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ACSA enrollment jump brings millions, but deficit remains; charters extended

One hundred and seventeen additional students enrolled at Algiers Charter Schools Association campuses this year, leading to a budget revision and an additional $2.1 million in revenues based on the state’s per-pupil funding formula.

But additional students mean extra costs. That leaves an anticipated net revenue gain of  $858,000 — not enough to offset a $3 million deficit.

During Thursday night’s board meeting several committees reported on plans to update the schools’ technology in preparation for curriculum adjustments aligned with more rigorous Common Core standards. The board approved two contracts totaling $224,000 for technology at McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter School and the school support center.

Chief financial officer Charlie Mackles said he expects to recover 90 percent of those costs through federal E-Rate reimbursements, though processing was stalled when Congress shut down the federal government during last fall’s budget squabble.

Facilities committee chair John Edwards reported that electrical and bandwidth issues at all schools will be addressed.

Board member D’Juan Hernandez reported progress in the effort to rebuild Martin Behrman Charter School Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences on an Opelousas Avenue lot that falls under an environmental covenant limiting construction for many years. Hernandez said the cost of removing the covenant ranges from $50,000 to $100,000, but the railroad company that previously owned the land, the Recovery School District, and the current owner are working toward an agreement that will let construction proceed. He also noted that ACSA has spoken with state Rep. Walt Leger about amending legislation to extend a June deadline on the project.

CEO Adrian Morgan said the charter management group has received its first round of charter renewals from the state. That assures ACSA at least another five years running William J. Fischer Accelerated Academy and McDonogh 32 and another 10 years with L.B. Landry/O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School.

Algiers Technology Academy teacher Sandradee Gray asked how the board planned to heat her school during an anticipated bout of frigid weather. Tess Bradford, the chief operations officer, said the problem was being addressed and that the furnace would be checked before students arrived. She described the system as “not adequate” for the building.

Edwards said the facilities committee would take immediate action to ensure the furnace issue was addressed.

Board members Hernandez, Edwards, Joseph Hugg, Colin Brooks, and James Henderson attended the meeting held in the Algiers Technology Academy auditorium.

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