Friday, November 4, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New Orleans may switch to charter schools

BATON ROUGE, La. — Almost all New Orleans public schools, now closed because of Hurricane Katrina, could eventually be reopened by the state as charter schools under proposed legislation to wrest power from the city's fractious School Board.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco outlined the proposal Thursday at the same news conference where state education officials released figures showing 68 of 110 New Orleans schools operating before Katrina were "academically unacceptable," based on student testing.

The state already can take over perennially failing schools. Blanco's proposal would allow the state to take over any New Orleans school with a performance score below the current state average and hand it to an independent operator as a charter school. That would make 97 city schools eligible for takeover.

Enrollment in New Orleans schools was about 60,000 before the storm hit Aug. 29. Now, a survey shows about 3,700 students are expected to return when the first schools reopen, perhaps later this month. It is uncertain how fast others will come back.

Blanco's proposal will go before the Legislature when it convenes Sunday to deal with Katrina's aftermath.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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