The “Reform” of NOLA Public Schools: Headline Edition 9/14/05 to 12/21/05

Part I.

The point? Watch it not grow but slam into being.


State seeks $2.4 billion from U.S. to pay teachers: N.O. schools’ plans to be revealed today, (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/14/05. Print.

With about 25,700 Louisiana public school employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina and three local systems warning they will soon run out of money to pay their workers, state Education Superintendent Cecil Picard said Tuesday that he is asking Congress for $2.4 billion to help cover salaries and benefits of educators left without open schools.

The money would help Louisiana avoid permanently losing many of its displaced teachers, Picard said.

“Keeping educational staff is critical,” Picard said. “ We want them to return to Louisiana.”

At the same time, however, New Orleans school officials advised their employees to look for new jobs elsewhere, according to officials with the school system and its financial management firm, Alvarez and Marsal, who will gather this morning to announce the fate of the system.


SIDEBAR [PDF]. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/15/05. Print.

ORLEANS PARISH Public: Some schools may reopen late this year or early next year

JEFFERSON PARISH Public: Oct. 3 target date

Orleans public schools plan gradual reopening: Employees can collect paychecks for August. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/15/05. Print.

Now is the chance to remake New Orleans schools. Stephanie Grace. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/18/05. Print.

Orleans schools’ health benefits stable for now: ‘Nobody’s having their insurance canceled.’ (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/21/05. Print.

The Orleans Parish School Board last week placed all of its employees on emergency leave, effectively terminating pay and benefits other than health insurance.

Schools in Algiers, Uptown may get to reopen this year: FEMA will replace badly damaged ones. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/28/05. Print.

Students get break from LEAP this year: Passing not required for 5th, 9th grades. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/29/05. Print.

Status Report [PDF]. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 9/29/05. Print archive.

Because schools will be out of service for the foreseeable future, parents should enroll their children in schools outside Orleans Parish.

Franklin pushing for 2006 opening: Charter school idea being floated. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/1/05 . Print.

School Board politics emerge intact: Division may hamper rebuilding opportunity.
School cont: Local, state officials wrestling for control. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/3/05. Print.

George said starting anew can mean a lot more than rebuilding schools. Depending on how much the district takes advantage of the opportunity, the district is being offered a clean slate “in terms of deciding how do I want to do payroll, transportation, food service” and, on the academic side, he said, determining “what kind of training do we want for our principals,” for example.

“I would say the window is probably now and over the next few months,” said Hall, of the Broad Foundation. “Families are going to be making choices about whether to move back to New Orleans, and I’ve got to believe they’re thinking about the school system.”

Franklin wants to be charter school: Officials hoping to reopen in January
Charter cont: Lusher charter moves forward. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/5/05. Print.

State gets $20.9 million grant for charter schools: State hopes to use money for repairs. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/6/05. Print.

Orleans board makes 13 schools charters: East bank sites may follow later. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/8/05. Print.

Some private schools may reopen: But public schools on city’s east bank will stay closed. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/12/05. Print.

N.O. public school enrollment may be halved: Only 50-60 schools needed, Picard says. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/13/05. Print.

Picard said he has requested a $2.4 billion federal aid package to pay operational costs of damaged schools or those that closed and may be reopening in the weeks ahead. The aid also would be used to pay the salaries and benefits of an estimated 12,000 displaced teachers and support personnel, and to replace lost state and local revenues the schools normally would receive.

Charter schools order challenged: N.O. board blocked on West Bank plan. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/18/05. Print.

Board at war over school plans: Who will open them — and how — at issue. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/19/05. Print.

Despite the board’s Oct. 7 approval of a plan to charter 13 West Bank schools and open several of them to students from across the city in November, School Board President Torin Sanders said a recent court order — stemming from allegations that the board violated the state’s open-meetings law —voids that decision.

“It is sad to be part of a board that a judge said did not include public comment,” he said.

Charter schools urged for N.O. district: La. education chief cites system’s woes. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/25/05. Print.

New Orleans should not open any public schools this academic year unless they become charter schools, state Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard said Monday, because of the district’s tenuous finances and what he called problems with the current leadership.

La. schools have opportunity to shine: Storm blows away hurdles to innovation. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/28/05. Print.

17 charter schools up for approval: But when exactly they will open is unclear. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/28/05. Print.

Board approves charters for 20 schools: They include seven on the east bank. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 10/29/05. Print.

Blanco backs state takeover of N.O. schools: Who would run them is another question. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/2/05. Print.

Lusher middle to move into Fortier High: Charter school preps for January growth. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/3/05. Print.

School Board Vice President Lourdes Moran, a Lusher parent, said that as a failing school, Fortier was on the brink of being taken over by the state.

“The issue here is do we want to lose a property that could best accommodate a population we know is determined to come back?” she said. “I would prefer to keep it in the district.”

The board approved the move at its Friday meeting, with board President Torin Sanders opposed, Heidi Daniels abstaining and Cynthia Cade absent.

Flozell Daniels, executive director of state and local affairs for Tulane University, said the space is sorely needed now that the children of staff and faculty from Tulane, Loyola, Dillard and Xavier universities will be temporarily exempted from the admissions testing normally required for students who do not live near Lusher’s elementary or middle schools.

Tulane is providing up to $1.5 million to Lusher…

State may take over 104 N.O. schools: If Blanco’s plan is enacted, School Board to control 13. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/4/05. Print.

Charter schools could open Nov. 28: But the eight are still far from that goal. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/5/05. Print.

Algiers charter schools to open Dec. 14: But that plan hinges on BESE approval. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/9/05. Print.

BESE to study school financing today: Proposal calls for sharp cuts in 3 parishes. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/9/05. Print.

N.O. schools takeover idea has legs: House, Senate panels tackle bills this week. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/9/05. Print.

But Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, who in the past has sponsored reform legislation targeted at the Orleans School Board, said she cannot support the plan in its current format.

She said state Education Superintendent Cecil Picard, who is spearheading the legislation, has been unwilling to include others, such as parents, teachers and the School Board, in the discussion of the proposal.

Senate panel Oks school takeover bill: But Black Caucus, unions have qualms. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/11/05. Print.

Heavy budget cuts expected to spare many state workers. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/11/05. Print.

But officials at the Department of Education, which is being asked to cut $15.4 million, said 71 of the 111 positions being eliminated will result in actual layoffs. Officials could not reconcile the two figures.

Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard said Blanco’s executive order is forcing the department to cut programs, such as reading instruction and tutoring, that are critical to improving schools in a state whose students often trail the country in key performance categories.

Such programs are especially important as the state tries to lure back displaced families with children who are now being educated in neighboring states with better-performing schools, Picard told the Senate Finance Committee.

“These kids had a little chance to taste prime rib,” Picard said. “They’re not going to come back to low-grade hamburger.”

Algiers charter schools open soon: Job applications are now being accepted. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/12/05. Print.

Orleans yet to open doors at any school.
Orleans, cont.: Disputes over charter schools brought delays. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/15/05. Print.

Panel wants to cut cash for N.O. schools: Sloppy School Boards management cited.
Takeover, cont.: Scalise bill would grab all N.O. schools. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/15/05. Print.

STUDY TIME: Monday was the first day of class at Milestone SABIS Academy, one of two public charter schools that reopened Monday. Milestone, 5951 Patton St., and the James Singleton Charter School, 1924 Philip St., both Uptown, are the only New Orleans public schools to open since Hurricane Katrina. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/15/05. Print.

BESE cuts money to N.O. schools: legislators complained that city got too much. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/16/05. Print.

Schools chief’s raise never OK’d: Watson got it without School Board vote. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/18/05. Print.

New Orleans public schools interim Superintendent Ora Watson received a pay raise in the spring based on a $25,000 annual increase, which the board was scheduled to consider but never approved, she and board members said Thursday.

Orleans school state-takeover plan advances: Senate panel endorses spending scheme. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/18/05. Print.

Algiers expected to open five charters: But 3 schools may land in state’s hands.
Charter cont: 2 schools bypass recovery district. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/18/05. Print.

N.O. school to debut on Nov. 28: Students across city accepted; registration to begin Monday—Ben Franklin Elementary. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/19/05. Print.

Nearly 50 New Orleans public schools devastated. Three hundred buses destroyed. Hundreds of millions of dollars in storm losses. And as officials begin filing insurance claims, ‘grossly negligent’ record-keeping has only made it worse: SCHOOLS IN DISARRAY.
Schools cont: School system looks at where to rebuild. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/20/05. Print.

Mayor’s group focuses on public schools: It wants action plan in place by January. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/20/05. Print.

Charter schools offer opportunity in post-storm world [editorial]. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/21/05. Print.

State to run Orleans schools. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/23/05. Print.

1st N.O. school district campus opens today. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/28/05. Print.

New Orleans public schools are scheduled to open their first campus, Ben Franklin Elementary in Uptown, this morning, while across the river in Algiers registration begins for five newly minted charter schools on the city’s West Bank.

Two days of registration last week saw about 200 students enroll at Franklin, which is open to students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. Parents who missed last week’s registration can show up at Franklin, 1116 Jefferson Ave., this morning to register their children, officials said. Classes begin at 8:20 a.m.

The district also plans to open Eleanor McMain Secondary School to students in grades seven through 12 on Jan. 9. Students can register for McMain on weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon at McDonogh No. 7 Elementary, 1111 Milan St.

Both schools are open to students from across the city and will offer special-education and gifted programs.

Franklin has a capacity of 500 students, and McMain can hold about 1,100. District officials have said they will open more schools if there is demand.

The New Orleans public school system is the last district in the metro area to open schools since Hurricane Katrina.

On the West Bank, five charter schools — formerly part of the public school system — also will be open to students from across the city when classes begin Dec. 14. Students can register at those schools — Martin Behrman Elementary, 715 Opelousas Ave.; Alice Harte Elementary, 5300 Berkley Drive; Eisenhower Elementary, 3700 Tall Pines Drive; Edna Karr Senior High, 3332 Huntlee Drive; and O. Perry Walker Senior High, 2832 Gen. Meyer Ave. — on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. starting today.

The charters will offer half-days in December and begin full school days in January. Charter system officials have said students who are already in another district should wait until January to begin school here, although they encourage early registration.

Students pour in Monday as New Orleans reopens its first public school since Hurricane Katrina. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 11/29/05. Print.

Orleans schools takeover is official. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/1/05. NewsBank. Web.

Absent school employees face ax: Board also yanking health plans Jan. 31. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/1/05. NewsBank. Web.

All of the nearly 7,500 furloughed New Orleans public school employees who have not returned to work or have found other jobs will officially be fired and lose their health insurance Jan. 31, despite an earlier vote by the School Board to offer them catastrophic coverage through June.

All but a handful of employees had been on “disaster leave without pay” since Aug. 26, the last school day before Hurricane Katrina struck. They picked up their last paychecks in September.

4 join panel for charter board. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/2/05. NewsBank. Web.

An education professor, a community activist, a Baptist church pastor and the director of an Algiers business association have been named to the nominating committee charged with selecting board members for the new Algiers Charter School Association…

1,400 enter Algiers schools. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/3/05. NewsBank. Web.

School Board considers limited role. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/7/05. NewsBank. Web.

Right now that amounts to just eight schools that performed well enough to escape state takeover, compared with the 117 the board operated before. Although the board voted to charter 21 schools since Hurricane Katrina, 14 of those were poor-performing schools and will be among the 102 schools taken over by the state as part of the recovery district. Seven remain under their charter agreements with the district, which allow them to operate outside the board’s direct supervision.

Deficit may keep McDonogh closed: Board told N.O. can’t afford 2nd high school. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/10/05. NewsBank. Web.

Facing a $105 million deficit by June if they do not receive additional help from the state or federal government, most Orleans Parish School Board members said Friday they simply cannot afford to open a second high school this academic year, despite emotional pleas from staff and parents of McDonogh No. 35 High.

Although many community groups have urged officials to open schools in their neighborhoods, desperately seeking returns to normalcy and signs of recovery, McDonogh No. 35 is a rare case: The magnet school emerged from Hurricane Katrina with relatively little damage and is among a handful of campuses that performed well enough to avoid being swept into a state-run recovery district.

Panel: Appoint School Board. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/13/05. NewsBank. Web.

The Orleans Public School Board should be appointed rather than elected so that its members are best-qualified to oversee the unique, hybrid school system envisioned for New Orleans, a committee studying how to reform the city’s troubled education system said Monday.

The hybrid system would merge aspects of a traditional system, in which a central office largely manages individual schools, with those of a collection of charter schools, which are individually run with considerably less oversight and coordination.

That hybrid plan is very much still a work in progress, said Tulane University President Scott Cowen, who leads the education committee of the mayor’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission. Another public meeting is scheduled for next week. The plan, which amounts to a set of recommendations, is due in January.

Cowen said his committee is leaning toward recommending “a very lean, strategic approach to managing a system of schools” that has worked in some form in cities such as Philadelphia and Oakland, Calif.

Having the mayor or the state appoint a school board ensures that its members “have the skills and the competency” to manage a new type of system and make it work, he said.

Appointing the Orleans School Board, rather than electing one, would likely require a change in the state Constitution and be subject to approval by voters throughout the state, said Meg Casper, a state Education Department spokeswoman.

Cowen said charters are a good temporary measure for the city’s public school system, but they are by no means a long-term solution to the problem.

Lusher postpones Fortier entry plan: Repairs delay its use until the fall of ’06. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/14/05. NewsBank. Web.

Five charters in Algiers set to open today: Academic chief promises system will be transparent and efficient. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/14/05. NewsBank. Web.

Algiers charter schools kick off without a hitch. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/15/05. NewsBank. Web.

Charter schools hit ground running. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/15/05. NewsBank. Web.

School plan gives panel oversight: It slims system, offers choices. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/20/05. NewsBank. Web.

Called an “educational network model,” it would give principals control of 80 percent of their budgets and offer them the ability to hire and fire their staffs, said Mark Hoffman of the Boston Consulting Group, which is working with the committee.

The committee’s chairman, Tulane University President Scott Cowen, said the state should take over the schools remaining under system control that have not been chartered since Katrina. Last month, the Legislature approved the state taking over 102 of the system’s 117 schools that were performing below the state average.

Public schools approach capacity: McDonogh No. 35 may join charter list. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 12/21/05. NewsBank. Web.

Bill Roberti, the district’s chief restructuring officer installed by turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal, said there will be capacity by January for nearly 12,000 students at 17 public schools in New Orleans.

That should be ample, but if it’s not “we’re not going to turn kids away,” Roberti said. “We’ll figure something out.”

Aside from the two schools operated by the district, 15 charter schools will be open next month. Twelve are open to all students from across the city, including the five operated by the Algiers Charter Schools Association and seven east bank schools: James Singleton Charter Middle, Milestone SABIS Academy, the International School of Louisiana, New Orleans Math and Science High, S.J. Green Elementary, P.A. Capdau Junior High and Sophie B. Wright Middle School.

Three other charter schools also opening next month — Ben Franklin High, Audubon Charter and Lusher School — have selective admissions criteria or other requirements.

Part II: 1/3/06 to 7/29/06

About G Bitch

A mad black woman in New Orleans.
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2 Responses to The “Reform” of NOLA Public Schools: Headline Edition 9/14/05 to 12/21/05

  1. Sherri says:

    I have so much I could say about this educational fiasco…the devil came in while we the citizens of NOLA were concerned with little things like shelter, food, water and electricity, we weren’t in a position to fight for our public schools, and the “higher ups” knew it. Now we have a mess on our hands and it is only going to get worse when all the schools go charter next year. As an educator it is painful to go to work everyday and see what is happening, and I feel helpless in making any changes….

    • G Bitch says:

      It’s amazing how much we missed, how much was snuck in the back door and under the mat. Part II is coming soon…….

Comments welcomed. Really.