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NOBTS website lists options for seminarians with children

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Parents at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary will encounter a new educational landscape when they try to enroll their children in school this fall. In response, NOBTS has created a resource center to help parents make informed choices about the educational options they will have.

Sheryl Ray, NOBTS’ new educational consultant, has spent hours meeting with and communicating with school officials in the New Orleans metro area in developing a Web-based resources center to assist parents. The resource center can be accessed at www.nobts.edu/Students and then clicking on the “Children’s Education” link.

“We are delighted to welcome Sheryl Ray as our education consultant,” said Craig Price, NOBTS dean of students. “Mrs. Ray comes to us from a vast background in the public schools.”

Price believes Ray’s experience in education is vital to developing the resources seminary parents need regarding New Orleans-area schools.

The site, which launched on April 3, highlights the options that parents may consider for their children. The options include public, charter and private schools as well as homeschooling. Rather than recommending any one option, Ray sees providing parents with information as her most important role.

“I’m not going to try to sway anybody one way or another,” she said. “We will let [parents] have the information and make up their minds as they know their child.

“I believe there will be more options than they have ever had,” Ray noted.

The most significant changes will occur in the city’s public schools. For years, the New Orleans schools have lagged behind the rest of the state. Following Hurricane Katrina, many of the public schools will reopen as charter schools. Others will be reopened under state control.

Ray sees these developments as a chance for improvement in the city’s schools. Each charter school must submit a detailed plan to the Louisiana Department of Education. The state reviews the education philosophy and the curriculum of each charter applicant. Those that meet the state’s standards will be granted a charter.

Public schools that do not reopen as charter schools will open under state control. The goal for the new charter schools and the state-control public schools will be on improving the quality of New Orleans’ educational system.

The private school landscape also will change significantly, Ray reported, noting that some private schools in the area received too much damage to reopen.

Because the educational landscape is still developing, Ray encourages parents to check the site often for updates. Charter applications were taken until late March. Additional public, charter and private schools could still announce plans to open before the start of the school year.

The website includes information parents need to begin the process of enrolling their children in the various schools. Addresses, contact numbers and registration information are included on the website.

Ray also provides a list of documentation each child will need to enroll. Parents must have a copy of the child’s birth certificate and immunization records. Ray encourages all families who lost these documents in the flood to obtain copies from the proper authorities.

In some cases, schools are asking for report cards or other documentation to show that children have been in school since the hurricane. This information is required by some schools even for children who are moving to New Orleans for the first time.

Another popular option for seminary families has been homeschooling. Ray said that NOBTS had a strong homeschool organization before the storm. She is currently working to identify parents to lead out in redeveloping that organization.

Ray encourages seminary families to contact her if they have any questions, by phone at (504) 473-5644 or by e-mail at [email protected].