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Carver community eager to move out of modular classrooms

Over a dozen local residents and George Washington Carver High School alumni attended the Collegiate Academies board meeting last week to discuss the progress of plans for a new school building.

All of Collegiate Academies’ charter schools have been housed in modular trailers since Hurricane Katrina, leaving parents and school leaders anxious to move into permanent facilities.

Sci Academy is located at the old Abramson Elementary School site at 5552 Read Blvd. in Eastern New Orleans and George Washington Carver Prep and George Washington Carver Collegiate Academy are both located at 3059 Higgins Blvd., in the Desire area.

Community members said Wednesday that promises for new schools haven’t panned out in the eight years following Hurricane Katrina and finding solid answers about a timeline and budget aren’t easy.

“The sense of urgency will come from people in the area who are directly impacted. We have to bounce from meeting to meeting. It’s almost as though people are invading our neighborhood,” local resident Jitu Brown said of the frustration many have felt with the building process overseen by the Recovery School District.

Bids for the new school came in last July at 28 percent over budget. The RSD had originally budgeted $52,798,535 for the new Carver building, but due to an increase in construction in New Orleans since the original budgeting the costs of the new school stand at $67.3 million.

Morgan Ripski, Collegiate Academies’ president, says construction remain on track to begin this summer and to open in 2015. Similarly, Sci Academy construction will begin this summer and open in January of 2015.

No one from the RSD was available to comment on the delay in approval of the school plans.

Financially, board treasurer Doug Finegan announced the charter organization took a hit when the state announced a significant decrease in the amount of per-pupil funding this year.

Finegan said the per pupil amount for special education students came in especially low.

Because 19 percent of Collegiate Academies’ students require special education services, the drop hit hard. Regardless, the organization still expects a $250,000 surplus for this year.

All board members were present except Dana Henry and Salmon Shomade. The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and lasted an hour and a half.

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