John McDonogh High School will close its doors at the end of the school year so the school can undergo extensive renovations, Recovery School District officials announced Friday.

The district plans to “accelerate” the renovation of the building, located at 2426 Esplanade Ave., so students can occupy the renovated school by the 2016-17 school year, officials said in a press release. Partial demolition is expected to start this summer.

“We are making good on our promise to provide a state of the art facility for our students,” RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard said in a news release. “At the same time, we must make academic progress at a faster clip than we are today. Speeding up this renovation will help to speed up the day when students can benefit from a world-class education at the John McDonogh High School facility.”

Rather than move John McDonogh into another building, the students will be directed to choose another school through OneApp, the common application system for schools in the city, for the next school year. They will have “priority status” in OneApp, RSD officials said.

According to Dana Peterson, RSD deputy superintendent for external affairs, it “hasn’t yet been decided” whether or not Future Is Now: New Orleans, the charter organization that oversees John McDonogh, will get the school back when the building’s renovations are completed.

Future Is Now CEO Steve Barr told The Lens that he hadn’t decided whether his New Orleans branch will try to get the school back.

However, Times-Picayune reported that Dobard said the charter will have expired by the time the school is ready, and it won’t be eligible for renewal.

Though the news release focused on renovations, Dobard told Times-Picyaune that poor academic performance is a problem. John McDonogh’s 2012-13 School Performance Score is 9.3 out of 150, making it one of four New Orleans schools with single-digit scores.

When the RSD has renovated other schools, the students have been moved to a temporary location and the charter operator continued to run it.

Barr told The Lens that the school’s closure was entirely due to a lack of facilities.

“I screwed up, because we didn’t have a plan here,” he said. “Nothing big can happen in the school until the building is renovated. They didn’t have a swing space. And you can’t take a whole high school and put it into portables.”

Families have until February 28 to submit their application and rank their eight choices for a school. Among the schools of choice are:

  • Algiers Technology Academy (9-12)

  • G.W. Carver Preparatory Academy (9-11)

  • G.W. Carver Collegiate Academy (9-11)

  • Sci Academy (9-12)

  • Cohen College Prep (6-12)

  • Crescent Leadership Academy (7-12)

  • Dr. King Charter School (PK-12)

  • Eleanor McMain High School (7-12)

  • Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School (9-12)

  • KIPP Renaissance High School (9-12)

  • L.B. Landry-O. Perry Walker College & Career Prepatory High School (9-12)

  • Lake Area New Tech Early College High School (9-12)

  • McDonogh #35 Preparatory High School (7-12)

  • Miller McCoy Academy for Mathematics and Business (9-12)

  • ReNEW Accelerated High School (9-12)

  • The NET Charter High School (9-12)

  • Sophie B. Wright Charter High School (7-12)

The announcement comes just over a month after John McDonogh High School officials announced they would go “door-to-door” to recruit freshmen for next year.

Steve Barr, the CEO of the national organization Future Is Now Schools, said in a meeting in December that school officials would visit eighth-grade families at home to push the new ninth grade program, which was developed this year by ninth-grade principal Angela Kinlaw.

School officials planned to rely on intensive academic intervention in the ninth-grade program, according to Barr.

The school has also experienced budget problems due to low enrollment. In October, Barr had said that John McDonogh likely would have to terminate one of its two principals and cut salaries this year due to enrollment-related budget woes.

Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative...