The former Benjamin Banneker campus will become home to KIPP Believe Primary this month, returning open-admissions elementary education to the Carrollton corridor after a number of recent school closings.
When KIPP Believe Primary moves into the old Banneker campus this fall, the school will serve grades kindergarten through 3, and will add a fourth grade in the 2015-16 school year, said assistant principal Katharine Schweighardt. Now in its fourth year, KIPP Believe Primary was previously housed in a modular campus in Gentilly and received the keys to the Banneker campus on July 1 — with little more than a month to prepare for the start of school Aug. 5.
On Thursday, officials at KIPP Believe Primary received the help of nearly 100 volunteers from Entergy to get the campus ready for students, repainting classrooms, moving furniture and books, and preparing the play areas. Entergy has had a partnership with KIPP for sometime — investing $1 million in the charter network as part of a total $18 million investment in education across the region since Hurricane Katrina, said Entergy Louisiana CEO Phillip May.
“We think KIPP is a very successful school system,” May said.
The “D”-rated Benjamin Banneker Elementary on Burdette Street was included in the latest wave of Recovery School District closings at the end of this past school year. The previous year, Johnson Elementary was closed, with many of its students choosing to attend Banneker.
Now, KIPP Believe Primary will serve as a companion campus to KIPP Believe College Prep, which serves fifth through eighth grades and is currently housed at the former McNair school on Carrollton Avenue. Recovery School District officials have slated KIPP Believe College Prep to move into the new school being built on the Dunbar site in Hollygrove in several years, though Lafayette Academy also has a claim to the Dunbar school.
KIPP Believe Primary may also move again to the former Johnson campus on Monroe Street (which currently serves as a temporary site for Sophie B. Wright students), Schweighardt noted, but regardless of the final configuration, the intent is to keep both KIPP Believe schools together in the Carrollton area. Because of their recruiting in the area, about 40 percent of KIPP Believe Primary students currently come from Carrollton neighborhoods, she said.
“Now we’re much closer,” she said. “We want to be a neighborhood school. If our middle school is close, that makes it easier for families to say, ‘We’ll be in the neighborhood, kindergarten through eighth grade.’ ”
A school performance score has not been calculated for KIPP Believe Primary. In 2013, KIPP Central City Primary (which serves the same grades as KIPP Believe Primary) and KIPP Believe College Prep both earned a “C” rating based on test scores and other measures.