Issue # 9
December  2009 


Happy Holidays to all of our supporters!

Welcome to the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Email Newsletter.  We will  keep you updated on current charter school issues, news, and events.  Please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see in our communications to you or if you have a charter success story you would like to share.   As always, thank you for your support and voice in Louisiana's charter school movement. 
Policy Update

Three new charter schools have been approved as Type One charter schools, or local school board authorized schools.  The two new school approved this month join the National Heritage Academy school, Inspire Academy, that was approved by East Baton Rouge Parish School Board several months ago.

HELIX Schools:  The Helix Education Management Organization, will operate two new technology focused charter high schools in downtown Baton Rouge.  One school will focus on digital media, while the other school will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Helix Schools Website.

Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy:  The new charter school, created by the non-profit arm of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, will be geared to high school dropouts and at risk students


* Race To The Top Timeline:  By now all interested LEA's have submitted letters of intent to the LDoE, and should set up appointments with LDoE staff for individualized technical support.  Such support will be offered through January 11th.  By midnight on January 11th, all Participating LEA Partneship Agreements must be signed by all relevant parties; failure to do so will result in the LEA's exclusion from the state's application.  The state will submit its application on January 14th.

* Accountability Commission:  Raising the Minimum SPS
The Accountability Commission convened in December and agreed to raise the minimum SPS from 60 to 75 over a two year period, beginning in SY 2010.  The minimum SPS will rise by 10 points to 70 for SY 2010-11, and by an additional 5 points over SY 2011-12.  When more information becomes available on how these changes will impact charter schools currently in existence, we will share those details with you.


       * Type 2 Applications Deferred:  On the LDE's recommendation, BESE deferred consideration of pending Type 2 applications until January.

Announcing the Louisiana Special Education Cooperative
Dear School Leaders:

We are excited to welcome you to a reception kicking off the Special Education Cooperative as a new initiative within the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.  We hope you can join us.  To join the Cooperative starting January 2010, please email Beth Giovannetti at To RSVP for the event, please email Beth or Andrea at

Led by SPED consultants Beth Giovannetti and Nancy Opalack, the Cooperative will help schools build capacity to increase SPED students' academic achievement and to help schools stay in compliance.  Services will include support around complex cases, professional development, academic tracking of SPED students, shared services, a learning network, advocacy, etc.  After hearing from our members on the challenges surrounding SPED and the Coop's great work, the LAPCS recently secured funding for the Coop, previously funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Charter School Program, National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, and New Schools for New Orleans.

Come find out about what the SPED Cooperative will accomplish this year, how your school can benefit from the Cooperative's services, what it means to be a member of the Cooperative...and to meet Beth and Nancy!

What schools say about the work of Beth, Nancy, and the Special Education Cooperative:

"The co-op has been tremendously helpful in navigating the legal aspects of special education in New Orleans, so that instead of being a target for compliance persecution, the district actually regards us as a model of special needs implementation... it has allowed charter schools to share best practices and strategize toward creating efficient and functional special education programs that meet all the requirements of the state.  Even the most effective SEC's often feel alone and unsure of the right approach to problems that could bring down an entire school...with the co-op, 40 some odd schools with the same problem and tons of legal know-how can't be ignored."
~Ben Marcovitz, Executive Director & Margo Bouchie, Special Education Coordinator, Sci Academy

"The dismal state of special education services in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina is undisputed.  With the knowledge, experience and assistance of Beth Giovannetti and Nancy Opalack, KIPP New Orleans Schools is creating cooperative service delivery systems, building infrastructure to promote AYP for special education students, and beginning to implement integrated service delivery models.  These supports are planned and implemented based on data, student and teacher input, best-practices research and collaboration among all stakeholders. "
~Kelly McClure, Director of Academics, KIPP New Orleans Schools

Important Dates:

Tuesday, January 12th, 6-8:30pm
Location: KIPP Believe, 1607 S. Carrollton--Louisiana Special Education Cooperative Kick-Off Reception (all are welcome)

Tuesday, January 19th, 6-8:30pm, Location: TBA--Welcome Back Meeting of Special Education Coordinators and School Leaders--(all are welcome)--come find out about what the cooperative is all about!

Monday, February 15th--SPED Cooperative Membership Fees are DUE.  To partake in this initiative from January 2010-Dec. 2010, please make sure you submit your membership dues by this date. 

Membership Fees:

$750 (below 200 students); $950 non-members

$1,000 (200-399 students); $1,250 non-members

$1,250 (400 students and above); $1,450 non-members
Checks can be made payable to: Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (memo line: SPED Cooperative), 5500 Prytania Street, #126, New Orleans, LA 70115. Our private funding for the Cooperative requires that we make a 1:7 match from membership dues in our first year.   For every dollar of membership dues that you pay into the Cooperative, the Association will make up the remainder through private philanthropic dollars. 

If you have any questions, please email Beth Giovannetti at, Nancy Opalack at, or Andrea Chen at, 504-274-3651.
High Quality Startup Grant Opportunities Sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation
The LAPCS is excited to announce our 2010 High Quality Start-up grant, sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation, due March 1, 2010.
This year, the start-up grant is open to all new charter schools in Louisiana.  Previously, the grant was only available to New Orleans charters, and schools were only eligible for $250,000.  Beginning 2010, the maximum Base Grant Award equals $250,000 with a per-pupil supplement of $500 for a maximum award totaling $500,000 over five years.  We do accept and encourage early applications.
Please click HERE to download the grant application.
We are also excited to announce five grant recipients for the 2009 High Quality Planning Grant, sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation.  Congratulations!  Five newly approved charter schools went through a rigorous application process and were recently approved for $20,000 planning grants.  They are: Morris Jeff Community Charter School, Renew Schools #1, Renew Schools #2, Firstline Schools New Orleans Charter Elementary School, and Firstline Schools Dibert.
If you have any questions about the application process, please do not hesitate to contact Andrea Chen at 504-274-3651 or

School Leadership Center Fellows Program Seeking Applicants

The School Leadership Center is offering spots in it's acclaimed Fellows Program to all school leaders planning to move into the principalship. This program has operated for twelve years with over 200 graduates in the New Orleans area (Orleans, Jefferson, St Bernard, St Tammany, Plaquemines, St Charles, St James, St John and more. Independent evaluation from the University of Toronto clearly demonstrates 22%-53% higher test scores when compared to all state schools who have not gone through the program ( increase measured by SPS). More info on our website

Please pass on to your Assistant Principal - or others you may know - the application is attached. It is a wonderful opportunity and at a one-time price. If they have one or more years of experience out of the classroom and can secure the recommendation of a Fellow or their direct supervisor they have met the requirements. The cost is $7,000 BUT for next year BCM has agreed to match the fee meaning the cost to the AP or the school is just $3,500. Similar to the Fellows Program you are familiar with - there will be 2 week long residential Summer Institutes (June 2010 & June 2011) ~ 3 pre institute sessions in the afternoon (2-4PM) in March - April & May - and SLCLI on 3 Saturdays in 2010-2011 - - plus access to SLC staff, research, and all events. The fee is all inclusive and includes a laptop computer. Only 30 will be accepted...deadline is January 14, 2010. If you know of a good school leader prospect...this is a rare offer...don't hesitate. For questions email me or John Brown.
Job Listings On LAPCS Website
Please note that the LAPCS website now has a statewide job vacancy posting page on our website.  Please let your HR or recruiting staffer know that this resource is available. To access the page, click HERE.
The Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools also has a New Orleans job vacancy page available.  To access this site, click HERE.

Grant Opportunities

The LAPCS is pleased to bring you a comprehensive list of grant opportunities that may be of interest to Louisiana's charter schools.  The list is updated daily with new and interesting grant opportunities, so check back often! To visit the list click HERE.


Are you ready for the transition from LEAP TO EOC Testing?

Next year's 9th graders are going to face not the LEAP but End of the Course tests in order to graduate from high school.  There has been little information out on this.

January 28th, 9:00 AM - NOON
Lindy Boggs Center, 2nd floor
Conducted by Louisiana Department of Education High School Redesign Staff

Sponsored by Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools, the School Leadership Center and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.

View the event's flyer by clicking HERE.

Please  Pre-Register at 

There is no charge for this seminar but we want to have enough handouts. 

The What, Why, and How of Professional Learning Communities
A Two Part Workshop Series

Louisiana Resource Center for Educators' Reform Solutions Division is excited to offer a two part workshop series on Professional Learning Communities led by Parry Graham - coauthor of
Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: A Guide to the First Year. This two part workshop series is open to administrators, aspiring leaders, teams, and teacher leaders throughout Louisiana. Be sure to register for Part I of the workshop series by Wednesday,
January 20, 2010 and Part II by February 24, 2010.

For more information on these workshops, please click HERE.

Registration information is available at

New Orleans Members Advisory Council
The LAPCS Members Advisory Council is a key organizational component in identifying problem issues, setting priorities, gathering data, communicating important issues, resolving problems, and more.  

Next Baton Rouge MAC Meeting:

When:  TBD

Where: Baton Rouge Location TBD

Next New Orleans MAC Meeting:

When:  January 13, 2010, 5:30-7:00 PM
Where:  City Park Academy
             2733 Esplanade Avenue
             New Orleans, La
To register to attend the MAC Meeting, please email
MAC Committee Meetings 
During the December MAC meeting, we created 5 committees 
(Policy/Legislative, Operations/Finance, Quality Standards, Facilities, and Governance/Board) with the purpose of collectively finding solutions to challenges that many charter schools face.   All board members, school leaders, and school staff are welcome to sign up. 
If you would like to join one of these working committees, click here.
Welcome New LAPCS Members!

New School Members:

Crestworth Learning Academy, Baton Rouge, LA

New Vendor Members:


Catapult Learning is the leading provider of educational services to elementary, middle, and secondary schools nationwide.  We provide a wide range of effective, research-based educational programs and services to our school partners, including instructional intervention; specialized support; and professional development.  Our flexible, customized solutions help schools and students achieve outstanding results.
Articles of Interest 
"Undermining Progress"
New Orleans Magazine
December 2, 2009

I am beginning to understand why Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas earns so much money - about $300,000 with housing expenses, which by the way is a lot less than he made in Philadelphia.  Just like politicians and banking honchos, school administrators always manage to pull down vastly higher salaries than the people actually doing the work. Perhaps the overall salary disparity between teachers and administrators is justifiable, but in Vallas' case, I no longer need to be convinced. He is taking heat, not for failing, but for showing results.

"The Turnaround Fallacy"
Education Next
Winter 2010

For as long as there have been struggling schools in America's cities, there have been efforts to turn them around. The lure of dramatic improvement runs through Morgan Freeman's big-screen portrayal of bat-wielding principal Joe Clark, philanthropic initiatives like the Gates Foundation's "small schools" project, and No Child Left Behind (NCLB)'s restructuring mandate. The Obama administration hopes to extend this thread even further, making school turnarounds a top priority.

"Scholarly Investments"
The New York Times
December 4, 2009

Their company names were conspicuously absent from their nametags, but that is how these hedge fund managers and analysts - members of a field known for secrecy - preferred it. They filled the party space at the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in late October, mostly men in their 30s. Balancing drinks on easels adorned with students' colorful drawings, they juggled PDA's and business cards, before sitting down to poker tables to raise money for New York City charter schools.

"Charter Schools Against the Odds"
The Wall Street Journal
December 9, 2009

Charter schools reached a new milestone this year. According to the Center for Education Reform, more than 5,000 charters are now operating in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Considering that the first charter didn't open until 1992, and that these innovative schools have faced outright hostility from teachers unions and the education bureaucracy, their growth is a rare gleam of hope for American public schools.

"New Orleans School Changes Since Katrina Win Approval, Poll Shows"
The Times Picayune
December 16, 2009

The sweeping changes in New Orleans' public schools since Hurricane Katrina, including the state's takeover of public education and the proliferation of charter schools, have met with strong approval, according to a poll released Tuesday.
About Us 
The mission of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is to increase student achievement by supporting, promoting, and advocating for the quality charter school movement.

Caroline Roemer Shirley, Executive Director
Contact Caroline at
Andrea Chen, Membership & Programs Director
Contact Andrea at 
Elizabeth Garrett, Communications Director
Contact Elizabeth at

Renita Thukral, Policy Director
Contact Renita at

Sherman Whites, Business & Operations Director
Contact Sherman at


Interested in saving 15-85% off the list-price on office and classroom supplies? 

 Learn more about our STAPLES Statewide Charter Schools Buying Program open to all LAPCS members!  Click HERE!


Algiers Charter School Association gives $900,000 in bonuses!

As part of their Teacher Advancement Program, Algiers rewards their awesome teachers and leaders!  Read More.

MLK Charter School and Lafayette Academy helping kids get healthy meals.

The schools partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to ensure kids have great meals outside of the classroom.  Read More. (Scroll Down.)

Ben Franklin Charter High School one of the top 100 High Schools in the Country

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the high school ranks 27th in the country.  The magazine also recognized Lusher Charter School and Avoyelles Public Charter School in other categories.   Congratulations!

3rd Annual Louisiana Charter Schools Conference

October 15-16, 2010

Hilton Riverside Hotel
New Orleans

Stay tuned for more information.


Click HERE to become a fan of the LAPCS Facebook Page!