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New Beginnings charter board changes tune on public input during meetings

Less than a month after slighting public comment in a packed board meeting, the New Beginnings Schools Foundation publicly addressed the state’s open meetings law at its meeting Tuesday.

“Is there any public comment?” board chairman Tim Ryan said as he opened the meeting.

If this had been June 6, that would have been the only time the public was asked to participate. But Tuesday was different, as Ryan explicitly addressed state law.

Ryan read verbatim the portion of the open meetings law related to public comment. He said the board would allow public comment prior to any action item, something they failed to do June 6.

From now on, Ryan said, meeting agendas also would include information for the public on how and when to properly comment.

The board approved the network’s multi-million-dollar budget. The Lens analyzed the schools’ budgets prior to the network’s budget hearing last week. The 2013-2014 operating budgets range from $3.8 million at Gentilly Terrace to $5.5 million at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School. Pierre Capdau has an operating budget of $3.9 million while Medard Nelson will run on $4.5 million.

While discussing the budget, member Jade Russell turned to the principals in the room and asked them what they would do with extra money.

Chad Broussard, principal at the high school, said he would add two or three interventionists to his staff to work with students who were behind.

“I’m curious, I guess, as to why we can’t entertain trying to get there,” Russell said.

“Well we are,” said Ryan, “we just need the money.”

After a short discussion the board unanimously approved the operating budgets.

Ryan also introduced the 2013-2014 board meeting schedule. New Beginnings will return to monthly meetings after having met every other month for the last two years.

Ryan said the board wanted to make it easier for staff and parents to attend meetings, so they will rotate between schools.

CEO Sametta Brown also gave staffing updates. Brown was in the midst of finding two principals when network officials learned one-third of school staff would not be returning in the fall.

Brown hired Edward Brown (no relation) to lead Gentilly Terrace and Desmond Moore as principal of Pierre Capdau. Both schools lost 19 staff members at the end of the year, some to resignations and others who did not receive new contracts.

Brown said Gentilly Terrace is now fully staffed and Capdau has three vacancies. The high school has three vacancies and Nelson has two more positions to fill.

When asked about Director of Human Services Kimberly Hulbert, Brown said she would not be returning to the network.

“Her contract is not being renewed,” said Brown. Brown said the decision did not stem from the year’s high turnover but simply “organizational changes.”

The board’s human resources committee is scheduled to meet Friday.

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  • nickelndime

    What happened to the person (don’t recall her name) in charge of Special Education services in “The Network,” the one who wanted her professional performance/evaluation discussed publicly? The one who was removed from the agenda so Ryan, et al., could regroup themselves. That’s another story, I guess.