City schools fight to recover NCS students

Published 6:20 am Friday, July 22, 2016

Bogalusa public school officials took their fight to bring back students enrolled at Northshore Charter School to the streets Wednesday.

The charter school is open to area students and when public school students make the switch from public to charter, their state funding makes the switch, as well. Since Northshore opened in 2013, its student population has grown, and with that growth, Bogalusa City Schools has seen its funding dip. In this past year, the district considered closing Denhamtown Elementary in part as a result of the funding crunch.

So, as temperatures climbed Wednesday morning, Superintendent Toni Breaux, surrounded by 10 administrators and teachers, went knocking on doors to make the case for public schools door to door.

“We’re trying to get our kids back,” Breaux said.

Perhaps ironically, the district’s numbers are up compared to last year. This year, Breaux said, elementary school enrollment is up, although high school enrollment is down, possibly because the charter school has expanded its high school grades.

Breaux and her team kicked off their door-to-door pitch shortly after 9 a.m. in the Columbia Station subdivision. While most homes were empty — it was a work day, after all — the educators met with a couple of receptive residents.

One woman, Sandra Harris, said she just moved back to Bogalusa from Atlanta. Breaux told her Northshore didn’t have the same extracurricular programs as the public school, and she said charter school teachers don’t have to be board certified. Harris said she had a girl who would be going into the third grade, and she listened to Breaux.

“I’m glad they came by,” Harris said, after the encounter. “I’m glad they’re standing up for themselves.”

Harris said she graduated from Bogalusa High School, but she had been considering the charter school for her child.

“I was confused,” she said. “If they haven’t come up to see me, I wouldn’t have known any better.”

Breaux said this was the whole point of the exercise. Two weeks ago she said administrators were thinking of ways to bring back students, and they hit on face-to-face dialogs.

“We’re going to hit different neighborhoods based on where the bulk of our kids are going to charter,” she said.

A day after the event, finance director Deloris Walker said Wednesday was a success.

“It went wonderful,” she said. “We ended up going just about throughout the whole town. We received some very good, positive responses.”

In total, Walker estimated they spoke with over 100 people and knocked on possibly 200 doors. And Walker said they did meet some fans of the charter school.

“One or two people said they like the school and want to stay there, but they accepted the flyer,” she said.

Jonathan Hall, public relations manager for Northshore, said the charter school had no comment on Bogalusa City Schools’ recruitment practices.