BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Organizers behind a refueled effort to form a city splitting away from East Baton Rouge Parish are starting to come out of their shell.
This is happening as the superintendent of EBR schools unveiled plans Monday to build bigger and better schools. "We believe in academics, character, and athletics," said East Baton Rouge Superintendent Warren Drake at a Press Club meeting Monday.
Drake spoke boldly as he unveiled the school system's plans to build, expand, and improve its schools across the parish. It would be made possible through the renewal of a one-cent sales tax, which goes before voters in April.
But could renewed efforts for a city of St. George in the southeast end of the parish, separate from the public school system, stand in its way?
"We've done a great job in southeast Baton Rouge. We have added programming. We've added a magnet program at both Woodlawn Middle and Woodlawn High School, and this is not in response to St. George. We are going to take care of our kids wherever they are all over the parish," Drake said.
The superintendent says between 1,000 and 1,500 students in the school system who live in the would-be St. George district attend schools and advanced programs in the EBR school system. Drake says the birth of a new city could limit opportunities for those students.
But organizers of the St. George movement beg to differ. They say, through their attorney, Andrew Murrell, it's why they are back.
"I'll say, 'Too little too late.' I'll go back to 43 percent of EBR schools are D or F rated. I think we can do better and I think St. George will do better," Murrell said.
The attorney says what started as a proposal for a new school system is now more about better government. St. George organizers released a proposed budget Monday, highlighting that "no tax increases" would be necessary to build schools with solid programs closer to home.
As for the school system concept, Murrell says organizers are not yet ready to unveil those plans.
See below for a list of the proposed East Baton Rouge Parish School System projects: