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Green charter school touts post-Katrina progress at FirstLine board meeting

A presentation by leaders of Samuel J. Green Charter School took up over 40 minutes of FirstLine Schools’ hour-long monthly board of directors meeting on March 27, however motions were passed, and other business was discussed beforehand, including the adoption of a 77-page financial policies and procedures manual.

The document was last updated in July 2010, chairman of FirstLine’s finance committee Stephen Rosenthal said.

“This can be amended at any time, but it is our policy, going forward,” said Rosenthal, “It’s very comprehensive, as you can see; I think our auditors will love it.”

The document maintains that FirstLine utilizes ethical business practices, from distribution of travel expenses to payroll accounts, as well as ensuring the board works in compliance with the state’s public bidding laws.

FirstLine’s chief executive officer Jay Altman showed the board a chart showing current enrollment and attendance revisions for all five of the board’s schools.

Samuel J. Green, Arthur Ashe, John Dibert and Langston Hughes Academy charter schools all have attendance rates of 94 percent or higher, according to the chart.

Joseph S. Clark Preparatory School, FirstLine’s only high school, falls short of these numbers, with an 87.5 percent attendance rate.

Altman insisted that attendance records at all five schools, including Clark, are rising.

“Our goal is to get all of the schools above 90 percent next year,” said Altman, “And the long-term goal is 97 percent.”

Altman also thanked members of the board who attended the schools’ An Edible Evening and Treme Day fundraising events.

About 800 people attended An Edible Evening at Green on March 21, with tickets priced at $45 to $50. The event netted between $75,000 and $80,000 to go toward edible gardens at all five of FirstLine Schools, as well as two teaching kitchens, according to the boards communications director, Rebekah Cain.

Treme Day was Clark Prep’s first annual 5K run/walk and health fair to benefit the school’s athletic department. The run/walk started and ended at Clark March 9 and about 250 people participated. Tickets were between $15 and $25 per person.

Clark also took third place in the Class Got Brass Music Competition, presented by the Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation, Inc. The prize was $4,000, which will be spent on instruments for Clark’s band, Altman said.

Parents with children in grades two through eight should note that LEAP testing will commence through the week of April 8, and Spring Break is the following week. “We don’t go into Spring Break until after the tests are completed, so it doesn’t disrupt the rhythm going into the testing,” said Altman.

Four Green administrators were present during the board meeting for a school leader presentation. The group shared information such as student and staff demographics and gave a progress report on Green’s progress since it became a charter school in 2006.

Leaders present were Ava Lee, school leader; Andrew Sullivan, middle school principal; Danielle Hill, lower school assistant principal; and Chris Cantu, middle school assistant principal.

In 2006, when Green re-opened after Hurricane Katrina, it was extremely poor performing compared with other junior high schools in the state, Sullivan said. “Over the past seven years, we have made consistent growth,” he said.

Green’s leaders shared data that showed the school’s growth in all four major subjects — English/Language Arts, math, science and social studies — next to the state’s averages.

The state average has between 60 and 75 percent of students performing at or above their basic grade level in all subjects.

Green’s average for all subjects in 2006 was 20 percent of students performing at or above basic levels. According to the chart, Green students’ scores have been rising gradually every year, and their scores are approaching state averages.

The largest deficiency seems to be science: the state average is just over 60 percent of students performing at their grade levels, while just over 40 percent of Green students are hitting that goal.

Those present during the meeting besides Altman included board members Darleene Peters, George Freeman, Catherine Pierson, Alison Hartman, Lawrence Kullman, Stephen Rosenthal, Paul Pechon, Kim Henry, Monique Cola and Joseph Neary.

Board members who were absent were Brian Egana, Greg St. Etienne, Christian Rhodes, and Charleen Blache.

Others in attendance included: Seth Mattei, parent Antonio Andrade and Inez Cassimere as well as Lee, Cantu, Hill and Sullivan.

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  • nickelndime

    Altman is a millionaire, thanks to public education and FirstLine’s connections with the State. FirstLine’s academic portfolio is seriously lacking. Does it even have a “C” average? (I don’t think so.) Somebody once said it is like “putting lipstick on a pig.” I see FirstLine tookover Langston Hughes. That would be after John Alford’s, (CEO straight from New Schools for New Orleans) buisness manager took off with $600,000, before John could figure out what was happening at the school. Alford was making six-figures, 4gawdsake, and he couldn’t keep track of a couple of checks? Typical for these charter administrators (overpaid, but lacking complete knowledge of all aspects of school functioning). What are these referenced administrators’ salaries? Altman’s salary was six-figures in 2009. Is it 7 now? “…a 77-page financial policies and procedures manual” (how much did that cost?). How can these individuals say the word “ethics” with a straight face?