BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The doors to Istrouma High School could open as soon as next fall thanks to an agreement approved Thursday night by a committee of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.
All the school board members present voted unanimously for the proposal that would reopen the high school by August 2016 as part of the EBR Parish School System. Dr. Kenyetta Nelson-Smith, Vereta Lee, and President David Tatman were absent for the vote.
"The bottom line is, we need a high school in 70805," said Superintendent Warren Drake, who worked on the proposal.
Since Istrouma High was shut down in 2014, there are no longer any public high schools in the 70805 zip code. Before being shuttered, Istrouma was taken over by the Louisiana Recovery School System in 2012 due to failing academic records.
"One of the worst thing that probably happened in reference to love for a community is when you bus me out of my community," said Carnell Washington, the President of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers. Washington helped organized rallies to help bring back the school after it was closed down.
Under the proposal, the school would reopen for the 2016-17 school year. The state would technically still have control until the end of the year, as part of fulfilling a five-year commitment when the state took over through the Recovery School System. However, the EBR Parish School System would operate it during that time and then take over in full starting in 2017.
"It's going to bring pride back," Washington said. "It's going to bring love back to the community. That's the key."
The school would require remodeling, and quickly, in order to reopen in less than a year.
"We're going to put a lot of resources in that school," Drake said. "We're going to put people in there to make sure it's up and ready to open next August."
The cost to reopen the school is so far unknown, but that price means very little to those eager to see it come back.
"It is a strategically located to be a satellite or a bright light in the middle of the community for education," Washington said.
There are still several roadblocks before the proposal is approved. The full school board will vote on the proposal on October 15. From there, it will be sent to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. They will likely vote on the proposal in November.
After that, they would begin finalizing curriculums, hunting for a school leader, and hiring teachers. If all goes to plan, the school could then open by next August.