House Committee bill to reduce size of EBR school board passes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some are calling it a dirty trick to try and undermine the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. A bill introduced this morning to reduce the size of its school board.

The move would shrink the board from 11 to 7 members and those in favor say it will save money and increase efficiency.

A bill to cut the number of school board members sailed through the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. Backed by the Baton Rouge Chamber and authored by Representative Dalton Honore the bill quickly infuriated some opponents.

"I think that it's important that you do not pass this bill," testified Rep. Pat Smith D-Baton Rouge. I think that it needs to be vetted with the people of the Parish of East Baton Rouge that will be represented in this rather than coming to this legislature and not even letting the school board know or the legislature know until you come up with a bill that you want to do this. I'm appalled that this is occurring and it's unconstitutional." testified Rep. Pat Smith D-Baton Rouge.

But the bill's author was not amused. "This bill was discussed. It didn't come up overnight. It was discussed by the local delegation," argued Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge.

The plan is to have six larger districts and one parish wide at-large member. Opponents say that could dilute minority representation.

"I guess I'm trying to refrain from my true emotions on how i really feel and trying to stay professional but I'm upset about how all of this has unraveled.

In its efforts to back the change, the normally low profile Baton Rouge Chamber went a bit more high profile, saying citizens are disillusioned with the way things are being run now.

Some say this is an issue between local school board rights and the state's ability to tell them what to do. It will be an interesting process as it heads to the house floor.

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