Board members with the International School of Louisiana last week unanimously voted to expand the school to a second campus.
The school, now located at 1400 Camp St., is at capacity with 584 students now enrolled and a total of 650 expected next year, school chief Sean Wilson said during the board’s Feb. 27 meeting.
The new site, at 1516 Thalia St. just off St. Charles Avenue, will house roughly 457 fourth- and fifth-graders.
Asked by a board member if the expansion would improve the quality of education at the school, Wilson didn’t hesitate.
“Yes, quality is an issue,” he said. “There’s a cost in that quality and whether we want to be an A school, a B school, or a C school. I believe the quality is worth it if we are invested in the best interest of the students.”
Wilson spoke for almost the duration of the meeting about the benefits of expanding the school.
Currently, he said, the space constraints force students to eat outdoors. The school’s computer lab has been eliminated. There is no designated space for art or music classes. And closets are being used as classrooms.
The total estimated cost of expanding the campus would be $704,113, according to Wilson’s numbers. Estimated costs for staffing the new campus is $329,113, he said. The school will rely on the existing budget to fund the expansion and also hopes to enlist the help of board members to reach out to community and business leaders for donations. The school’s current cash balance is $800,000, Wilson said, and school leaders anticipate breaking even in two to three years after the incurred costs of the expansion.
International School of Louisiana principal Melanie Tennyson says the expansion is critical. “I think we don’t have a choice. We don’t have room. We can’t have meetings. They’re stacked up,” she said.
When asked by a board member about how the teachers feel about the move, Tennyson said they welcome it.
“They’re on board. They know we need to make a move. They are ready to do what it takes,” Tennyson said.
“We are nervous, we are scared that we’re going to be a different school next year. There’s no doubt about it, but they’re talking about how we can stay connected, and they want the go ahead,” Tennyson said.
The board also voted to elect Brenda Richard-Montgomery as a new member and invited Barbara Beckman, professor of pharmacology and associate dean of admissions at Tulane University, to the meeting as a board member candidate.
The nominating committee also met Feb. 26 and decided to keep the size of the board at 11 members, according to a report provided to the board.
All board members were present Thursday, with board member Chantell Harmon Reed arriving about 20 minutes after the meeting started. The meeting was called to order at 6:02 p.m. and adjourned at 7:34 p.m. There were 10 audience members present that included teachers and parents. No executive session was held.
The next board meeting will take place on March 27, 2013 at 6 p.m. at International School of Louisiana 1400 Camp St.