Lusher Charter School

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Lusher Charter School is a selective-admission, public charter school with an arts-focused curriculum with two campuses in Uptown New Orleans. Its lower school is in the Robert Mills Lusher building on Willow Street, and its higher grades are in the Fortier campus on Freret Street. Its enrollment in fall 2011 was 1,730 students[1], placing it among the largest charter operators in New Orleans. The lower school opened a "satellite" location for two additional Kindergarden classes at the Jewish Community Center of New Orleans in the fall of 2010 but problems securing additional space for incoming Kindergardeners has prevented the continuation of the additional two classes at JCC. In 2012 there were only four sections available to incoming Kindergardeners, all to be in the Willow street building. [2] The high demand and high volume of applications has Lusher looking for an additional building or location for a more permanent expansion. The Class of 2014 is Lusher Charter School’s seventh graduating class. The Class of 2014 boasts of 111 students, representing the socioeconomic, religious, cultural, racial, and artistic diversity upon which the school and city of New Orleans are built. [3]
Lusher Charter School Willow St. Location

The school's governing board is the nonprofit Advocates for Arts-Based Education Corporation. The school CEO is Kathy Riedlinger, and the board president is Loyola University New Orleans Law School professor Blaine LeCesne.

Volunteers build a new playground at Lusher Charter School's Willow Street campus on Saturday, January 21, 2012. The playground was designed by students, and features a combination of adventure-style elements, such as a zipline, with more exercise-oriented activities. (Sabree Hill,



Lusher's 2010 school performance score of 146.2 (a five-star ranking out of five, or an "A" under the 2011 letter-grade scale) placed it second highest in the city, behind only Benjamin Franklin High School. Its student body was 27 percent eligible for free or reduced lunches and 34 percent African-American[4].

In September 2011, an analysis by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that Lusher was one of 28 charters in the city improving students' reading and math skills at a significantly faster rate than traditional schools.[5]


Lusher operated as a New Orleans public school for years, but applied to reopen as a charter through the Orleans Parish School Board in January 2006, following Hurricane Katrina[6]. Lusher Charter School has had a formal partnership with Tulane University since then. "Tulane provided Lusher with $1.6 million to plan for reopening, and operating the elementary, middle, and high schools," according to the school website[7]. "In turn, Lusher opened its doors to children of Tulane faculty and staff."

In 2010, Lusher added two kindergarten classes with a total of 50 students at the Jewish Community Center[8].

Ongoing issues

Amid deliberations over the use of a $2 billion FEMA settlement for school facilities across the city in the summer of 2011, school officials and supporters argued vehemently that existing schools like Lusher should receive structural repairs with the same urgency that new schools are built to replace those lost in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina[9]. As of early September, a final plan for the FEMA money had not been released, but Orleans Parish allocated money to study "stabilization" of its buildings, including Lusher[10].

As of 2011, the school is actively searching for a third campus. Officials investigated the possibility of renovating the Lasalle School formerly used by NOCCA, but deemed the asbestos-ridden building too expensive for its needs[11]. Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger has also publicly requested the Allen building behind its Fortier campus, though Audubon Charter School has requested that building as well[12].

Over the summer of 2011, Lusher also negotiated with the Orleans Parish School Board seeking a 10-year renewal of its charter, joining in deliberations with a number of other Orleans Parish charters[13].

In the spring of 2012, Lusher announced that it would not accept new kindergarten students at the Jewish Community Center campus for lack of space[14].


The Lions play on the Lusher Charter School football field, a hefty donation from Saints quarterback Drew Brees.(via the Lusher Charter School website
The school mascot is the Lions. The football field was donated by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.


Lusher is relatively unique among New Orleans schools in that it has a specific geographic district from which children are guaranteed admission, though that policy only applies to incoming kindergarten students. Whether to continue district-based admissions is an ongoing question before the school board[15].

Other students are chosen based on a selective admissions process that includes criteria such as a student's grades, reading and math standardized-test scores, an arts profile and parental involvement[16]. Some openings are awarded to the highest-scoring students, while others are awarded in a lottery to the remaining applicants. Some openings are also reserved for "children of Tulane University affiliated parents."

Lusher also requires students in middle and high schools to maintain an overall C average in core academic subjects in order to continue at the school, according to its handbooks[17].

See also


  1. "Lusher plans new playground with zipline at Willow campus," Sept. 10, 2011
  2. Uptown Messenger: "Lusher to reduce incoming kindergarten classes for lack of space," May 12, 2012
  3. Lusher Charter School: "Lusher's 2014 Profile"
  4. The Tulane University Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives: The 2011 State of Public Education in New Orleans, page 19
  5. "New Orleans charters see reading, math scores rise faster than traditional schools," Sept. 14, 2011
  6. Lusher Charter application
  7. Lusher Charter School: Partnerships
  8. Lusher Charter School:Kindergarten classes at Jewish Community Center, posted Sept. 17, 2010
  9. "Lusher continues quest for renovations, while Sophie B. Wright seeks a gym," July 27, 2011
  10. "Audubon, Lusher to get long-sought structural repairs," Aug. 20, 2011
  11. "Renovating old NOCCA site proves too pricey for Lusher"
  12. "Uptown charter schools plead their buildings’ cases," Jan. 13, 2011
  13. "Lusher, other charters continue negotiations with Orleans Parish," June 1, 2011
  14. "Lusher to reduce incoming kindergarten classes for lack of space," May 12, 2012
  15."Lusher eyes tighter admission policies, but shows interest in further expansion," April 10, 2011
  16. Lusher Charter School K-5 application, 2010-2011 school year
  17."Open-admission Uptown high schools miss state averages in most subjects," July 6, 2012
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