Orleans Parish School Board committees focus on charter control

Finances, autonomy unresolved

The Orleans Parish School Board discussed new legislation at its committee meetings Thursday to work toward convincing more Recovery School District charter schools to return to local control.

None of the 13 schools eligible to return to board control based on 2011-2012 school performance scores chose to do so at the Jan. 7, 2013 deadline.

The OPSB has ongoing litigation against the state, arguing that all schools that are no longer failing should automatically return to local governance.

Much of the debate to return centered on autonomy and finances, as each charter board is currently it’s own Local Education Agency.

When faculty and community members from Martin Behrman Charter School Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences and O. Perry Walker College and Preparatory High School pleaded in January to their governing board to go back to the OPSB, the Algiers Charter School Association denied their return.

The primary sticking point for the ACSA was that the school’s local educational agency would no longer belong to the school but would belong to the OPSB, ACSA Board President Colin Brooks said in December. Brooks said that if that happens to a school, it may not have legal protection over surplus money.

At Thursday’s legal and legislative Committee meeting, members gave their approval to a proposed bill that would allow returning charters to continue to receive their federal funds directly and keep their LEA status. The full board will vote to approve the bill, to be sponsored by State Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

The board’s accountability committee discussed whether or not to apply for the new early childhood education pilot grants, part of a statewide initiative to improve and streamline preschool programs with the goal of finding a seat for every at-risk 4-year-old by 2015.

Partnering with the RSD and a handful of non-profits, the coalition would receive $350,000 for two fiscal years.

The accountability committee talked about the status of the OneApp process and efforts to build more trust among parents. More than 92 percent of current OPSB direct-run students have enrolled through OneApp as of March 13. Expanding OPSB enrollment was also discussed.

The OPSB’s regular monthly business meeting will be held at 5 p. m. Tuesday at McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School at 1331 Kerlerec St.