Entries for February, 2008

On Saturday, I attended the SFMPOP community meeting for the Eastbank High Schools. Since the meeting summaries posted on their website aren’t actually meeting summaries, but rather compilations of the same building summaries posted here, here are my slapdash notes from what I saw for anyone who might be trying to follow any of this from home:

I got to the meeting a little bit late, but apparently the meeting started late, so I hadn’t missed too much. A couple staff members filled me in – there were questionnaires on the school site proposals for everyone to fill out. There had been a brief presentation on what the scenarios meant (e.g., replace on new site, repurpose existing site, renovation, replace with new school on site, additions to meet standards, quick start). Tables were marked with sign for a specific school. Participants were asked to sit at the table for the school they were interested in – those who didn’t come with an interest in a particular school could join any table they want to. Several schools had no one at their table. (A participant I spoke to later said that at one of the elementary school district meetings she’d been to previously, the same sorts of scenarios were presented, but participants were not grouped by school-of-interest.)

After the groups were given time to discuss the scenarios at their tables, the staff conducted a school-by-school presentation. The data presented on each school was brief – address, date(s) of construction, site acreage – a little less information than what’s available on the building summaries. Participants were supposed to use this information, and whatever they discussed, to rate the desirability (high, moderate, low, no opinion) of the scenarios for each of the schools (most had only one scenario), not just the one they discussed at their tables. Participants were not asked to share with the whole group what they discussed concerning their particular school.

Following the school presentations, there was a general questions-and-answers period, which was the somewhat more informative part (at least to me). The school-by-school scenarios, and whatever notes I happened to get on them (in italics), are below the Q&A:

Q&A (end of meeting):

Q: Existing schools already have leadership teams (faculty, administration, students, parents, etc.) They should be part of this process.
A: “That’s a great idea.” Vallas announced a plan on Thursday to organize involvement of existing groups, and planning team will come to visit interested PTO’s, churches, and community groups.

Q: Have you looked at creating shared facilities at schools that are near each other?
A: We’re looking at aggregating resources.

Q: What’s the timeline for the PM/NOCHC school reopening?
A: End of summer, early fall.

Q: What’s the funding?
A: Initially, FEMA money. FEMA only pays for storm-related damage though, so that won’t address all the needs. Part of the planning process is asking, “how do we fund public school [buildings - expansion, renovation, etc.] in the future?” Traditionally new building/rebuilding has required referendums – that might not be enough. Looking at funding models from Ohio, North Carolina, and Arkansas. Ohio pledges state money from their tobacco settlement. Something like that could be put in bonds, to provide longer term funds-availability. There needs to be dedicated funds allocated to a School Building Authority.

Q: Have you taken student diversity (race, class) into account?
A: “Um, yeah, I think.” We’re obligated to provide the best facilities, to take care of devastated schools, and to see to the equitable distribution of funds. (Said nothing about demographic composition of districts)

Q: re Carver: are the plans for the school itself and for the site as a whole (recreation supersite) lumped together?
A: They intend to keep the school itself in the area, although there are flooding plans. The site is huge. and a Master Plan for that site will be required. Possibility of relocating Edwards Elementary.

Q: Shouldn’t schools currently using portable classrooms be the first priority for rebuilding?
A: The modular classrooms are approved for use for 3-5 years, ideally they’ll be done in 3. The transition may need to be done incrementally. (Said nothing about priority relative to other schools)

Q: In the past, students created “unique need” facilities – e.g., on site daycare (Early Childhood Development centers) and health care. How will these be reincorporated?
A: We’re actively working with the people who provide the health clinics. We’re designing capacity for health clinics. We only plan the facilities, not what goes on inside them – daycare is something that would have to be referred to the superintendents.

Q: Density of students in a given district is skewed right now. Areas still being rebuilt will have higher student populations in the future, and since many families are currently staying with friends or relatives in less-devastated areas, those student populations may go down. Is this being taken into account?
A: We’re looking at 10-year population projections, and considering short-, medium-, and long-term needs.

Q: For school sites being repurposed – are there plans for new charters at any of those sites?
A: That’s a question for Vallas et al. The Master Plan is only about the site and the facility.


Scenario A: Replace on New Site/Repurpose Existing Site
* Over 50% damage (FEMA estimate). Might relocate somewhere between Read Blvd and Industrial Canal (no specific site yet). Immediate neighborhood has indicated that they DO NOT want a high school where Abramson was.

Scenario A: Moderate Renovation

Scenario A: Repurpose Existing Site
* Option of moving former Kennedy students to the new Lake Area high school. The Kennedy site is very low, but not over 50% damaged according to FEMA – this raises “issues” over what can be done with the property. The Lake Area school can’t be located there.

Lake Area
Scenario A: Quick Start (New Construction Underway)
* “Quick Start” – goal to complete design stage by March, begin construction in April, and open for Fall 2009. Possibly to be located somewhere along Paris Ave.

Scenario A: Moderate Renovation

Scenario A: Replace with New School on Site
* Very large site (65.23 acres) – proposed “supersite” for recreation, with baseball diamonds, Olympic-size swimming pools, etc.

Scenario A: Moderate Renovation & Additions to Meet Standards
* Needs additional space for parking, open recreational space. Does not necessarily need to be located right next to the school, could be found elsewhere in the neighborhood

Scenario A: Major Renovation & Site Expansion
Scenario B: Replacement on New Site and Repurpose Existing Site
* Two scenarios! Very narrow site. Sounds (to me) like repurposing is what SFMPOP is pushing for, but that’s just my impression.

Scenario A: Repurpose Existing Site
* Site to be repurposed; new school may be opened in Jackson Barracks area or Lower 9th Ward. May partner with military for school for neighborhood and National Guard families.

McDonogh 35
Scenario A: Replace with New School on New Site/Repurpose Existing Site
Scenario B: Major Renovation & Site Expansion
* Needs more space

New Orleans Center for Education of Adults
Scenario A: Repurpose Existing Site
* No plan to rebuild elsewhere

Scenario A: Moderate Renovation & Site Expansion
* Has had renovation work done fairly recently, more to come. Needs more space: neighborhood properties might be available through Road Home Program properties.
* audience question: When will renovation start, and what will happen to the students while it takes place?
* answer: the Master Plan will have the timeline (which hasn’t been settled yet), and they’re working on establishing “swingspaces” – temporary school sites for students whose schools are being repaired/rebuilt (no set location yet)

Scenario A: Major Renovation & Additions to Meet Standards

Scenario A: Replace with New School on New Site/Repurpose Existing Site
Scenario B: Major Renovation & Additions to Meet Standards

Priestly Junior High
Scenario A: Major Renovation & Additions to Meet Standards
Scenario B: Replace with New School on Existing Site

Scenario A: Major Renovation & Addition to Meet Standards & Site Expansion
* Needs a gym – originally an all-girls’ school (no gym provided). A property nearby has been identified (did not say which property)

Scenario A: Repurpose Existing Site
* Has not been used as a school for quite some time

Scenario A: Major Renovation & Site Expansion
* Presently using a field 6 blocks away for football practice. Needs closer space, looking at properties in neighborhood

John McDonogh Senior High
Scenario A: Major Renovation & Addition to Meet Standards & Site Expansion
* Proposal floated by staff presenter to demolish current gym and rebuild a gym and band facility (band currently practices in main building, disrupts classes)

New Orleans Center for Health Careers
Scenario A: General Maintenance & Additions to Meet Standards
* Currently being renovated – I got the impression that the site is used mainly for the Orleans Parish PM school now

N.O. Science & Math
Scenario A: New Site
* Must find new site – former site was leased from Delgado, and is no longer available.

Scenario A: Major Renovation & Additions to Meet Standards & Site Expansion
* Some renovation over the last couple years. Looking at nearby properties to expand.

There was no specific presentation of these schools – only what was already mentioned relating to other schools that might be disbanded, with students to be relocated at these (e.g. Lawless):

Scenario A: New School on New Site

Jackson Barracks
Scenario A: New School on Existing Available Site

Lower 9th Ward
Scenario A: New School on New Site