Louisiana leaders to discuss BTW-Fair Park merger next week

Louisiana leaders to discuss BTW-Fair Park merger next week

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Now that the Caddo Parish School Board voted 8-4 Tuesday night to merge Fair Park and Booker T. Washington High Schools, the question turns to what happens now.

The merger would combine Fair Park's 700 students with Booker T.'s 300 high schoolers, increasing their enrollment to 1,000 students and converting Fair Park into a middle school.

According to District 10 School Board Member Larry Ramsey, who proposed the merger, the next step means negotiations with the state.

"That's why I left it open-ended because you can't just go in and dictate to them what you're going to do. We're going to have to negotiate," he told KSLA.

The negotiations with the state need to take place because Fair Park HS is one of two Caddo Parish schools under contract with the state as a high school in the Recovery School District, a state school district which intervenes in the management of low-performing schools.

Fair Park has been an "F"-graded school for a decade while Booker T. has climbed to a "D" grade.

Even if the merger is approved by the state, Fair Park alumni told KSLA after the Tuesday night meeting that they haven't been told what the merger means for school employees.

"You cannot make a decision like this and you can't even explain how it's going to work and why you think it's going to work. That question came up. Nobody could answer," said Fair Park HS Class of 2000 Alumnus Brandon Lacey.

KSLA called the state Department of Education which reported that any teacher's future status would be decided on the local level.

DoE leaders declined to say anything else until after they meet next.

"We're looking forward to sitting down with the leadership in Caddo and creating a plan that works for students in all struggling schools," said DoE Press Secretary Sydni Dunn.

Ramsey told KSLA this merger is about combining school resources, like teachers, to help students.

"We have a tremendous problem of hiring qualified, certified, qualified teachers," he said.

"We're not going to stand for it. We're going to fight. This is not the end of it. I can promise you that," said Lacey.

Dunn told KSLA that DoE leaders will discuss the merger at the next Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) meeting, which is set for next Tuesday, January 24th at 9 a.m. in Baton Rouge.

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