EBR School Board glad to move beyond superintendent search
Craig Freeman, the school board member who voted against every semifinalist in the last round of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System's seven-month-long superintendent search, says he slept better last night than he has in some time after the board on Thursday night unanimously selected Bernard Taylor to lead the system. Freeman calls Taylor a "proven innovator" who is "not afraid of competition." Taylor has 11 years of superintendent experience in Kansas City, Mo., and most recently in Grand Rapids, Mich. Freeman says about half of the schools in Grand Rapids were on the state's academic watch list when Taylor arrived, and he was able to move all but three or four off of that list. Taylor applied in the previous round of the East Baton Rouge search but was not one of the six semifinalists. Freeman says the search firm was concerned about Taylor's relationship with the board in Grand Rapids, but Freeman says the relationship broke down because that city's board had "reform fatigue." "If you're removed by your current school board because you were fighting for education and children, you're my kind of superintendent," Freeman says. Board member Jerry Arbour says he doesn't expect a lengthy salary negotiation, and does expect Taylor's current board will be happy to let him go. Arbour says Taylor currently is on a paid sabbatical. Arbour says last night's unanimous vote doesn't guarantee the board will support Taylor unanimously on every issue, but it speaks well to his ability to move forward on tough decisions. Contract negotiations began this morning and the board aims to have Taylor in the district as soon as possible, hopefully within four weeks, the system spokesman says. —David Jacobs
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