May 192018
 

Audubon Gentilly Charter School, formerly Gentilly Terrace Elementary School (via constructionmastersinc.com)

Audubon Charter School officials are planning to offer bus transportation at their new Gentilly campus location, school leaders said Saturday morning.

Audubon’s governing board voted Saturday morning to authorize a contract for up to $388 per route per bus, though the total number of buses needed remains unclear. While the Gentilly campus has already more than filled its nearly 200 spaces, some families may still depart and be replaced by others over the summer.

“All of our students haven’t registered, so we don’t know how many routes have to run,” said Dr. Erica Murray, chair of Audubon’s governing board.

Chief Financial Officer Justin Anderson surveyed other schools about their transportation costs and ultimately budgeted $110,000 for the bus service, but that remains a very rough estimate, he said. Because the school’s students are so young — preschool through second grades — it’s unclear how many families will even want them on the bus, and some families in the Gentilly neighborhood nearby may want to walk to school, noted operations manager Alisa Dupre.

“We might have all the students ride it. We might have half the students ride,” Dupre said. “You don’t know until you have all the students.”

Bus transportation remains a checkerboard of different practices across the city, left over from the post-Katrina splintering of the school system. Schools formerly in the Recovery School District were required to provide bus transportation, but several schools that remained under the Orleans Parish School Board — such as Audubon, Lusher, Ben Franklin High School and Lake Forest — were not required to provide school buses because they are considered “selective admissions” schools, and can provide public-transportation vouchers instead. At its Uptown campuses, Audubon spends about $25,000 per year purchasing $1.25 tokens for its students to ride the city’s RTA buses to and from school, Anderson said.

The Orleans Parish School Board, however, has been increasing its scrutiny of charter school’s transportation services, particularly now that all the city’s schools are under its jurisdiction. This spring, the OPSB threatened to revoke two of Einstein’s campuses because they did not provide yellow-bus transportation to students, and Einstein ultimately relented this month.

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