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Board no-shows make for a voteless meeting; academic benchmark scores called 'alarming'

Enforcement and possible amendment of the organization’s rules dominated discussion at the monthly meeting of the board that governs Andrew H. Wilson Charter  School, but no votes could be taken because not enough members showed up for the Jan. 24 session.

Four of eight members of the Broadmoor Charter School Board were present, but Darek Rabb came late and Santiago Burgos left early, leaving just three members at any given time during the meeting. Four members are needed for a vote to be binding.

Board members Nancy Marshall and David Winkler-Schmit were the only members who attended the entire meeting. The absentees were Latoya Cantrell, Sharon Hyde-Augillard, Stephen Tremaine, Krystina Jones and newly-elected member Sister Juanita Chenevert.

Ironically, one of the changes proposed in board members’ contracts is meant to assure better attendance at meetings. Other proposed changes would affect a board member’s financial obligation and amendments to the school’s student and family handbook.

Darius Munchak, Wilson Charter’s operations manager, expressed disappointment with the board’s poor attendance.

“I’m really hurting by the fact that we don’t have a quorum, because I had a number of resolutions I need passed for funding purposes,” Munchak said.

Mardi Gras, Feb. 21, is the “drop-dead deadline” for a vote on needed changes to the employee handbook regarding summer pay for teachers who don’t return the following fall, Munchak said.

Despite the absenteeism, board members in attendance pressed on with the meeting as planned.

Regarding student achievement, principal Logan Crowe said he feared students are being over-tested ahead of the statewide LEAP test in April.

“We don’t want to burn them out before they take the real test,” Crowe said. “It gets to the point where I’m hoping some kids are not numb by the time they take the test.”

Students are tested monthly through EdisonLearning Inc., the school’s education service provider. Edison reported that last month’s student scores are down in math and language arts, but up in reading.

The percentage of students hitting their benchmark numbers are 46 percent in math, 53 percent in language arts and 54 percent in reading.

“To be frank with you, these are alarming numbers,” Winkler-Schmit said.

Edison representative Katchia Gethers said testing is necessary to identify which students aren’t achieving and need help and which are achieving but with a push will do even better.

“The scores are low, but we have a solid plan to address that, and to see solid results in April,” she said.

In other business, Crowe reported that school suspensions are down considerably, from 13 in October to just three in January. “I attribute that to teachers getting to know the children,” he said.

In other business, board members learned that the school has applied for a $1.6 million literacy grant and is about to open bids for landscaping services. Munchak asked the board to authorize hiring a human resources person.

The next board meeting will be Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the school.

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