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BESE reviews capital projects, Early Head Start monitoring

Construction of four new schoolhouses should be completed as classes resume in August, education officials announced Wednesday night, but modular buildings are ready just in case.

Capital projects, including ground-up school construction, highlighted Wednesday night’s meeting in New Orleans of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The board meets periodically in New Orleans — Wednesday’s meeting was at Walter L. Cohen High School  – to address Recovery School District issues.

New buildings for Mildred Osborne, Parkview, Lawrence D. Crocker and Carter G. Woodson elementary schools are on track to be completed before school reopens, the board said.

“The district is working tirelessly to make sure the renovations are completed by the first day of class,” said BESE member Kira Orange Jones, whose district includes New Orleans. But modular classrooms are available if needed temporarily, she said.

The RSD currently has 66 active capital projects totaling $417 million. These include five  demolitions, the mothballing of nine buildings, 32 roof stabilization projects and 20 major renovations.

Lafayette Academy’s request to add an off-site location was approved by the board. The school’s charter operator, the Choice Foundation, is moving its central offices to 3700 Canal Street, the former site of Grace Episcopal Church. The move will create more space at Lafayette Academy for an incoming eighth grade. In addition to Choice Foundation’s central office, the Canal Street building will house Lafayette’s pre-k and kindergarten as well as space for professional development of teachers and staff from Choice Foundation schools.

Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, NET Charter High School for older students will increase its enrollment from 100 students to 140 while decreasing the number of instructional days from 210 to 180-200 days. State law requires a minimum of 177 days.

The Recovery School District’s Early Head Start Coordinator Francesca Williams addressed the board about the program’s monitoring practices, in anticipation of a report on the program slated to be released in July.

Williams called the monitoring very robust. It includes weekly visits with sitters and additional monitoring for centers that work with special-needs children.

Williams said the program also conducts strict self-assessment through monthly reports in order to comply voluntarily with state guidelines.

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