BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We know that students in East Baton Rouge Parish could be starting classes for the 2021-2022 school year way earlier than expected, as part of a new ‘Smart Start Plan.’
Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse’s expressed his desire for students to start on July 28. But some parents, teachers, and board members say they have some concerns about the early start. Most people expect things to be back to normal when their children get ready for school next semester.
“The expectation is that all students will attend fully in-person beginning this Summer,” Dr. Sito Narcisse said Monday, April 1.
Narcisse wants students to start a little earlier than expected to help make up for the learning gap COVID-19 has presented some children.
“I won’t even use the term opposition; I would say concerns that are coming out there,” said EBR School Board Member Dadrius Lanus. “There are some good pieces that are coming out of this. Normally, around this time (end of July), teachers would not regularly get paid their regular salary. They would get paid a $25 a day stipend. Whereas, now again, they’re getting their entire salary for their week that they will be coming back. Also, there is a $1,300 stipend for all of our employees.”
Lanus added parents and teachers have presented some concerns to him about the proposal.
“There are some parents who have concerns because they’ve already paid for things such as summer camps and they’re figuring out how can they be reimbursed. And, from all these conversations, I’d say, ‘Please show up next week asking these same questions, so we can gather those questions and concerns,’” Lanus explained.
Some parents weighed in on Facebook. One said, “That is too early” and “teachers need a break.” Another person said, “What about those planning to travel to see relatives” and “I just don’t think enough thought was put into this idea.”
Schina Holmes is the parent of a student at Sherwood Middle Magnet but believes the changes Dr. Narcisse is proposing will be beneficial.
“No matter how it was messaged or packaged, it was for the benefit of our children,” said Holmes. “It may not cover every bit of everything but it is a start. It is a baseline for us to start somewhere. If we do not start it at the beginning of this school year, when will we do that?”
As for other local school districts:
- Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana students start August 9
- Ascension students start August 10
- Livingston Schools start August 11
“One of the concerns that we’re hearing from some of our teachers is burnout,” said Kirk Green, a teacher at Westdale Middle School. “Like you said. This year has been different than any other year.”
Narcisse’s plan does include that $1,300 stipend for teachers’ hard work this school year and for coming in early for the fall semester.
Teachers like Green say they need more details on the ‘Smart Start Plan’ before they can get behind it.
“We need to see the whole plan. Before I can be for or against the plan, I need to know what the plan is. It’s not about money. It’s not about days. We serve the children best by figuring out what their individual needs are and actually planning for that in our curriculum, with the types of interventions they would actually need,” Green explained.
The early start date does have to be approved by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board in a few weeks.
There is a town hall with Superintendent Narcisse and Board Member Lanus next week about the changes.
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