Martin Behrman Charter School Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences
Governed by Algiers Charter Schools Association
Algiers Charter Schools Association staff went on 19 trips over four years, including five out of state that cost $113,000. And new figures from KIPP New Orleans Schools show that it spent $133,000 on its trip to Las Vegas. All told, The Lens has added up $316,000 in travel for three charter organizations.
Charter boards overseeing 17 schools must decide by the end of the year if they want to move from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board. But there are still reasons for schools to stay put, such as funding issues and concerns about the management and leadership of the local school system.
It will cost $30 million to bring students to and from public schools this year, compared to $18 million the year before Katrina. The increase appears to be a consequence of citywide enrollment and the shift from a centrally-run school system. A few schools are working together to negotiate busing contracts.
Some students who have to travel across town, or across the river, must be at their stop before 6 a.m. Martin Berhman, located on the West Bank, starts picking up kids in eastern New Orleans at 5:42 a.m. Parents say they're willing to deal with early mornings in order to send their kids to better schools.
The Algiers Charter Schools Association voted 5-2 Thursday night to keep three schools under Recovery School District jurisdiction, despite months of pleas from many in those school communities to let them go. Improved student test scores at O. Perry Walker High School, Martin Berhman Elementary and Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary made the schools eligible return to Orleans Parish School Board oversight rather than being part of the Recovery School District.
The Algiers Charter Schools Association board is poised to vote tomorrow on whether or not to recommend three schools return to Orleans Parish School Board control. Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy, Martin Behrman Elementary School and O. Perry Walker Senior High School are each eligible to leave the Recovery School District due to their students’ improved performance on the state’s standardized tests.
From left, Martin Behrman, Arthur Ashe and KIPP Believe are three campuses that are likely to be eligible to return to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board, above. Photo by Jessica Williams
Several more independent charter school leaders soon will find themselves facing a question that several others, including Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s principal, have been grappling with for more than a year: Should we move back under the wing of the Orleans Parish School Board?
Algiers Charter Schools Association interim CEO Adrian Morgan presented a plan for improved communication, collaboration, and coordination at the association’s board meeting Thursday night at Algiers Technology Academy. Morgan, who has been on the job for only 14 days, pointed to meetings with community groups, parents, and staff as a key to overcoming the strained relationships the charter organization has faced in recent months.
Despite $5.7 million less in federal funding, the Algiers Charter School Association forecasts a budget surplus for the 2012-13 school year, in contrast to its $1.3 million budget deficit in 2011-12. Most of the decline in federal revenues stems from diminished Title 1 funding and an expired Teacher Incentive Grant.
As the Algiers Charter School Association board met behind closed doors Thursday night, a crowd of parents, teachers, and students gathered to protest controversial staffing changes. Some in the crowd at the school association’s central office were protesting the fate of O. Perry Walker principal Mary Laurie, who faces transfer to the failing Algiers Technical Academy.
More than 300 members of the Algiers community gathered at the McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter School to speak out against recent firings and the transfer of successful principals to failing schools within the charter organization. A call and response chant of “Raza must go” and “erase the board” came following the end of an unofficial public comment section and disrupted the regularly scheduled Algiers Charter School Association board meeting Thursday, June 28.
The first round of cuts has surfaced from the Algiers Charter School Association’s bid to improve student performance by terminating and moving around principals, and so far, it’s not only principals who’ve been targeted. At least one termination, at Edna Karr High School, is in violation of the Orleans Parish School Board’s contract with the charter school group, School Board officials say.
Algiers Charter Schools Association’s board has approved Stuart Gay, the association’s chief financial officer, to serve as interim chief executive officer of the charter management organization, succeeding Andrea Thomas-Reynolds who did not seek to renew her contract. The board’s action, at its May 23 monthly meeting, was greeted with applause from the audience.
Trustees of the Algiers Charter School Association have approved the Hartman Group as provider of the optional 403(b) retirement program for school employees. The approval, at the board’s monthly meeting, April 26, followed a state attorney general’s opinion earlier in the week that the Louisiana Constitution precludes charter schools from leaving the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana.
The Algiers Charter School Association board met March 22 to discuss a new formula for capping the administrative fee it retains from state funds awarded to the schools it manages. Under the previous formula, the association’s central office could retain up to 8.65 percent of a school’s Minimum Foundation Program allocation (the per-student amount allotted by the state) plus the school’s “special revenues,” such as teacher incentive funds and the like.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that board president Cassandra Bookman did not say the quote previously attributed to her. It has also been amended and corrected to reflect key points about teachers retirement benefits.
The Algiers Charter School Association met Tuesday night with a crowd of about 100 parents, teachers, and community members to discuss the transition to new management of both Alice M. Harte Elementary and Edna Karr High School.
Just outside the gates of the navy base that was formerly a pillar of the Algiers neighborhood, teachers wonder what their future might be in a rapidly changing school system. The Algiers Charter School Association, which now runs eight schools in the community, is looking to cut 30 positions to keep a balanced budget and could end participation in the state retirement system, starting next fall.