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Bypassing Treme church, Lagniappe Academies gets a new home on Orleans

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After months of talks about possibly moving into the former site of St. Rose de Lima church in Treme, school administrators announced at the Thursday board meeting that they will instead move to 4217 Orleans Ave., the current site of John Dilbert Community School.

The Recovery School District and Orleans Parish School Board provided the building, which will be available as soon as Dibert leaves for a new building, probably in June, board vice president Dan Henderson said.

Photo by Thomas Thoren

The Recovery School District has told Lagniappe that after two years at 4217 Orleans it will have the opportunity to move to a new building in New Orleans East. Henderson said he is not happy with that option or the timing; he said he wants the school to stay in Treme.

“While the team is not thrilled because we’re not getting a brand new building while most other schools have gotten new buildings, we’re getting a building,” Henderson said.

Before the move, Lagniappe still needs to sell its modular classrooms in order to recoup the  investment.

Chief Financial Officer Ninh Tran said he has begun reaching out to nonprofits and other charter schools, including FirstLine, the charter management group that runs Dibert, to gauge interest in buying the buildings. He also has spoken with the company that sold Lagniappe the modular buildings for assistance with marketing and price-setting.

Lagniappe’s new building is big enough for an enrollment of about 205 students, from kindergarten through fourth grade, with two classrooms per grade, Chief Executive Officer Kendall Petri said. The building includes a kitchen, playground and easy access to City Park for recreation.

Donald Wheat of Carr, Riggs and Ingram presented his firm’s annual audit of the school.

“In our opinion, the combined financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Lagniappe Academies of New Orleans as of June 30, 2013 and 2012,” the report said.

The favorable audit faulted the school in one respect, pointing out that cash flow reconciliations were not always timely. By not promptly reviewing recently written checks, the school’s reported cash flow might sometimes be off-base, the report noted.

“Preparation of monthly combined statements of position and activities and budget to actual reports that are presented to the Board did not depict Lagniappe’s financial position accurately,” the report said.

Chief Financial Officer Ninh Tran said the problem was associated with a Student Activity Fund balance that had been assigned a new bank account but didn’t activate it immediately. He said outdated accounting software was part of the problem and has been replaced.

“We will be more diligent in completing bank reconciliations in a timely manner, moving forward,” he wrote in the report.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 1501 St. Louis St.

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