New Orleans superintendent recommends new charter school dedicated to coastal ecology apply to state, not district | Education

Surprising backers of one of the most unusual charter school proposals floated in the city, Orleans Parish Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis on Thursday recommended that the School Board deny an application to create New Harmony High, a new public high school focused on training students for careers in coastal ecology.

Henderson said that rather than restricting enrollment to the city, organizers should apply to the state for a Type 2 charter so that students from across Louisiana would be eligible to attend.

“We believe New Harmony High is a very unique school,” the superintendent said. “We believe it is a great concept … we strongly support. And I will provide a letter of support as they apply (to the state) as a Charter 2 type school.”

The proposed school, which organizers hope to locate on the Mississippi River, was one of about 700 “reimagined schools” to compete last year in the XQ Institute’s Super Schools project, and was one of 10 winning designs to be awarded $10 million each.

It was the only winner in Louisiana.

The $100 million came from a nonprofit founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

The superintendent also recommended that the board deny charter applications from the Center for Resilience and Lyceum Schools but approve applications for Collegiate Academies, French & Montessori Education and IDEA Public Schools.

New Harmony High was the only application recommended by an independent evaluation team that was denied by the superintendent.   

The decision caught organizers off-guard, but they vowed to quickly make whatever changes are necessary to apply to the state.

“Did we want to be a state charter school one day? Sure, one day, when the timing and resources were appropriate, we would have gone for it,” said New Harmony Head of School Sunny Dawn…

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