Parents and teachers at Audubon Charter School are awaiting word about when and if their upper grades will be moving to a new school building.
Kathleen Padian, deputy superintendent for Orleans Parish Schools, said the old 1850s Carrollton courthouse that Audubon’s middle school currently calls home would require extensive renovation to meet the district’s educational facilities standards.
“The Carrollton building doesn’t meet the standard and we don’t have enough money…to renovate,” she said Friday.
Audubon has been using the 719 S. Carollton Ave. campus since 2006. Over the years, the school has also housed Lusher Charter School students and, for decades, Benjamin Franklin High School.
Padian said the district is preparing the old McDonogh 7 school building on Milan St. for Audubon’s temporary use, but it is unlikely the school will move before the end of the current school year. Padian said that McDonogh also requires extensive renovation in order for it to meet the requirements of a permanent school building, but in a manner of degrees, it is far less problematic than the Carrollton courthouse.
Audubon’s school operations manager Alisa Dupre told the school’s board at its regular board meeting Feb. 2 that the district has put the school on track to move into the Milan St. building, last used by Crocker Arts and Technology Charter School. Dupre said school officials are standing by for word, but they aren’t counting their chickens yet.
“We don’t know 100 percent that we are moving,” Dupre said. “And we don’t know what temporary means.”
The district did sink some money into renovations at the Carrollton campus over the last year, including roof repairs. But the structural issues at the school were exacerbated by Hurricane Isaac, officials said.
The district would need to add modular buildings to the McDonogh campus in order to house all of Audubon’s Carrollton campus students, Dupre said. And Orleans Parish school officials are seeking a variance from the city to do so. If all goes as planned Audubon would move in for the summer of 2013, she said.
It is not clear what would become of the Carrollton courthouse, Padian said. But selling it or leasing it to another school or nonprofit are options, she said.
Also at Audubon’s meeting, the board nominated Cornelius Tilton to board chair with no competition. Derek Bardell accepted the nomination to the vice chair vacated by Timothy Jackson after Yvonne Locke agreed to be his unofficial assistant. Locke then hesitantly agreed to serve as secretary, a position previously held by Jolynn King, but only if King would continue on as the board’s unofficial “scribe.”
In light of the school shootings in Newtown, Pa., Principal Janice Dupuy announced that Audubon has established a core safety team for times of crisis. Two teachers have participated in a crisis prevention and preparedness orkshop in conjunction with the Tulane University Department of Psychology. All other teachers and staff were expected after the Mardi Gras break to take the online PREPaRE Workshop offered by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and supported by the Dept. of Education.
“We’ve always practiced fire drills and now we’re moving into other kinds of drills and warnings,” said Dupuy, who likens the new efforts to Audubon’s previous suicide and bullying prevention classes. “Parents need to work on this with kids at home as well,” she added, “because we don’t want to frighten them.”
Ben Hicks, a certified public accountant who consults with the school, announced that the board’s plan to invest $1.25 million is moving forward. Half of the funds have been shifted to CDs, while the remaining cash has not yet been transferred into a Blackrock account.
Hicks said that the school is over budget in the areas of salaries and benefits, plus extra janitorial costs accrued as a result of Hurricane Isaac costs. But he said these are timing issues that will be worked out in time for the Audubon board’s next meeting on February 16th.
Audubon’s French school introduced Jason Coleman as its new Montessori representative. Ten Tulane student interns have also recently joined Audubon’s French teachers: five at the Carrollton Campus and five teachers at the Gentilly campus. Audubon’s Carrollton campus recently hosted a three-day conference for French curriculum schools accredited by the French government. The conference provided bilingual training to 22 principals, directors and lead teachers from schools around the country. Audubon was the only public school involved.
The Feb. 2 meeting ended with the board entering executive session to privately evaluate a member of the school’s senior personnel.
At the meeting were Tilton, Locke, Bardell, Eva Alito, Jean Claude Brunet, Jacqueline Smith and Greg Thompson. Also in attendance were Hicks, Dupuy, Dupre, Dawn Collins and Elfie Cheynet.
Lens charter schools editor Rebecca Catalanello contributed to this report.