LAFAYETTE — A local group trying to start a charter school in Lafayette in 2014 will hold an informational meeting about its plans Thursday.
The recently organized Lafayette Charter Foundation proposed a Lafayette Renaissance Academy for students in grades K-6 starting in 2014. The school would expand each year by a grade level with a goal of becoming a K-12 school, said Mary Louella Riggs-Cook, the foundation’s president.
The public is invited to learn more about the proposed school during an informational session planned at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn, 2032 NE Evangeline Thruway.
Those who attend “will learn that we are proposing to bring a high-quality public school to the community at no tuition cost and that we are offering them a choice,” said Riggs-Cook. “The major reason we’re doing this is because we want to offer a choice to the parents and the students in Lafayette, and we’re very excited about that.”
Riggs-Cook said she worked for more than 34 years as a teacher and administrator with the Lafayette Parish School System. Currently, she teaches employment, and financial and computer literacy skills, which is offered in the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office’s jail diversion programs.
She said the foundation plans to hire Charter Schools USA as its managing partner. Charter Schools USA manages 48 schools in five states. In Louisiana, it manages two Type 2 charter schools in Lake Charles: Lake Charles Academy and Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy, according to the foundation website.
Riggs-Cook said the foundation plans to submit its application to open as a Type 1 charter school to the Lafayette Parish School Board. As a Type I charter, schools operate in partnership with the local school board. If the local board denies the application, the group may apply to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to open as a Type 2 charter.
In the past two years, the School Board has denied charter school applications from the nonprofit group, Community Outreach Development Corporation. In August, the group opened its first charter school in Opelousas after getting approval from BESE. The Outreach Community Development Corporation’s most recent application to the school board to open a school in 2014 was rejected in February and its application is under review by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers as part of the BESE application process, said Tiffanie Lewis, executive director of the Outreach Community Development Corporation.
Volunteer board of trustee members for the proposed charter school include: Carlos Harvin, pastor of New Beginnings Christian Church; Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association; Karen Miller, a certified public accountant; Virginia Jones, a researcher at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority; Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Ulysses “Gene” Thibodeaux; Fernando Perez-Viart, executive director of the Hispanic advocacy group, Proyecto Hispano; and John “Jay” Chase Jr., architect and managing principal with Chase Marshall Architects.
For information, visit http://www.LafayettecharterFoundation.org.
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