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Board meets to discuss student retention, test scores, fundraising

The three biggest issues facing Success Prep Academy are student retention, maintaining a steady influx of donation dollars and improving student test scores, according to the Success Prep Board of Directors, which had its monthly meeting on Sept. 7.

With improved scores in mind, the board was briefed on a new curriculum that will help more students pass the LEAP test, a requirement for all Louisiana public school students before they are promoted to fifth or ninth grade.

“Previously in April, we were left with at least 32 to 40 lessons that were un-taught before the LEAP,” said St. Claire Adriaan, upper school principal. “Now it is revamped so that every lesson before April will be what’s supposed to be covered in the fourth-grade and fifthgrade year.”

The number of fifth-grade students who left the K-5 Bienville Street school was the most surprising issue. Many students who were scheduled to enter that grade transferred to middle schools – typically those attended by older siblings, Adriaan said.

“What was really sad to me was that some of those kids and teachers (gave their) sweat and tears over the summer to work to bring them to where they should be and they passed, and they left.”

Lower school principal Niloy Gangopadhyay said the school has 17 vacant seats in fifth grade and four in first grade. All other grades are full. The school has 377 students total.

The school sends letters to parents each spring encouraging them to keep their children enrolled year after year and  offers a $25 Wal-Mart gift card to current families who recruit new students. “It’s a real lesson for us at the end of the year — the sell we give to parents,” said Board Member Ben Blanchard.

On the financial front, board members said continuing contact with friends and families has yielded $19,000 in classroom sponsorships this year. Board members also solicited funds from their college alma maters. The Air Force is sponsoring the school’s library.

New ways to get donations include a meet-and-greet at the school and planned evening fundraisers.  Two board members were tasked with looking at dates for a school open house.

Board members are also looking at how to get more after-school tutors and volunteers, to increase student scores, and will look at possible partnerships with non-profit organizations.

In other business, the board has resubmitted a request for proposals for custodial, maintenance and grounds keeping services. One company that did not win the bid, Empire, sent a protest letter complaining about the board’s paperwork, said Finance Director Kendall Wolfson 

“There was enough wiggle room to suggest that, ‘OK, let’s do it again,’” said board member Anderson Baker.

The cost section of the document was adjusted and the RFP republished. This is the first time the school has sought bids for such work, which is expected to cost around  $150,000.

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