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Court ruling on per-pupil state allocation boosts Hynes’ budget for the coming year

Officials from Hynes Charter School amended the school’s proposed 2013-14 budget by adding $140,400 to it.

The budget, which was approved in a board of directors meeting Monday, will increase from about $5.7 million to just over $5.8 million. The budget hearing was held directly before the board meeting.

The infusion of money stems from a state Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional the state’s 2012-13 per-student funding formula, according to a letter from the Orleans Parish School Board.

As a result, the per-student allocation rises to $4,188 under the state-funded Minimum Foundation Program, with another $4,196 due from local sources.

“Please adjust your revenue budget as such,” the letter read.

Although the letter was dated May 29, chief financial officer John Gaudry and principal Michelle Douglas said they got the news on Monday afternoon via email from the Orleans Parish School Board.

“We received a memo from OPSB at noon on 6/10/13 indicating that the MFP will change for next year and we need to use this new figure in our budget,” Douglas told The Lens.  “We were lucky, I guess, that our meeting was that same evening so that we could make the adjustment.”

The changes affected eight of the budget’s 22 line items.

The school added the money “where we thought we had a better need,” Gaudry said, adding: “We can always find a home for it.”

The biggest change was in proposed salary expenses, with $50,000 added to a line item of more than $3.1 million.

The changes were mostly due to a “state-mandated pay raise,” Gaudry said.

Another $20,000 was added to faculty benefits, Gaudry added, bringing the total above $1.2 million.

An additional $9,400 was allotted for repair and maintenance, bringing that line item up to $23,980 for expenses such as pest control, elevator maintenance, landscaping and maintenance of the fire and safety system.

Because the school will be occupying a new building with a one-year warranty on items such as the new elevator, repair and maintenance costs could only be estimated, Gaudry said.

“We looked at where we were spending money last year and what we thought was going to happen next year, and this is what we came up with,” Gaudry said.

Board secretary Timothy Ryan said that he thought the budgeted number was a little low for the long term.

“We’ll be okay for the next year, but sooner or later that number will have to be higher,” Ryan said.

A total of $23,000 was also added to a budget of $42,000 for new textbooks, and the budget for utilities was brought up by $20,192 to $258,192.

Gaudry said that budgeting for utilities was a bit of a guessing game, too, adding that his budgeted amount for next year was much lower than last year’s cost.

“Maybe it’s a cushion, but I’m not sure where we’re supposed to be,” Gaudry said.

In May, Douglas said the monthly bill had been as high as about $30,000 in the beginning of the year, but had steadily decreased in following months.

In January, The Lens reported that Hynes’ soaring energy bills prompted school officials to meet with city officials to seek relief.

Custodial services and local education agency services also saw boosts of $15,000 and $2,808, respectively.

The final budget will be submitted to the parish school board on June 15, according to an agenda passed out during the board meeting.

In other news from Hynes’ board of directors meeting:

  • Douglas said she was “overwhelmingly satisfied” with Hynes students’ performance on the LEAP and End of Course tests for Algebra I. The Algebra I test results showed that 62 percent of students scored “excellent,” 35 percent scored “good” and 3 percent were “fair.”
  • Hynes teachers will continue to employ seven school-wide teaching strategies next year. They include The Write Tools, a process for teaching narrative and expository writing; Olweus Bully Prevention Program; Kagan Strategies, a plan for student engagement and Success for All, a strategy for goal setting. Additionally, the school will continue to use Compass Evaluation Rubrics for teachers, Common Core Initiatives to shift curriculum and assessments given by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers.
  • A survey given by AdvancED, a school improvement framework, showed that parents were generally happy with Hynes. On a five-point scale, the highest score was 4.69 and the lowest score was 3.95. The statement that received a 4.69 response was: “Our school has high expectations for students in all classes.” The lowest scoring statement was: “All of my child’s teachers meet his/her learning needs by individualizing instruction.”
  • A staff survey given by AdvancED showed a response range from 3.46 to 4.63 on the five-point scale. The top response was to the following statement:  “Our school’s purpose statement is clearly focused on student success.” The lowest response was to the statement, “In our school, a formal process is in place to support new staff members in their professional practice.”

In addition to Douglas, Gaudry and Ryan, board members Barbara Richard, April Bedford, Cassandra Youmans, Darlene Morgan Brown and Helene Derbigny attended the board meeting. It began at 5 p.m., following the 4 p.m. budget hearing, and lasted until about 5:45.

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