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School finances in the black; academic interventions include special help for 4th graders

E.P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy Charter School is ending the year in “pretty good shape fiscally,” financial consultant Sean Berner told the board at its monthly meeting, Dec. 5.

Some funds in Harney’s accounts carried over from last year, Berner noted, but the school is “constantly watching the budget” to make sure spending stays “within our means,” he said.

As of Nov. 11, Harney’s expenses approached $264,000, but with income from Title 1, IDEA and various other grants, the school had netted $17,000 as of Nov. 30 , Berner said. Board member Ashton Ryan, finance chairman, described the school as a “littler better off this year than last” and backed acceptance of the CFO’s report.

The positive tone of Berner’s presentation was matched by an equally upbeat report from Eileen Williams, the school’s chief executive officer. Williams announced  successful improvements in classrooms throughout the school. Harney is working in various ways to support academic growth across all subjects, she said.

This was the first week of Harney’s Target Teach program, and Williams declared herself “very pleased” with the early returns.  Harney has hired a consultant to help with academic interventions for students, and the plan is to “create battle plans for every teacher for each child in their home rooms to address what kids are struggling with,” she said.

The board inquired with concern about the academic progress of this year’s fourth graders. Last year, as third graders, the group did not score well on academic tests. Missy Forcier, Harney’s chief administrative officer, said that in addition to having the support of two teacher aides, all fourth graders are attending a reading instruction program called Read 180, and Harney has been offering afterschool tutoring since October.

“We are … strategically grouping the children in the skills they need to provide the support they need,” Forcier said of students at every grade level.

Harney is hosting a Christmas program at the school on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8:45 a.m. and a staff luncheon on Dec. 20, an event sponsored by the board.

The board voted to change the date of the next meeting to Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m.

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