Dec 292011
 

With ample space next year in the new St. Francis of Assisi campus on State Street, Lycee Francais may add higher grades more quickly than it had expected. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

Based on what may be a growing interest in language-immersion education among parents, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is exploring the possibility of adding more upper-elementary grades sooner than the one-per-year model that officials had originally envisioned, school leaders said Thursday.

Currently in its first year, Lycée Français has three grades: pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, and kindergarten for 5-year-olds. The original plan for the school called for the addition of a first grade next year, and moving one grade up each subsequent year. Based on repeated inquiries from families with older children, however, school officials are investigating the feasibility of adding some higher grades ahead of schedule, board member Jean Montes said during a special meeting Thursday.

The board’s first step, Montes said, is determining exactly how much demand for opening the higher grades actually exists. The board will be collecting data on that issue during its ongoing application process for the next school year, as well as by filing information requests to see how many children are being turned away from upper elementary grades at other French-immersion schools, Montes said.

“We know there’s a demand for this education throughout the state,” said board member Paige Saleun. “We know that there are immersion programs everywhere, and they’re thriving.”

In theory, Lycée Français could handle the addition of up to about the fifth grade, said school director Jean-Jacques Grandiere. That consideration is based on both available space at the new St. Francis of Assisi campus on State Street, and on the different curricular demands that would be involved in opening a middle school, board members said.

The idea is still in its preliminary stages, and no firm plans or timetables have been set. For example, it is still too early to tell exactly which grades there is a demand for, and whether they could be added next year, said board chair Andrew Abrams. Any change in the growth schedule will first require the recommendation of the state Department of Education and approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, he said.

“All we can do is show the demand … and our ability to accomodate that demand,” Abrams said in an interview after the meeting.

Board member Allen Kelly asked how the school plans to handle the French fluency of new students in upper grades. Even a student who comes to the school in the first grade, for example, would be three years behind a student who started at LFNO at age 3.

“We obviously can’t take someone who’s never spoken a word of French and put them in fourth grade,” Saleun said. “They’re set up for failure from the getgo.”

Eventually, the upper grades will require some sort of testing to ensure new students can understand the teachers, board members said. But any plan to add higher grades will also include recommendations for tutoring and other support services for new students, Montes added.

No action was taken on the idea at Thursday’s meeting. Montes said he would have more to report on the matter at January’s meeting.

Thursday’s meeting also included discussion of the contract for students in the school’s early childhood education program. To read our live coverage, click “Replay” in the box below.

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  10 Responses to “Lycee Francais considers faster pace for adding upper elementary grades”

  1. Thank you so much for addressing your demands for higher elementary grades. We are currently at Audubon Charter and want out. So many of your parents that are at both schools have said how happy they are and cannot wait to get their older children in Lycee as well. I have put in my application and will encourage everyone I know to do the same so you can have the data needed to show the demand and hopefully, “In theory, Lycée Français could handle the addition of up to about the fifth grade, said school director Jean-Jacques Grandiere.” Please keep parents informed of your progress. Many of us are applying at Lusher as well, we do not want to leave the French school, but cannot afford EB and do not want to stay at Audubon.

    • Thank you for your interest, Audubon Neighbor and Parent. Please consider coming out to Lycee Francais’ Open House this Saturday, January 7th at 9am.

  2. Eb does accept children through the louisiana voucher program and offers wonderful scholarships! I also know the French government offers scholarships for French children. It is an awesome school! My children are thriving and the school will include up through 7 th grade next year. It is highly accredited through the French government and in the U.S. system. All of you who are unhappy should come look. Applications are being accepted this Wednesday!

    • Dear “French Mom”

      You stated, “Eb does accept children through the louisiana voucher program and offers wonderful scholarships! …It is highly accredited through the French government and in the U.S. system. …All of you who are unhappy should come look. Applications are being accepted this Wednesday!” What does this comment have to do with Lycée Français exploring the possibility and potential for future accelerated growth??!?? Are you simply trying to rain on the developmental news Lycée Français openly wants to share?

      Furthermore, your statements that École Bilingue accepts tuition vouchers, offers scholarships, and is “highly accredited” by the Fr. government are disingenuous. École Bilingue is simply accredited as a Fr. School through 2nd Grade; the LA Voucher Program pays 90% of the local school district’s MFP (for schools in Orleans Parish, the current voucher is approx. $ 7,400) and per the École Bilingue website, scholarships are “need based,” cover tuition only, and do not pay for the mandatory $ 2,000 deposit and misc. mandatory fees that total between $ 1,368 and $ 1,668.00. A “voucher program” student or one who is awarded a “full” scholarship will still have to pay upwards of $ 3,500.00 (a family possessing a “voucher” for Kindergarten tuition will pay $ 10,943 [tuition + fees] – the $ 7,400 voucher = $ 3,543; a “full” scholarship Kindergarten student will pay a $ 2,000 deposit plus fees or $ 3,368) per year to attend École Bilingue. Keep in mind that scholarships are “need based” so not everyone receiving a scholarship to École Bilingue will be given a “full” scholarship and that tuition and fees can and do increase.

      Lycée Français is the only independent public K – 12th Grade (projected) French School in the United States and its “Maternelle” (Pre-K – Kindergarten) grades are currently being reviewed for accreditation by the Fr. Ministry of Education. To my knowledge Lycée Français will achieve 100% retention of its current “family” and is being inundated with applications for its projected grades next year (Pre-K3 & 4, Kindergarten, & 1st Grade) and, without asking for them, Lycée Français is receiving applications for grades not projected for next year. I can only presume these additional applications are meant to “express interest” in attending Lycée Français at some future date. Judging by the applications to (and future interest in) Lycée Français, there is ample demand for another quality French School in this town. After all, not everyone can afford a private school like École Bilingue.

      Perhaps your post (as a shameless attempt to recruit students for École Bilingue) should have been in response to the brouhaha between ACS and its immediate neighbors? After all, that’s where “unhappy” families (in both the French School and Montessori program) are located.

    • My child was at EB for 3 years and we loved it. Unfortunately, tuition continued to rise and as a single working mother, I could not afford the increased tuition. We were not offered vouchers or scholarships. My child is a French Citizen and the Consul’s office and EB’s administration stated we were not eligible for Bourse Scolaire – the scholarships by the French Government- because Audubon was available at no cost. I ultimately had to move my child to Audubon because I could simply no longer afford EB. I sincerely hope that has changed.

      • Another Audubon Parent- It has changed. The new Principal-Pauline Dides goes to Houston several times a year bringing all necessary paperwork for all French families. It has been wonderful and has really helped us and many of our friends!
        Best of luck!

  3. Wow– French parent you hold some anger! Chill out!

  4. Yes, Audubon parent, the Bourse situation has changed. The French Consul office’s was actually not informed and giving out the wrong information ( not on purpose )in regard to EB and this scholarship for French nationals. Please call the school and find out the information. We have many fFrench students currently receiving the bourse. Your child must be three years or older.

    And to the angry french parent above. Voucher kids Pay NO tuition, that would be illigal. EB is one of the only non religious/schools that do offer vouchers.

    • Dear Kally:

      Unless you and “French Mom” are referring to “students with special needs,” I stand by my factual statements. Please see
      L. R. S. § 17:4011-4025 (Act No. 509 – “The Voucher Program”),
      L. R. S. § 17:4031 (Act No. 515 – The Voucher Program for “Special Needs Children”), and for complete details on the Voucher Program itself see http://www.doe.state.la.us/topics/scholarships_for_excellence.html.

      As stated in LA Law, the voucher program will pay up to 90% of the local school district’s MFP, (which in Orleans Parish is slightly above $ 8,200.00 and 90% of that is $ 7,400.00). If (contrary to information presented on the EB website) EB is waiving any and all other tuition, deposit, and misc. fees associated with the costs involved in attending EB, that’s great and should be applauded.

      Finally, I’m not angry; I want to see the truth presented and I do not see the connection between comments intended to recruit students to EB and the article describing Lycée Français’ exploration of accelerated growth. Any comments intended to recruit students to EB would be better placed w/ the “Neighbors’ lawsuit… could disrupt Audubon Charter…” story. You’ll find parents of both French School and Montessori program students who are unhappy with the state of affairs at ACS there.

  5. I have lots of friends at Audubon and they all seem very happy with the education their children are receiving-both in the French track and the Montessori track.

    You cite well–but you are not informed on the process for EB. All of EB’s voucher students pay NOTHING in tuition.

    I am thrilled my two children receive the Bourse and we do not have to pay much for tuition.

    I was simply reply to the first commit of the unhappy parent who was applying to other schools.

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