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Young charter school, Bricolage, to get John McDonogh campus on Esplanade

Two-year-old Bricolage Academy has been selected to run the storied John McDonogh campus, and the historic high school on Esplanade Avenue should reopen in a few years as a fully renovated kindergarten-through-seventh grade school.

Bricolage is authorized by the Orleans Parish School Board, so that means the campus will return to the board’s control. It has been under the auspices of the state-run Recovery School District. The decision of what school would get the campus was announced jointly today by the board and the RSD.

The possible return to the School Board has been a point of contention in the search for a new operator at John Mac.

The John McDonogh Sr. High School Steering Committee sued the state over the matter, arguing that the state board of education had violated state law when it voted to give control of the school’s fate to the RSD.* The self-appointed committee says its a public-education advocacy group founded by former students, parents and other school supporters, and its goal is to have the school become a direct-run high school operated by the School Board.

The School Board has also contended that the Recovery School District could not open a new school in the city.

The campus became vacant last summer when its operator, Future is Now, turned in its charter.

“We are excited that the historically significant John McDonogh building will house a school that offers a novel approach to education in New Orleans,” RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard said.

The kindergarten and first-grade Bricolage now rents space at a synagogue. But the growing school is set to move into the Holy Rosary campus this summer as it adds second grade. It likely will remain there until John Mac’s multi-million-dollar renovation is complete.

If all goes as scheduled, Bricolage would open as a kindergarten through seventh grade school for the 2018-19 school year.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Orleans Parish sued the state over its process of awarding John McDonogh to the RSD.

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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • nickelndime

    Will the OPSB also “control” the RSD-Reed High School facility/campus now? Einstein is an OPSB-authorized charter school and it was selected by the RSD to “open a closed ‘school.’ ” What is good for one should be good for all. Does control of the building revert to the OPSB because an OPSB-authorized charter school opens and runs it, or is this lipstick on the pig again? 04/22/2015 4:52 PM

  • nickelndime

    Judge Sidney Cates, III ruled in favor of the RSD and against the John McDonogh Steering Committee. Kenneth “Ken” Carter is Cates’ law partner and RSD Deputy Superintendent Dana Peterson’s father-in-law. And only a few people see a problem with this! Jesus H. Holy Christ. Please tell me that Dana Peterson is not married to Karen Carter. This is a a sham – a flim-flam – a ruse – an inside deal – a backroom deal – everything but illegal, I guess. 04/22/2015 9:48 PM

  • nickelndime

    Not discounting the importance of and respect for Open Meetings Law, but we seem to have a bigger problem in this city with regard to charter schools, charter operators, CMOs, nonprofits, BESE, and buildings. The Feds need to look at the big picture of what is going on because it involves billions of dollars in public money and is looking more and more like racketeering with each passing day. 04/22/2015 9:57 PM

  • nickelndime

    Densen’s charter for Bricolage to the OPSB received special help from 4.0 (nonprofit charter incubator). Matt Candler is the CEO. Candler was the CEO for founder Sarah Usdin’s nonprofit, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) before moving to 4.0. The dots are all there. Conflicts of interest abound. What’s lacking is for the Feds to follow the scent. Oh yes, one more thing. Kathleen Padian, Deputy Superintendent for Charter Schools – OPSB – formed a nonprofit that helped meet the building needs of charter boards that wanted to open charter schools but lacked buildings. Sounds familiar? It should. If anybody would look closely into the deal that was worked out for Encore (another OPSB-authorized charter) for the purchase of the old Shaw school from the OPSB and a third-party buy-out (so Encore could buy, renovate, sell the building, and then lease the Shaw building), one would question why Encore even applied to open and run John McDonogh this time around. Who is paying for all of this? We are. But this is not just about money – not to us anyway. 04/22/2015 11:57 PM