The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) recently released its positions on the upcoming tax renewals for the EBR School District and expressed support for Proposition 1 on school facilities and technology. Among the reasons the BRAC Board chose to support the proposition is that the EBR School District’s plan greatly increases school capacity in the South and Southeast part of East Baton Rouge Parish. Residents of this part of the parish have been calling for increased school capacity for years, and the BRAC Board has always recognized that the effort to form a new school district and new city in EBR Parish was driven largely by public education desires that were going unfulfilled.

Population growth projections throughout EBR Parish, which the EBR District analyzed in developing its tax proposal, support the call for additional school capacity in this area. The Southernmost parts of EBR Parish will see greater population growth in the near future than much of the rest of the parish. This is particularly so starting in the west in the Gardere neighborhood of South Baton Rouge and following along the Iberville and Ascension Parish lines to the east.

BRAC’s analysis of the proposed tax plan and a handful of other already-approved projects shows that in the next eight years, there will be a significant and positive impact on the utilization rate of schools in this area. Should the tax plan pass on April 28, five new schools will open in South and Southeast Baton Rouge between now and 2026.

Present Capacity

Currently, there are 12 EBR District schools located within South and Southeast Baton Rouge. BRAC has defined these areas with dividing lines as such: for South Baton Rouge, we used Perkins Road, Lee Drive and the Mississippi River; for Southeast Baton Rouge, we used Coursey Boulevard and the Ascension parish line. For context, we draw a distinction in our map, below, between some of the existing schools; those in purple are located within the newly-released boundaries of the proposed City of St. George, whereas those in orange are not under threat of breakaway.

Existing schools, outside proposed St. George

  1. Highland Elementary School
  2. Magnolia Woods Elementary
  3. Mayfair Lab School
  4. Parkview Elementary School
  5. South Baton Rouge Charter School
  6. Wildwood Elementary School*

New schools (tax plans & approved charters)

  1. BASIS Baton Rouge***
  2. IDEA Innovation
  3. Jefferson Homesite***
  4. Proposed New School (Primary)****
  5. Proposed New School (Secondary)****

Existing schools, in proposed St. George

  1. Jefferson Terrace Elementary
  2. Shenandoah Elementary School
  3. Westminster Elementary School
  4. Woodlawn Elementary School
  5. Woodlawn Middle School
  6. Woodlawn High School**

*EBR Schools’ proposed tax plan includes expansion of this school in 2022-2023. **EBR Schools’ proposed tax plan includes renovations of this school in 2023-2024. ***Located within the geographic boundaries of the Proposed city of St. George. ****Exact locations are TBD.

 

Interestingly, the total current enrollment of 7,257 students in the 12 existing EBR District schools is 90 percent of the schools’ capacity; the schools have space available for 8,145 students. Three of the area’s existing 12 schools are over-enrolled, and the most over-enrolled (Wildwood Elementary), is slated for expansion in the proposed tax plan renewal.

Capacity Impact: Five New Schools in Eight Years

In 2018, two EBR Schools-approved charter schools will open and begin growing enrollment through 2024:

In 2020, a new school will open at Jefferson Homesite, potentially replacing the K-5 Jefferson Terrace Elementary School with a K-8 school, and in any event increasing capacity in the area. This will be shortly followed in 2022 with a new K-5 school in South Baton Rouge. Finally, rounding out the five schools will be a secondary school in South Baton Rouge serving grades 6-12 by 2026.

Capacity Analysis Change
New Schools in EBR, 2018 – 2024
Available Capacity Percent Increase
2017-2018 school year, enrollment of 7,257 8,145 Baseline
2018 8,963 10%
2020 10,173 25%
2022 10,673 31%
2026 14,257 75%

These schools combined will allow public schools in South and Southeast Baton Rouge to serve 75 percent more students than they can currently. This equates to schools for an additional 6,112 students, and since the schools are not all full right now, that means there will be space available for 96 percent more students than are currently enrolled in the existing schools in the area.

The EBR School District doesn’t get enough credit when it does something positive that addresses the needs of this community. BRAC would like to make sure we commend them for this job well done, and the best way to do that is to vote Yes on Proposition 1 on April 28.

Our People - Liz Smith - BRAC

Written by Liz Smith, J.D.

As BRAC’s senior vice president of economic competitiveness, Liz leads the organization’s public policy advocacy, strategy, research, and reform activities aimed at advancing the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the Baton Rouge Region.