Nov 282012

The International School of Louisiana is now down to two primary options to create more space for students at its Camp Street campus: placing modular buildings on the campus, or leasing space at a nearby building on Thalia Street.

Any reorganization of the grades across the Camp Street and Algiers campus has been taken off the table. Two other ideas proposed last month also seem unlikely: reducing the number of incoming kindergarten students below 100 could be difficult to sustain in higher grades if attrition rises, and sharing space inside another school would be difficult given the ISL immersion program, officials said.

The International School of Louisiana’s Camp Street building.

That leaves school leaders with the two options they essentially started with — modulars on campus or satellite space off campus — but each presents its own challenges.

Modular buildings would have to fit inside the current school yard, using up that play space and forcing the school to find recreation area elsewhere. Having those extra students on the property will also strain the building’s common spaces, such as its cafeteria. Finally, the neighborhood will likely want to see aesthetic improvements to the modular buildings so that they are not eyesores, which will raise the cost, said ISL board president Andrew Yon, who is also a former president of the neighborhood association.

The only nearby off-campus space that the school has been able to locate as an option for a satellite campus is an office building on Thalia Street, about three blocks away, that was formerly owned by the state. Enough room for about four large classrooms is available now, with room for about six more that will become available soon, though some remodeling will be necessary — on top of the cost of the lease.

Finally, with either option, school leaders must decide which group of students to move out of the main building, the two lowest grades (kindergarten and first grade) or the middle-school students.

School leaders are now considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of those four configurations — moving upper- or lower-grade students into modular or satellite space — and will present those options at a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 13. After hearing from parents, they hope to make a decision in January so that they can begin moving forward in time for the next school year.

Ultimately, Yon noted, the challenges in finding enough space for kindergarten through eighth grade have demonstrated that the Camp Street building, for all its charms, may not be the ideal space for the school. Down the road, Yon said school leaders may begin seeking a larger campus that could hold 1,000 or so students under a single roof.

Live video of the facility discussion is available above, and to read our live coverage of Wednesday’s entire meeting, see below.

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