Applications flowing in for new Lafayette charter school

As of Friday, more than 80 students had applied to attend Willow Charter Academy, one of three new charter schools planned to open in Lafayette Parish for the upcoming school year that starts in August.

Parents, students and the community can learn more about Willow Charter during informational sessions planned for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of the Clifton Chenier Center, 220 W. Willow St.

The school is part of Louisiana Achievement Charter Academies, a small network of schools managed by the charter management company, National Heritage Academies. So far, that network includes a new charter school in Baker that also will open in August.

Though it hasn’t started its major marketing push yet, Willow Charter has received 83 applications since late January, wrote Jennifer Hoff, NHA communications manager in an email.

Enrollment in the school is open to any Louisiana student in grades K-5. A total of 492 seats are available at the school in August, if the number of applicants exceeds available seats, students will be selected by lottery. The school plans to expand each year to add additional grades through grade eight.

A location for Willow Charter has not been announced, but it will be located in the vicinity of East Willow Street, the Evangeline Thruway and Castille Street. Megan DeKraker, NHA director of charter school development, has said that an existing building in that area will be renovated and serve as the school site.

While NHA manages the school’s operation, the Louisiana Achievement Charter Academies provides oversight of the school.

The two local board members are: Jay Miller, pastor of The Family Church, and Dionne Davis-Green, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette management instructor.

Willow Charter is one of two NHA schools planned for Lafayette Parish. A second K-8 school is planned for 2015 and likely will be located in the Broussard/Youngsville area. The charter management company is in negotiations with developers of a new neighborhood planned off of Albertson’s Parkway in Broussard, called Ville de Cote Gelee, to possibly locate its second school there.

In August, two other K-8 schools will open that are managed by a separate company, Charter Schools USA in partnership with the Lafayette Charter Foundation. One of those schools is planned for north Lafayette, off Pont de Mouton Road in the new Couret Farms neighborhood development. The second school will be located off Savoy Road in Youngsville, near the Sugar Mill Pond neighborhood development.

The Lafayette Charter Foundation also plans a third school — a high school set for a 2017 opening.