The Louise S. McGehee School won unanimous approval from City Council on Thursday (July 1) to move its child-care center to another building on campus, allowing the all-girls private school to reorganize its classroom spaces for better social distancing.
A zoning-related ordinance from 2001 mandated that the school could only use the building it owned on 2336 St. Charles Avenue as an alumni center and administrative offices. As a result, McGehee School had to ask for permission from City Council to allow that building, located at the back of its campus, to be used for child care and additional classrooms.
A City Planning Commission staff report admitted that it’s unclear why the school was so limited in the first place. “The staff is unaware of the original logic for implementing this use restriction,” the report said.
The staff report recommended amending the ordinance to let the school put its child care center in that building, and council members agreed. The school already has a child care center, so it would simply be moving that from one part of campus to another, leading to no changes in enrollment or traffic.
“They’re doing that in anticipation and consideration of social distancing for the pandemic for the upcoming school year,” explained District B Councilman Jay Banks at the City Council meeting on Thursday.
He added, “We did talk to the neighborhood association, they issued a letter of support, so they’re all good to go.”
W. Jacob Gardner, president of the Garden District Association, wrote a letter of support in March. “No changes to traffic, parking, carpool operations or increase in enrollment is expected thus having very little, if any impact on the neighborhood,” he wrote. “The Association is pleased to support McGehee School in their ongoing efforts to educate the young women of New Orleans and find the institution to be a stabilizing cornerstone of our historic neighborhood.”
The school, located at 2343 Prytania Street, serves 464 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.