YOUNGSVILLE — An organizer of a proposed charter school rejected by the Lafayette Parish School Board went before the Youngsville City Council on Tuesday seeking support to gain a charter through the state, instead.
The proposed career and technical charter high school, if approved, would emphasize job training, offering industry-based certifications to qualified students. The goal is to open the school in 2015.
“There is a disconnection between the students, careers and labor market in Louisiana,” Aleisha Clarkson, proposed CEO of the Kingdom Builders of Development Charter School, told the City Council on Thursday. “Our data shows job trajectory in manufacturing, architecture and construction. Based on the numbers, there will be jobs but people without the skills for those jobs.”
Kingdom Builders officials have applied for a Type 2 charter through the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Charter schools can go through BESE with Type 2 charters only after they are rejected by local school districts as Type 1 charters.
The Lafayette Parish School Board rejected Kingdom Builders’ Type 1 charter application in May after a third-party reviewer noted a number of problems with the application, including an undeveloped curriculum, unclear policies for staffing and funding, and lack of detail on how equipment will be purchased, maintained and updated.
Clarkson said that with a Type 2 charter through the state, the school could draw students from other districts.
“It would be Lafayette and all the surrounding parishes,” Clarkson said. “We are proposing for it to be in the Youngsville/Broussard area, and we have the support of both Mayors (Wilson) Viator (of Youngsville) and (Charlie) Langlinais (of Broussard).”
The council took no action on the matter.
Clarkson said the proposed location would be the old Southpark Hospital on Youngsville Highway, though she said nothing is set yet. Clarkson said Kingdom Builders must appeal the charter denial to BESE and should get an answer by Oct. 15.
“There is a need for another way of looking at how we are educating our kids,” Clarkson said. “It is attractive for industries who are here and also incoming industries. The students are industry-based certified. … It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Clarkson said the school would encourage students to attend college after graduation, and the industry-based certifications would be just another option for students who do not wish to attend college.
Clarkson said the plan is to make the charter a fully functioning high school with athletics programs and after-school activities. She encouraged community leaders to submit letters of intent to financially support the school and to apply for the school’s board.
“This is not our school; it is a community school,” Clarkson said. “We want community input on how money is spent. We want to go in front of the BESE board with full community support. We want the community to see the needs and want the school here.”
Clarkson said the school will be open enrollment, but a lottery system would be devised should more students apply than the school can house. A third-party evaluator would be brought in for the lottery process.