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Encore Academy budgets for 315 students but already has more

The Encore Academy Board passed the school’s 2013-2014 budget, and appointed three new members Tuesday evening.

The board unanimously approved a $2.9 budget that was largely unchanged from the spending plan that was presented during a public hearing earlier in July.

The budget plans for 315 students, as the school will add an additional kindergarten class, and has fourth and sixth grade classes for the first time.

School leader Terri Smith said the school is likely to have more students than the budget number when doors open on Aug. 5. Currently, the school has 321 students enrolled, but Smith expects that number to grow.

“I’m pretty certain that when the first day rolls around, we’ll have 330,” Smith said.

The larger number of students also required a staff increase. As of Tuesday, all of the school’s roughly 40 positions were filled, Smith said.

Smith also laid out a number of new academic approaches the school is taking in the coming year. Smith said the school will make a big push to focus on reading and writing for all grade levels. In grades 2-6, the students will be grouped based on performance level, Smith said.

Students in pre-K- 4th grade will be assessed every quarter in reading and mathematics. If students are deemed as needing academic intervention, they will be assessed monthly.

Additionally, the school will set aside 60 minutes each day for academic intervention for students who are falling behind, or enrichment for students who are achieving. Smith said the extra 60 minutes was achieved by trimming from other parts of the school schedule. The new time is partially due to a standard school day schedule that is 15 minutes longer than last year. Another 15 minutes was freed up when the lunch and recess block was cut from 60 minutes to 45 minutes, Smith said.

Students also will have a chance to get after-school help through a program called Communities in Schools. About 150 students participated in the program last year, and Smith expects roughly the same number this year. The students who are falling behind will be especially encouraged to spend a little extra time at school every day.

“We will be nudging those families especially to have their kids participate,” Smith said.

The board also appointed three new members. Charmaine Robinson, Demetrix Tolliver and John Suarez all joined the board.

Board members also debated setting up a facilities committee when the board looks into new spaces for the school. That process is expected to intensify over the next year as the school looks to move out of its current space at Crocker College Prep.

Ultimately, no decision was made because the board did not reach consensus on whether the committee should have a specific facilities committee, or a standing committee for all special projects.

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