Sep 18, 2013 2:15 PM by Tina Macias

Lafayette school board to make decision on charter schools tonight

The Lafayette Parish School Board should decide tonight whether it will partner with two companies who want to build five charter schools in the parish.

A decision on whether the board will support three Charter Schools USA and two National Heritage Academies schools should come at tonight's 5:30 p.m. board meeting. Before that meeting, the board will get an update about its partnership with local churches at a 4:30 p.m. Faith and Leadership Task Force workshop.

Charter school supporters, including superintendent Pat Cooper and the mayor of Broussard and Youngsville, have touted the charter schools as a way to reduce overcrowding in Youngsville and improve education on the Northside. Opponents, including the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, have argued that neither claim can be guaranteed, and the schools will take funding and resources away from the traditional school system.

Although charters have not been approved, Charter Schools USA has signed letters of intent to purchase eight acres of land in both the Sugar Mill Pond and Couret Farms developments. Both companies have said if LPSS does not approve the charters, they will seek state charters at the next Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting in October. The companies want to construct new privately-funded school buildings and their operations would be funded by state, federal and local tax dollars -- $8,000 to $9,000 that follow students from one school system to another.

If the school board approves the charters would enter into a four-year contacts with the charter groups and set performance standards, as well as without up to 2 percent of funding. It would be up to the school board to renew the contract, but even if it is revoked, the school buildings would not become school board property.

If the school board does not approve the charters, the state could enter into similar agreements with the companies -- negotiate contracts and control whether it is renewed.


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