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Algiers school group bids for as many as six charters in Baton Rouge and Shreveport areas

The Algiers Charter School Association has applied to take charge of as many as six charter schools in the Baton Rouge and Shreveport areas, the association’s chief executive, Adrian Morgan, told the board at its March meeting. If charters for all six schools are granted, the association’s enrollment would jump by 3,800 students.

Negotiations with state and regional education officials will determine which schools ACSA might be permitted to take on. “It’s a basic thing that says we’re really serious about doing this and now they’re looking to see if we’re really qualified,” Morgan said of the applications filed with the state Department of Education.

Morgan announced in October that the association wanted to expand beyond New Orleans. State laws require that the majority of a charter school’s board be from the parish or one adjacent to it. That means the board would need to scout for members in the  new locations.

“There are a lot of questions we need to answer about how do we structure this for multiple geographies,” Morgan said. Morgan said all the applications submitted were for Type 3 and Type 5 charters, meaning ACSA’s new schools could be any combination of failing school conversions or new charters overseen by the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education.

Morgan expects to know the result of each application between June and July. The new schools would open for the 2015-16 school year. He said the organization considered many areas in Louisiana but chose the Shreveport and Baton Rouge areas because they are the two largest metropolitan areas in the state after New Orleans.

In other business, Morgan reported some communication issues with the Recovery School District in connection with the standardized LEAP tests recently administered at ACSA schools. Morgan said schools received an email at 4:51 p.m. requiring tests to be turned in to the RSD offices by the close of business that day. “It made life difficult for people for there to be this much frustration around something that’s been around for years,” Morgan said. “It’s been frustrating for teachers and staff.”

All Type 5 charters will begin administering the standardized tests in-house beginning on July 1. Morgan said he feels ACSA had taken all the necessary steps to prepare for the upcoming second phase of LEAP testing.

Board member Jonathan Edwards reported that several repairs had been made, including to a leaky roof and broken boilers at Algiers Technology Academy.

Chief financial officer Charlie Mackles reported that the organization is preparing to take on some water costs as the Sewerage and Water Board begins charging schools for water usage past four gallons per person per day. Mackles said the policy really covered “catastrophe situations — if a pipe bursts and we don’t fix it, that’s when dollars come into play.” He said he does not expect to see major changes to the budget due to the Sewerage and Water Board policy change.

The board voted to approve four contracts for new football helmets and uniforms for L.B. Landry/O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School totalling $73,909.95 and a $13,739 contract with Hotard Coaches Inc. to take the Martin Behrman Charter School Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences marching band to a competition in Atlanta.

D’Juan Hernandez was the only board member not in attendance. The next board meeting will be April 24 at 6:00 p.m. at a location to be announced.

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