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Sophie Wright board makes budget available for public viewing before final adoption

The Sophie B. Wright board held a short meeting Wednesday to discuss end-of-the-year updates as well as to announce preparations for their yearly budget, which available for public viewing.

The preliminary budget will be available until Tuesday, July 2 at Sophie B. Wright’s current location on Napoleon Avenue. After that, the public will still be able to view Sophie B. Wright’s budget at the school’s new, temporary location in the James Weldon Johnson Building in West Carrollton.

A public budget hearing will be held July 25 in addition to the board’s regularly scheduled July meeting. The school is looking to submit its final budget to the Department of Education by July 31.

Middle School Principal Tiranus Edwards, who led the meeting, provided a grants report regarding approval of an existing 21st Century Grant, which was extended to 2016, and the rejection of its School Improvement Grant. Edwards says that the school is submitting a public records request to see their score sheet and determine the reason why they didn’t receive that grant. Though Sophie B. Wright has never received an SIG in the past, Edwards said he was greatly surprised by the rejection.

“We have been very successful in receiving funding for grants in the past so we’re surprised by this rejection. We’ve never had this [SIG] one before but the process is the same so we’re curious to see why we didn’t get it just so we know so next time we know what to improve upon,” Edwards said.

Acting in Principal Sharon Clark’s stead, Edwards also delivered the principal’s report detailing the selective admission process as well as updates on the current summer programs, which includes LEAP retesting, end-of-course remediation and GED courses as well as programs for 7th graders and various high school subjects, which have been made available online. All physical courses are set to end on June 28, with online courses continuing on until July 5.

Edwards said that there would be a full update on summer courses at the next board meeting July 25.

This is Sophie B. Wright’s second year utilizing online courses. Past issues with online courses were remedied thanks to software updates. Where last year, students had identical courses if they were enrolled in the same subject and were able to easily look up answers, this year’s version provides individualized courses that differ from one student to the next, including on tests.

Edwards also expressed interest in getting Sophie B. Wright involved in the selective admission process. The subject of mandatory participation in OneApps was heavily debated. Board members and administration alike agreed that there was a major lack of communication regarding student enrollment from parents who may have filled out multiple OneApps or private applications.

The board vowed to look further into the selective admission process as well as reach out to RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard regarding ways to improve the OneApp process so that an accurate student count would be available and students who were interested in attending Sophie B. Wright weren’t shut out by other students who may have decided upon attending a different school at the last minute.

High School Dean of Students Kevin Hunt provided an athletic program update, which touched on the board’s course of action regarding a previous majorettes uniform issue which was brought to the board last meeting by Juana J. Darby. The board stated that it had taken Darby’s concerns into consideration and sent her a letter with a check reimbursing a portion of the uniform costs. According to Board President James Watson, the full cost of the uniform was $162 and Darby received $52 from the board.

Dean of Students Lawrence Vinnett provided relocation updates shortly before the meeting was adjourned. So far, all textbooks have been moved to the new location as well as items from the first and third floors of the current building. All non-necessity items are being moved into a storage facility on Tchoupitoulas Street. Moving will continue until July 2.

The meeting lasted nearly 40 minutes and was attended by all board members and staff except for Charter Director Sharon Clark, who was absent due to illness.

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