EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The future of the East Baton Rouge School System lies in the hands of voters this weekend.
The school district has three tax renewal propositions on the ballot in East Baton Rouge Parish on April 28.
Proposition one deals with school repairs, renovations and the construction of new schools in the parish. It would also update classrooms to accommodate modern technology like Chromebooks for each student in every school.
"We're also in the 21st century with technology," said Superintendent Warren Drake. "Proposition 1 is going to build new schools, consolidate schools to become more efficient, eliminate about seven or eight facilities that are just outdated and then elevate us academically in many schools with Magnet programs, discovery education, project-based learning. It is critical to this whole community."
Proposition two focuses on improving alternative education by preventing truancy and improving attendance. The school board wants to focus on training and workshops for employees who work in this department.
Proposition three is dedicated to maintaining a salary supplement for all EBR school system employees.
Currently, each employee receives a monetary supplement. If this proposition does not pass, each employee will lose their supplement.
"It's critically important for several reasons," Drake explained. First, every employee in our system receives a supplement to keep us competitive with neighboring districts. I think that's important."
This will be the third time these propositions will go before voters for a renewal. The first time this was passed was in 1998. It went to voters for a renewal in 2003, then in 2008.
If all three propositions are passed this weekend, the tax renewals will go into effect for the next 10 years.
Drake explained how the school district has been good stewards of taxpayer money throughout time, and that is why he believes voters should renew these propositions.
"We work for the people of Baton Rouge. We have to do a better job of becoming more efficient, consolidating schools, making sure we have programs in those schools to elevate them academically and get rid of some of those schools that are not performing the way they need to be performing," said Drake. "So I think this program, this renewal that we're doing answers that. It answers neighborhood schools. We're putting more neighborhood schools in three different areas of Baton Rouge in the Glen Oaks area, Scotlandville area, and McKinley area so we're bringing those kids back home which is what we need to do."
These measures are all dedicated taxes, which means the school board must use the funds for specific projects.
"We cannot do anything but what we say we're going to do. It's also a pay-as-you-go tax. There's no bonded indebtedness," Drake explained.
Voters will be casting a separate vote for each proposition.