Charter boards overseeing 17 schools must decide by the end of the year if they want to move from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board. But there are still reasons for schools to stay put, such as funding issues and concerns about the management and leadership of the local school system.
It will cost $30 million to bring students to and from public schools this year, compared to $18 million the year before Katrina. The increase appears to be a consequence of citywide enrollment and the shift from a centrally-run school system. A few schools are working together to negotiate busing contracts.
Officials at Lafayette Academy charter school, whose academic scores have more than doubled in the past five years, acknowledged investigating a cheating allegation on the state’s annual standardized test earlier this year, but decided it was unsubstantiated. It’s hard to know what happened, however, because the school board has refused to provide details.
At its monthly board meeting the Choice Foundation unanimously voted to remain under the Recovery School District and not return to the Orleans Parish School Board at the end of the 2012–13 school year. The Choice board governs Lafayette Academy, which was one of more than a dozen schools eligible to move under the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board following a period of academic improvement.
From left, Martin Behrman, Arthur Ashe and KIPP Believe are three campuses that are likely to be eligible to return to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board, above. Photo by Jessica Williams
Several more independent charter school leaders soon will find themselves facing a question that several others, including Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s principal, have been grappling with for more than a year: Should we move back under the wing of the Orleans Parish School Board?
On Wednesday afternoon, in a corner of the East New Orleans Public Library, the Treme Charter School Association held their final board meeting, ending a five-year struggle by the community group to upgrade a troubled elementary school. “Looking back we needed more money and more time,” said former board president Rosalyn Smith.
As president of the Tremé Charter School Association’s board of directors, Roslyn Smith is used to overseeing the faculty and staff of McDonogh 42, an open enrollment, public charter school educating students from Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade with almost 450 students an enrollment in 2011-2012 of 527 students. But as of July 1, she found herself in charge of only a skeleton staff managing the handover of the school to another charter school management organization, the Choice Foundation.
Choice Foundation, the charter management organization that currently runs Lafayette Academy and Esperanza Charter schools, discussed its takeover of McDonogh 42 at its June 29 board meeting. Choice’s Executive Director Mickey Landry cautioned the board that the upcoming year would be one of “massive change.”
The Treme Charter School Association, which up through the 2011-2012 school year ran the McDonogh 42 Elementary School, announced June 20, 2012 that it will not hold its July board meeting. It is unclear if the association will continue to function now that Choice Foundation plans to take over control of McDonogh 42.
At its May meeting, the board that now runs McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School ratified the termination of 45 of the closing charter’s employees, voting to extend employment through the summer months for only eight employees. The charter operator that oversees the school, the Treme Charter School Association, did not have its charter renewed for the 2012-2013 school year.
McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School, the Choice Foundation’s soon-to-be acquired charter, will remain at its current location for the 2012-2013 school year, the Choice Foundation’s board announced at a second May gathering. McDonogh will be under the control of its current charter operator, the Treme Charter School Association, until July.
Construction of four new schoolhouses should be completed as classes resume in August, education officials announced Wednesday night, but modular buildings are ready just in case. Capital projects, including ground-up school construction, highlighted Wednesday night’s meeting in New Orleans of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The content of tomorrow’s board meeting agenda is reprinted below:
REGULAR BUSINESS MEETING
The Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Treme Charter School Association will be held
Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 3:00 P.M. in the McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School Auditorium, 1651
North Tonti Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119.
By Yomi Akinyemi, The Lens charter school reporter |
A recent spate of violence that claimed the lives of two students at a nearby school was a focus of the Choice Foundation’s monthly board meeting on May 2. Principal Mickey Landry said the killing of the two students from KIPP Believe, blocks away from Lafayette, mirror escalating violence around the community in the past few months.
Choice Foundation, the charter management organization set to take over McDonogh 42, has asked the Recovery School District to delay a scheduled move to a new campus, from January 2013 to June 2013. Fran Trujillo, McDonogh 42’s principal-to-be, said relocating the school four months after Choice’s takeover would be disruptive.
The state Department of Education today released the list of New Orleans schools eligible to participate in its voucher program. The program, called the Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program, has for the past three years offered low-income students from low-performing public schools the chance to attend the private school of their choice, with the state paying the bill for tuition and fees.
Choice Foundation, operators of Lafayette Academy and Esperanza Charter School, has been approved to charter two more schools, McDonogh 42 and a yet to be named school in Jefferson Parish, the Choice board of directors said at their monthly meeting, Feb.1. Board President James Huger said that while the foundation has been given the “all clear” to take over McDonogh 42, there’s a slim chance the deal might collapse if the school’s current board sues the state Board of Elementary & Secondary Education, as threatened.
Repercussions of the newly adopted Common Core State Standards Initiative dominated discussion at the October board meeting of Choice Foundation, which operates Lafayette Academy and Esperanza Charter School. “I expect our test scores, the state’s test scores, to go down,” Lafayette principal Mickey Landry said.