February 23, 2023

An update on the 2022-23 Charter School Renewals

Charter schools are unique among public schools in several ways. But the most important way is that the schools operate with contracts that provide them with a license to operate a school for a set number of years. At the end of the contract, schools that fail to improve student achievement or that are not financially or operationally sound may be closed. In this way, charter schools bring an unprecedented level of accountability to public education. In charter schools, performance matters.

In Louisiana, charter school renewal decisions are typically made in December or January of the final year of each school’s contract. Last month, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the East Baton Rouge (EBR) School Board wrapped up their charter school contract renewals for the 2022-23 school year, and we believe both boards made strong, thoughtful decisions.

The EBR School Board approved a four-year contract renewal for BASIS Matera, and three-year contract renewals for South Baton Rouge Charter Academy, IDEA Bridge, IDEA Innovation, and The Emerge School. BESE, meanwhile, approved a three-year renewal for Lanier. As with most public schools, each charter up for renewal this year lost ground during the pandemic, but is on the upswing and should be getting back to pre-pandemic performance levels soon. We also applaud the EBR School Board for conditioning contract renewal of its lowest performing charters on increased monitoring and support from the school district, and sending a clear and unambiguous message that academic performance in those schools must be stronger for future contract renewals.

There is one other important matter that should be noted. While we are always saddened when schools fall short of their goal of providing a high-quality education for all children, we are encouraged that this year, two schools – JK Haynes and Democracy Prep – recognized that their performance over the length of the contract wasn’t good enough and came to the difficult decision not to seek contract renewal. In moving proactively to voluntarily give up their charter contracts before the state or district had to revoke them, leaders at both schools sent a powerful message that public schools can and should hold themselves accountable for the academic performance of their students. This is how it should be for all public schools.

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