The Orleans Parish School Board is reconsidering whether to allow high-performing schools to renew their charters for a full 10-year term, but some like Lusher Charter School say the longer term is needed to plan for future growth.
The Orleans Parish School Board directly oversees around 40 schools this year, up from just 20 a year ago and expected to swell to 80 next year as the Recovery School District is finally dismantled. As part of that process, the OPSB is building up its Office of School Performance and reconsidering its polices around evaluating schools.
Lusher and a handful of other schools received renewals of their charters for a 10-year term during their last reviews, but a current proposal within the OPSB would make the maximum renewal in the future for five years, said Dina Hasiotis of the OPSB Office of School Performance during a visit to Lusher on Saturday. Lusher’s leaders said the OPSB may not fully appreciate the value of a 10-year renewal for schools.
For example, CEO Kathy Reidlinger said that lending institutions are more comfortable with a 10-year renewal on the charter when it comes to financing building projects. Also, if 10-year renewals are available from charter schools around the state but not the OPSB, then the public may perceive the New Orleans schools as being inferior, Reidlinger said.
Hasiotis replied that there is some concern that a 10-year renewal period may not give the OPSB enough opportunity to properly oversee the schools, and that a mid-year review of the school might be necessary that would just look a lot like the renewal process. On the other hand, Hasiotis said, the OPSB is looking at ways to implement “automatic” renewals for high-performing school that have no record of compliance issues, which could make the renewal process at the five-year point much quicker.
No final decision has been made on the renewal terms, Hasiotis said, so the OPSB will incorporate Lusher’s perspective as it moves toward finalizing the policy.
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