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Lagniappe Academies searching for a new home

Lagniappe Academies leapt from an F performance rating to a B this year. Now the big issue for board members is securing a home for next school year, Lagniappe board vice chairman Dan Henderson said.

StRose

Tom Thoren / The Lens

Lagniappe’s current lease at 1501 St. Louis St. expires at the end of this year. The school is at capacity with about 160 students, forcing it to turn away students this year because of space limitations in its modular buildings

At Lagniappe’s board meeting  Wednesday, members continued talks about moving to the former site of St. Rose de Lima church at 2541 Bayou Road, which was discussed in the Sept. 9 meeting.

Henderson said that structurally the building is “fabulous.” It is the home of the Bayou Treme Center.

“We would fit just fine in St. Rose for a few years,” said Lagniappe CEO Kendall Petri, who has been looking at the building since 2008. “It would be absolutely perfect for us.”

Perez Architects has  done preliminary work for remediation of the building and is assisting Lagniappe with the potential move. The building would not be ready for the start of next school year, Henderson said, but could be ready for the second half.

Board members said they believe it would be possible to negotiate an extension on the school’s current lease until the new site is ready.

Lagniappe is currently in its fourth year of a five-year charter, but Lagniappe’s B rating this year has indirectly guaranteed a charter extension of at least three years, Petri said.

The state evaluates five-year charters starting in the third year. Evaluations in the fourth year decide if a school will earn the fifth year. If the school performs well enough in fourth-year performance scores, the school can also earn an extension on the charter beyond the fifth year.

If a school earns a B rating or higher in the fourth-year performance scores, then that school is guaranteed a five-year extension on top the original five-year charter. A three-year extension is given to C ratings.

Because Lagniappe is now its fourth year, the school’s scores from the coming spring will determine any extension. While it is possible that Lagniappe will score lower than a B or a C, it will be rated at least a C by the state next year.

The state has said that due to the new challenging Common Core standards, it is anticipating decreases in school performance scores. As a result, it has said that no matter how great the decrease in scores, school ratings will not fall more than one letter grade in the initial year of implementing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

For Lagniappe, that means it will have at least a C rating next year, and therefore earn a minimum three-year charter extension.

Space restrictions are not new to Lagniappe, which is why its growth has not matched the original charter’s projections. The original projection planned for the school to have 490 students this year, but it only has a third of that with 163 students.

Board members approved a charter amendment that now plans for 175 students for next year instead of the originally projected 700 students.

Board members also approved adding Byron Bishop as a new board member. Bishop is a pastor at the Mid-City campus of Victory Fellowship, which provides housing for women of all ages, drug rehabilitation, life skills training for young adults and other programs.

Board members first met Bishop when he took part in Lagniappe’s Oct. 1 event that gave a free pair of shoes to every student.

“This guy has got the spunk and maybe the relationships that could help move the school forward,” Henderson said. “I think we have a lot in common and can work together.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, board treasurer Frank Williams announced his resignation from the board. He said he had been discussing stepping down with other board members leading up to the meeting, and promised to continue to help where he could.

No future board meeting date was set.

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