LA MARQUE — The Renaissance Academy inside La Marque Middle School could be a campus-based charter school by the start of the 2014-15 school year. 

The academy is one of the district’s initiatives to bring more students to La Marque and to provide different options for parents. It serves students in fifth through eighth grade.

Phase one

The academy’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program is the catalyst for a districtwide initiative to better prepare students for state testing and post-graduation employment, said Dr. Joanie Hudson, assistant superintendent for school improvement. 

“This is phase one of the new face for La Marque with an academic perspective,” Hudson said.

A campus-based charter school is different from an open-enrollment charter school, like La Marque’s Premier Learning Academy and Mainland Preparatory Academy, which operate as separate districts, Hudson said. 

As an on-campus charter, the Renaissance Acadmey would still be subject to the La Marque school board.

Separate funding

Charter schools receive separate funding from the state and a separate accountability rating.

As a charter school, the academy would be funded entirely through the state, which already is providing about 90 percent of its funding through supplemental grants. 

The remaining 10 percent comes from the school district. 

A charter designation for the academy would save the La Marque school district cash it desperately needs in the face of a budget crisis, Hudson said.

Additional funding would go toward increasing the number of teachers from five to 14 and possibly toward a new building, she said.

It would also help pay for things that are not viable districtwide, such as an orchestra, Hudson said.

“There’s plenty of money out there — we just need to get it.” Hudson said. “We shouldn’t have to be enslaved by local and state funding.” 

Those kinds of alternatives are essential for district recruitment, she said.

“If you want to keep kids in the district, you’ve got to be globally competitive,” Hudson said. “Parents want innovation, creativity and high expectations in an academic setting.”

‘What’s happening now’

DelSenna Frazier, director of college and career readiness for the district, said preparing students for careers in science, engineering, technology and math will help prepare students for the global hiring market.

“STEM is what’s happening now,” Frazier said. “Three million jobs in the U.S. are not being filled because students aren’t trained in those areas.” 

The academy has academic partnerships with the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dow Chemical Co., BP and College of the Mainland, she said. 

“It’ll help this community produce these types of students,” Frazier said. 

Increasing numbers

There are 100 students in the academy this school year, 15 of who are from outside the La Marque school district, Principal Denise Simmons said.

Officials hope to recruit 80 more students during the coming school year.

Charter schools are freed from some rules and regulations because the state has to give them more freedom to be innovative in their approaches, said Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency. 

That means that students at the academy could substitute a physical education class with a health class, or even an internship at a health facility, Hudson said.

Waiting for an answer

The school board granted Hudson’s request to seek a charter school designation Thursday.

The agency will decide whether to forward the request to the State Board of Education, which grants the status, partly based on scoring of the program’s academics, innovation and financial status, Ratcliffe said.

“Basically, what we are trying to determine is if this would be a good school,” Ratcliffe said.

Only 215 Texas schools can have a charter designation at any given time, Ratcliffe said. 

The board of education grants six to 10 new charters a year, and there are six open spots, she said. 

Once a school is granted charter status, it usually has about a year to prepare for the change, she said.

Contact reporter Whitney Hodgin at 409-683-5236 or whitney.hodgin@galvnews.com.

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(6) comments

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

"A charter designation for the academy would save the La Marque school district cash it desperately needs in the face of a budget crisis, Hudson said.

Additional funding would go toward increasing the number of teachers from five to 14 and possibly toward a new building, she said.

It would also help pay for things that are not viable districtwide, such as an orchestra, Hudson said.

“There’s plenty of money out there — we just need to get it.” Hudson said. “We shouldn’t have to be enslaved by local and state funding.”

"Enslaved"??? Really???

In other words, Dr. Hudson and her friends on the board want more money from the government with less interference with how they spend it just like what LMISD taxpayers told them at the polls regarding their TRE?

The financial crisis of the school district shoud be TEA's first clue to deny their request for sa charter school seeing how the school board will still be in control!

An orchestra, new building??? PUHLEEZE....

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joannie Hudson needs to just sit down somewhere and think about what she's about to say before her lips start to move! Another perfect example of why she doesn't need to be the next superintendent....

Again,,,, "ENSLAVED"???? ROFL

JBG JBG

Let me see now, because local and state officials are starting to ask for more accounting of taxes going through the LMISD Board, they are now beginning to feel like they are SLAVES? It must be really hot over there, because they are looking for every crack and cranny, trying to find a place to run in. They are beginning to act delusional.

Here they are with surplus space, having to consolidate half filled schools, and are now contemplating spending funds on building a building and starting a orchestra?

Hey, they still don't get it, LMISD problems are not about money. Lack of enough money or enough students are just symptoms of what LMISD'S real problems are! They are acting like a bunch of KNEE WALKING DRUNKS over there , stumbling around in the dark,..complaining about money, when lack of money did not cause them to be the worst school district in Texas!

LMISD use to be quite a school district in it's hey day, but Ali USED to be quite a boxer in his hey day too! The demise of LMISD is at hand, and I don't see that changing, simply because the people who are holding LMISD on the mat, and keeping it down on the bottom,are still in positions of leadership, and as long as that is true, then there is no hope. I see LMISD like many businesses I've seen around here which popped up for two or three months, and then the Out Of Business signs popped out!

In other words, everybody cannot be a leader, but many who can't continues to infiltrate the placers, and positions of leadership! It is just so amazing that the people over there at LMISD, are continuing to avoid the fact that they don't know what the "HEY" they are doing!

Lastly, I will as I usually do post a truth straight from the Word:

...Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Matthew 12:25)

BTW, if LMISD is not divided, then they need to take the word out of the dictionary, that's all I know!


MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Mr. JBG, you posted, "...Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Matthew 12:25)"

Their going to ask their leader Satan what that means because it's obviously something that they are far from understanding on their own!

Paul Hyatt

One of the first things that I noticed was the way that the teacher dressed???? Really is that the way that they dress for school as a teacher today???? Wow how things have really fallen.... I would have thought that teachers would dress a wee bit more appropriate then what that picture showed....

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Paul I thought the same thing too when I saw the picture. Especially considering how they are promoting the Renaissance program as such an exemplary school with such high standards required of their students.

Seems you would think that the teachers would lead by example, rather than saying don't do as I do, but rather what I say?

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

I want to make it very clear, I used to be totally in support of the Renaissance Academy and what it stood for, but after reading Joannie Hudson's comment today about the real reason they want to be a charter school, her and her friends on the board have totally lost my support.

It all boils down to wanting more money with less expectations or say from others.

Well forgettaboutit!

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