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Search for director gains momentum; enrollment may jump to 600; Health Corps OK'd

The board of directors of New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School — a.k.a. Sci High — met at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 8 at the school’s Loyola Avenue campus.

The board was joined by six school faculty and administrators. A reporter from The Lens was the only member of audience.

After approving the minutes of their August meeting, the board voted unanimously to seek insurance bids to compare with prices charged by the school’s current carrier.

Another motion, also passed unanimously, approved the school’s participation in the Health Corps. Created by TV’s Dr. Oz, the program provides physical and mental health consultants to schools for periods of one to two years at no cost.

The board agreed that this arrangement could be a “tipping point” in efforts to address the nutritional content of the school’s cafeteria food; the mental health consultant would be an added benefit, board members agreed.
The treasurer’s report revealed that as of Aug. 31, the school had $165,000 in cash on hand, with $39,000 in outstanding receivables through the federal E-Rate program. As of the same date there was a  $70,000 payroll tax due. Sci High currently has a $75,000 line of credit.

Acting School Director Barbara MacPhee said the school was in the middle of its annual audit and was on track to slightly exceed its budget for salaries in the 2011-2012 school year, due to the addition of a student services worker.

This additional staff member keeps data needed for state reporting requirements and assists the administration.

The board heard a brief report from Spanish teacher Sarah Couture about the Advisory program through which students meet in small groups with faculty to get individualized attention. In addition there is a “town hall” style meeting of all advisory groups once each week.

Board Member Jennifer Fallon reported on the ongoing search for a new school director. A list of nine candidates is likely to be narrowed to five who will then be invited to the campus for interviews.

Board Member John Brown presented the Academic Excellence Committee report. The committee meets twice a year to discuss school identity, serves as the liaison between the school’s administration and the board, and develops assessment tools to assist in the promotion of Sci High’s identity. The goal is to communicate a clear understanding of what it means to graduate from Sci High.

Board Member Joseph Caverly said that the Mission Committee will be meeting with the Academic Excellence Committee to discuss, but not rewrite, the mission.

Faculty member Mary Simon discussed the college counseling program, which increases college readiness, matches students with prospective schools, stimulates college interest, and helps students and their guardians complete college admission and financial aid applications.

In addition to local college visits and a senior college night, plans are underway to partner with the Posse Foundation and visit a college in New York.
MacPhee said that Sci High may have to expand its current enrollment of 372 to about 600 in the coming years to remain financially viable. She said moving beyond the school’s current “hand-to-mouth” existence will allow for a more intense focus on academics.

The next meeting has been tentatively rescheduled to Oct. 20, to avoid a conflict with candidates for director who will be visiting the school at the usual meeting time.

 

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