Lagniappe Academies on Friday became the second Recovery School District charter school to decide to leave the state-run district and return to the Orleans Parish School Board.
The nonprofit board that governs the school voted unanimously to make the switch. Board member Dan Henderson said that after conversations with school CEO Kendall Petri, the board decided to reconsider a previous vote to remain with the RSD.
He acknowledged that the original decision had been “hurried.”
Monday is the state’s deadline for making the decision about which district to be in for the next school year. All other eligible charter schools have voted on the issue.
As a relatively small school, enrolling 180 students, Lagniappe hopes that joining the OPSB will give it greater access to shared services, and the cost savings that would likely come with them. Henderson gave the example of nursing services for the school, which it currently contracts out.
The Lagniappe board will continue to run the school, setting policy and making budget decisions, which is in line with the independence sought by charter operators. Whether charters are associated with the RSD or the OPSB, they remain autonomous in their day-to-day operations.
Board member Dan Forman stressed that the Recovery School District had been designed as a temporary, turnaround district, and that schools in good academic shape always were supposed to return to the School Board.
Henderson also lauded the School Board’s highly graded charters.
“It hit me between the eyes that that’s who we ought to be associated with,” Henderson said of the OPSB.
A 2010 state-level policy change put the decision on whether to return in the hands of charter schools themselves, rather than setting up an automatic return process.
Of 36 Recovery School District charter schools eligible to return to local control next year, only one other has chosen to do so.
The Friends of King board of directors voted to return Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School to the OPSB beginning in the 2015-16 school year.
Henderson, adding to Forman’s point about academic recovery, said, “We looked down and said, ‘We’ve recovered.’ ”
The school, which enrolls students from kindergarten through fourth grade, earned a C letter grade from the state this year — though Henderson pointed out that it barely missed a B.
With growing enrollment, Lagniappe is under pressure to find a larger campus, and the lease it holds for land in Treme is up at the end of the summer. The school is housed in several portable classrooms there.
Board members seemed confident the Orleans Parish School Board would work with them to ensure the school has space.
“They are very aware of our issues,” Forman said.
Lagniappe will notify the state of its intent to return to the OPSB, and the school will work with the district to create an operating agreement. OPSB and state approval are still necessary.