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School celebrates higher SPS scores; campus expansion dilemmas test board

Recently released School Performance Scores and the possible expansion of the Camp Street campus dominated discussions at the International School of Louisiana board meeting on Wednesday, October 24.
ISL received an SPS of 118.5– seven points higher than last year– and a B+ grade. The score was only 1.5 points from the A grade level. School officials regarded the improvement as a major achievement for an immersion charter school, however parents expressed concern that campus changes might disrupt the academic progress.
The ISL Camp Street campus is currently over-capacity this year and campus reconfiguration became a hot discussion topic at the meeting.  The current proposal under consideration is to move the elementary school to the Camp Street campus and move the middle school to the Olivier Street campus on the West Bank.
About 30 parents attended the board meeting to voice their opinion on the idea.  Most disliked the proposed move to the West Bank, and were also displeased by the board’s indecision regarding the option. The board said it would decide by November 8 whether to retain the move to Olivier Street as an option for ISL.
The board and Head of School Sean Wilson are exploring options to expand Camp Street, and are contemplating both short and long-term solutions to address the school’s over-capacity enrollment. One proposal is the elimination of kindergarten classes, which would reduce enrollment by 100 and free up four new classrooms for use. The main criticism of this idea is that it will harm continuity within ISL’s immersion curriculum.
Another proposal would divide the campuses by language. The drawback to that arrangement is that it would create an unfair burden on parents who have to travel across the river if their child’s language is moved to the Olivier Street campus.
Overall, the Board and Mr. Wilson agreed that a K-8 continuum is best for the ISL community, and the two languages on both campuses create a more dynamic learning environment. The best possible outcome, in their view, was to lease a building near Camp Street for additional classroom space. If that isn’t feasible, another option would be to purchase or lease modular classes that would be placed in the school yard.
President Andrew Yon said that school parents would have significant influence on the ultimate decision but reminded them that the school board was not a representative democracy.
Another complication is that the campus on Camp Street is a rent-free building provided by the Orleans Parish School Board, so any money spent on additional space will be taken from funds going towards the students.
Eighty to ninety percent of ISL’s finances come from per-pupil funding provided by federal and state governments.
The meeting concluded with the nomination of Chantelle Harmony to the board, and a round of applause as she was approved.
The meeting commenced at 6:02 and ended at 8:45p.m.
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