The Orleans Parish School Board central office, much reduced since Hurricane Katrina, is headquartered in Algiers. Credit: Jessica Williams

Mildred Osborne Elementary School and Akili Academy will merge this summer as enrollment continues to decline citywide, the two schools’ charter groups announced Thursday.

ARISE Schools, which operates Osborne, will voluntarily relinquish its charter and Crescent City Schools, which runs Akili, will take over operations at the site as of July 1. ARISE, whose flagship school closed last summer, will cease to run any schools in the city. 

Students from both campuses will begin the 2023-24 school year at the Osborne school, a newer building in eastern New Orleans, a move for Akili’s current students in the Upper Ninth Ward. 

The news comes just weeks after the district’s citywide enrollment lottery deadline. 

Both Orleans School Board President Olin Parker and Superintendent Avis Williams support the move.

“Relinquishing a school charter is a difficult decision. We appreciate the ARISE School board of Directors for being proactive and doing what is in the best interest of students,” Parker said according to a press release. “This transformation is in line with the District’s optimization needs.”

School officials have argued that campus closures and mergers are necessary to preserve extracurricular and enrichment activities as declining enrollment brings financial challenges. Louisiana schools are funded on a per-pupil basis and schools have fixed cost, such as utilities and insurance, even if enrollment declines, which can cause a financial pinch.

Enrollment in New Orleans public schools continues to drop, according to the latest data collected by the Louisiana Department of Education. 

NOLA Public School’s latest official enrollment count, tallied in October 2022 by the state, was 43,904, a .2 percent enrollment drop from the prior year. The previous two school years saw enrollment declines of 2.3 and 3.3 percent, respectively. 

NOLA Public Schools’ enrollment dropped from 45,022 students in the spring of 2021 to 43,982 students in the state’s October 2021 enrollment count. Those 1,040 students represent roughly a 2.3 overall enrollment percent drop from the previous school year, following a 3.3 percent drop in enrollment the year prior.

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...