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Einstein board says mold not an issue at Michoud building

Although school officials haven’t received a physical report yet, the Einstein Charter School’s board of directors says that the school’s new Michoud facility has satisfactorily passed a biological inspection aiming at mold.

Two of the new school’s buildings that were previously under question have passed the report, according to Shawn Toranto, Einstein’s CEO.

Einstein’s board met in late July to decide whether to accept the building at 5316 Michoud Blvd., which formerly housed Intercultural Charter School. Einstein is slated to take over ICS this year, but Einstein leaders were previously not satisfied with the condition of the building.

Toranto added that while other issues may arise after the report is received, the school leaders are now happy with the level of air quality.

“We’ll see a few little things here and a few little things there, considering the timeline we’re under,” Toranto said.

On Tuesday, as the board was meeting, the new facility was still being prepped to receive students for the 2013-14 school year.

One issue addressed at Tuesday’s board meeting involved damp wood in the cafeteria. The board meeting was actually held in the Michoud campus office rather than the cafeteria because workers were busy installing a new layer of tile on the floor.

Previously, the tile still had damp wood under it, according to Toranto – but she didn’t think the issue would turn into a mold problem.

“Wetness doesn’t always translate to mold,” Toranto said.

During the meeting, board members also discussed their new transportation arrangements. Einstein Charter School received a $1 million federal grant to take over Intercultural Charter School this year, in addition to an $800,000 grant in conjunction with New Schools for New Orleans.

The new school will be called Einstein Extension.

Half of the grant New Schools for New Orleans awarded Einstein was given for transportation. Einstein did not previously provide transportation for its students but the charter school support organization gave the school an additional grant to bus current Intercultural students who return to the school, a requirement of the federal grant.

Einstein’s information technology specialist Phong Tran said that the school would be employing six buses for a total of about $315,000.

The school also is working out the details for a special education bus to be equipped with camera and wheelchair accessibility, he added.

A financial statement presented by Business Office Manager Doug Guidry showed that the Einstein Charter School operating account balance is at about $1.1 million and it has $1 million in a savings account.

The MFP funds for the budget were based on a student count of 449 for the regular school and 447 for the extension, Guidry added.

Guidry also said that there were no negative findings from the school’s last audit.

Board President Ryan Bennett was present, as was Vice President Laurin Jacobsen and board members Lauren Pigeon, Kathy Litchfield, Charles Gasho and Donnica Conway.

The meeting lasted from 6 p.m. until approximately 6:40 p.m.

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  • nickelndime

    Mold may not be an issue, Della, but here are some other issues that require an explanation: (1) The current Operating Agreement between the OPSB and “Einstein” states that “transportation” (busing) will be provided. Why is no transportation provided at the Einstein campus at 5100 Cannes Street? (noncompliance issue that needs to be addressed); (2) “Einstein” is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit according to IRS guidelines. Why does the nonprofit have “$1 million in a savings account” (Business Office Manager Doug Guidry)? (3) “Einstein” has been named in a DOJ federal complaint by VAYLA. Why was the discussion by the Einstein Board of Trustees at the June board meeting about the pending request to inspect Einstein’s public records held in executive session under the pretense of discussing the CEO’s evaluation (violation of open meetings laws)?