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New Beginnings network board adds a new member

The New Beginnings Charter School Network voted in a new board member Tuesday night.

Board member Mark Boucree suggested the board add Kathy Saloy, who’s worked as a Capital One branch manager. Boucree nominated Saloy after board Chairman Tim Ryan amended Tuesday’s agenda to approve such a motion.

“I think it would be a real asset to the board, considering we’re limited to financial capacity,” Boucree said.

Members agreed and voted to add Saloy to the board that very day.

But at least one board member raised some concerns about the voting process.

“I don’t want to vote on something I’m surprised at,”  board member Ramsey Green said. “I wasn’t ready for a new board member today.”

Other board members countered that they had actually been talking about adding new members since last November.

“Some of us have been on the board for a long time and it’s good to get new ideas,” Ryan said. “Having financial expertise is critical. It’s all about the money.”

Ryan added that the charter’s bylaws allowed for board members to just be voted in, without a more formalized process, but that was something that New Beginnings should probably look at amending for the future.

“For a lot of things we’ve been informal,” Ryan added.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ryan talked about other ways to improve the charter’s bylaws and make sure they’ve kept up with what the organization has actually done and practiced.

One thing that was very clear about the original bylaws, Ryan said, was participation from University of New Orleans. New Beginnings charter school Pierre Capdau Elementary was run by UNO starting in 2004, when the University became first entity in Louisiana to take over a failing school. The board was restructured to become the Capital One-New Beginnings Charter School Network in 2011.

While the board doesn’t currently have a UNO faculty member on it, Ryan added that both UNO’s president and the Dean of College of Education have expressed interest in joining the board.

“One of the things I think is crucial to our success is having the participation of UNO,” Ryan added. “This is very important news for the schools and the University.”

Another item added to Tuesday’s agenda concerned student transportation.

The board voted to change the contract the schools had with their transportation operator.

Before, the charter’s elementary schools and high school shared routes with five buses. To avoid having high school students and younger kids on the same buses, however, the bus driver would have to pick up and drop off the high school students before picking up and dropping off students from other schools.

All the kids would get off at Medard H. Nelson and “scramble” to get on their appropriate buses to go to other schools, according to Turner, which caused a lot of discipline problems.

To solve the problem, Lake Area New Tech Early College High School got its own bus service. The change in contract added $200,000 to the high school’s budget, Turner said.

“It ate up everything that the school was going to have extra,” Turner added.

Charter board members suggested that the board take another look at the routes and expenses after school started to see if the cost could be whittled down a bit.

Turner agreed.

“In a month we can revisit the routes to see if we can cut them down,” she said.

Aside from Ryan, Boucree, Green and Saloy, Sametta Brown, Paul Dauphine, April Bedford and Carol Starr were present. Board member Carla Major was present by telephone.

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