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Sci High begins budget process, allocates up to $10,000 for co-principals’ tuition costs

New Orleans Science and Mathematics High School leaders are embarking on a five-month budgeting process.

Co-principals Claire Jecklin and Chana Benenson, along with School Finance Director Claudia Kent told members of Sci High governing board Feb. 21 that the 2013-14 estimated budget will be based on 375 students.

Sci High’s enrollment has fluxuated between 368 and 377 students over the last four months.

Jecklin said the school will address a new state mandate dictating how teacher salaries are configured.

Jecklin said that while she thinks charter schools may be exempt from the new criteria — often called “Act 1” because it was the first part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 2012 education reform package — it offers a good basis for creating a different pay scale.

“We want something that’s fair, but also something that’s more progressive than just x amount of years teaching equals x amount of money,” Jecklin said.

Teaching experience, demand, and student and teacher performance are the three areas assessed within the new law.

A draft of the school’s budget must be sent to the Orleans Parish School Board by April 19, and the public hearing date is currently set for June 6.

The board met in executive session for 20 minutes, citing an open meetings exemption that allows board to meet privately to discuss “the character, professional competence or mental health of a person.”

When board members returned into an open meeting, they voted unanimously to appropriate up to $10,000 to each co-principal in reimbursements for tuition costs for principal certification programs, “provided there is no legal impediment in doing so.”

Asked later about the appropriation, board president Mary Zervigon said both Jecklin and Benenson are both expected in August to complete programs that will qualify them to receive their principal certifications. “This is to cover the tuition of that job-related education,” she said.

According to Jecklin, the reimbursements are in lieu of a salary increase this year.

Benenson is attending The Summer Principal’s Academy at Columbia University’s Teachers College, a graduate program with courses she can take at Tulane University. Jecklin is finishing a Master’s in Education in Administration and Supervision through National Louis University in partnership with Leading Educators in New Orleans.

The board asked the pair to lead the school following school director Richard Best’s September resignation. At the time, Jecklin was director of academics and Benenson was director of student development.

In June, eight Sci High Spanish II students will be traveling to Panama with Foreign Language Chair and Spanish teacher Jaron Berliner and US History teacher Allonn Brann.

Berliner told the board about the 10-day trip, explaining its focus on math and science as well as language immersion. This is the fourth consecutive year Sci High students have been able to travel abroad.

The group will view math and science courses at a public high school in Panama City, as well as visit the Panama Canal and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Students will also get to stay in the homes of locals while they are there.

The $20,000 needed for the trip will be collected through fundraising.

The meeting ran from 4:40 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.

The next scheduled board meeting of the Advocates for Science and Mathematics Education is March 21 at 4:30 p.m.

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  • nickelndime

    Wait! The board goes into executive session (on the premise of discussing “… character…mental health of a person”) and comes out and votes on paying the tuition costs for two individuals who are “running the school” and are not even certified in school administration (i.e., “principal,” “School Leader” – that’s the new term for fast tracking individuals who are getting principal pay but their credentials are lacking)! Typical OPSB/RSD/BESE charter foolishness at the public’s expense. This sounds fishy to me. Maybe this board is getting advice from that other board (Morris Jeff) whose doors were locked and the reporter couldn’t get into the building when the board meeting commenced. So, is this board also discussing a fish fry (like Morris Jeff) to raise $20,000?