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Board approves revised budget, unanimously re-elects leadership

The FirstLine Schools board of directors voted unanimously to approve a revised final budget for the 2012-2013 school year at their monthly meeting, September 26.

The final budget for the upcoming year still comes in around the projected $26 million, according to finance committee chair Stephen Rosenthal. “The minor revisions in the budget are due to an unexpected increase in final enrollment numbers at all FirstLine schools,” Rosenthal said. “Those final enrollment numbers, which total 2,543 students at all schools, have increased the projected budget by $106,000.”

Finance Committee members stressed the importance of creating a budget contingency plan for fluctuations in enrollment moving forward into the 2013-2014 school year.

“The new enrollment system is a little unpredictable,” said CFO Keith Crawford. If our enrollment drops that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same amount of expenses. We can’t solely base our finances on projected enrollment numbers. What we’re trying to do is to come up with a plan so that if we lose that revenue, where could we possibly cut the expenses to match.”

Crawford said this is particularly important at Joseph P. Clark Preparatory High School. “Clark was a troubled high school, and when putting the pieces back together, things are more variable. By preparing for the possibilities it makes us more financially stable.”

The board also voted to approve revisions to the 2012-2013 Pupil Progression Plan. Pupil Progression Plans are approved by local education agencies on a yearly basis and serve as academic frameworks  to determine whether students will be promoted to the next grade, retained in the current grade, or advanced to higher grades. The plan also outlines criteria for high school graduation, according to CEO Jay Altman.

“This year we have approved the plan, but have requested a waiver of the foreign language requirement so we can focus resources on getting all students above grade-level on reading,” Altman said. “We will adopt a foreign language requirement in the near future, but right now our main focus is on literacy.”

The board also voted to approve the five-year Strategic Plan for all FirstLine schools, which was presented by Altman at last month’s board meeting. The primary objectives of the plan include student, teacher and organizational development. Altman also stressed the importance of attaining student achievement goals set for the 2012-2013 academic year. The Student Achievement Index determines which students are performing at grade-level. FirstLine schools have seen a significant increase in student achievement over the past few years, but Altman said, “Getting students up to grade-level is imperative with the implementation of Common Core Standards.”

The FirstLine board meeting also served as the annual meeting, in accordance with the board’s bylaws. The annual meeting must include annual elections or re-elections of officers and board members to three-year terms, according to board secretary Allison Hartman. All officers and board members were unanimously re-elected.

One new officer was elected. Keith Crawford, interim CFO of FirstLine Schools, was introduced to the board. Former NOLA 180 board member Paul Pechon will serve on FirstLine’s finance committee.

Clarification: No new officers were elected. Crawford is interim CFO and Pechon is a new FirstLine board member.

The FirstLine Development Committee will host a grand opening celebration at Arthur Ashe Academy on October 17 at 6:00 p.m.  

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