ICYMI: Facts on Statewide ACT Results

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

2016 ACT: Just the Facts

A new fact sheet on ACT performance from the state Department of Education shows Louisiana is closing the performance gap with the national average. While the nation’s average composite score declined 0.2 since 2014, Louisiana’s increased 0.3, from 19.2 in 2014 to 19.5 in 2016.

The state ranked 13th out of 18 states that require all students take the ACT and 3rd among the seven southern states where the ACT is mandatory. Nationally, Louisiana ranked 44th in 2016, up from 48th in 2014. For information on New Orleans’ ACT results, view Educate Now!’s 2016 ACT analysis.

OPSB Election Updates

Cynthia Cade decided not to appeal, which means she is officially disqualified from the race for OPSB’s 2nd District (Gentilly, New Orleans East). Ethan Ashley will become the District 2 school board member effective 1/1/17. Ashley is the 4th school board member who will serve this coming term without an election, joining John Brown, Sarah Usdin and Ben Kleban.

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Helping Schools, Students and Teachers Affected by the Floods

The recent devastating floods have impacted the lives of students, families, and school staff across South Louisiana. Here are some ways you can help:

Donate Clothing and Supplies

OPSB, RSD and New Schools for New Orleans are collecting school supplies, new or gently used school uniforms, and gift cards for school supplies and/or uniforms. Click here for more information on the items they are collecting and drop off dates and locations.

RSD is also collecting supplies for families. Click here to view their Wish List and information on drop off dates and location.

Stand for Children Louisiana has created an Amazon Wish List for families, educators, and classrooms in need. Purchased items can be shipped to Stand for Children’s New Orleans address for distribution.

New Schools for Baton Rouge (NSBR) has created an Amazon Wish List with items requested by schools and families in their network. If you purchase an item on the list, it will be shipped to NSBR in Baton Rouge and they will distribute it to the school.

NSBR is also accepting donations of school supplies and clothing at 100 Lafayette Street, Suite B251, Baton Rouge, LA 70801. For more information, call 225-384-0271.

Donate Funds

Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL) has set up a Disaster Relief Fund to assist teachers with replacing classroom supplies lost in the flooding. 100% of donations go directly to teachers. 

New Schools for Baton Rouge has established a School Relief Fund to help schools in their network as they work to repair flooded facilities and replace damaged textbooks and classroom supplies. 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has created a Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. The foundation is sending staff members across South Louisiana to find where needs are the greatest and to ensure your donation goes quickly and directly to nonprofits that are doing the most for people affected by the floods.

The NOLA Pay It Forward Fund, activated by the Mayor of New Orleans in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, will provide resources for the early relief and rebuilding efforts of communities impacted by the floods.

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News Alert: Cynthia Cade disqualified from School Board race

Latest on OPSB Elections

One week after qualifying ended for November’s OPSB elections, one incumbent has been disqualified and three candidates have been elected without opposition.

Cynthia Cade was disqualified by a Civil District Court Judge who said she did not file her tax forms and signed false certification papers claiming that she had. Cade, who represents District 2 (Gentilly, New Orleans East), has 24 hours to appeal the decision. If the decision is not reversed, Ethan Ashley of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will become the representative for District 2 when the new board takes office in January. 

Ben Kleban was the latest candidate to be elected outright when his opponent, Eldon Anderson, withdrew. Kleban, who is the founder and president of the New Orleans College Prep charter school network, will represent the 5th District (Uptown).
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ICYMI: Brown, Usdin re-elected without opposition

In Case You Missed It (ICMI) … Your mini news clippings

OPSB Elections and the Return of Schools

Qualifying for the School Board elections in November ended today:

  • Two incumbents are re-elected without opposition: John Brown in District 1 and Sarah Usdin in District 3.
  • One incumbent, Seth Bloom from District 5, is not seeking re-election. Two people qualified for his seat, Ben Kleban, founder of New Orleans College Prep, and Eldon “El” Anderson, who is in the music promotion business.
  • In District 2, Ethan Ashley, an executive with the Urban League, is challenging incumbent Cynthia Cade.
  • In District 4, incumbent Leslie Ellison has two challengers: attorney Morris Reed, Jr and Walter Umrani.
  • In District 6, David Alvarez is challenging incumbent Woody Koppel.
  • In District 7, incumbent Nolan Marshall also faces two challengers: Kwame Smith, who ran for the seat in 2012, and Alvin Crusto, Jr.

There’s a lot at stake in this election because with the passage of Act 91 the school board we elect this fall will set the tone for how this newly unified school district will operate.
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ICYMI: Catching up on the news

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

Louisiana Headlines

The Senate Finance Committee approved a budget plan that funds TOPS at 70% and cuts a total of $38 million from K-12 schools to help fund colleges, universities and medical schools. This plan has gone to the full Senate for approval. If this latest version of the budget is approved, the $44.2 million that K-12 received last year for teacher pay raises (outside of the MFP) is reduced to $6.2 million. 

Beginning in 2017, Louisiana public schools will be required to teach cursive writing through 12th grade.

The end of the Common Core war: Louisiana lawmakers signed off on the Louisiana Student Standards, which replace the Common Core State Standards. To help with implementation, the Louisiana Department of Education has provided tools and resources for schools and districts.
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ICYMI: State Budget Impacts Education

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

Budget Impacts Education

The state budget proposal approved by the House has a $72 million shortfall in TOPS Scholarship funding. The Senate is now considering the proposed budget and discussing two possible ways to handle the shortfall. One is to increase the minimum ACT score for TOPS, reducing the number of awards by about 13,000, and the second is to keep the minimum ACT score the same but reduce all scholarship amounts by about 25 percent.

The money in the proposed state budget for vouchers may not be enough to fund the program. Editor’s note: Returning voucher students will likely have the first priority. If there isn’t enough funding for new students, it could increase kindergarten enrollment in New Orleans public schools.
 
School Choice Updates

Slightly more than half of New Orleans students got their first choice of public school in the main round of the city’s common enrollment process, and 77 percent received one of their top three choices. TheEnrollNOLA report shows 91 percent of applicants who listed three or more schools in their neighborhood were matched with a school in their zone. More than half of the applicants listed a school outside of their neighborhood zone as their first choice. The top OneApp schools were Warren Easton High School and Ben Franklin Elementary
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ICYMI: Return of Schools is Getting Close

Return of Schools is Close

State control over New Orleans schools could be coming to an end. A bill proposed by Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson would move all New Orleans RSD schools back to OPSB by 2018. There are some key sticking points for stakeholders, but this is the closest education officials and charter advocates have come to giving their blessing to a return plan.
State tuned – Educate Now! will be discussing this legislation in more detail later this week.

Differentiated Funding Lawsuit Update

Former state superintendent Paul Pastorek has filed his first case as an education attorney – intervening in Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB on behalf of four families with disabled students. The plaintiffs (Lusher and Lake Forest) are suing to block the new funding formula; these families are countering that the current public school funding is discriminatory.

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ICYMI: A Time of Controversy

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

School Funding Formula for the City

By a 10-1 vote (with one abstention), the Act 467 Committee, comprised of local Orleans Parish educators and community members, voted in favor a new funding formula for all RSD and OPSB public schools. These local weights will be submitted to BESE for consideration at their March 3rd and 4th meetings.

As discussed in Educate Now!’s February 17 email, this Orleans-specific formula will allocate money to every RSD and OPSB student based upon certain local weights, and this money follows the student to the school where that student enrolls. These local weights provide extra money for students with special needs, overage students, English language learners, high school students and gifted and talented (G & T) students. The heaviest weight is for students with special needs, so schools that enroll low numbers of special needs students are likely to see less money under this new formula.

To protect schools from a significant drop in funding, the Committee proposed that in addition to the local weights, the formula will include a “phase in” clause, such that no school’s average MFP per pupil will fall below 98% of its 10/1/15 MFP average per pupil. There are an estimated 14 schools that would need phase in support of varying amounts, but no school will see a reduction greater than $185/student.

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Facts about new funding formula

Educate Now! has received a lot of questions concerning information that Lusher and Franklin sent to their parents about the differentiated funding formula Orleans is working on, which will go before BESE in March. Unfortunately, the email circulated by the schools contains incomplete and wrong information.

The committee developing this funding formula, which includes OPSB schools, RSD schools, OPSB leadership, and RSD leadership, anticipates that the formula will include a clause such that no school loses more than a 2%. For Lusher, that 2% translates to a maximum reduction of $170/student, or around $291,000 not $1,200,000, as was stated in the email. For Franklin, the loss of revenues based on current student count is $155,000. 

ICYMI: Catching Up After Catching Beads

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

State Budget Deficit

There is now a projected budget deficit of $870 million for this fiscal year (which ends June 30). Gov. John Bel Edwards is proposing more taxes, and he has vowed to protect school funding; Republicans want to use cuts to cover as much of the deficit as possible. Louisiana’s constitution would allow the MFP to be cut 1% this fiscal year. Stay tuned.

Local Headlines

After Landry-Walker’s amazing increase in its 2013-14 test scores, the Algiers Charter School Association (ACSA) conducted a 16-month internal investigation of Landry-Walker and found substantial evidence that staff violated testing procedures. In 2015, after implementing extremely strict testing protocols, Landry-Walker’s test scores fell significantly. The Department of Education also flagged the results in November of 2014, asking the state inspector general’s office to conduct an official investigation.
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