The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school is still working out the details on the lease renewal for its Patton Street campus, preparing to move into the newly renovated Johnson building and deciding how to handle its space in a church on South Carrollton after a prospective tenant pulled out.
The St. Francis of Assisi church has offered the school several options for renewing its lease on Patton Street, said Lycee Francais CEO Keith Bartlett at a meeting of the school’s governing board earlier this month. The 10-year lease they offered is the best option, Bartlett said, but school officials are negotiating over clauses allowing the school to sublet the space if they decide to move out before the term is up and assigning responsibility for any major repair work that arises, such as to the roof.
The Recovery School District is nearing completion of its work bringing the vacant Johnson building up to standards, and Lycee Francais expects to able to begin moving in before the end of May, Bartlett said. At that point, only cosmetic work will remain.
“It’ll just be up to us to put the lipstick on it and make it look nice,” Bartlett told the board.
The city has been working with a consulting firm run by former NOPD Deputy Superintendent Marlon DeFillo and former Chief Eddie Compass to increase the security at the school. They are adding 15 exterior lights and 18 cameras around the building, and seeking quotes from a number of firms for 12 hours of daily security patrols.
City officials have expressed excitement that Lycee is moving into the vacant building, and have promised to do their utmost to make it safe, said board chair Michael Williams.
When Johnson is ready for the school to move into, Lycee must decide what to do with the space it currently occupies at Central St. Matthew UCC on South Carrollton. They had originally planned to sublease the space to another school, but that deal has fallen through, Bartlett said.
“Because this process taken so long, they have pulled out,” Bartlett said. “They needed an address to tell their prospective students where they would be housed.”
Lycee is considering putting the space up for sublease, but is also weighing its options in the future. Once Lycee lets go of the space, it may be hard to find it again in the future if another need arises, Bartlett said.
Williams asked if the prospective tenant might be interested in the space in the following year, but Bartlett said he did not know.
Finally, the latest project to arise as the school moves forward on its long-term renovation of the former Priestley campus is the need to remove a colony of bees. The city has also told Lycee they need to create and submit an institutional master plan for the site that will include a traffic study.
The school set an ambitious goal to raise $12,000 on GiveNOLA Day, $3,000 more than last year, Bartlett said. Not only did they meet the goal, they actually exceeded it by nearly $2,500.
The school’s enrollment stands at 724 students, with admissions under way for 125 more next year. The school is writing a budget based on a total of only 810 students, however, in case the various building moves cost the school some of its families, Bartlett said.