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Staff resignations filled; small deficit should be plugged by pending grants and donations

Directors of the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy met Sept. 29, at 6 p.m., to discuss the state of the school and plan construction of its future home.  Board members Col. Terry Ebbert.

Maj. Blake LeMaire, Eades Hogue, and Capt. Dave Whiddon were present.  Board members James Reiss, Courtney Bagneris, and Capt. Keith Amacker were absent.

Like many schools in the city, NOMMA is awaiting construction of a new facility.  The school, which will be located in the Federal City development at the former Naval Support Activity center in Algiers, currently is housed in the Murray Henderson Elementary building. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps school opened to ninth-graders in August.

The meeting began with an hour-long executive session to discuss contract negotiations for construction of the new facility.  Afterwards, in open session, the Board unanimously approved a motion empowering board president Ebbert and Col. Bill Davis, the school’s commandant, to negotiate the contracts, which the board will later vote to approve or reject.

In a budget presentation, Davis said the school projects an operating loss of about $65,000 this year, on a budget of just under $1.5 million. He said the loss was expected in the school’s first year, because initial enrollment was limited to freshmen. Davis said he is still working on some budget details, such as the cost of the free and reduced lunch program and Federal Impact Aid the school could receive for parents living on military bases.

Davis requested the board’s help in finding additional donors.  “Many of the federal grants are paid in arrears,” Davis explained.  Special-education funding is not paid until winter, and some federal and state grants won’t be received until after the school year.  Cecilia Garcia, the school’s principal, confirmed that the school had non-profit, 501c3 status, which makes donations tax-deductible.  The Board discussed the importance of finding donors to help cover short-term costs.

Ebbert introduced Maj. Gen. Walter Paulson, describing Paulson’s experience working on education with non-profit foundations. The board voted unanimously to make Paulson a member.  He suggested soliciting targeted donations, such as equipment and electronics donations from companies that produce it.

Davis and Garcia described personnel changes in the school.  A special-education teacher who resigned this year has been replaced. An interim biology teacher also resigned and a substitute is in place while the school searches for a permanent replacement.

Garcia discussed the curriculum and explained use of Louisiana Virtual School as a remote classroom for foreign language instruction and remediation.

Davis sketched the school’s demographics. Students are accepted on an open-enrollment basis and assigned to classes based on ability.  At the platoon level, however, the classes mix.  Davis said this helps establish a sense of camaraderie.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

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