The Grambling High Foundation pulled its charter school application form the Louisiana Department of Education on Oct. 13 because it would have not been approved. The application would have secured funding for Grambling State University Laboratory Schools for the upcoming school year.
Now, Alma J. Brown Elementary School, GSU Laboratory Middle and High School may be forced to close because GSU cannot afford to pay operational fees.
“We don’t have any money,” said Cynthia Warrick, the university’s interim president.
The GHF plans to raise more than $700,000 — the amount Grambling State University allocated for the 2013 – 14 academic year — in order to keep the doors open for the 2014-2015 academic year. The group plans to resubmit the application at a later date to lock in funding for future years.
Gordan Ford, the president of GHF, said the application needed several adjustments and wasn’t going to be approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Since opening, Grambling Laboratory Schools have been an essential part of GSU. However, in recent years the university’s budget has suffered a big hit including a $3 million deficit this academic year.
Warrick said the university has and will support the lab school’s efforts to become a charter school, but the university will not use GSU student tuition fees to fund the lab schools any more.
The university and GSU lab schools have discussed options for years. Conversations on the topic picked up in the last two years as the university’s budget continued to dwindle.
During the Grambling Lab Schools Homecoming activities, GHF and the Grambling High Alumni Association held two town hall meetings, Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, to explain the urgency of the financial situation at the schools.
“Our primary push is organize the alumni to donate the funds necessary to operate the schools,” said Ford.
They hope to get every high school class to donate $1,000 a month or $25 per graduate.
Ford said if every alumnus did their part, there would be more than enough money. The calculations are based on 40 years of GHS graduates.
Grambling High Foundation has joined with the Grambling High Alumni Association. The difference in the groups is the foundation’s purpose is to organize the alumni for financial support, while the association’s purpose is to find outside funding from grants and corporations.
“The key is to get everyone involved,” said Ford. “If we step up, we will be able to afford to operate the schools even if no outside funding materializes.”
Another big plan to the Grambling Lab Schools is to move the location to Grambling State University’s annex West Campus.
On their fundraising budget, GHF have allocated $250,000 to complete the renovations for West Campus.
“This move will provide a better long-term place for the school,” Ford said.
West Campus, formerly Ruston State School, has housing, a gym and more space than the current location of the school. Grambling Lab Schools are currently located on GSU’s main campus, near the university’s residential dorms on Central Avenue.
Warrick also said if GHS successfully relocates to West Campus, the current facilities of the secondary schools could be used as an evacuation site in emergencies.
The university is currently negotiating with Louisiana Homeland Security about different possibilities.