Disorganized EBR School Board Redistricting Finally Begins to Wrap Up
School Board Redistricting in Baton Rouge has been marked by confusion and chaos. Tonight's meeting looks to be no different.
Tonight, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board will finally be voting to move forward with just one redistricting plan, ahead of a May 5 final vote to ratify the plan.
As Board members meet tonight, parents, students, and voters have little clarity on what school board districts will look like, just months ahead of qualifying for this fall's school board elections.
The board will consider a whopping 19 proposals, and it will take just one board member to nominate any particular map for a vote. Given Board Members' inability to agree on nearly anything during redistricting, and the sharp divides the process has exposed on the Board, you can expect a long, chaotic meeting tonight, especially with a full Board meeting following the redistricting special meeting.
Among the plans to be considered tonight, basic details like the number of districts haven't even been agreed too. Proposals range from 9 members to 15 members. That's correct- less than a month from a final vote on a plan Board members haven't even yet decided how many districts to draw, let alone what those districts should look like.
Observers of the school board, especially during its disastrous redistricting process, are likely not surprised. After all, the process with a well-respected demographer being hired by the board, only to quit months later after Board members refused to cooperate with him. The Board has also blown past the timelines it considered back in January. While the Board voted to adopt "Timeline #2", which would have set a final approval vote for March 17, they now won't adopt a plan until May 5. Even under the proposed slow timeline, the Board planned to adopt a plan no later than April 21. The Board is well-behind its self-imposed deadline, because of their inability to agree on one plan to recommend at the March 3 meeting, when a plan was supposed to be recommended. Instead, they advanced all 19 maps, and delayed the process further, not even being able to agree on the size of the Board.
Far-left advocates have pushed for expanding the size of the Board, uniting around the Ware-Collins 11 plan, which would expand the Board from its current 9 members to 11 members. This would be a reversal for the Board, which voted in 2014 to reduce its size from 11 to 9 amid personal spats, feuds, and general dysfunction among Board members. While redistricting has shown that this current Board is still prone to an inability to make tough decisions, advocates generally agree the meetings have been more efficient, civil, and collaborative with the smaller Board.
Tonight's meeting begins at 5:00PM and can be watched live here.