Four years after the Lafayette Parish School System closed its own charter high school, the district is considering reopening the school.
The decision to make the application will come Wednesday when the School Board also will consider two other charter school applications.
Superintendent Don Aguillard will ask for the Lafayette Parish School Board’s approval to submit a Type 4 charter application — one opened in coordination with the local school district and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“It’s an appropriate time for the board to consider reopening Lafayette Charter High School,” Aguillard said at a special meeting Tuesday, during which the board also heard presentations from two organizations seeking to open Type 1 charter schools — those approved by the local school district.
One of those schools, the Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy, is proposing a high school geared toward graduating overage students and students at risk of dropping out.
JCFA already operates three campuses in the Jefferson Parish area that serve 15- to 21-year-old high school students who are at least one school year behind in academics, and disabled students up to 22 years old who are at risk of dropping out.
The proposed Lafayette school would educate 150 students at a time and up to 250 students year-round. Students learn through a supervised, but self-guided, setting that offers flexibility for students who may work full-time jobs, be parents or have not found a school model that fits.
“They normally have not found the right space to be successful, and when they are given the opportunity to be successful, they thrive,” said Millie Harris, JCFA executive director.
JCFA staff showed data that its students have higher performance rates than at-risk students at Carencro and Northside High Schools and N.P. Moss Preparatory, along with most at-risk Acadiana High School students.
The school’s model is based on the former Lafayette Charter High School, Harris said.
Lafayette Charter High — which Aguillard is suggesting the school system reopen in time for the 2017-18 school year — served the same population as JCFA but was closed under former Lafayette Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper’s Turnaround Plan approved by the former board in 2012.
The school’s closure — it had been open since 1998 and graduated 766 students — was proposed as an effort to consolidate the school’s programs with other intensive behavioral and special education programs at N.P. Moss Prep.
Students who may have attended Lafayette Charter High — whether overage or seeking a non-traditional setting — may now participate in the Connections of Exiting Pathways programs, Aguillard said Tuesday. But the services are limited.
The proposed new Lafayette Charter High would include extended school days, options to receive industry-based certifications, childcare and social services, and additional tutoring and student-paced learning, according to documents attached to the board’s Tuesday agenda.
Administrators will have until June 10 to submit its Type 4 charter application should the board approve the action.
Another group, Athlos Academy of Lafayette, also made a presentation to the board on its proposed application to open a K-8 charter school that integrates physical activity and character-building in the early and critical school years in an effort to reduce dropout rates later on.
“We just feel that this model is so innovative,” said Skyra Rideaux, the Athlos Academy board president.
Although the school has not selected a location, Rideaux said, they intend to open in north Lafayette and enroll 900 students with a plan to grow to 1,200 students.
Caitlyn Scales, school growth coordinator for the Idaho-based Athlos headquarters, said the company provides the school’s initial investment costs to build a facility, but the local Athlos board would own its facility from 3-5 years after opening. Athlos would provide management services throughout.
Athlos operates schools in Arizona, Texas, Minnesota and Utah and is opening its first Louisiana school in Terrytown, in Jefferson Parish. In December, BESE approved the Terrytown school as a Type 2 charter, which is one approved by the state on appeal when a local board denies the application. The Jefferson Parish School Board denied the school’s application.
Athlos also has submitted applications to open schools in Caddo Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish and Monroe.
Lafayette residents will be able to comment on the applications before the board makes a final vote at its Wednesday meeting.
Should the board reject the applications, each organization would be able to apply with BESE to open a Type 2 charter, which is approved by the state and may enroll students from anywhere in the state.
All three existing charter schools in Lafayette Parish are Type 2 charters.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825