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Lagniappe CEO predicts school will jump from an F to a B due to improved scores

With iLeap test results in, Lagniappe Academy’s school performance score is expected to jump from a failing score, to a B, according to school CEO Kindall Petri.

State-issued performance scores, based on testing, attendance, and graduation statistics, have yet to be released, however leadership announced a preliminary score of 85 — a B, at Wednesday’s board meeting.

“Leadership worked themselves to the nub and it paid off,” said board member Dan Henderson. “The evidence is that we are the most improved school in the city of New Orleans.”

Petri said this was the first time the school has seen students achieve “Advanced” results, which is the highest level of scoring, and attributed the improvement to excellent attendance at Saturday school, and strategic tutoring tailored for each student.

Ninh Tran, the school’s chief operating officer, said that the growth is tremendous, especially considering 99 percent of the school’s students qualify for free and reduced priced lunches because they come from low-income homes.

“For our kids to perform at that level,” he said, “we’re doing great things.”

Ali McCormick, head of the school’s special education department, pointed to the many studies which show the wide-sweeping effects that  poverty has on children, and said these scores show that success is possible.

Lagniappe’s summer academy begins July 29, and according to Petri, due to the popularity of the program, the school should consider moving to a year-round calendar.

“It’s a funding issue, as the summer program pretty much comes out of our pockets,” Petri said. “But minutes spent keeping students off the streets, learning, and being engaged is productive.”

She went on to say that a year-round schedule would attract new students as well, if Lagniappe had the space to support them.

The modular campus at 1501 St. Louis Street continues to be of major concern as the school tries to grow, still without a permanent building on the eve of the school’s fourth year.

While board members and leadership have long been in discussion with the state over procuring a vacant building, which the state is required to provide, the latest suggestion is getting an uncertain response.

The idea of moving into a building at 2239 Poydras Street, recently vacated by Morris Jeff Community School, was floated by the RSD, however Henderson said the site was built as office space, not a school.

“We’d still be renting there, and we are already paying rent here, so why move just to keep paying,” said Tran.

Henderson added that leadership is feeling more encouraged about the search however, now that test scores have come out.

“The state is very aware of our situation,” he said. “Now maybe they’ll see we’re on the grow, on the go, and deserve the attention.”

In the meantime, the school has requested an extension on the lease from their landlord for one additional year, however, according to Petri, they’ll need to purchase an additional modular building.

The June 13 meeting ran for one hour, with the following board members in attendance, Emily Gordy, Dan Henderson, Joseph Kimbrell, Lee Pryor, Ray Smart via telephone, and Frank Williams. Also present were CEO Kindall Petri, COO Ninh Tran and Head of Special Education Ali McCormick.

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  • ET

    This school has become the poster child for the city. I visited the school and found our most needy children lifting themselves up to be examples of recipients of first class education. the school believe it or not is on a parking lot at Basin Street sitting next to those project buildings. they deserve and need our support.