BROUSSARD — Plans are on track for a fall 2015 opening of Broussard Charter Academy, a new charter school planned for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, school organizers said Monday.
Construction of the 45,000-square-foot building hasn’t started, pending finalization of a property purchase for the school site within Ville de Côte Gelée, a new residential and retail development planned along La. 89 and Albertson’s Parkway, said Megan DeKraker, director of new charter school development for National Heritage Academies. The Michigan-based charter management company will operate the school.
DeKraker said the typical construction timeline for new NHA facilities is about 20 weeks.
“We feel comfortable with where we are,” she said.
The school is the second charter school in Lafayette Parish managed by NHA, which opened its first school, Willow Charter, in August in north Lafayette.
Like sister school Willow Charter, Broussard Charter will begin as a K-5 school and grow to a K-8 school by adding grade levels each year. Its enrollment goal is 508 students — slightly more than the 471 students now enrolled at Willow — but a number the new school is expected to meet given the overcrowding at Broussard schools, DeKraker said.
Parents will have an opportunity to learn more about the school during informational sessions planned for early next year.
The school is now recruiting for its principal and, after that hire, recruitment for teachers and other school staff members will follow, DeKraker said.
While the company manages the school, a local school board — independent of the Lafayette Parish School Board — provides oversight. The board, called Louisiana Achievement Charter Academies school board, includes two Lafayette-based members, the Rev. Jay Miller of The Family Church and Dionne Davis-Green, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette faculty member. The board also provides oversight of the NHA school in Baker that opened in August.
As part of its management model, the local board doesn’t own the school or property. The property is purchased and the school built through an NHA sister company and the local board will make lease payments. For Willow Charter, those lease payments are $978,560 annually to NHA affiliate Charter Development Co.
The lease model is one of the criticisms launched by those who opposed the initial 2013 applications by NHA and another charter management company, Charter Schools USA, to open schools in Lafayette Parish. The Lafayette Parish School Board rejected the groups’ applications to open a total of five schools within the next few years. However, that decision was overruled by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which approved two schools for NHA and three schools for Charter Schools USA.
In August, Charter Schools USA, based in Florida, opened two K-5 schools in Lafayette Parish — one in north Lafayette and the other in Youngsville. Those schools also will expand each year to include grade levels through the eighth grade. Charter Schools USA also plans to open a third school — a high school — possibly in south Lafayette in the next few years.
While the public parish School Board denied the applications, the charter school organizations received the support of mayors in Broussard and Youngsville where schools are overcrowded because of the population boom in the two south Lafayette Parish cities.
DeKraker said the company chose the site in the new mixed-use development because of the need for a new school in the area.
“There’s a lot of overcrowding already in Broussard and with the strong growth that’s coming, it’s expected to worsen,” she said.
The Ville de Côte Gelée development is under construction with sewer, water and other infrastructure improvements being done now, said Talbott Ottinger, one of the developers. The 34-acre tract will include 60 single-family homes and commercial properties. Construction on homes is expected to begin early next year, Ottinger said.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.