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Work on new home for Encore about to begin; survey shows strong support for re-enrollment

Renovation of Encore Academy’s new home on Arts Street in the Seventh Ward is slated to begin in late February or early March, school leader Terri Smith told the board of directors at their meeting Tuesday.

An initial timeline called for work on the former John A. Shaw Elementary School to begin in January. Smith said the school’s decision to renovate rather than demolish the building still allows for a move-in date by the start of 2014-1015 school year.

Officials have been assured by project manager Karl Jentoft, of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm TenSquare, that the project will be completed on time, Smith said.

The project is expected to cost $4.9 million. A general contractor has been selected, and officials are in the process of choosing an architect.

“We’re hoping to move in by August 1,” Smith said. “That’s the goal.”

Jentoft will be in New Orleans next month to meet with Encore board members and parents, Smith said.

The arts-oriented Orleans Parish School Board charter, currently co-located with Crocker Elementary in Central City, announced plans to move in September.

In addition to a full renovation of the Shaw building, plans call for construction of a 4,000-square-foot arts center that will include dance studios and music practice areas. School officials have yet to decide what to do with a cottage on the property, Smith said.

According to data released on Dec. 13 by the OneApp enrollment process, 67 students have applied to Encore for the 2014-15 school year. Of those, about two-thirds, or 42 students, ranked Encore among their top three choices. Twelve current Encore Academy students re-applied.

Smith presented a separate survey of 117 parents conducted in-house by Encore that showed 96 percent of respondents were “likely” or “very likely” to have their children return next year.

Of the four percent of parents surveyed who said they wouldn’t come back, Smith said some responded to a follow-up question indicating that they were waiting for more information about the new location before making a decision.

“That was the comment that we heard the most: ‘If we don’t come back, it will be about the building,'” Smith said.

The school has 318 students, but is likely to have 321 after the holidays. The 2013-14 budget anticipated an enrollment of 315.

In addition to receiving updates, the board scheduled a retreat for Feb. 15 to discuss potential bylaw changes, fundraising plans, performance evaluations and the procedures for bringing new members onto the board.

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  • nickelndime

    ENCORE/SHAW: This sounds too good to be true. Guess what! If the ENCORE project costs 4.9 million, who or what is paying the bill? MFP, per-student funding (current enrollment is 318) cannot be used to pay for this building. Financing was not even mentioned. One cannot consider this OPSB charter school academically sound either. So the question being asked is, who stands to benefit financially from this deal? And as for what to do with the cottage, I have a suggestion. And oh yes, the retreat! Is this when somebody (a development director or a board member) suggests forming another nonprofit such as “Friends of ENCORE,” the benefits of which are to sidestep accountability procedures and open meetings law, such as what happened recently at the EINSTEIN retreat? Yet another OPSB charter that lacks oversight. Thank you Deputy Superintendent Kathleen Padian for another charter school in Orleans Parish. This is exactly what everyone needed. Completely ineffective in getting even 1 eligible school to return to the OPSB, the charter office has a budget that exceeds the entire central office and almost matches the budget for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

  • disqus_qtvF4sydqM

    nickelndime, you should change your name to dollarsncents. The depth of your knowledge about “all things OPSB” never ceases to amaze me.

  • nickelndime

    Why, disqus_qtvF4sydqM, thank you very much. What a nice thing to say! You have a very intriguing sign-in.