Hosanna closing high school in May

Hosanna Christian Academy, the private school in Louisiana with the most children attending via publicly funded vouchers, is closing the small high school portion of its Baton Rouge campus in May, meaning about 115 students will have to find a new high school this fall.

Principal Josh LeSage confirmed the move Thursday.

He said he had planned to announce the decision, which was arrived at Monday, at 7 p.m. Friday when he has scheduled a school assembly, but it leaked out quickly.

“The cat’s way out and has torn the bag to pieces,” LeSage said.

LeSage said Hosanna Christian Academy is scheduling a fair Thursday, March 27, in the school gym to introduce the students to new potential schools, seven private, three public.

The seven private schools are Bethany Christian School, Christian Life Academy, Family Christian Academy, Jehovah-Jireh Christian Academy, Parkview Baptist, Redemptorist High and The Runnels School.

The three public schools are Lee High, Madison Preparatory Academy and Southern Lab School.

Of the almost 700 students in the private Christian school, 480 receive vouchers, up from 281 a year ago, the first year of the voucher program.

LeSage had planned for even more voucher students, to the point where he was going to lease space elsewhere for a high school.

A few students pulled out after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled last May that it was unconstitutional to send money to private schools from the state’s education funding formula, the Minimum Foundation Program. The Legislature kept the program alive for 2013-14 via a special appropriation.

LeSage said the change made him rethink the wisdom of leasing space. “As volatile as it was and money no longer coming from the MFP, it’s too volatile for us to get into a multiyear agreement to lease space,” LeSage said.

LeSage said there are other reasons for closing the high school, which he will share with parents Friday night.

The 115 students who are being displaced by the closure are in eighth through 11th grades.

LeSage said 25 of them are receiving vouchers.

He said a representative from the Louisiana Department of Education will be on hand Thursday to help those students apply for transfers to other schools accepting vouchers.