Breakaway school district bill passed through the House

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POSTED: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 3:58pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 31, 2013 - 7:58am

Representatives have passed a crucial piece of legislation to create a breakaway school district in East Baton Rouge Parish.

It's going to take two pieces of legislation to make this happen. The first passed part of legislation passed today.

This bill was always going to be the easiest to pass through the House floor because it needs fewer votes to get through and wouldn't need to be voted on by Louisiana residents.

The issue has drawn a good deal of heated debate already.

"It effects my future. I've lived through it, my kids have lived through it. I am not going to raise my grandkids in the same school system," stated parent Patty Cook. Cook is in favor of the Southeastern Community School District.

"It's bad for the students of the proposed district, it's bad for East Baton Rouge parish students, it's bad for students statewide," said Belinda Davis with Once Community, One School District.

Those pulling for the breakaway say a smaller district is better for students.

"When you get to a smaller system they get more efficient, more effective. The existing system has more money to educate the kids," said Representative Erich Ponti. Ponti is carrying the bill in the House for Senator Bodi White.

Those against the idea say the district will pull apart resources and create divides.

"It will end up being a district with more at risk children than any district in the state. And I think that's an unconscionable thing for anybody to think about doing to any urban district," state Representative Pat Smith.

The second bill required to create the district is a proposed constitutional amendment and will require at least 2/3rd's of the representatives on the floor to vote for it. That bill is slated for debate early next week.

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