PAC backs 4 incumbents, 4 challengers in East Baton Rouge school board elections / The Times Picayune

A political action committee, formed by Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby and others, is backing mostly new faces along with a few incumbents in this year’s East Baton Rouge school board election.

The incumbents the “Better Schools for Better Futures” PAC is endorsing are Barbara Freiberg and Evelyn Ware-Jackson. The group is also backing Jill Dyason and board president David Tatman, but they are running unopposed.

Those are the same incumbents Grigsby’s PAC backed in the previous election cycle, with the exception of Connie Bernard. This time, the PAC is instead backing one of Bernard’s opponents, Chris Bailey.

Along with Bailey, the other endorsements went to Mark Bellue, Daniel Banguel and Robert Maxie.

The PAC is giving $2,500 to each of the endorsed candidates’ campaigns, said spokesman Josh Howard.

Howard noted that while Grigsby is involved with the effort, it’s also included input from Stand for Children, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, and local businessman Richard Lipsey.

In addition to funding the candidates’ campaigns, the group has put $40,000 toward TV and radio advertisements that began airing last week, Howard said.

The TV commercial isn’t available online yet, but Howard said it doesn’t discuss the individual candidates. Instead, it talks about the PAC’s priorities for the East Baton Rouge school district, which include: giving more autonomy to principals, hiring a reform-minded superintendent after Bernard Taylor leaves at the end of the school year, forming a better relationship with the state-run Recovery School District, and promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

In addition to the ads, the group is planning to host a couple of community forums on education issues around mid-October, Howard said.

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