McDonogh City Park Academy is struggling with kindergarten enrollment for next school year due to what they say is an error the Recovery School District made during the first round of the OneApp enrollment process.

The Recovery School District, however, disputes City Park Academy’s claims, maintaining that the school’s low enrollment is because “there simply wasn’t demand from families to go to that school.”

The Choice Foundation Board of Directors, which oversees the Mid-City charter school, discussed the enrollment problem at its monthly meeting May 21.

Board chairwoman Mary Kay Parker said the school enrolled only eight kindergartners during the first round of OneApp, the district’s centralized enrollment system, because RSD’s database erroneously listed City Park Academy as full and having no seats available.

Parker said the glitch means City Park Academy will need to add 47 kindergartners during the second round of OneApp due May 24 to meet enrollment targets for next school year.

“It’s a concern, especially because of the budget,” Parker said.

But Gabriela Fighetti, RSD’s director of student enrollment, said there was no defect in the OneApp process for City Park Academy.

“We sought to fill all the seats they wanted filled for kindergarten.,” she said. “City Park just didn’t have the demand, and that’s why they received fewer matches than anticipated. I’m sure it’s disappointing for any school, but there’s been no error with McDonogh City Park.”

Fighetti said she plans to reach out to school leaders at City Park Academy to resolve the issue and make sure the school understands the OneApp enrollment process.

Parker told board members she plans to ask RSD for a list of all kindergarten students who requested City Park Academy during the first round of enrollment.

In other business, board member Emily Waterfield, who chairs the academic committee, reported a notable increase in state LEAP and iLEAP test scores over last year.

Every grade level showed marked improvement in all testing subjects, with most grades recording double-digit growth as compared to last year.

Overall, the school raised English Language Arts scores by 6.6 percent, math by 13 percent, science by 16 percent and social studies by 12 percent.

Waterfield said the scores will bring the school out of failing status. She predicts that the school’s 2013 state-issued performance score will be a minimum of 61, a “solid D” under the state’s new grading system, she said. The school is currently rated an F.

“And that’s the worst-case scenario,” Waterfield said. “It could be higher. But either way it’s a great improvement.”

Board members credited Principal Christine Mitchell and Assistant Principal Sheila Herbert for the gains.

“There’s a lot to be proud of,” Waterfield said.

Mitchell and Herbert also received praise from City Park Academy parent Anika Watson, who attended the meeting with her children to thank the school leaders for the learning environment they’ve created at the school.

Watson, who shared her experience in the New Orleans public school system with The Lens in March, said she had been battling school administrations for the past few years before choosing City Park Academy this year. Her children have been to a different school every year since the family moved here five years ago, she said.

“Miss Mitchell truly cares about the children, and I knew that the first time I met her at the Superdome,” Watson said. “She’s been a blessing. I’ve been able to focus on our family and our needs and not have to worry about what’s going on while my kids are at school.”

Heather Miller

Heather Miller is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Lens' Charter School Reporting Corps. She is a former staff writer for The Independent in Lafayette, and is now based in New Orleans.