A bill that would pave the way for a breakaway school district in southeast Baton Rouge was cleared Monday for a showdown vote in the full Louisiana House.
The measure, Senate Bill 563, won approval in the House Appropriations Committee, which considered the financial impact of the change.
The vote was 11-8.
The bill, along with a proposed constitutional amendment, next faces action in the full House.
The ballot measure requires 70 votes, or a two-thirds majority.
Asked if he has the votes state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central said “It’s doable. I think we can get the votes.”
The package has already won approval in the House Education Committee and won lopsided support in the Senate.
White said he does not know when the full House will debate it. The session ends on June 4.
Backers contend the new district is needed because the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has failed to provide adequate schools.
Opponents argue that the change would leave the district with an enrollment that consists mostly of black students from poor families.
If the plan wins final legislative approve it would be submitted to voters on Nov. 6, and would require majority support statewide and in East Baton Rouge Parish to take effect.
The committee approved several amendments that White said would lessen the impact of any financial problems caused by the new district.
But Domoine Rutledge, general counsel for the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, said the changes failed to address central issues that threaten the district with major money troubles if the change wins approval.
“You cannot do this to the school system and expect it to survive and thrive,” Rutledge told the committee. “The amendments do not address the core issues in play here.”
The new district would be the fourth of its kind in the Baton Rouge area. The Baker, Central and Zachary school districts were all carved out from the East Baton Rouge system.