New medical and environmental schools may be coming to Baton Rouge soon | Coronavirus

In his latest effort to attract new students, Superintendent Sito Narcisse proposes converting two base campuses in Baton Rouge into health and environmental education programs, supported by Baton Rouge General Medical Center and LSU, respectively.

The school board on Thursday gave preliminary approval to both proposals, which would transform both Park Elementary and the former Polk Elementary. A final vote has been set for January 20.

Park Elementary would shift from a traditional elementary school, stop at fifth grade, and add a high school. It would be renamed Park Elementary Medical Academy.

The former Polk Elementary would become a sixth through twelfth grade school. It would be renamed the Eva Legarde Research Center for Coastal Studies and Environmental Studies. The former Polk campus was renamed in honor of Legarde, a former member of the School Board. The proposed new school would be the first public school in Baton Rouge named after an African American.

James K. Polk steps aside. Eva Legard takes over.

Both programs were scheduled to start in August. Park would add a sixth grade and the Eva Legarde School would start with just a sixth grade. Both would expand over time, with Park finishing eighth class in 2024 and Eva Legarde reaching 12th class in 2028.

Thursday’s vote on both points was unanimously 8-0. Only board member Dawn Collins was absent due to a family emergency.

Since arriving in Baton Rouge, Narcisse has pushed for new programs to add “quality seats” to a school system that has steadily lost students over time to private, charter and suburban public schools.

In that vein, in November, he persuaded the school board to approve a new arts-focused high school in Broadmoor Middle.

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Unlike the conservatory school, the two new proposed schools are not magnet schools. Instead, Narcisse calls them “Focus Choice” schools. Unlike most magnet schools, Focus Choice schools do not have academic entry requirements for all incoming students, such as a minimum GPA or test score. These schools also work “hand in hand” with external partners in fields of work to help students prepare for careers in those fields.

“This is a dream come true before our eyes,” Edgardo Tenreiro, chief executive officer of Baton Rouge General, told the board.

Tenreiro said Baton Rouge General has a nursing school that the Park Elementary program could fit into, noting that there is currently a shortage of nurses.

Narcisse said he is trying to identify a high school Park would like to delve into to continue the program and plans to bring a proposal to the board in February.

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Theresa Porter, director of magnet programs, said the shift in Park would keep the 270 students currently in that school, but they would need to maintain a 2.8 GPA going forward to remain Park students. Students who opt out would move on to neighboring primary schools. Meanwhile, enrollment in the new park would be open to students from the entire school system, although those living within two miles of campus at 2680 Bogan Walk would be given priority in the admissions process.

Park Elementary is a neighborhood elementary school that has had a state F letter for several years. However, it is in danger of being taken over by the state, even though the state has waived letter grades for the past two years due to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new Eva Legarde Research Center would be developed in conjunction with LSU and The Water Institute, a consortium investigating coastal issues in Louisiana and other Gulf states.

It would have about 50 students in grades six through 12, or about 350 overall. While there would be open admissions in the first grades, eighth graders would require a minimum 3.0 GPA to advance to high school. In return, graduates of the school would be automatically admitted to LSU.

Narcisse said a special steering committee that helped develop the Eva Legarde school called for a minimum GPA for high school students.

“There’s an expectation of the kind of work that needs to be done to be effective in those areas,” Narcisse said.

Christopher D’Elia, dean of the LSU College for Coast and Environment, said the college has had a successful relationship with science-minded students from Scotlandville High for years and he sees the new Eva Legarde school as an opportunity to expand that.

“I’m looking for more of the same and better, and I can’t tell you how excited we are about this opportunity,” said D’Elia.

The former Polk Elementary, at 408 E. Polk St. and just north of LSU, was a neighborhood school for many years but closed a few years ago due to declining enrollment. It was renovated in 2014.

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In another move, the school board voted 7 to 1 to complete its work on developing new election district maps for itself by March 17. Board member Evelyn Ware-Jackson was the only No vote, pushing for another timeline that would have ended on April 21.

The reclassification is necessitated by the 2020 US Census. The school board has a June 20 deadline to submit cards to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office. That’s the latest in time for the November 8th School Board election. Qualifying is from July 20-22.

Supporters of the March 17 timeline said it would give people interested in the school board more time to find out which districts they live in and launch their campaigns, and if the board needs more time, it can always hold a vote. Delay.

Opponents complained that there isn’t enough time to update the public, especially if, as some proponents would like, the school board is considering a controversial 2014 decision to reduce the board size from 11 to its current nine members. to turn back.

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