Orleans Parish School Board, RSD launch OneApp program

The unified enrollment application known as OneApp was launched Tuesday by the Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish School Board in an effort to continue streamlining the process for families deciding where to send their children for the 2013-2014 school year.

With an increasing emphasis on parent choice, the OneApp allows parents to list up to eight schools where they would like to enroll their children, ranking the schools by preference. An algorithm then takes the information and matches family preferences to available seats, taking into account geography for grades pre-k through eighth grade, and siblings across all grades.

While all direct-run OPSB schools are participating for the first time this year, the district’s charter schools, and some run directly by the state, have elected not to participate. Parents who want to send their children to the following schools must apply to them directly: Alice Harte Elementary School, Bricolage Academy, Einstein Charter School, International School of Louisiana, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School, Warren Easton High School, Audubon Charter School, Edna Karr High School, Encore Academy, International High School, Lycee Francais, New Orleans Military-Maritime Academy, Benjamin Franklin High School, Edward Hynes Charter School, Homer A. Plessy Community School, Lake Forest Elementary School, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Robert Moton Charter School.

The OneApp contains a list of the schools not participating as well as their contact information.

In December, the OPSB passed an amendment requiring the charter schools to participate when their contracts are reauthorized, though that will not take place for several years for many, and up to as long as 10 years for some.

Zoey Reed, executive communications director for the RSD, said that the RSD will continue to encourage all OPSB charters to participate now rather than waiting for their renewal.

“It is important that all of our families are able to access the many school choices in New Orleans in a fair and transparent way,” acting OPSB Superintendent Stan Smith said in a news release. “OPSB is excited to add its direct-run schools to OneApp this year and looks forward to the future where all New Orleans public school options are offered in one application.”

Families with students at Benjamin Mays Preparatory, which will close at the end of this year, will be given priority on the OneApp, pending available seats. Mays is the only school closing for which students have not been guaranteed seats at another school.

In its second year, there are a number of changes to the OneApp as district officials work to take into account lessons learned. According to the RSD, the changes were inspired by feedback from parents about problems they encountered last year.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve our process, so we created a parent advisory committee this year,” RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard said in a news release. “For years, parents in this city have sought a seat at the table; we had an honest conversation about what they needed and what would work for them. We’re proud of the end result, and we’ll continue to ask our parents to step up and engage with us on every level. “

For the first time, the application will be available online. It will be available to download and print starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. In addition, a new partnership with New Orleans Public Libraries will provide assistance from participating library staff for parents using library computers to apply online.

With the OneApp, eligible families can also apply for non-public schools participating in the state’s voucher program. The voucher program was recently ruled as unconstitutional by a state District Court judge, and funding remains tied up in court. However, officials have maintained that the program will continue next year.

Other changes include a separate application for Pre-K 4 programs, and a “Family Link” selection, which will allow parents to make it clear that their preference is to move all of their children to the same school.

The deadline for submitting OneApp applications is March 15, and placement notifications will be mailed out during the week of April 15. For more information on OneApp and to access the application online, go to http://www.enrollnola.org.

Assistance with the OneApp and in choosing the right schools is available at the RSD and OPSB family resource centers. On Thursday, applications will be available at schools and the centers, which are located at Mary D. Coghill Elementary School in Gentilly, Crocker Arts and Technology School in the Milan Neighborhood, L.B. Landry High School in Algiers and at the OPSB offices at 3520 General De Gaulle Drive.

Other community organizations are involved in providing assistance for families in the complicated and frequently changing New Orleans public educational landscape.

In early February, the seventh edition of the New Orleans Parents’ Guide to Public Schools will be available at resource centers, libraries and events. The guide provides information about schools, as well as advocacy tools to help parents and community members engage in the improvement of schools.

A schools guide mobile phone app will be launched around the same time. More information can be found at http://neworleansparentsguide.org.

On Feb. 16, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will host a Schools Expo at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from schools and will also receive free backpacks, school supplies, and uniform vouchers. For more information about the expo call (504) 620-2332.