WEST BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The West Baton Rouge school system is getting ready for the first week of school with new leadership changes.

After 30 years in education and eight years as West Baton Rouge Parish Schools’ superintendent, Wesley Watts is retiring.

“I loved every minute of it,” said Watts. “It’s hard leaving people here. West Baton Rouge Parish has been amazing.”

Former superintendent David Corona will take over as interim for 10 months until the board elects a new superintendent. Corona served as superintendent for 10 years. He said he wasn’t one bit hesitant to return.

“It feels great. I’m excited about it,” said Corona. “If I can help them to make the transition between full-time superintendent, Mr. Watts, and the next person, I will be honored to do it.” 

Corona’s priority this school year is safety and making sure teachers have the resources to get the job done.  

“The first thing I want to do is talk to all the principals and find out what’s going on with them because I need to speak with them and find out what’s going on with them and what they need in our schools,” he said.

One of their newest safety measures is having all schools equipped with a weapon detection system. If a weapon is detected school leaders and law enforcement get an alert. West Baton Rouge Schools launched this system in January.

Watts said the school system is discussing getting all campuses a school resource officer. 

“I think our schools are really, really safe. And again, mostly because we have good relationships with community members and they tell us when things are going on,” he said.

Reflecting on the past eight years, Watts is most proud of the employee pay raise and money to improve facilities in 2016. He said what he will miss the most is changing lives.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity I’ve had here in West Baton Rouge Parish. I can only hope that I been able to give to West Baton Rouge Parish as much as they have given me,” said Watts.

 All students will start the school year on Monday, Aug. 8. 

The school board expects to elect a new superintendent in early 2023.