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Fewer pre-K seats are available in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina

January 5, 2018
Willborn P. Nobles III
The Times-Picayune

There are fewer pre-K options available to New Orleans parents today than there were before the school system transitioned to charters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to a recent study.

Charter school leaders discussed their reasons for offering or not offering pre-K programs, in a study released Dec. 7 by Tulane University‘s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. Largely, they said the programs are expensive to offer — and the state doesn’t give them enough of a subsidy to make it worth it.

Between 2004-05, the city had 80 elementary schools, three of which were charters, and 95 percent of them provided pre-K. Between 2014-15, New Orleans had 56 elementary schools, 53 of which were charters, and 63 percent of them offered pre-K.

Charter schools in Louisiana can opt into state-subsidized pre-K for low-income and special-needs students, but the study stated the per pupil funding level is far below the average cost of educating a pre-K student. The gap between the state subsidy level and the actual per-pupil cost of pre-K is approximately $3,300 per student, according to the study.