As the Baton Rouge School Board prepares to take up new charter school approvals, we encourage members not to rush into expansions this cycle.
There are many promising applicants, and we are excited about what they could bring to the table for Baton Rouge families. However, we want schools to be set up for success from day one, and there are numerous factors that can impact outcomes despite best intentions and an innovative vision.
There are two applicants this year, offering important and inspiring opportunities: one with demonstrated success in turning around struggling schools through a model that pays teachers significantly more than the average school, and another that supports development of a pipeline of students excited and ready to take advantage of job opportunities in film production after graduation. While these schools, Third Future and the Louisiana Academy for Film Production, respectively, show promise, our opinion is that now is not the time and the EBR School System is not the appropriate authorizer for these schools.
Third Future operates Prescott Academy in EBR, which it opened in 2023. Official performance data won’t be available until this coming fall, which is the key reason why we believe conversations about expansion are premature. If, in the fall, Third Future’s official data comes back demonstrating student success, we will be excited to support their future expansion.
The LA Academy for Film Production would like to enroll students from more parishes than EBR to fit its niche as a preparatory school for professions in the film industry. This makes it a better fit for a multi-parish enrollment area, which it can receive only from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, not the EBR school board.
At the heart of our mission is ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education. A solid, thriving foundation should be established before further growth can begin, and attempting to do too much too soon can hinder progress of an otherwise promising school.
Any decisions regarding opening new schools should also take into account both the ongoing teacher shortage we are facing and the complex enrollment process that is a barrier to families trying to access schools that will best fit their student’s needs.
We are all eager to create new opportunities for students to thrive, and by making decisions with thoughtful, practical intention, we will accomplish these goals.