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A-plus score earns applause; PTO commits to help fund pool in new school building

The board of directors of Lake Forest Elementary Charter School met Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 1:30 p.m., to review academic progress and receive updates on funding and building construction. Six of seven members were present; Donald Plate was absent.

CEO/Principal Mardele Early began the meeting by announcing Lake Forest’s school performance score. The A-plus rating of 147.8 was greeted by unanimous applause.

The Board entered into an in-depth discussion of the new letter grading system adopted by BESE to rate school performance. A plus or a minus indicates improving or worsening performance.

Members called the system misleading. Early concurred, citing the example of Benjamin Franklin High School, generally regarded as the best in the city. With a score of 186.2, Franklin was rated A but denied a plus because it didn’t hit its improvement target, while lower-rated schools, such as Audubon Charter and Warren Easton High School, though scoring as much as 60 points lower, received A-plus scores based on improvement.

Early said she expected a high turnout for upcoming report card conferences with parents.

Bernell St. Cyr, the school’s director of finance and operations, provided a brief budget update through Aug. 31.  While the school is currently $41,990 below its expected budget, St. Cyr said he expects additional revenue once student data is changed to reflect that enrollment has risen to 478. He also reported that the school has received a grant for $179,822.57, which will improve the budget outlook.

Early detailed progress towards a new building. The school expects an act of sale to be signed by the Orleans Parish School Board sometime this week. Groundbreaking is set for next year.

The Parent-Teacher Organization plans to fund a swimming pool at the new site.  The PTO, Early said, has pledged “assistance towards building a 30-by-60-foot pool at our new site.  Our parents are being very industrious, looking into all kinds of things.”  Because New Orleans is a flood-prone city, Early said knowing how to deal with water was important for the safety and emotional wellbeing of students.  “We want them to feel comfortable,” she said, “and how great water can be.”

The 65-minute meeting ended with a discussion of Lake Forest’s annual community night, Nov. 17.  This year’s event focuses on math, science, and health.  The school planned the event “to show how math, science, and health come together in [the students’] daily living” and to help develop good health habits for its students.

The Board voted to change the date of its next meeting, which will be released on its website.

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