Monday, September 13, 2010

Save The Date: BESE Announces Meeting on the Fate of New Orleans Public Schools and the Recovery School District

Louisiana Justice Institute, Children's Defense Fund, and other partners will convene a “Meeting before the Meeting” in early October and invite our education advocate friends to discuss these important issues.

From the Louisiana Department of Education Website:

State law authorizes the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to transfer chronically low-performing schools to the jurisdiction of the Recovery School District (RSD) for an initial five year period. That initial period will expire at the end of the 2010-2011 school year for Orleans Parish public schools transferred to the RSD in 2004 and 2005. On Tuesday, BESE will receive a recommendation from State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek on the future governance of 68 of these schools, currently operating as RSD direct-run schools or independently-managed charter schools. However, BESE will not act on Superintendent Pastorek's decision until its December Board Meeting. And today the state's education policy making board announced the details of an October public hearing on the matter.

BESE Member Chas Roemer, who chairs BESE's RSD Committee, said the meeting, which will be held October 14 in the auditorium of McDonogh #35 High School in New Orleans, is required by legislation. He emphasized the Board's commitment to a format that will allow ample input and feedback from the communities impacted by this decision.

"While the focus of Tuesday's BESE Committee meeting is to hear a report on the progress of RSD schools and to receive Superintendent Pastorek's recommendation, it is of critical importance to us that we hear from students, parents, educators, groups and the citizens of New Orleans prior to making a decision. While we're anticipating that individuals and groups will attend the committee meeting on Tuesday to voice their opinions, we want to devote adequate time - and set a convenient time and place -- to ensure that everybody who wants to be heard is heard. We want to assure the community that the BESE meeting tomorrow is not the only time we will hear comment, and we encourage citizens to attend the October meeting," Roemer said.

The RSD was created by legislation in 2003 for the purpose of transforming the state’s chronically low-performing schools. Five New Orleans schools were transferred to the RSD in 2004 and 2005, prior to Hurricane Katrina. In November 2005, legislation extended the designation of a failed school to include schools scoring below the state average, if the school operates within a district in academic crisis. The New Orleans School System fell within this definition. Thus 107 schools were transferred to the RSD in 2005, although not all these schools remained open.

Currently, the RSD oversees 68 schools in New Orleans and 16 schools outside of New Orleans - either directly or indirectly in the case of charter schools. The RSD has also entered into Memorandums of Understanding or Management Contracts with another 25 schools.

Meeting Details:

Date: Thursday, October 14
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: McDonogh #35 High School Auditorium
1331 Kerlerec Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

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