PC School Board rejects charter application

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board last week unanimously rejected an application from a nonprofit group looking to create a new Type 1 charter school in the parish.

The board’s May 28 decision was driven by a third-party review of the application from Educo Learning Inc. which highlighted a list of weaknesses that were also deep-rooted concerns for the School Board.

Some of them include the application being too ambitious and lacking specific details regarding instructional materials and curriculum to support its goals for students.

The report also notes the charter school would be staffed by what it terms as high-salaried administrators, all of whom would live outside the parish.

According to the report, Educo Learning was hoping to establish Pointe Coupee College Preparatory Academy, an elementary/middle college prep school that would have expanded each year by adding grade levels until it reached eighth grade.

School Superintendent Linda D’Amico informed the School Board the new charter school in its first year would serve 161 K-2 students and eventually enroll 441 students within six years of operation.

The charter school’s opening would have plucked approximately $1.7 million (about $11,000 per student) next year from the school district’s allocation through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program based on the nonprofit’s year-one enrollment projections.

“That would be devastating,” board president Frank Aguillard said during the meeting last week. “We can’t go through this again in this parish.”

The School Board’s thoughts on charter schools is soured by the state’s takeover of Pointe Coupee Central High six years ago by the Recovery School District after the campus’ continued poor academic performance under the umbrella of the parish school system.

A U.S. District Court judge recently returned control of the Central campus to the school district after the state failed to improve the school’s academic standing as well.

“We heard all kinds of great things when ... Pointe Coupee Central was taken over,” board member Tom Nelson said. “I’m adversely opposed to bringing any Type 1 Charter School here.”

Board member Les Ann Grezaffi added, “I see no need for any charter school coming here at all. All our schools are doing well. We don’t have enough children to share with a charter school.”

Educo Learning can now apply to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for a Type 2 charter, which would mean the proposed school would operate under state rather that school district control.

“BESE needs to look at their track record,” board member Anita LeJeune said. “They need to be held accountable for who they’re giving charters to and which ones aren’t successful.”

Port Allen Juneteenth

Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence is asking everyone to join in the city’s Juneteenth celebration June 19 at William and Lee Park in Port Allen.

There will be food, drinks and amusement rides for kids, and the park’s swimming pool will be open all day.

A basketball tournament is scheduled for noon and live music will be provided.

Children are also encouraged to bring their roller skates.

For more information, contact Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence at (225) 344-4830.

Submit news to Terry Jones at (225) 326-6627 or tjones@theadvocate.com.