Charter school not a part of Iberville Parish School System

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com
Construction is currently under way along enterprise Boulevard on a new $9.5 million charter school that will be called Iberville Charter Academy. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

PLAQUEMINE - A charter school is currently under construction in Iberville Parish along Enterprise Blvd. and it has the parish’s public school system superintendent asking questions.

“We are in no way associated with that charter school,” Superintendent Dr. P. Ed Cancienne said. “That charter school was imposed on us by the state superintendent and the state board of education.”

The Iberville Charter Academy began enrollment Feb. 1 for 434 spots and plans to open doors of its new $9.5 million campus in August tuition-free to students.

The South Louisiana Charter Foundation Inc. will manage the new school through a partnership with Charter Schools USA.

“A charter a school is still a public school but it is privately operated,” executive vice president of development for Charter

Schools USA Richard Page said. “It is not part of the school district so we have the flexibility to be able to run the school a little bit differently than a traditional public school.”

Cancienne sent a letter to parish residents recently to clarify the new school is not apart of the school system which continues to strive for academic excellence with approved programs that are structured for instructional enhancements of students.

“We are providing quality instruction in Iberville Parish with college and career preparatory programs,” Cancienne said. “I don’t know what they are going to bring to the table but they are coming to the table not asking the people anything. They are just doing what they want.”

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education authorized the launch of charter schools in school districts that were graded D or F in the annual district performance report issued by the Department of Education in August 2013.

The Iberville Parish School System had a D grade at the time of the application but has since received a C grade when new school performance scores were released in October 2013.

“The state knew we were improving every year when they voted and I just feel like they preempted it,” Cancienne said. “They are going to be taking our local money and we have no say so about it.”

Cancienne estimated for every 100 students lost to the charter school, the school system will lose over $1 million in funds.

The charter school is using private financing to build its

36,773 square-foot facility and may add seventh and eighth-grade classes in the future.

Funding for the school’s operations will come from the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, which annually allots a certain amount of money to schools based on the number of students and would go to the Iberville Parish School System if students remained enrolled it its schools. 

“This charter school is allowed to enroll students from anywhere in the state because it is authorized by a state board,” Page said. “It is not just for Iberville although our schools typically serve those who live around it primarily.”

Page said there are no requirement of standards and if more applications are received than available spots a lottery will be held.

“We are here to offer a choice and alternative for the community,” Page said. “We want to find parents who think this will be a good fit for their kids.”

The charter school’s curriculum will be aligned with Common Core standards, according to its website.

“We teach our teachers differently in how they run their classes as well as providing a lot of individualized instruction,” Page said. “All the students have a personal learning plan tailored to where they are and where they can go and teachers and administrators are held accountable for results.”

The charter school will host an information meeting March 11 at the Iberville Parish Library.