Five members of the audience came in front of the School Board for one particular item of consideration, to establish BRFLAIM, Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet, at a primary level at the current location for grades K-2; and with the upper level at Polk Elementary for Pre-K and grades 3-5 for the school year 2016-2017. The current proposal is to implement a “grade clustered” concept for BR FLAIM instead of running two Pre-K- 5 schools. The current BR FLAIM campus would serve as “BR FLAIM Primary,” which is grades K-2. And Polk Elementary campus would be “BR FLAIM Upper,” grades Pre-K, and 3-5. There would only be one principal over both of these sites to ensure fidelity of the BR FLAIM model.
It is uncommon for this many citizens to express their concerns about one specific issue. One infuriated grandmother expressed fear of her seven-year-old grandson being displaced from Polk Elementary School. This woman prefers to be unnamed. She knows of four students her grandson’s age that have had to move to a school across the street because there are not any gifted teachers at Polk. National Association for Gifted Children describes gifted as: “students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”
One slide of BR FLAIM’s PowerPoint presentation had a list of the traditional versus gifted students at Polk. In second grade, there are 15 traditional students with five gifted students. In third grade, there are 17 traditional students, and 13 gifted. In fifth grade, there are 14 traditional students with only three gifted students. The grandmother, along with other nodding parents in the crowd, said there are not enough gifted teachers to cater to the students who deserve proper teaching.
If you uproot our kids, they’re going to suffer.”
At the end of the grandmother’s allotted three minutes to speak, she brought up a concept coined by Dr. Mindy Fullilove. Root Shock. The children that have a chance of being displaced will experience this stress, said the grandmother.
The other talkers from the audience were for this plan. Tara Wicker, District 10 Council Woman, informed the board of an event she organized happening April 30 at Polk Elementary. The purpose is to have the board come out and explain to the parishioners of Polk what exactly is happening with the school and the immersion program.
“My one request, whatever decisions are made, is for you to have open lines with everyone in the community,” Wicker said.
Two mothers also spoke in front of the board. One mother’s son is in the BR FLAIM Spanish program. She expressed how happy her and her husband are with where they send their child to school every day. The other mom’s has a first grade child in the French program.
“Enrolling him and being accepted is the best thing that has ever happened to us.”
Matt Diez, president of the parent-teacher organization at BR FLAIM, promised everyone that BR FLAIM is the strongest immersion program in the state of Louisiana.
“I feel very confident about what we are doing here,” Diez said.
The motion passed unanimously.
Other things passed:
- Relocation of four modular buildings from Broadmoor Elementary School, and demolition of two buildings from Broadmoor and one from Shenandoah Elementary School.
- 2015-2016 General Fund Budget for East Baton Rouge Parish School System
- Renewal of a contract for External Auditing Services performed with Postlethwaite & Netterville for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and 2017.
- Adult Education Parish Prison Budget in the amount of $134,110, effective January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016