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KIPP pondering whether Baton Rouge move is right

KIPP New Orleans Schools is trying to decide whether the Baton Rouge area is the right place for it to open new charter schools, officials said last week.

Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, KIPP’s CEO, said they’re not quite ready to consider a move into a new market, but hope to keep the option open for growth in the future.

Kalify-Aluise spoke at what was supposed to be a regular meeting of the board on Oct. 17. However there were not enough members for a quorum.

“We need to get this right and take care of what we’re doing here,” Kalifey-Aluise said of the schools the organization continues to open in the New Orleans area. “It’s not as fast as the Baton Rouge folks would like, but the Baton Rouge opportunity is still there.”

The Recovery School District, which currently oversees all of the KIPP New Orleans schools, recently created the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone to focus on improvement to schools in Baton Rouge.

Locally, Kalifey-Aluise said the organization is on target to open an additional elementary school in 2014, and potentially on track to open an additional middle school in 2015 as their charters from the state allow.

KIPP was approved earlier this year for eight more charter schools, in Orleans or East Baton Rouge parishes.

Jonathan Bertsch, director of advocacy, said the organization has also forged a relationship with Dillard University as a part of the KIPP College Partnership program. KIPP’s national organization currently has a similar partnership with Tulane University. The partnerships assign a faculty member to help guide KIPP alumni through college, offer special seminars and provide a KIPP network for students attending the university.

Board members Jodi Aamodt, Michael Brown, Joseph Giarrusso, III, Robert Hudson, John Landrum, Florencia Polite and Stephen Rosenthal were present.

The board is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 19 at KIPP Believe College Prep on 1607 S. Carrollton Ave.

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