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ReNEW looks for changes in scoring for alternative schools

ReNEW Schools showed double-digit growth in three of its schools’ performance scores for 2012-2013. Meanwhile, the alternative ReNEW Accelerated High School’s two campuses had F ratings with single-digit scores.

At ReNEW’s Thursday board meeting, school leader Vasy McCoy said seeing the latest performance scores is always hard. His school, like most alternative schools, inevitably receives very low scores when graded against the same standards as traditional schools.

Alternative schools like ReNEW Accelerated High School accept students who have fallen behind and need to make up a lot of work in a short period of time. Because alternative schools are at a disadvantage from the start when it comes to graduation rates and testing performances, McCoy said the best an alternative school could hope for is still an F under the current grading system.

McCoy has been working with education leaders to rewrite how Louisiana should hold alternative schools accountable. He presented potential new standards to ReNEW board members, though he said they are far from complete.

Possible changes could include lowering End-of-Course performance cutoffs from “good” to “fair.” Only a “fair” score is necessary for a student to graduate.

Other possibilities are to allow alternative schools to select two of their own accountability standards and to customize them to fit each school’s mission.

Chief Executive Officer Gary Robichaux reported performance scores and revised projections for ReNEW’s other four schools: ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy, ReNEW SciTech Academy, ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Elementary and ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary.

Schaumburg is in its first year as a turnaround school, and in its first year with ReNEW, so it has a T rating. Dolores T. Aaron Elementary is also still a turnaround school.

The Cultural Arts Academy earned a D. SciTech Academy earned a C with 75.0 points, which was five points higher than projected by Robichaux at ReNEW’s September board meeting. The other projections were within one point of the actual scores.

Chief Financial Officer Tanya Bryant presented a new projected budget for the first quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year. It included $250,000 of new revenue from Medicaid reimbursements, which Bryant said had not originally been anticipated for this year. ReNEW earned $200,000 from Medicaid last fiscal year, and expects that to rise to $250,000 this fiscal year due to the addition of Schaumburg Elementary.

The projections also showed a $350,000 increase in transportation costs. This now includes the cost for busing students during schedule breaks when some students still have to go to school if they have work to catch up on.

Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, board members entered a 30-minute executive session to discuss pending litigation regarding a civil case, Deborah Patterson et al vs. ReNEW Charter Management Organization et al.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 3649 Laurel St.

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