Performance among Uptown public schools in the most recent school year was in many ways similar to that in the year before, according to state scores released Monday. A cluster of high-performing schools continued gains that in many ways lead the city, while a somewhat larger group of low-performing schools split between those making progress toward the middle, those that are slowly improving but still dismally low, and a handful with results that can only be described as disappointing. The Top 10
Uptown has a strong share of the highest-performing schools in New Orleans — only 18 of the city’s nearly 80 public schools scored an ‘A’ or a ‘B,’ and eight of those are in Uptown neighborhoods. Lusher Charter School, which is mostly selective-admission, continues its performance as a standout school, scoring 167.1 (out of 200) and behind only Benjamin Franklin High School in the entire city. The growth in its scores were strong as well, surging nearly 12 points from the year before.
Broken windows and water leaks contributed to uncertainty last week as to when Lusher High School students could return after Hurricane Isaac, and even now that the immediate damage has been repaired, the experience reinforces the need for major upcoming renovations to the old Fortier building, school officials said Saturday morning. “When we get a hard rain, water comes in,” said Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger at a Saturday morning meeting of the school’s governing board. Water intrusion through the windows, outer walls and roof is a major problem even in normal storms, and Lusher officials made a concerted plea to state and Orleans Parish officials through the last school year to allocate federal Katrina-rebuilding money to correct the problem. Ultimately, Lusher got a green light for the repairs, and have recently been meeting with Orleans Parish officials to define exactly what will be renovated. At their most recent meeting, Orleans Parish committed to sealing the windows and the leaking outer bricks, replacing the roof and the central air conditioning unit, Riedlinger said — all the major items Lusher was requesting to bring the school to the state standard of “warm, safe and dry.”
The governing board of Lusher Charter School will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Fortier campus for an update on funding, facilities and enrollment. The meeting is open to the public. The agenda is below, according to the school website:
A regular meeting of the Board of Directors of Advocates for Arts Based Education Corporation will be held Saturday September 8, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., in Room 207 at 5624 Freret Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. Below is the Agenda For the Meeting. AGENDA
The board of Lusher charter school approved a one-time $600 salary increase for teachers and administrators, including CEO Kathy Riedlinger, for a total cost of $72,000 next year, according to a report on Saturday’s board meeting by Yomi Akinyemi of The Lens. The school is also discussing the OneApp common enrollment process with the Recovery School District, Akinyemi reports.
Even as education officials tout increases in test scores around Louisiana and in New Orleans, the only open-admissions school in Uptown New Orleans that exceeded state averages in any subject last year was New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School — and that was only in two of four subjects. Among other high schools, New Orleans College Prep was only a few points off the state average in three of four subjects, and Eleanor McMain Secondary School generally trailed Prep by a few more points in each subject. But Sophie B. Wright Institute of Academic Excellence had decidedly mixed results, and the phasing-out Walter L. Cohen High School and the now-closed Sojourner Truth Academy scored even lower. The state of Louisiana offers end-of-course exams to high school students in four subjects — Algebra, English, Geometry and Biology — and assigns grades at four levels: Excellent, Good, Fair and Needs Improvement. While any grade above “Needs Improvement” is sufficient to pass the grade, officials with the state Department of Education look at the proportion who score “Good” or “Excellent” to evaluate student achievement.
Lusher Charter School is likely to reduce the number of incoming kindergarten students from 150 to 100 in the coming year, halting the expansion it began two years ago because it has run out of room at its satellite campus at the Jewish Community Center and been unable to find more space elsewhere. In the fall of 2010, Lusher expanded from its traditional four sections of kindergarten at its Willow Street campus to six by adding two classes at the Jewish Community Center. The school now has four classes total at the JCC — two of first grade and two of kindergarten — but no room to add another two classes, said Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger at a Saturday morning meeting of the school’s governing board. Riedlinger said she has explored a number of possible locations, most notably the Our Lady of Lourdes school building on Freret that Sojourner Truth Academy will vacate when it closes at the end of the year. The Archdiocese appears likely to hold on to that building for one of its own schools next year, however, so Lusher has run out options, Riedlinger said.
Memo to crawfish: Easter may be over, but Uptown New Orleans won’t be a safe place to be this weekend, either. Saturday boasts two major events in which crawfish will be the main attraction:
Lusher Charter School will hold its annual crawfish boil fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. This year’s event had to move from its traditional location at the Willow Street campus to the Fortier campus on Freret Street because of voting in Saturday’s election, and the school website has a map of the new layout at the high school. Just a few blocks away, Tulane University’s student government will be holding its annual Crawfest, drawing an expected 10,000 to 12,000 students and community members from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for crawfish, food trucks, and bands including Galactic and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Crawfish is free for Tulane students, faculty and staff, and costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids for everyone else.
The Lusher High School community suffered a series of tragedies over the past week, the sudden death of a highly-respected college counselor and serious injuries to two student athletes, school officials said Saturday morning. Charles “Chaz” Prosser, the director of college counseling, rode his bicycle to school Thursday morning, started feeling unwell later in the day and took a cab home, said Lusher High School principal Wiley Ates at a Saturday morning meeting of the school’s governing board. He didn’t show up to work Friday, and school officials then learned that he had passed away, though they have not yet heard the cause, Ates said. “This is, of course, a terrible shock to the Lusher Family,” reads a statement titled “In Loving Memory” on the school website. “It is very difficult to lose someone who has meant so much to all of us.
New Orleans police are looking for a man who may be trying to abduct his child from Lusher High School and who is wanted for violating the terms of his release after a conviction for attacking the child’s mother, authorities said. The full NOPD news release follows:
New Orleans Police are looking for a local man who currently has 3 warrants out for his arrest, and is believed to be a possible threat to the mother of his child. 38-year-old Bryant Harris is currently wanted for Violation of a Protective Order and Criminal Damage to Property. He also has a fugitive attachment from Jefferson Parish and is on parole for domestic violence. Last year, Harris served time for choking the mother of his child until she passed out.
This change remains bittersweet for me. I live two blocks from where the fights were held, and I absolutely loved seeing this monthly madness take place. But Freret’s unfortunate loss is undoubtedly O.C. Haley’s gain.