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Funding cutoffs bedevil FirstLine budgeting; parking is a concern at new campus

The expiration of some funding streams is presenting a budget challenge, finance committee chairman Stephen Rosenthal told fellow directors of FirstLine Schools at their monthly board meeting, April 23.

“We’ve had a good bit of non-continuing revenue fall off this year,” Rosenthal said, calling it a “cliff year.” Money that had been available through the High-Performance Schools Initiative is one of several funding sources that have dried up, Rosenthal said. Budgets are being “re-worked” before they are presented to the board, he said.

In other business, facilities committee chair Kim Henry spoke with concern about the lack of parking at the former Phillis Wheatley Elementary campus that FirstLine’s John Dibert Community School is taking over for the coming school year. “As the situation stands, faculty would be parking far away and walking,” Henry said. “We are currently looking at safety options for faculty and visitors.”

Cathy Pierson, chair of the development committee, updated board members on FirstLine’s fundraising efforts. She announced a $2,000 grant from the Rosenberg Foundation and $100,000 raised at this year’s Edible Evening, the annual fundraiser at Samuel J. Green Charter School to raise money for the network’s Edible Schoolyard program.

An overview of Green Charter was provided by Ava Lee, the school director, accompanied by middle-school principal Andrew Sullivan and lower-school assistant principal Kamisha Gray. Gray will be promoted to lower-school principal for the 2014-15 school year, Lee said.

The school leaders discussed student and staff demographics, the consistent growth that Green has seen since establishing itself as a charter school in 2006, as well as achievements and goals ahead.

Green currently has a C performance score and an enrollment of 504 students. Ninety-four percent of them receive free or reduced-price lunches, a marker for economic need. Twenty-two percent are special-needs students — up from 15 percent in 2011, a growth trend Lee expects to continue.

The school formed a marching band this year, hired a band director and worked with the Tipitina’s Foundation to procure instruments.

Those making the presentation said Green staff pride themselves on running a school that prepares students for the future. They reported that all this year’s eighth-graders will attend college preparatory high schools, and three have been accepted by Benjamin Franklin High School.

Board members in attendance: Lawrence Kullman, Stephen Rosenthal, George Freeman, Kim Henry, Catherine Pierson, Monique Cola and Derius Harrell.

Absent: Christian Rhodes, Alison Hartman, Greg St. Etienne, Brian Egana.

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