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Tulane partnership formalized; school takes wait-and-see stance toward citywide app

Advocates for Arts Based Education Corp. the board governing Lusher Charter School, met Nov. 5 in room 207 of the Freret Street campus. The monthly meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:55 a.m.

Board President Blaine LeCesne was present as were members Paul Barron, Carol Whelan, Rachel Wisdom, Ann Salzer and Kristin Huston, Andrew Wisdom, Susan Krinsky and the newest member, Andrea Armstrong, who was formally welcomed by LeCesne.

A reporter for Uptown Messenger, a reporter for the Lens and a parent comprised the audience.

Minutes from the previous two meetings were approved unanimously.

Lynden Swayze, the school’s chief financial officer, presented the external audit.

“We have an unqualified opinion, which is what you always want in an audit,” Swayze said. “They did not find any weaknesses in our internal controls.”

In a detailed breakdown of the report, Swayze noted that the school has about $8 million in ready reserves, divided among a checking account, a savings account and CDs. She noted that the CDs throw off little interest, given how low rates are nationally due to the sluggish economy.

Though the only Title grant Lusher still receives is Title II, the school has $1.5 million more than last year, Swayze said. She said she “really can’t it tie down to any particular thing” but suspects the Gulf Coast Grant (which ends next October) and an increase in enrollment of about 100 students has helped.

The money readily available for operating expenses provides a six-month cushion, Swayze said. Kathy Riedlinger, the school’s chief executive officer Kathy, said a six-month cushion is considered a good general rule for any non-profit organization.

“May the minutes reflect that our CFO has again done a fabulous job,” Barron said.

The board unanimously approved a partnership agreement with Tulane University. Barron said an oral understanding was reached in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and was committed to paper three years ago. The version approved by the board contained “a couple of minor changes,” Barron said, because “the way we operated had changed slightly.”

Though the meeting’s agenda called for an executive session to discuss the agreement, Barron said that would not be necessary “because there is no litigation issue advice involved here.” Barron acknowledged that in scheduling the executive session, he had misunderstood the legal grounds that make it permissible to exclude the public from the board’s deliberations. “It was not appropriate and I apologize for that confusion,” he said.

Riedlinger said the school’s application process is going well. “We’re not participating this year in the city-wide process,” she said, referring to the common application being developed  by Recovery School District Superintendent John White to simplify the enrollment process. She said Lusher will wait a year to see howthe process works.

Fundraising letters are in the mail to the Friends of Lusher, she said. The goal is $150,000.

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