On a party-line vote, a Louisiana House panel Wednesday afternoon approved a plan that would pave the way for a new public school district in southeast Baton Rouge.
The two-bill package won approval 12-6, with Republicans on the House Education Committee supporting the proposal and Democrats opposed.
The plan has already won lopsided Senate support. When the full House will debate the issue is unclear.
One of the proposals, House Bill 563, may face a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee because of the district’s financial impact.
The other measure, House Bill 299, is the constitutional amendment that voters would decide if it wins final legislative approval.
It requires the support of two thirds of the state House, which is 70 members.
State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central and sponsor of the change, said the new district is needed because the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has failed to provide parents and students with quality public schools.
Opponents, including top officials of the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, repeatedly said that the breakaway district would spark financial and academic problems.
The district is rated “D” by the state now.
The bills require the approval of the Legislature, a majority of voters statewide and a majority of voters in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District to take effect.
Backers hope that it can begin operations on July 1, 2013.