An outside evaluator hired by the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has recommended approving applications from two charter school groups, including Scottsdale, Arizona-based BASIS Schools, and rejecting five others.

The School Board is set to consider the seven applicants when it meets at 5 p.m. Thursday at the School Board Office, 1050 S. Foster Drive. Another applicant, Charter Schools USA, withdrew its application.

Private organizations are asking the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board to give its blessi…

The board also plans to consider renewing its contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to run school maintenance and other support work. After reviewing proposals from 11 companies and interviewing seven, Superintendent Warren Drake is urging the board to stay with Aramark. The nearest competitor was Cleveland-based GCA Services Group.

For the second year in a row, Katie Blunschi served as the legally required outside evaluator of charter school applications. Blunschi is a retired school administrator from the school system. Charter schools are public schools run by private groups via charters, or contracts.

The head of an Arizona-based network of academically challenging schools with plans to start…

BASIS is the best known of the applicants. Recruited by the nonprofit New Schools for Baton Rouge, BASIS is seeking to create a school with kindergarten through 12th grade that would grow to almost 900 students.

The Scottsdale-based group operates 21 charter schools, most of them in Arizona, and has gained worldwide recognition on international exams, when its students outscored students from some of the top-scoring nations. The group originally planned to apply for a charter a year ago but held off to gain more community support.

BASIS plans to build a campus on the property of Women’s Hospital as part of a corporate sponsorship arrangement with the hospital. Children of hospital employees, in turn, will get first dibs on up to half the seats at the school.

The other applicant Blunschi is recommending is The Emerge Center.

The Emerge Center, formerly the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, formed a small private school in 2014 to serve children with autism and other disabilities. It is now seeking to form a charter school focused on children ages 5 to 11 who are on the autism spectrum. It plans to start with 38 students and grow to about 140 students.

The five applicants Blunschi is urging to reject are Baton Rouge College Prep, Boys Prep Baton Rouge, Collegiate Academies, Greater Hope Academy and Kenilworth Science & Technology.

All but Boys Prep operate schools already in Baton Rouge, or, in the case of Collegiate, plan to open one in the fall. Kenilworth's application sought to add a high school while Baton Rouge College Prep and Greater Hope Academy wanted new charters.

Rejected applicants can appeal to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

For the first time since privatizing school maintenance and other support work in 2004 to Ar…

Since 2004, Aramark has overseen all custodial, plant operations and maintenance, grounds and facility management work for the school system. It currently receives more than $27 million a year.

Drake, who took over in June 2015, immediately found fault with the condition of many school buildings he inherited and demanded more from Aramark. Rather than negotiate a renewal, as his predecessors have done, Drake in December decided to seek proposals from other companies.

Drake reserved the right to award all of the work to just one vendor as it did with Aramark, or break it up into pieces and award contracts to multiple vendors. A seven-member committee reviewed the proposals and decided that it preferred to stick to using one company that could do all the work.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier