With enrollment growing beyond expectations and a possible preschool on the horizon, the International School of Louisiana has requested a third Eastbank campus for the next academic year.
From its base on Camp Street, the school launched a satellite campus in Algiers Point in 2011 and a Jefferson Parish campus in 2012. In January of 2016, long-anticipated repairs to the Camp Street campus began, and the school moved its upper grades to the former John Dibert building on Orleans Avenue in Mid-City to make room for the construction workers on Camp Street.
In the past, language-immersion schools like the International School had difficulty retaining students into the upper grades, because those who left were difficult to replace with fluent speakers of the target language. Lately, however, upper-grade retention is far exceeding expectations, said ISL Head of Schools Melanie Tennyson, making the need for more space a concern yet again.
For example, the first kindergarten class from the Algiers campus has retained 43 students in this year’s fifth grade class — when ISL officials originally projected it would only keep 15 based on older retention rates. Those students will merge with the Eastbank upper grades next school year.
So, even though construction on Camp Street is expected to be complete by the start of the next school year, Tennyson has requested that the Orleans Parish School Board allow ISL to remain at the Dibert campus in Mid-City.
“We love being here,” Tennyson said at Wednesday night’s meeting of the school’s governing board. “We are retaining our students in greater numbers than projected, so we need more space.”
Further, the OPSB listed the former Mary Bethune building at 4040 Eagle Street in the Hollygrove-Dixon neighborhood as available for temporary space next year, and ISL has requested its use as well, Tennyson told the board. With enough space, ISL could add a 4-year-old preschool program, ultimately growing its total enrollment toward 1,700 students across five campuses.
“We would like to be able to have pre-K,” Tennyson said. “But in order to have pre-K, we would need that much space.”
Which grades would be at which campuses has yet to be given much consideration, Tennyson said. First, school officials are simply waiting on a reply from OPSB, which she said to expect next month.
Tennyson’s report comprised the majority of Wednesday night’s brief meeting of the board, but it also included reports on the school’s recent charity fundraiser and mentions of recent author visits. To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.