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Magnolia Charter School: A Closer Look - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Magnolia Charter School: A Closer Look

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In just over a week the Magnolia Charter School of Excellence will open its doors.It is the first new school to be built in Caddo Parish in more than 25 years.The school will open at capacity with 670 students and there is already a waiting list to get in.

"We are not setting them up for failure and we are focusing more on the child than the test," said Jaci Harville, who is one of the new teachers at the school. "The  resources  they are giving us are endless just any and everything you want to help a child grow we have available to us," added teacher Monica Ardoin.

The teachers, along with fellow teacher Christine Owen say they are ready to meet their  new students, in their  new classrooms, at their  new school.

"I'm so fortunate at this school because we are all starting off on a clean slate," said Owen.

For weeks these teachers have been preparing to be part of the latest trend in education: charter schools. These schools that operate apart from local public school districts – though they require local or state authorization -- have been springing  up across the nation.  

"The Magnolia Charter School is its own independent school district , it has its own board. It is not governed at all by the Caddo Parish School Board" said Magnolia board member Dr. Phillip Rozeman.  

The school must meet all state standards and report results to the Caddo School Board and if the school fails to show success, the doors will close. The school has three years to prove themselves not only to the parents but to the state.  

Magnolia will be operated by Charter Schools USA, a private company which has been in the business of operating  these public charter schools for more than a decade.

"Charter School USA is the education management organization  that guides the management of the school. They have a network of schools around the country that are all ‘A' or ‘B' schools, " said Rozeman.

"This is an open enrollment charter school. There is no testing, no tuition. It is open to anyone in Caddo so any parent or student that is looking for  something different may look to the magnolia school"

 And, according to Principal Pam Barker, many parents are.

 

"In looking at our enrollment numbers we have probably100 students coming  from each and every zip code in the Caddo Parish system," said Barker. The retired Caddo educator stepped out of retirement to run the school and says some parents even pulled their kids out of magnet school programs and other high performing schools to attend Magnolia. 

"We have a very diverse population," said Barker.

All of those parents will be driving their kids to school because busing is not part of the plan.

"It was always in that thought process that we would start without busing  and we wanted to make sure that all of the money went to the curriculum and into the staffing," according to Barker

Parents will have to sign a contract  stating they will volunteer 20 hours of time to the school. Barker says that is per child and 10 additional hours will be added on if the parent has more than one child at the school.

That is part of the reason why teacher Mary Smith, who left teacher for two years following a 14 year career in education, decided to return to the classroom.

"This is the first time we have had a new adventure like this in education  in a long time, " said Smith. "A lot of things we know as teachers are great programs but we've never been given the format to make them happen. "

That is what Charter Schools USA says they can do, make things happen,  it is part of the reason why the Caddo School Board granted the request for the school to be built,  meaning that hundreds of kids will leave Caddo's system, and along with them, the millions of dollars the state spends on them. 

 

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