James Singleton Charter School was not among the 10 schools selected by the state Department of Education for a $1.67 million school improvement grant that would have required the school to replace at least 50 percent of its staff.

Singleton Charter School leaders told board members at its regular monthly meeting July 16 that the state education department outlined specific reasons why the Central City charter school was not chosen to receive the grant. The state chose 10 schools out of 28 applicants, school leaders said.

Had the school been approved for the turnaround grant, Singleton would have had to follow a Turnaround Intervention Model that includes hiring a “turnaround expert,” implementing a research-based curriculum and replacing at least half of the school’s staff.

According to board meeting documents, grant application reviewers at the state level said the application did not show that the school’s turnaround plan would be sustainable after three years. The school’s application also lacked “external partners” and working with community stakeholders, board documents state.

Tenisha Marcel, Singleton’s upper-grade curriculum specialist, told board members that the rejection letter “gives us a good idea of where we can do better next time we apply.” Singleton Principal Debra Robertson was absent from the board’s July meeting.

Marcel said the school is waiting to receive scores from the state for summer LEAP and iLEAP retesting. Singleton expects those scores to arrive by Aug. 7 and give school leaders a better idea of Singleton’s school performance score for the upcoming year.

Math scores for Singleton fifth-graders who took the state’s iLEAP test in March dropped 25 percent over last school year, with less than 12 percent of fifth-graders scoring at “basic” or above, Robertson told board members in May.

Marcel also announced that Singleton is teaming up with Team Smile and the New Orleans Saints for a dental hygiene day to be held at the Dryades YMCA sometime soon.

In other business, the Singleton board of directors, which also oversees the Dryades YMCA that operates the charter school, received an update on the natatorium and wellness center that opened recently and currently serves more than 200 members in the Central City neighborhood.

Funding for the YMCA wellness center, which Singleton students can access, is based on a membership of 1,450, according to Dryades Chief Operating Officer Gregory Phillips.

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.