The Success Preparatory Academy board of directors met Tuesday as the school prepared to open its doors to students for the 2013-14 school year.
Classes began today, marking the first year that the school has a single leader in charge. Niloy Gangopadhyay became the school leader in May, following the departure of school co-founder St. Claire Adriaan, who moved to Texas at the end of last school year.
On Tuesday, Gangopadhyay told the board that final preparations were being made for the school year. All of the school’s 62 staff positions are filled, except for the operations manager position.
Gangopadhyay said the school is “punting” for now on hiring a new operations manager after interviewing seven candidates. Since none of the candidates was a “strong fit,” current Operations Manager Kathryn Coneybear will stay on until the search continues after the beginning of the school year.
Overall, the staff will see a lot of new faces, as 22 of the 62 staff members are new this year, including five new positions in the school’s Middle Academy.
“We were still hiring right before we started,” Gangopadhyay said of the period before staff development began in July.
With new positions also come two newly created positions. The Elementary and Middle Academies will each have a culture developer, which is designed to deal with the school’s high suspension rates over the 2012-13 school year. They will work with the school’s two interventionists to zero in on the needs of the 10 percent of students who need the most behavioral help, Gangopadhyay said.
In terms of student faces, the number of returning students remains a moving target. In May, data showed 92 percent of students who were eligible to return to the school would return. By Oct. 1, however, Gangopadhyay predicts the retention rate will around 75 percent.
“That’s close to 100 kids that will not be here for whatever reason,” he said.
The prime reason students relocate is families moving away. But relocating to be with siblings and going to other schools with 7th grade sports like McDonogh No. 35 are other reasons, Gangopadhyay said.
Still, he said, “We’re losing very few kids to other schools in the city.”
The board has yet to pass a budget for the 2013-14 school year, but is planning to hold a budget hearing and meeting to pass the spending plan before the deadline in September, but no firm dates were set at the meeting. The board’s next meeting is Sept. 5.