BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - The Bossier Parish School Board issued an extension for a proposed charter school on Barksdale Air Force Base.
The original plan was to open for 800 students with grades K-12, but in the late summer of 2017, Bossier Parish Schools moved to a school of choice district, which allows families to choose where to send their kids and the company who initially agreed to fund the school backed out, causing them to start over.
Terry Snooks is the President of the Barksdale Global Power Museum Association. As a former military child and now Air Force veteran, he understands first hand what it's like to move with the military.
"It's tough for 10 or 11 year-old kid to be a moved like that sometimes. There's nobody in that class that they know, it's not like moving across town. You're sometimes moving across the country, sometimes moving here from a foreign country," he explained.
So when the former wing commander approached the Global Power Museum Association to sponsor a charter school on base, Snooks says his board agreed it would benefit both students and their parents.
"It's the best thing for the kids, this will help stabilize their life and make it easier for them."
"The school of choice is a great thing I really appreciate the school board doing that, I know the parents did, it's great for the students," Snooks said. "(But) you still have an issue where you have to transport the children and that's not easy for some of those people, so it will give them an alternative for that, plus they'll be with other kids who live a similar life."
With Charter School Development Corporation now on board to fund the project, and Responsive Ed set to operate the school, the plan now is to open with lower grade levels to serve about 400 students.
"The first priority are children of active-duty military personnel who live on Barksdale, that's give or take 500 students probably, it varies every day, people come and go. Second priority is children of active duty military personnel that live off-base. Our charter is for 800, we feel that we will probably hit our peek at that point. The third category we have is children of instructors and staff of the school."
The question stills remains, where will the school be located?
Snooks says there are three locations, two on the main base and one on the east reserve that are currently being evaluated, however nothing has been set it stone.
"Each has some advantages and each has some disadvantages," he explained, "Where you place the school and which gates the parents and the kids have to go through, all of that makes a huge difference. While the east side by the housing has some advantages, some of the sites that we've identified on the main base have advantages too. The problem with the main base is that it's pretty full already."
Pending a decision on the location, Snooks is optimistic about them being able to open the school in August of 2020.
"I think it will happen, there's always unforeseen things that will come up, but I really truly believe that we will have a charter school and the kids who want to, the families who want to, that qualify can go to school on Barksdale."
Snooks says he doesn't have a timeline on when a decision is expected to be made on the school's location. He says those details will have to be hammered out over the next few months.