Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy is expanding again, this time to the Shrewsbury neighborhood, where the highly rated charter operator plans to open a new school in the fall of 2020.
The school, which will be called the Dr. John Ochsner Discovery Health Sciences Academy at the John Martyn campus, will open initially as a kindergarten-through-third-grade school in a temporary facility while a new building is constructed at the site.
Once that is completed, the school will open fourth through sixth grades and then add one grade a year until it's K-8.
The new school is being created through a partnership between Kenner Discovery Health Science Academy, Ochsner Health System and the Jefferson Parish Public School System, and will reserve half of its seats for the children of Ochsner employees who live in Jefferson Parish.
Ochsner Health System will invest money to build a new school at the location, and Kenner Discovery will operate the school, officials said.
Because of Kenner Discovery's consistently high performance scores — the school has earned an A or B rating from the state every year — and the fact the its charter was awarded by the Jefferson Parish School Board, it doesn't need to apply for a new charter to open the new school. Instead, Kenner Discovery officials notified the school system last year that they intended to "replicate" their school at the new site.
The new school will use the same curriculum and methods currently in use at Kenner Discovery's other campuses, said Patty Glaser, Kenner Discovery's leader. Each grade will accept about 75 students, and when all the grades are open, the new school will have about 700 students, she said.
Kenner Discovery is getting bigger.
Admission for the school will be on a lottery basis, with 50 percent of the spots reserved for Ochsner employees' children. Another 20 percent of spots will be reserved for kids from the Shrewsbury neighborhood, and the remainder of the seats will be allotted to Jefferson Parish students through Kenner Discovery's regular lottery process, Glaser said.
Students who finish the eighth grade at the school will have the option to attend Kenner Discovery's high school, Glaser said.
The attendance provisions the school will implement are permitted by state laws that govern charter schools, said Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Cade Brumley. He also welcomed the building of a new school at the site; a consultant's report noted last year that the average age of the system's buildings is about 55 years.
The school's curriculum will focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — said Glaser and Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System.
The school will "help prepare a diverse student body to succeed in life and pursue careers in the health sciences," Thomas said.
Wednesday night, the School Board unanimously approved two measures relating to the lease of the land to Ochsner, which in turn will lease it to Kenner Discovery to operate. Under the terms of the 99-year lease, Ochsner is required to build and a maintain a school at the John Martyn campus, which will likely require the current school to be torn down.
The school district currently operates an alternative school at the site, but that will move this fall to Catherine Strehle school on the west bank.
The Jefferson Parish School Board approved a plan Wednesday to close three elementary schools and convert nine other schools to house prekinde…
This is the latest announced expansion for Kenner Discovery, which last summer added a new pre-K site and earlier this year broke ground on a new $36 million high school in Kenner. The school currently educates about 1,500 students in grades pre-K through 11. Next year it will add 12th grade and produce its first class of high school graduates.
School Board President Larry Dale said he was optimistic that the school would help address a need in Shrewsbury.
"Anytime we can put kids in a good school, I'm happy," he said. "It's going to be great for the kids and that area."