A third-party evaluator has recommended that the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education reject the charter school proposal to open a career and technical education high school in Lafayette Parish from the local nonprofit group, Kingdom Builders Community Development Corp .
The recommendation will be considered by a BESE committee Tuesday and goes before the full board on Wednesday.
The nonprofit group proposed a high school to open in Lafayette Parish offering students the opportunity to earn industry-based certification in high-demand fields. SchoolWorks, the third-party evaluator hired to review charter school proposals, recommended that BESE deny the proposal because of a “mismatch” between the school’s location and its targeted population, even though “the applicant provided a sound school model.”
SchoolWorks noted that “two-thirds of student demand identified by the applicant comes from families in Iberia and St. Mary parishes, even though those two parishes account for only one-quarter of the school’s projected enrollment.”
The evaluators also noted five of the nine board members for the school live in Iberia and St. Mary parishes, while only one lives in Lafayette Parish.
The nonprofit group sought approval earlier this year from the Lafayette Parish School Board to open the school in the parish, but the board denied the application, opening the door for the group to seek authorization from BESE.
Last year, BESE denied the nonprofit group’s similar proposal to open a career and technical high school in Lafayette Parish.
In recent years, BESE has approved two charter school applications from two out-of-state charter school management companies who partnered with local nonprofit groups to open charter schools in Lafayette Parish.
National Heritage Academies, based in Michigan, received approval to open two K-8 schools through the nonprofit Louisiana Achievement Charter Academies. So far, only one of those two approved schools has opened — Willow Charter Academy, which enrolled its first students in August 2014. A proposed school for Broussard was stalled due to low performance at the charter management companies’ existing schools in Louisiana.
The Florida-based Charter Schools USA received approval to open three schools: two K-8 and one high school. Two of the schools — Acadiana Renaissance Charter Academy in Youngsville and Lafayette Renaissance Charter Academy in northern Lafayette — opened in August 2014. The high school is planned for the Youngsville area.
The Lafayette Parish School Board plans to open its own new high school on property it owns in the Youngsville area and that school will be focused on career and technical education opportunities in agricultural technology and energy technology. That high school is expected to open by August 2017.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.