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Algiers leaders try to bridge divide between Walker and Landry students prior to merger

Leaders at O. Perry Walker and L.B. Landry high schools continue to work with students to ensure a smooth transition when the schools open as one combined high school next fall, Algiers Charter Schools Association CEO Adrian Morgan said.

The schools arranged for ninth- and tenth-grade Walker students to be bused to Landry, where they met with students in the auditorium. The idea is for the two student groups to have the opportunity to meet with one another, make friends and overcome fears of turf wars between students, many of whom are from opposite ends of Algiers.

Teachers and administrators planned to hold similar meetings between juniors and seniors.

In March, students and community members expressed concern about turf wars between some students from the two campuses — a fear of merger critics from the beginning.

“We need to come together as a community,” Walker student Hashim Walters said during ACSA’s meeting last month. “We don’t need bad blood. We’re all just trying to get to college. I want to prove everybody wrong.”

Chris Martinez, the New Orleans Police officer assigned to ACSA schools, said during the same meeting that the department has been working with students to try to stop violence. While Algiers has had several murders and shootings in 2013, Martinez said authorities are are not blaming the Walker-Landry situation.

“There is no evidence that any violence has been a result of schools merging,” Martinez said.

During ACSA’s April 25 meeting, Morgan said that the two schools’ football teams have begun practicing together and appeared at a recent NOLA for Life rally wearing matching T-shirts to show solidarity with one another.

Morgan also said the charter organization has been holding prayer breakfasts with members of the community and have considered establishing a scholarship in the name of Landry’s namesake, Lord Beaconsfield Landry, in an effort to remember the Landry name following the merger.

Projected enrollment for the new school currently stands at 1,124 students in the second round of applications through OneApp, the centralized application system implemented by the Recovery School District last year.

Morgan said the school was built for a capacity of 1,000 but that he feels there’s room for at least 1,100.

Enrollment at other schools mostly fall around or slightly below their target enrollments with the exception of Martin Berhman Elementary, currently enrolled at 676, above their target of 662.

Meeting these targets remains crucial for the charter organization who rely on the anticipated number of students to bring in the budgeted per-pupil amount of state funding every year. This year’s per-pupil funding came in 4 percent lower than last year, leaving the organization at a $284,000 loss for this year.

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  • nickelndime

    “MONEY” is always the first consideration when it comes to the State (LDOE), the District(s) – OPSB, RSD, and these charter organizations (ACSA…). Keep combining schools until the oversized RSD-controlled buildings can be filled. Former OPSB-member Lourdes Moran speaks against it now, but she backed this plan fully when it was in the works. Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) want to spend the least on teachers (and their retirement costs, etc.) and the most on themselves (including posh attorneys who cover their tracks). Administrative costs are out of sight (principals are now called CEOs and are being paid big bucks to move the agenda along on the backs of teachers and the number of students, like cattle, by head). Hence, the hiring of fast-tracked and alternatively-certified (TFA, Teach NOLA…) individuals who come to Louisiana in search of what? For some, student loans will be paid off (it’s all about the money)!