The Friends of King Schools charter board considered a motion at its meeting Tuesday to move a fund surplus at Dr. King Charter to cover a deficit at Joseph A. Craig Charter.
Members said the deficit at Craig related to startup costs and the state’s failure to classify a number of students as special needs when Friends of King took over Craig.
The measure would shift $705,000 of Dr. King Charter School’s $1,707,469 positive balance to Craig Charter’s $847,988 deficit. The transfer, in addition to an anticipated surplus of $350,000 by June 30, 2014 for Craig School, would leave both schools with positive balances by the end of the year.
Treasurer George Rabb proposed adding the item to the agenda, which the board approved. It later voted unanimously to adopt the motion.
Rabb said the deficit was expected, since the organization had to absorb the cost of re-opening Craig without startup capital. Earlier in the year, the board authorized using the board’s $300,000 line of credit to cover some of the deficit.
The board again stressed the need to recover funds spent educating special-needs student that members claim were not classified special needs when the Recovery School District handed over Joseph A. Craig to the organization last year. Member Gail Armant asked whether the organization was still pursuing those funds.
“I understand, ultimately, there were some issues with still getting the documentation from the state. It seemed like a Catch-22 for us,” responded board attorney Tracie Washington. Washington said she agreed with member Armant that they should pursue reimbursement. She said one possibility was continuing discussions with the Southern Poverty Law Center about a potential lawsuit.
“At the end of the day, this is money for these children to be educated, it’s not our money. So, at the end of the day, there was a right for them to receive an education with this money that they didn’t get.” Washington said.
Grants facilitator Elise Adams and grants/compliance officer Janice Watson updated the board on the progress of grant submissions and reimbursement for the organization.
President Hilda Young asked both to provide an outline at the next meeting, showing the status and amounts of all grants. Armant asked whether the document could also show spending in areas that grants will reimburse. Director of finance Shawne Favre responded that spending would be calculated in the quarterly financial report currently in progress.
Adams, also in charge of the school’s 21st Century Learning Center grant, a told the board there are currently 14 staff members involved in the program at Joseph A. Craig, and 17 at Dr. King Charter.
Young said she had heard complaints from some tutors, who asked why some were paid more than others for performing the same tutoring function. Adams explained that certified teachers were paid $25 an hour for tutoring, while non-certified paraprofessionals were paid only $15 per hour.
David Page, Dillard University’s vice president of enrollment management, spoke to the board briefly about establishing a partnership, and said he and other administrators were working hard to raise the school’s flagging enrollment numbers.
“I’m just glad how everyone understands how important the relationship is between Dillard and King school. We don’t have many historically black institutions in the city that we’re holding onto,” Washington said.
Also present at the meeting were Joe Long, Sandra Monroe, CEO and Principal Doris Hicks, Dr. King High School Principal Lindsay Moore, Joseph Craig Elementary Principal Ora Wiley and other King staff. Members Thelma Ruth, Cora Charles, and Kenya Rounds were absent.