BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – “We have to destroy the myth that it takes four or five years to turn around a school. Our kids don’t have that kind of time,” said Mike Miles, CEO of Third Future Schools.

Prescott Middle School had a record of underperformance. In 2015, the campus changed to Democracy Prep, a charter school. Student outcomes didn’t improve. Earlier this year, the organization announced plans to turn in its charter and close in May.

So, what’s next?

Louisiana Department of Education’s Recovery School District will take over the campus. Third Future, a network of free, public charter schools, will run it in a partnership agreement.

One of the first changes is to give the school a new, yet familiar, name: Prescott K-8 Academy. The next steps are to improve student performance. Miles said the shifts will happen fast.

“Across the country, districts are struggling with schools that are chronically failing, but they don’t want to lose their school to an outside partner. And I understand that. I’ve always said it’s not the type of school, it’s the type of system that matters,” Miles said.

After the three-year contract is up, Third Future will step aside and allow the state to run the school. Miles calls the plan to help students reach their full potential the Coperni Project. It’s part of an organized push to change the education system by focusing on transforming schools as a whole, not focusing on one issue.

“I said, ‘Let’s create a hybrid school that allows the school to stay the same except for the fact that we’re operating it. Then, we’ll give it back to the district. We just get the school out of D or F status, and then we leave. We just want to make sure the kids are being helped, that’s it,” he said.

What’s the plan to bring school performance up? And what does the future of Prescott look like?

High-quality instruction is designed to bring improved academic achievement in one year. They’ll also raise the average annual teacher salary to $83,000.

What’s the plan to bring school performance up? And what does the future of Prescott look like?

Which areas does Third Future intend to focus on and address as soon as possible?

“We have a lot of young students who need proficiency in the five components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension,” Miles said. “We are going to focus heavily on making sure we have good foundational skills of reading.”

Other areas of attention include math, science and quality of instruction.

Will Third Future use new or current teachers?

Short answer: both.

The network is giving the first job opportunities to current teachers. After that, other interested locals can apply.

“We are in the process right now of identifying the teachers who want to be interviewed for positions at the school. We had a staff meeting that talked about our priorities and goals last week, and it was a good meeting. It helped people to understand how we’re going to operate the school. Then we sent out a survey and told people to let us know if they wanted to work for Third Future schools,” Miles said.

In recent months, some local schools have had huge fights on their campuses. Some of the brawls even involved adults. What will Third Future do to prevent such situations?

All Third Future schools have three important rules:

  1. No disrespect to any adults in the building.
  2. Kids cannot disrupt the learning environment.
  3. Bullying is not tolerated.

Miles said, “Parents love our rules. We have growing enrollment in all of our schools because they’re safe and orderly.”

Each school’s main focus is to create a culture that centers on education. That helps to build a bond between the school and the community.

“Job No. 1 is to make parents feel that Prescott is their school, the community’s school,” Miles said.

“Job No. 2 is to make sure we have a discipline orderly safe environment. If you don’t start with that on day one, it starts off with the wrong culture.”

Local residents will lead classes, like photography and martial arts. Who will be eligible to teach those?

Miles said they need people with skills in art- and hobby-related fields, such as:

  • photography
  • dance
  • martial arts
  • other related activities

Applicants will have to pass an interview and background check.

“If someone wants to apply for a job, it’s $30/hour for several hours a week,” Miles said. “They must bring a passion that they can teach kids in the school. They must be passionate about the subject, skilled, and have some relationship capacity to build with kids, and we obviously perform a background check.”

Click here to visit the school’s official website and learn more about Prescott K-8 Academy