As the end of the academic year rapidly approaches, I’m writing today to share some news about how our network will be growing – and changing – in the near future.
As of July 1st, we are merging Akili Academy with Mildred Osborne Charter School and assuming operations for the newly merged Osborne Charter School.
In order to put this exciting development in context, it will be helpful to share an organizational value that has guided Crescent City Schools from the beginning: Responsibility: We understand the urgency of our work.
When Julie Lause and I founded Crescent City Schools in 2010, we were especially interested in school turnaround – assuming operations of an entire school that was struggling and transforming it into a high-quality, joyful learning environment. We chose to focus on whole-school turnaround because it was the best way to positively impact as many students as possible as quickly as possible. In short, we believe that students in New Orleans do not have the time for new schools to start and grow one grade level at a time.
In the past ten years that the school has been part of the CCS network, Akili Academy has been home to many academic successes. However, Akili has not been immune to challenges, the most notable ones being 1) the interruptions to and challenges associated with in-person learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and 2) the declining enrollment of school-aged children in New Orleans.
As the smallest school in our network, it has been an increasingly difficult financial challenge to operate Akili since all schools in New Orleans operate based on a per-pupil funding formula. In light of these challenges, the Crescent City Schools board, with the support of NOLA Public Schools and the ARISE board (which currently manages Mildred Osborne Charter School), made the decision to merge Akili Academy with Mildred Osborne Charter School.
We believe that the decision to merge these two schools, creating a new school that will serve 900 students on the Osborne campus, is the right one for both Akili and Osborne students. Crescent City Schools will operate the school, and we will have more resources to use to give all students a top-notch education on one campus. The Osborne campus is a beautiful place to go to school, with a gym, music room, multiple play yards, and a great play space across the street.
Although we believe this is the best course of action for the students of Akili and Osborne, we recognize that change is often hard and not without some heartache. We will be sad to say goodbye to the Akili name, as well as to William Frantz Elementary School, as the history of the building and Ruby Bridges’s bravery inspired our staff and students every day. However, we are comforted by the fact that the building will soon be home to Morris Jeff High School. We know that MJHS will be good stewards of the Frantz building.
I want to thank leaders – past and present – of Akili Academy: Founder Sean Gallagher, former Principals Julie Patterson and Allison Lowe, and current Principal Jasmine Graves Black-Clemons. Each of them has given so much of who they are to Akili over the years, and their dedication and love for the Akili community will not be forgotten.
We are excited to announce that Charlie DePietro, a long-time teacher and leader at Crescent City Schools, will lead the newly-merged Osborne school. We look forward to continuing to serve all current Akili students on the Osborne campus, and we are happy to welcome Osborne students into the CCS network.