and staffing must be aligned. And, in a system that has for far too long misaligned staffing with student need, proper alignment was never going to be an easy task. For years, our parent and student members have shared stories about long term substitutes and paraprofessionals staffing core subjects, classes in core subjects that have gone without a teacher for over six months, and schools with no athletics or coaches while other schools have more teachers and coaches than student enrollment or interest demands. This staffing plan seeks to right-size staffing so that all East Baton Rouge students can succeed and make our community stronger.
Let’s face it – reallocations and reassignments are never easy, no matter how strategic. Staffing changes are particularly challenging right now given unprecedented teacher shortages across our district, state, and country. Compounding the challenge and despite Dr. Narcisse’s best efforts, there were unfortunate gaps in communication at a few schools.
While the communication at those few schools should have been better, the bigger picture is that the administration is to be commended for its commitment to students and courage to make tough decisions and reassignments necessary to realize the school board’s bold, student-centered vision.
Unfortunately, a few community leaders with narrow political agendas are trying to capitalize on understandable fears, confusion, and frustration of certain teachers and parents concerned with the staffing changes. These opportunists allege a lack of community engagement by the district that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The truth is that, after many years of instability during which inequities widened and overall performance stagnated, our district is on the rise. Dr. Narcisse, his team, and his supporters on the school board deserve tremendous credit and our support.
Stand for Children Louisiana is an organization that has worked with parents, the community, faith leaders, educators, and elected officials for more than 10 years. What we strive for is education equity and racial justice, and we are fierce advocates for transparency and community engagement.
We believe passionately that the board, superintendent, and the administration deserve credit for their bold, courageous leadership for students and for moving with a sense of urgency many of us never believed could be possible for the students and families in East Baton Rouge.
We urge the community and board to support the actions initiated to meet the goals outlined in the student-centered strategic plan, work with Dr. Narcisse and his team to make improvements where necessary, and join in the effort to make all East Baton Rouge schools high quality and a place where every parent wants to send their child.
If you agree and would like to email the EBR Board, you may use the following list of emails: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected].