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Decision imminent on new management team for McDonogh City Park Academy

Directors of McDonogh City Park Academy expect to make a decision next week on which charter management organization will charge of the school next year.

Following informal talks with six charter management groups, New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation, the organization that governs McDonogh City Park, has narrowed the list to three candidates: ReNEW Schools, Crescent City Schools and Arise Schools. The selection will be discussed and finalized at the April 15 board meeting.

The goal is to expand the school and raise its academic performance level, board members said.

At the board’s February meeting, member Emily Waterfield stressed that the new team should fully embrace McDonogh City Park Academy’s vision, academic team and curriculum, while enhancing back office resources and professional development.

Board members expressed concern that the school not join forces with a new management organization only to find out it was a poor fit.

In other news from the February meeting, principal Christine Mitchell announced initiation of a rewards system to encourage positive behavior rather than merely discipline students who break rules. “Discipline is a huge piece of the school and we want to focus on the positive,” she said.

As part of the rewards system, some of a $19,000 student activities grant from the Recovery School District will be used for field trips, Mitchell said. In February students went roller skating and there are plans for students to go to a Zephyrs game.

Seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher Katrina Hertz was chosen to be a 2014 Nola Fellow through the Lindy Learning program.

The school’s audit shows that McDonogh ended the year with $781,178 in net assets, Keeanya Dupre, director of finance and operations, told the board.

The board approved a new technology plan for 2014-2017, though McDonogh City Park is already compliant with technology requirements and ready for students to take tests electronically. Teachers have new computers, so their old ones can be used by students to familiarize them with the technology, Mitchell said.

Fifth-graders have been learning computer skills in order to take the standardized ILEAP test on them this month.

At the end of the meeting the board voted to remain in the state pension plan, the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Some board members spoke in favor of alternative approaches to retirement funding but yielded to the argument that it was in the best interest of current faculty to stay with the state system.

Board members present at the February meeting were Plemer, Waterfield, Charbonnet, Hampton, Bagot, Parker, Nelson, Hughes, Mitchell and Herbert. Absent were Candal, Taylor and Louis.

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