A charter high school will this fall join the North Sherwood Forest Drive campus of GEO Prep Academy of Greater Baton Rouge, though most of its schooling won’t take place on the campus.
The soon-to-come GEO Next Generation High School offers an “early college model” to students by allowing them to take free college courses on college campuses for college credits, while simultaneously earning a high school diploma.
It’s different from traditional dual enrollment courses in that qualified students would actually attend classes on-site at Baton Rouge Community College, with which the charter has a memorandum of understanding.
“They get the experience of the climate and culture of being on a college campus,” says Kevin Teasley, founder and CEO of the GEO Foundation, which will add the new school to its portfolio of two other Baton Rouge schools it operates.
This summer, incoming Baton Rouge students will take the placement test to qualify for enrollment in college courses. Those who don’t qualify will be placed in a six-week college readiness course and can then either retake the test or follow a traditional high school curriculum.
In 2010, Teasley tested out the concept in Gary, Indiana, where he’s since seen a dozen-plus students graduate from 21st Century Charter School with an associate’s degree. In one case, a student graduated from high school with a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.
The model also negates the need for much staffing or building space, though plans are underway to construct a separate high school facility on 13 acres at the North Sherwood campus sometime in 2020. Meanwhile, school officials are in the process of hiring eight teachers for its first class of ninth graders. They’ll add a new grade each year.
To make room for the new class of students, kindergarteners through third graders will move into the vacant Platt Drive building formerly home to Geo Prep Academy.
GEO Board President Linda Johnson says they’re aiming to enroll about 100 students for the 2019-2020 school year.