Organizers say charter school plans on track in Lafayette

Photo submitted by Charter Schools USA -- Charter Schools USA plans to build three Type 2 charter schools in Lafayette similar to its Lake Charles Charter Academy shown here. Charter Schools USA will manage the three Lafayette Parish schools, while the Lafayette Charter Foundation will provide local oversight. Show caption
Photo submitted by Charter Schools USA -- Charter Schools USA plans to build three Type 2 charter schools in Lafayette similar to its Lake Charles Charter Academy shown here. Charter Schools USA will manage the three Lafayette Parish schools, while the Lafayette Charter Foundation will provide local oversight.

Two groups to open three schools in ’14

Two groups approved to start three charter schools in Lafayette Parish say they are on track to open schools as planned in August and one is already starting to look for key staff to run its schools.

In October, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a total of five new charter schools by two charter groups to open in the parish between 2014 and 2017.

The first three are scheduled to open in time for the next school year.

“We’re in negotiations for two properties,” said Jay Miller, a board member of Louisiana Achievement Charter Academies. The group is opening two K-8 schools in the parish — one in August and the other by 2015 — in partnership with the charter management company National Heritage Academies.

Contracts should be in hand in early December for the two schools set for an August opening by the Lafayette Charter Foundation, said Mary Louella Cook, foundation president.

The group joined with charter management company Charter Schools USA to open three schools in the parish: two K-8 schools in August and a high school by 2017.

One of the K-8 schools will be built in Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville; the second is planned for Couret Place, a new development in north Lafayette.

Cook said the foundation is accepting applications for principals with a goal of hiring its two school leaders by February or March.

“We want him or her to be on board to be able to select staff that will be indicative of the personality and needs of the school,” Cook said.

Miller said his board will begin its staff search after its construction contracts for schools are squared away.

Both groups’ boards will meet in December, though details are still being worked out for such things as meeting locations and sites for temporary offices.

“We want a place where the public can come in and ask questions and have a point of contact until the schools are open,” Miller said.

The schools received approval from BESE to operate as Type 2 charters, meaning they are authorized by the state school board, which lays out the terms of their contracts to operate as schools in Lafayette Parish.

The two groups appealed to BESE to open schools in the parish after the Lafayette Parish School Board rejected their applications in September.

The schools’ contracts with the state likely will be signed in late January or February, said Barry Landry, Louisiana Department of Education spokesman.