ENCORE Academy, one of the city’s newer charter schools, plans to move to a permanent location at the former John A. Shaw Elementary School building in the St. Roch neighborhood next year, school leaders said. ENCORE, now in its second year, has been located at the Crocker school building in the Milan neighborhood, but that location was deemed a temporary one after Crocker’s governance was given to the New Orleans College Prep network. The Shaw building at 2518 Arts Street had been slated for sale at the most recent auction of surplus properties owned by the Orleans Parish School Board, but ENCORE asked that it be withdrawn under the right of first refusal that state law gives charter schools. A 2011 appraisal estimated Shaw’s value at $200,000, but that assumed a demolition of the buildings that has not been done, and the Orleans Parish School Board on Tuesday accepted ENCORE’s offer of $130,000, school leader Terri L. Smith said.
Sophie B. Wright Charter School is looking for places for its sports teams to practice after the New Orleans Recreation Department Commission demanded $3,000 for the school to use Harrell Park. Meanwhile, construction has halted on the new gym at Eleanor McMain Secondary School amid a conflict over minority participation in the contract, and ENCORE Academy is enrolling more students than it originally expected, according to recent reports about Uptown schools. Sophie B. Wright, which is temporarily being housed at the former Johnson Elementary in west Carrollton amid a two-year renovation to its own building, had hoped for the football team to be able to practice at nearby Harrell Park, but NORDC is requiring a $3,000 fee — which the board plans to request a waiver of, according to a report by The Lens. The school is also going to seek permission to use the newly-renovated Lyons Center for basketball practice, the report states. At McMain High School, the Orleans Parish School board has terminated the $9.5 million gym-construction contract after an “impasse” over the level of participation by minority-owned businesses in the contract with Ellis Construction, reports Danielle Dreilinger of The Times-Picayune.
ENCORE Academy will grow from 205 to 315 students in 2013-14, its second year of operation, with the addition of a third section of kindergarten, a fourth and a sixth grade, according to a report by Stephen Babcock of The Lens. The school will remain at its location inside the Crocker building on Marengo Street for the coming year, but will have to find a new home for 2014-15.
Only 25 percent of students at Crocker Arts and Technology School come from nearby neighborhoods, while the majority are from New Orleans East, Gentilly and Mid-City, reports Erin Krall of The Lens. But the new school’s construction is beginning to serve as an economic-development catalyst in its Milan neighborhood, board members said: “I think this neighborhood will build up around the school,” board secretary Shaun Rafferty said. “Eventually the goal of this being a neighborhood school will be fulfilled.” Six of Crocker’s 13 teachers have been asked to remain at the school next year, when New Orleans College Prep takes over as its operator, Krall reports. ENCORE Academy, the other charter school housed in the Crocker building, has canceled its regularly scheduled March meeting that was to be held tonight.
ENCORE Academy expects to grow both its elementary and middle school enrollment next year, even as it prepares its students for the first year of state testing to determine the school’s performance score. The school currently has about 200 students in nine classrooms: one section of pre-kindergarten, two sections each of kindergarten, first and second grades, and one section each of third and fifth grade. Next year, the school plans to add another section of third grade for this year’s second grades, and to have a fourth grade for the first time. By filling a few remaining vacancies, enrollment next year should be around 260 students, school leader Terri L. Smith said at a board meeting Tuesday night. Enrollment has already begun, and kindergarten still has about a dozen unfilled seats, according to numbers Smith shared with the board.
ENCORE Academy is considering giving admissions preference to students from a large swath of Uptown — from the Garden District and Central City though Broadmoor and into Carrollton and Hollygrove — but the plan is on hold amid a sudden uncertainty about its location after next year. The admissions district would likely be based on ZIP codes, starting with 70115, 70118 and 70125 — an area that runs from Washington Avenue all the way upriver to the Jefferson Parish line, including more than 40,000 residential addresses as of November — and possibly including one or two others, said ENCORE school leader Terri L. Smith. If approved, ENCORE’s admissions district might be the largest in the city — Hynes and Morris Jeff both give preference to single zip codes, and Lusher’s admissions district covers only about half of the East Carrollton neighborhood. From a financial standpoint, the move might help the school with transportation costs, said ENCORE Academy board president Kesana Durand. For example, the board is currently considering eliminating a single bus route that would save the school $25,000.
ENCORE Academy, the new charter school that emphasizes music and individualized instruction, will be allowed to keep its temporary home in the Crocker building on Marengo Street even as the Recovery School District is assigning New Orleans College Prep to move in. The Crocker building was finished this fall, and both the small Crocker Arts and Technology School and ENCORE Academy moved in under a plan to share the building for two years. Crocker’s test scores continued their slow downward drift this year, however, prompting the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education not to renew its charter. Because of some similarities in their focus on the arts and some overlap in their services within the building, ENCORE leader Terri Smith had hoped she would be able to invite the Crocker students to attend ENCORE, and for all of them to remain as a unified campus together, she said. Last week, however, it was announced that New Orleans College Prep will be taking over the former Crocker students — partly at the urging of the outgoing Crocker administrators — and that ENCORE will have only one more year in the Crocker building.
The Fleur De Lys Chamber Orchestra will hold a free performance of works by four Scandinavian composers at 7:30 p.m. tonight at ENCORE Academy, 2301 Marengo Street. Two ENCORE music teachers, Nathaniel Money and Rebecca Holmes, are members of the orchestra, and the school community is invited to attend. A flyer for the concert is reproduced below.
The ENCORE Academy governing board is holding a Saturday morning retreat to discuss a number of general issues relating to the school’s growth, including plans for a facility, participation in the OneApp common enrollment process, financial and enrollment goals, and open-meeting laws. The retreat is open to the public. For details, see the full agenda below. ENCORE Academy (at Crocker Elementary)
2301 Marengo Street (Second Floor)
Saturday, November 10, 2012
8:30 AM to 2:30 PM
*In preparation for this retreat, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Encore Learning Bylaws and board trainings: “Committees,” “Strategic Planning,” “Budget Presentation,” and “Open Meeting Laws.” Please bring a laptop or preferred writing materials. Agenda
ENCORE Academy leader Terri L. Smith, who brought nearly 30 years of experience in education to open the first new Orleans Parish School Board charter since Hurricane Katrina, aims to create a strong academic program alongside a heavy investment in the arts, particularly music, reports Jessica Williams of The Lens.