Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Carrollton United Neighborhood Organization (CUNO) decided that reopening Alfred C. Priestley Junior High, which had been closed since 1993, would spark local revitalization, and a survey of residents indicated widespread support for an architecture and construction charter school. In spring 2005 CUNO began negotiating with the Orleans Parish School Board to secure the vacant building for its reuse as the Priestley School of Architecture & Construction.
After the storm, Orleans Parish fast-tracked CUNO’s application, granting one that October. “Prior to the storm it was extremely hard to get a charter school approved by the state,” explains Michelle Biagas, Priestley’s principal and CEO. But Katrina forced a change of attitude among the education establishment, and Orleans Parish “felt that having this school would be a feather in its cap.”