May 14, 2013 7:12 PM by Chris Welty

Four Charter Schools Could be Built in Lafayette

Four charter schools could soon be on the way for Lafayette Parish.

Wednesday afternoon, the school board will consider partnering with Charter Schools USA.

Like other charter schools, those with this company would run on private donations and some public funds. Charter USA requires parental involvement and teacher pay is tied to performance. The company has 48 campuses in five state, the closest is in Lake Charles.

The schools could house roughly three thousand students. Charter USA is looking at areas of the parish already faced with overcrowding including: Youngsville/Broussard, Downtown Lafayette and Upper Lafayette.

Lafayette Parish Superintendent, Doctor Pat Cooper is in favor of the plan, which he says can take the burden off the district already faced with a 12-million dollar budget shortfall.

"They're willing to come in and build their own schools. They're willing to work with us in terms of taking the kids as they come," said Dr. Cooper.

But charter schools do have their critics. Lafayette Parish School Board member Greg Awbrey says the district would lose money and talented students.

Dr. Louella Cook with the Lafayette Charter Foundation argues the schools would be a win for the parish, boasting state of the art facilities. They'll also follow a comprehensive curriculum including music, arts, sciences and standard classes.

"We will have teachers and administrators trained in a philosophy that will bring in constant and consistent educational practices," said Cook.

Dr. Cooper says, "We're trying to do everything we can to lessen the impact on the public here in Lafayette."

All of this will be discussed by the board at a workshop tomorrow afternoon. If the board gives the green light, the first elementary charter school could open as soon as 2014.

Chris Welty



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