Under a much-anticipated plan that officials will present to the state education board on Tuesday, some charter schools participating in the city’s OneApp enrollment process would be allowed to hold seats for specific students.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a unified student enrollment process for Orleans Parish in November, as long as state education officials worked out separate requirements for Type 2 charters, which have specific missions and enroll students from around the state.
That decision came after some charter officials expressed concerns that the OneApp process interfered with their ability to choose students suited for their school’s missions. New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy Commandant Col. Bill Davis appealed to the board at its November meeting, saying that his school’s military-focused curriculum may not be ideal for all applicants.
OneApp was established to allow Orleans Parish students to apply to multiple schools with a single application. If there are more applicants than seats, students are selected through a lottery.
The plan allows NOMMA to hold spots, outside of the enrollment lottery, for military families who enroll late. The school’s charter requires it to set aside up to 20 percent of its seats for military families, Davis said. And a school such as the International School of Louisiana can hold spots for study-abroad students.
BESE will consider the new plan during a committee meeting on Tuesday.*
To ensure that students attending these schools clearly understand the school’s mission, they would have to attend an open house, go on a school tour or take some other action before applying.
Families outside of Orleans Parish would use a separate application offering only Type 2 charters.
The plan could set a precedent for the Orleans Parish School Board’s charters – many of which are selective-admissions – to hold seats for high-achievers. It will be awhile, however, before those schools must use OneApp. Lusher Charter School and Benjamin Franklin Senior High School, for example, won’t have to participate until 2021.
“I believe we have made good progress on a way forward,” Davis said of the new plan for Type 2 charters. His main concerns, he said, were that his school could continue to serve students from around the state and that applicants are aware of NOMMA’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps requirements. He plans to attend the BESE meeting Tuesday.
School leaders did note some issues with the new plan, as evidenced in the school feedback section of the document being presented to BESE.
Although OneApp is currently financed by RSD through private funding and charter fees, charter schools worry that future operating costs could be passed on to them. And because language-immersion schools such as the International School of Louisiana test language proficiency before the lottery occurs, they may have to test a larger applicant pool, which could cost more money.
The Louisiana Department of Education has added International School of Louisiana CEO Sean Wilson to a steering committee to solicit feedback from schools. A timeline for next year’s application process hasn’t yet been decided, but Wilson will work with Recovery School District officials to set one.
*Correction: This story originally said that BESE would vote on the plan Wednesday. However, the board doesn’t plan to take action on Wednesday because the plan was included in the board’s approval of OneApp in November.