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Esperanza principal ousted; McDonogh 42 move may be delayed; teacher bonuses approved

Choice Foundation, the charter management organization set to take over McDonogh 42, has asked the Recovery School District to delay a scheduled move to a new campus, from January 2013 to June 2013.

Fran Trujillo, McDonogh 42’s principal-to-be, said relocating the school four months after Choice’s takeover would be disruptive.

A meeting with RSD officials earlier in March yielded some positive results, foundation board members learned at their monthly meeting, March 28. Trujillo came away with the impression that the RSD has not ruled out the delay. Possible options include the addition of more trailers or a move to a temporary location closer than ReNEW Reed’s campus in New Orleans East.

Choice Foundation will hold meetings with parents of McDonogh 42 students on April 3, 10 and 11 to discuss the move and other transition issues.

Also on the agenda March 28 was an update on the acquisition of Grace Episcopal Church, Choice’s new headquarters.

The board has signed a five-year lease for the building at 3700 Canal St. Building renovations will begin on May 1, and the board hopes the site will be ready for a move-in at the end of July.

Board President James Huger said plans were afoot to move Lafayette’s pre-k and kindergarten programs into the headquarters building. The vacated spaces at Lafayette will accommodate incoming   eighth graders.

“Along with having the pre-k and k students, we will be able to have development for the staff at the three schools in one central location,” Huger said.  “This new location will provide us with stability as we grow.”

Along with the renewable five-year lease, Choice has a right of first refusal to buy the building.

On the administrative side, Lafayette principal Mickey Landry told The Lens that Mary Guinn, Esperanza’s principal, has resigned. Landry said he and the board had doubts about the school’s goals under Guinn’s stewardship.  Sheila Kelley, head of the middle school, also left her post.

Nicole Saulny, a former division head at Lafayette, is Esperanza’s interim principal. Susan Jurkunas has replaced Kelley.

In other business, Landry announced that Choice will implement a teacher bonus scheme based on performance.

Bonuses will be limited to $2,000 per annum for qualified teachers. Robust cumulative fund balances totaling $1 million at Lafayette and $600,000 at Esperanza will be used to pay for the compensation program. The bonus budget tops out at $200,000 at Lafayette and $100,000 at Esperanza.

The board also announced a five percent aggregate increase in salary for teachers at both schools beginning next year.

The board went into a lengthy executive session to discuss academic problems and the recent spate of violence that resulted in three deaths this past week among student families.

The next board meeting is April 25.

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