To Charter or not to Charter

The topic of discussion during the Grambling Laboratory Middle and High School Parent Teacher Association meeting on Jan. 24 was the option to apply to become a charter school in order to give their students maximum opportunities while pursing their education. 

The small cafeteria was brought to life with different opinions and views of not only parents but alumni of Grambling High. Some parents pushed for a charter school because they believe it is the only way to give the school the chance to receive maximum funding. These parents believe that Grambling State University isn’t giving the lab schools all of the money allocated, even after state Sen. Richard Gallot Jr. said studies done in 2006 prove that GSU was giving the schools more money than they received from Lincoln Parish.  

The Grambling High alumni reminded everyone that they have been battling with the same issue for more than 20 years. The core concern remains revenue distribution.  

“It sounds like money is the issue and to take off and want to go under a charter, that is kind of like running,” said concerned parent and educator Norman Amos. “My thing is we have identified where the money stops. We as parents…it come a time when you stop asking for stuff and start demanding.” 

Charter schools are publicly funded but are run independently of the school district. Grambling’s charter schools would no longer be funded by Lincoln Parish, but the state, resulting in the schools receiving their resources directly and without Grambling State University overseeing the funding. 

An important aspect of a charter school is the board of directors, which is composed of parents, educators, and business leaders who work with the teachers and administration to build a revamped curriculum. 

 “If we have more control over the curriculum and don’t have to follow a state mandate curriculum then maybe this will help support our students,” said Larnell Flannagan, Dean of the College of Education. 

Switching to a charter school opens the opportunity for many changes. Charter schools are free for students who attend and must enroll all students who apply. Currently it costs $500 for a student to attend the Grambling lab schools, $250 for the second child and $167 for each additional child from the same household.

Students in a charter school will still have to take the same state assessment test as students in traditional public schools. If the charter school has persistently low student achievement, the school will be closed. 

Other charter schools in the area are D’Arbonne Wood Charter School (Farmerville), Delhi Charter School (Delhi) New Living Word (Ruston) and New Vision Charter School (Monroe). 

According to the Department of Education of Louisiana, there are 104 charter schools in the Louisiana education system about 58,000 students in 2011. 

If the schools did decide to move toward a charter school, the use of the university’s facilities could raise a problem. It would be the decision of the university to continue to allow the school to use their buildings. 

The current facilities have a lot of reoccurring issues. There isn’t any available hot water in the restrooms, no climate control in the gymnasium, no custodians on payroll and lack of fully functioning lockers. 

 “These are things Grambling High needs, as parents we should be sick and tired of it,” said Amos. “Our children are the ones getting shorted.” 

Parents demand real change or real action from them. Some parents voiced ideas of sitting on the of the University’s president, Dr. Frank G. Pogue, or starting a petition at the state level in Baton Rouge until their demands are met. 

“We need to be on the same page. It will not be beneficial for us to fight about it,” said Sen. Gallot.

The next PTA meeting will be held Feb. 21 in the Grambling High and Middle School cafeteria at 6 p.m.