Five of the seven Baton Rouge public schools taken over by the state in 2008 and 2009 for chronic low academic performance have added students compared with last school year.
The seven schools, six of which are privately run charter schools, have added 61 students this year compared with their official Oct. 1 enrollment counts, according to information from the Louisiana Department of Education.
The Department of Education provided numbers for all of the schools, including Capitol High School and Crestworth Learning Academy which are the only two schools that have lost students, 69 and 73 respectively. Dalton Elementary has gained the most students, 69 thus far.
The counts for these seven schools were taken Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. All seven schools are part of the state-run Recovery School District, or RSD.
All seven schools, however, still enroll far fewer students than they did where they were operated by the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
East Baton Rouge Parish has more students in school so far this year, as does Central and Zachary. In addition, a new online school called Louisiana Connections Academy reported earlier this month that it had 574 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, including about 100 from the Baton Rouge area.
East Baton Rouge Parish on Wednesday had about 260 more students than it had on Oct. 1. Middle schools remain crowded but less than in the early days of the 2011-12 school year.
The Advocate first requested RSD enrollment information from the Louisiana Department of Education on Aug. 17.
RSD spokeswoman Siona LaFrance apologized for the delay. She said the state does not receive routine enrollment information from RSD charter schools and lacks access to the student information systems these schools use.
“There’s not an easy way right now to get this information, but our analytics person is trying to fix that,” LaFrance said.
The exception is Capitol High School. The school listed 249 students on Wednesday, down from 318 on Oct. 1, 2010. It is operated directly by the state and its enrollment is readily available, LaFrance said.
The school was merged this year after being operated for the past six years as separate boys and girls high schools.
100 Black Men of Baton Rouge, which held the charter for Capitol High for three years, handed the school back to the state in May saying it couldn’t afford to keep operating the school.
Principal Onetha Albert said Friday the 249 number is a bit high. Her staff has counted 223 students who are actually coming to school regularly, in what is known as a “warm body count,” she said.
It’s not clear whether the other six Baton Rouge RSD schools have dropped their no-show students yet.
Also, Capitol has 91 seniors, but only about 50 students in each of the other three grades.
Albert, who took the job a month before school started, said she’s focused so far on just getting the high school up and running, but recognizes the need to find more students.
“We’ll have to do some serious recruiting. We have lots of community engagement events planned,” Albert said. “There are people within walking distance of us who didn’t know we were even open.”
Crestworth Learning Academy has a similar problem. It has 73 fewer students than it had Oct. 1, 2010. Its eighth-grade class has 161 students. Sixth and seventh grades, though, have only 99 and 113 students, respectively.
Advance Baton Rouge is seeing enrollment growth at all five of the charter schools it operates. Most of that growth is concentrated in the two elementary schools it operates, Dalton and Lanier. They are enrolling 452 and 463 students each, increases of 69 and 60 students, respectively.
In a prepared statement, Nancy Hammatt, Advance Baton Rouge’s new chief executive officer, said Lanier is almost full and Dalton has just 10 slots left to fill.
She said the three other charter schools the nonprofit group operates — Glen Oaks and Prescott middle schools in Baton Rouge, as well as Pointe Coupee Central in Morganza —“are continuing to enroll new students almost daily.” She credited new academic themes focusing on science and business at Glen Oaks and Prescott, respectively, for the increases.
Glen Oaks is up 17 students, Prescott is up 22 students, while Pointe Coupee is up 10. The schools’ enrollment remains small overall, though, with about 300 students each.
Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School has also added students, 34 in all. It listed 483 students on Wednesday, despite being under investigation by the state.
The middle school has come under scrutiny for its high number of uncertified teachers and how it handles special education. In July, the state revoked the charter for Abramson Science and Technology School, a New Orleans charter school also operated by the organization that runs Kenilworth, Pelican Educational Foundation.
Unlike the other RSD schools, where the students are almost all black, about 13 percent of Kenilworth’s students are white, Hispanic, Asian or Native American.