When the International School of Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish campus closes at the end of this school year, nearly 350 of its students have signed up to transfer into ISL’s campuses in New Orleans, officials said Wednesday night.
The International School of Louisiana announced earlier this year that it would be closing its program in Metairie after Jefferson Parish School Board officials refused to renew its lease or find it another location. International School officials then promised those Jefferson Parish families a place within one of its three New Orleans sites — K-2 at the new Dixon campus in the former Bethune building, 3-8 in the flagship Camp Street campus, and K-5 in Algiers on the Westbank — but did not know how many would accept.
So far, 345 students from Jefferson Parish have signed up to transfer — more than 80 percent of the approximately 425 who started the year there, said Head of School Melanie Tennyson at Wednesday night’s meeting of the school’s governing board.
“When we initially made this decision, I said I would be happy if 50 percent transferred. I thought that was an optimistic goal,” Tennyson said, describing herself as “overjoyed” that so many more of the Jefferson Parish kids will remain with ISL next year than expected. “I think it speaks volumes for the school leadership, the teachers, the program, all of that.”
All of the teachers from the Jefferson Parish campus have been offered positions at the International School’s other sites, Tennyson said.
The total enrollment across the International School’s campuses is right at 1,400 students, Tennyson said — even after the loss of 53 students mid-year who have already transferred from the Jefferson Parish campus to J.C. Ellis Elementary in Harvey because of the decision to close.
Meanwhile, International School also lost fewer students this year than expected to the upper-grade attrition that typically affects language-immersion schools. The student count this year is remaining about 55 students higher than expected, so the school board voted to amend the budget for about $600,000 in more per-pupil revenue from the state than it planned for, said board treasurer Duane Drucker.
“We did a very conservative projection, and we didn’t have very much attrition next year,” Tennyson said.
Most of that increased revenue will be spent on a fairly complex series of building moves for the International School, as soon as classes are dismissed for the summer. ISL will depart from both the Dibert building in Mid-City (which was assigned to Cypress Academy) and the Jefferson Parish building, sending the lower grades from both sites to the Bethune building and the upper grades to Camp Street, where refurbishments are nearing completion as well.
“It is daunting, but I think we all have a pretty good idea of what we need to do,” Tennyson said of the moves.
To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below..