BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The first day of school in East Baton Rouge Parish is August 6, and with it comes a new superintendent with a big promise to turn things around.
"These are great schools and they can be great again and I believe they will," said Warren Drake.
Drake, the newest superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, laid out his plan for helping students succeed Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon.
"This is not a job. It's a calling. Teaching is a calling," said Drake.
Drake might be fresh on the job, but the former leader of the top-ranked Zachary School System knows a thing or two about success.
"We are building the future of Baton Rouge, that's what we are doing and that is the most important job in the world," said Drake.
Parents of former and incoming EBR students, like Rachael Byers, were eager to hear how Drake plans to improve the school system's less than satisfactory score.
"My son starts Kindergarten in August. Just from the history we've had with East Baton Rouge schools, I wanted to see the plan that Mr. Drake has," said Byers.
Drake compares structuring a solid school system to running a big business. His formula to reshape the school system includes focusing on three key things: taking ownership of the school system, maintaining and hiring qualified teachers and principals, and a little something he likes to call customer service.
"When parents come to our schools I don't want them to knock on the desk and say 'Can anyone help me?' I want that person in the school to say, 'May I help you?,'" said Drake.
Drake said after the framework is laid, everything else will fall in place. He noted he has seen positive changes in East Baton Rouge, but he said it is time for every school in the public school system to catch up.
"I feel EBR schools need to get better across the board. When the water rises, the boat is going to float where ever it is," said Drake.
Once that happens, Drake believes parents will choose to enroll their children in public school. That is his long-term goal, and he said he's got the right team in place to lead the way.
"I don't want to fail you. My staff doesn't want to fail you. We are not going to fail you," said Drake.
Part of Drake's plan also includes eliminating 34 positions and adding nine to focus more resources in classrooms.