New Town to Keep Poor Out of Schools: Rich Baton Rouge Parents Push for Controversial Plan

'It's Going to Devastate Us,' Says Working-Class Parent

A new town would keep poor out of their schools in Lousiana, if their latest proposal goes through. Rich and middle class East Baton Rouge residents want to separate their children from the current public educational system, where 40 percent of the kids live in poverty.

The new town that would keep poor students out is proposed to be called St. George, and would become Lousiana's fifth-largest city with 100,000 residents, according to Bloomberg. However, many oppose the potential split of affluent families from the district, because with them goes a large chunk of local government taxes— the $9,635 spent per student would fall to $8,870 in Baton Rouge, while newly created St. George would spend $11,686 per student.

(Photo: Elevation Church)Steven Furtick, lead pastor at Elevation Church, reads to children at Piney Grove Elementary School in Kernersville, N.C. Elevation Church kicked off "Love Week" on Sunday, Feb. 14, committing to at least 5,000 hours of service to the community.

"It's going to devastate us," Tania Nyman, a 45-year-old mother whose two children attend the Baton Rouge elementary school, told Bloomberg. "They're not only going to take the richer white kids out of the district, they are going to take their money out of it."

80 percent of the district's students are African-American, with 82 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Those who support the plans for St. George say the revenue lost by richer parents moving their children would be made up by state taxes. In addition, the current Louisiana school districts are some of the worst in the nation, according to a December report by the Federal Education Budget Project.

Still, some worry that the splitting of the rich and the poor students would set a dangerous precedent.

"Every affluent community in the state will want to create their own little school system," Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, explained. "They are taking money away that would help the entire school system and the entire city."

The rich flight from poorer school systems has already been attempted— and in some cases, parents' efforts succeeded— in Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Tennessee.

The St. George plan is only possible because court-ordered desegregation laws were removed in the area in 2007. Desegregation laws in Baton Rouge had been in place for 47 years, which is the longest time for any place in the nation.