Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Delta Charter school fourth grader Preston Higgins struggles to retrieve his backpack filled with school supplies and books for his first day at the Ferriday school.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Delta Charter school fourth grader Preston Higgins struggles to retrieve his backpack filled with school supplies and books for his first day at the Ferriday school.

Education alternative begins in Concordia Parish

Published 12:01am Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FERRIDAY — Ashley McIntosh now has a choice for her children’s education.

Abigail and Barton, McIntosh’s children, were among the 300 new students that started their first day of class Monday at the Delta Charter School in Ferriday.

Before the newest education option in Concordia Parish opened, the Jackson native and current Ferriday resident would drive and pick up her children every day from Tensas Academy in St. Joseph.

“There just wasn’t a public school option here in town that I felt comfortable sending my kids to,” McIntosh said Monday afternoon after she picked up her children from the first day of school. “I would drive 120 miles a day round trip every day to take them, but it was worth it until this opened up.”

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Fourth grader Abel Wellborn raises his hand to answer a question in his English language arts class Monday afternoon.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Fourth grader Abel Wellborn raises his hand to answer a question in his English language arts class Monday afternoon.

Charter schools are publicly funded, independently operated public schools that do not charge tuition or fees, are open to all students who wish to attend and cannot discriminate when making enrollment decisions.

Delta Charter School, which has a math, science and technology curriculum and serves kindergarten through ninth-grade students, is located at the old Huntington School building on Lynwood Drive.

The push to create the charter school began in 2010 when former Huntington board members created the Delta Charter group and began researching the possibility of bringing a charter school to Concordia Parish.

Craig Jackson, one of the two founders of the board, said the decision to bring the school to the area was twofold.

“It was all about two things: people wanted a different choice and people couldn’t afford the private school options,” Jackson said. “That’s what really got the ball rolling.”

After visiting charter schools in Delhi and Avoyelles Parish and submitting applications to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the school was granted approval to open in January.

Since then, board and school officials worked to revamp the facilities, create a curriculum and hire faculty, among other things, to prepare for its first day.

“It feels real good, but now there’s almost even more pressure because now we have to perform and live up to our expectations,” Jackson said. “We’ve promised these parents that we would be an excellent performing school, and we’re not going to rest until that’s accomplished.”

School director Clovis Christman said everything went well Monday with nearly all of the school’s students reporting for the first day —except the kindergarten classes, which didn’t attend school Monday.

“We haven’t had any glitches (Monday) and everything seems to have gone extremely well,” Christman said. “I’m not sure I’ll get much sleep (Monday) night though, because now we have to live up to the high standards we’ve set for everyone.

“But I couldn’t be more pleased with how the first day went.”

McIntosh also said she was happy to hear her children had a good first day at what she hopes will be their new school until graduation day.

“We needed a better publication education offering here, and now it’s finally here,” McIntosh said. “I grew up in a public education system, but it wasn’t available for my kids until this.”

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