Audubon Charter gets temporary digs in Gentilly after lead levels scuttle earlier plan

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By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |

Students at Audubon Charter School will have a temporary home next year after all. The school is slated to move by January to the old Jean Gordon School site on Chatham Drive in Gentilly while its Broadway campus undergoes a $14 million renovation, expected to take two years.

The school had originally lined up temporary quarters at the so-called Eastbank Swing Space in the Lower Garden District. Those plans were scuttled by the  Orleans Parish School Board after lead levels were detected at 15 times the legal limit.

Parents mobilized, started a grass-roots organization and contacted state officials. Called New Orleans Opposes Lead Anywhere, the group initiated an online petition demanding that OPSB test and remediate the entire Lower Garden District site before allowing Audubon to settle there even temporarily. The state Department of Environmental Quality then ordered OPSB to clear out the lead-filled soil or cover it completely. Costs and safety concerns prompted  OPSB to reconsider Audubon’s move.

In July, OPSB gave Audubon several options to choose from, board president Lourdes Moran said in an email to The Lens. Among those options: the Our Lady of Lourdes school site, modular classrooms near the OPSB administrative offices in Algiers, or modulars at the Jean Gordon site. Earlier this month, the board of French and Montessori Education Inc., which runs Audubon, went with the Jean Gordon option.

The relocation will take place over Audubon’s winter break in late December or early January, Moran said.


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