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McDonogh 42 delays move until 2013; test score results show gains

McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School, the Choice Foundation’s soon-to-be acquired charter, will remain at its current location for the 2012-2013 school year, the Choice Foundation’s board announced at a second May gathering.

McDonogh will be under the control of its current charter operator, the Treme Charter School Association, until July. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education chose not to renew that group’s charter in December, and the Recovery School District awarded the charter to Choice in January.

The state-run district granted Choice’s request to delay renovations at the school until June 2013 to ease Choice’s takeover effort, officials announced. The school had originally planned to move to New Orleans East four months into the school year, McDonogh principal-to-be Fran Trujillo said.

At the meeting, Trujillo and Choice Foundation Head of Schools Mickey Landry again said they were unhappy with how the district has handled the takeover and transition process at McDonogh. Both raised similar concerns at the board’s last meeting.

Confusion about the state of McDonogh abounds as most parents think the school has been shutdown and have yet to re-register students, Trujillo said.

“They are putting kids at risk and handicapping the next operator that will assume the school,” Landry added.

In other meeting news, school leaders discussed test scores, new state curriculum standards, and facilities updates. The board also welcomed a new member.

School leaders at the two schools Choice now runs, Lafayette Academy and Esperanza Charter School, said scores have generally increased.

At Esperanza, fifth grade was the only exception to the upward score trend, Interim Principal Nicole Saulny said.

“The teachers were uncoachable and had major classroom issues,” she said.

Both fifth-grade teachers have been replaced for the upcoming school year, and three new fourth-grade teachers have been hired, she said.

At Lafayette, a 2 percent score increase overall mirrored citywide results, Landry said. Sixth grade saw the highest gain with almost a 20-point increase. Landry attributed the change to a new plan instituted by the fifth and sixth grade department heads. Landry will launch that strategy schoolwide next year.

While officials didn’t discuss current test data for McDonogh, the school’s initial assessment data shows that between 70 to 90 percent of students in each grade level don’t meet state standards, Trujillo said.

The Treme Charter School Association’s mid-year charter revocation has had a negative effect on faculty and staff morale, she said. She expects that to play a role in low test scores.

Board members also discussed Common Core State Standards, new state standards for student curriculums.

Renewing concerns he raised at the last meeting, Landry again criticized the state education board on its implementation of the changes. Louisiana has still not provided adequate training and resources to its schools, he said.

“It’s great to have this entrepreneurial charter school approach… and be a leader in education reform nationwide,” Landry continued. “But, the state has done little to support the system and has been a total failure in this regard… Common Core is going to be a train wreck to Louisiana.”

When board members discussed facilities, board president James Huger said construction at the charter management organization’s headquarters was a month behind schedule. The site, the former Grace Episcopal Church on Canal Street, will also house Lafayette’s pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes.

Should construction plans fall through, the organization plans to utilize other school space at the South Carrollton Avenue site.

Lastly, the board welcomed new member Anthony Carter, the director of finance and administration at the Downtown Development District, and then went into executive session to discuss adding on more board members and a date for a board retreat.

The next board meeting is June 20.

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