April 20, 2015

Top-rated charter school plans to open in Baton Rouge in 2017

PHOENIX — The leader of an Arizona-based charter school network announced Sunday that the organization plans to expand into southeast Louisiana and would like to open its first school in Baton Rouge in 2017.Peter Bezanson, CEO for BASIS Schools Inc., said his organization, which operates 25 schools in the U.S., plans to open at least five schools in southeast Louisiana.Bezanson made the comments to business and civic leaders from New Orleans and Baton Rouge attending the 2015 Super Region Canvas trip in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.Chris Meyer, CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge, said his organization has been recruiting BASIS for some time.Students in BASIS schools start learning Mandarin in first grade and calculus by ninth grade.Meyer said students attending the charter school are competing with and beating students on a global level.“They’re beating the kids in Shanghai,” he said.BASIS schools are open enrollment and do not specifically target inner city or low-income students, like some charter schools.Meyer said the schools tend to have diverse demographics in both racial make up and socio-economic levels.Meyer said the organization has not submitted an application for a charter in Louisiana, but added that he would be “shocked” if a BASIS school was rejected.On Monday, The Washington Post ranked 2,300 of the “Most Challenging” high schools in the U.S. with BASIS-run high schools in Arizona holding both the first and second spots.Only three Louisiana high schools made the list: In Baton Rouge, the LSU Laboratory High School was ranked 1,455 and in New Orleans, Benjamin Franklin and KIPP Renaissance were ranked 191 and 1,447, respectively.The newspaper said the list is based on the number of Advanced Placement, international baccalaureate and advanced international certificate of education tests that a school gives each year with the total divided by the number of seniors who graduate during that school year.About 150 Baton Rouge and New Orleans civic and business leaders are participating in this year’s Super Region Canvas, a semiannual three-day trip to progressive U.S. cities — this time Phoenix and Tucson — to foster regional relationships and learn about each city and its industrial issues.

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