Bricolage Academy, a New Orleans charter school that opened two years ago, will move out of Touro Synagogue on St. Charles Avenue this fall and into a former Catholic school building in Mid-City, while Cypress Academy — one of the city’s newest charter schools — will take over the Touro space.
Cypress Academy’s charter application was approved by the Orleans Parish School Board last summer, and the school will open with a class of 100 kindergarten students this fall.
Bob Berk, who heads the school, said Cypress plans to stand out from other charters in the city in two ways: by focusing on critical-thinking skills through problem-based learning — how to tackle the city’s drainage problems, say — and by reserving a portion of its seats for students at risk for reading disabilities, such as dyslexia.
“If we can identify these kids early, let’s serve them even before federal law mandates these services,” Berk said.
Like the charter schools that have preceded it in the Touro space, Cypress Academy will likely spend about two years looking for its next location, Berk said.
The school will hold an open house for interested parents at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Touro, 4238 St. Charles Ave.
Meanwhile, Bricolage will start its third year this fall at a new home, the Our Lady of the Rosary campus, a former Catholic school on Esplanade Avenue in Bayou St. John. Its history as a school stretches back decades, but it most recently housed Morris Jeff Community School until that charter moved into its permanent building on South Lopez Street over winter break.
The Our Lady of the Rosary campus has much more space than Touro — enough room for up to 500 students, school leader Josh Densen said.
“It has enough room for us to grow for three, maybe four years,” Densen said. “The plan is for us to go there and then figure out where we’re going next.”
Bricolage has about 150 students — four sections each of kindergarten and first grade, with roughly 20 students per classroom. Next year, it will add second grade, with plans to eventually grow through the eighth.
Bricolage has received 220 applications so far for next year’s kindergarten class. The school plans to admit 100 and hopes to retain about 80 after some of those admitted choose to attend other schools. Bricolage also expects to have about 10 openings in each of the first and second grades next year, Densen said.
Meanwhile, Bricolage is one of a half-dozen applicants for the John McDonogh school building on Esplanade Avenue, and Densen said he believes the school’s application is “competitive.” Even if it is approved, the renovation would still take three years, meaning that Bricolage would not move in until 2018.
“I would love to move to John Mac,” Densen said. “You’ll know in a week or two if that happens.”
The OneApp application system divides the city into six large “catchment areas,” and Bricolage will give preference for half of its seats to students in its new Catchment Area 3 — which includes Treme, the 7th Ward and Gert Town through the Fair Grounds, Mid-City and Lakeview neighborhoods.