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$616,000 surplus predicted for First Line schools budget this year

FirstLine Schools’ newly drafted 2013-14 $34.6 million budget predicts a surplus of more than $616,000 — a much better outlook than the school’s leaders first projected.

An earlier draft of the budget indicated the five-school charter network would be facing a deficit of nearly $24,000.

But Stephen Rosenthal, chairman of FirstLine’s finance committee, told board members on June 18 that local per-pupil funding had increased $477 more than first thought due to a recalculation by the Orleans Parish School Board.

The budget includes funding from a three-year annual grant of $611,501 from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a federal program that supports expansion of after-school, weekend and summer programs to enhance learning opportunities in low-income neighborhoods.

Altman said 21st Century funding was formerly provided to outside organizations, instead of going directly to schools. FirstLine announced that it will absorb one such organization, New Orleans Outreach, into the network.

New Orleans Outreach is a nonprofit that connects volunteers with schools through after-school and extracurricular activities. Under the arrangement, Altman said, FirstLine will absorb New Orleans Outreach’s assets — about $150,000 — and liabilities into its budget.

“We want  to continue this type of programming,” Altman said. “Their executive director will become our 21st Century director.”

The board voted unanimously to accept these changes.

Facilities Committee Chairman Brian Egana said that the network will receive $200,000 from FEMA for the former site of New Orleans Charter Middle School, located at 3801 Monroe St.

According to Altman and Egana, this money will go to Arthur Ashe Charter School, which now holds the charter of the former school. The building on Monroe Street is scheduled for demolition in August.

FirstLine will hold a public budget hearing on Friday, July 19 at the board’s headquarters, located at 4200 Canal St., Suite B. The final budget is expected to be approved at the August board of directors meeting, exact date to be determined.

Schools governed by FirstLine include Arthur Ashe Charter School, John Dibert Community School, Samuel J. Green Charter School, Langston Hughes Academy and Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School.

Board members in attendance were Christian Rhodes, Kim Henry, George Freeman, Catherine Pierson, Alison Hartman, Gregory St. Etienne, Jay Altman, Stephen Rosenthal, Joseph Neary, Brian Egana, Monique Cola and Paul Pechon. Absent were board members Lawrence Kullman, Charleen Blache and Darleene Peters. Staff in attendance were Brett Hunt and Rebekah Cain.

 

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