ReNEW Schools board of directors listened intently as staff presented the charter school network’s 2013-2014 budget at a public hearing Thursday night, but no members of the public were on hand to comment.
ReNEW’s Financial Controller Tanya Bryant detailed the projected $33 million budget to board members at the meeting, The Lens spoke with Bryant last week week regarding changes in the budget. The most notable difference being the network’s 22 percent increase in revenue as it expands its portfolio by taking over its fifth school, Schaumburg Elementary.
Members asked why the proposed budgets varied at each school. Bryant explained CEO Gary Robichaux gives school leaders some flexibility in budgeting. They questioned the student population, including special education students, which Bryant said she would add to the final budget. And they wondered about the notoriously expensive transportation line item, which the network will save some money on this year by staggering school start times and sharing busing service between the schools.
Bryant explained the network’s new program, ReNEW Care, an on-site before and after school care the network will offer at all four elementary schools next year. Bryant said it’s especially important as start and end times will change at some of the network’s schools.
“We felt the need to better serve our working parents,” said Bryant.
The childcare costs $35 per child per week, and Bryant said parents who qualify can apply for state child care assistance. Board members seemed pleased with the plan.
In other financial updates ReNEW President Kevin Guitterrez said the network has been working with a consultant to resolve Erate funding. ReNEW budgeted $755,000 in Erate funding this year, a federal rebate program that helps with telecommunication costs. However, the network has only received $1,800 of that as of March 31, as they await the results of a cost-effective review initiated by the program.
The board will vote to approve the 2013-2014 budget at its June meeting. Robichaux said he’ll have state testing results to present then.
The board ended the meeting with an executive session to discuss pending litigation resulting from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim.
Members Mary Brown, Sharon Courtney, Kathy Conklin, Greggory Harris, Randy Roig, Brian Weimer, Liza Sherman, Sandra Cahill and Carol Asher were present.