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School Director Richard Best resigns; more funds needed for busing

At the conclusion of a lengthy executive session held at its Sept. 13 meeting, the board governing New Orleans Science and Math High School announced that Dr. Richard Best, School Director, had tendered his resignation.

Once the hour-and-45-minute closed-door discussion returned to open session, there were no objections or comments put forth before the motion was adopted to accept Best’s resignation. Best has served as School Director since February of this year.

The board then adopted a motion to “continue the leadership of Claire Jecklin (Director of Academics), and Chana Benenson (Director of Student Development) while we resolve the leadership of the school.”

Claudia Kent, Finance and Business Manager at the school, spoke about the financial realities of the new bus service adopted at the start of the current school year.

“We need to come up with $81,000 out of the budget to deal with transportation. It will require some meetings, some work, some crying – whatever. I think it’s doable,” Kent said.

Three bus routes currently serve 160 Sci High students. However, there is only $38,000 in the school’s budget to cover transportation costs.

Jecklin reported improved faculty retention numbers to the board, and was pleased by the increased percentage of instructors with previous teaching experience in New Orleans.

For the 2011-12 academic year, the school had a 75 percent faculty retention rate, up from 50 percent the previous year. Of the 75 percent retained, 90 percent of teachers had previously taught in the city, up from 30 percent in 2010-11.

Jecklin discussed two recently-received grants totaling $110,000, along with an additional $135,000 received from excess Title II technology funds.

A high-risk grant of $80,000 was awarded for autism program staff, and $30,000 came from the J.K. Livin Foundation, which funds educational programs for healthy living.

The technology funds were used to purchase iPads, iMac laptops, ActiVote sets, Promethean Boards, projection devices, ELMO document cameras, and laser printers.

The Sept. 13 board meeting began at 4:30 p.m. and adjourned at 7 p.m.

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