New Charter in Avoyelles? Red River Charter Academy could get state approval

AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Avoyelles Parish may soon see a second charter school startup in the new year.

Red River Charter Academy Board President Jessica Couvillion is hoping to soon see the plans come to life on December 11.

"There are charter schools out there that cater to every type of child," Couvillion said. "I think that charter schools really and truly fill a need that has been missing for quite some time."

They've been watching the success of another charter school, Avoyelles
Public Charter, for some time now. But, that school had a long wait list.
So, the idea for RRCA was born, but it came with roadblocks.

"We were declined by the district for a type 1, that was back in May," Couvillion said. "So, we appealed to the state and we are going before them for a type 2 charter on December 11."

As a type 2, RRCA will answer directly to the state, not the Avoyelles Parish School Board. But, they will still follow state education standards. This means the district will not receive any part of the roughly $8,000 per student the school receives from the Louisiana Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"I knew that it was going to be a journey," said RRCA board member Stanley Celestine. "I knew it was not going to go to Baton Rouge, get a charter."

Celestine was recently elected to the Avoyelles Parish School Board but has been on the RRCA board for several years, and fully supports it.

"It has a very strong plan that is research driven but also responds to what the community needs," Celestine said. "Our board recognizes some of the strengths and weaknesses of our school system."

The charter will begin with middle school and eventually expand each year until they reach twelfth grade.

"We personally will be offering a science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum," Couvillion said. "We also want to start offering community-based training for special needs children. It is something that the parish does not currently offer."

Couvillion said more than 350 families have signed letters of support or filled out pre-applications

They're also getting help from the Tunica- Biloxi tribe.

"We are so committed to our children, making sure they have the best education possible," said tribal member Jeremy Zahn. "And making sure that we create a model other parishes and other communities can buy into as well."

If approved Tuesday, the school hopes to open next summer.

"But, you know we have waited for seven years to start helping children and we don't want to wait any longer if we don't have to," Couvillion said.

Supporters interested in attending the trip to the vote in Baton Rouge can meet the group at the Paragon Casino Parking lot, behind McDonald's. A bus will leave at 9 a.m. and lunch will be provided. They also ask that attendees wear red.

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