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September board meeting reviews enrollment, field trips; loan deferral rejected

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that the BESE Candidate Forum was co-sponsored by the Charter Board Council, of which ReNEW is a member. A previous version stated that the event was sponsored solely by ReNEW.

The ReNEW Charter Schools Board of Directors met Sept. 8 with no members of the public present except for a reporter from The Lens.

The meeting began with CEO Gary Robichaux’s report.

The ReNEW school district comprises five schools: Reed Elementary, Batiste Cultural Arts, SciTech Academy, and two Accelerated Schools, one on the West Bank Campus and one at a City Park Campus.

For the 2011-2012 school year ReNEW has added two high school campuses that accept over-age students in grades 6-11. Those campuses end class at 1:30 each afternoon to make it easier for students to hold jobs.

Robichaux reported that enrollment was good across the five schools, with only a few sections having been dropped so far this year.  For example, enrollment only allowed for two sections of third grade at Batiste Cultural Arts while the school had hoped to fill three. In addition, a few teachers resigned and one teacher was asked to leave the district.

Chief Academic Officer Tammy Robichaux then presented the Pupil Progression Plan. Required of all schools, it outlines policies regarding placement, attendance, grades, promotion, retention, and more. The plan was approved by the board.  Parents and students can find copies of the document at the five campuses and the plan will also be made available online.

The board recently approved a Development Committee which is in charge of planning end-of-the-year student field trips. The trips take sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students out of state, and will include one or more college tours.  Third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders will spend one night away. The youngest grades will take a day trip.  The board hopes to raise $50,000 to fund the trips.

On Oct. 5, ReNEW The Charter Board Council, of which ReNEW is a member, is co-hosting a forum at Dillard University for candidates seeking election to Districts 1 and 2 of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The ReNEW board urged teachers to encourage students and parents to attend.

Note: The paragraph has been changed to reflect that ReNEW alone did not host the event. 

ReNEW asked to defer payment on a $300,000 loan, but the request was denied.  ReNEW paid off $100,000 of the Building Hope Loan and must pay the remaining $200,000 by February. The board approved a promissory note to pay $50,000 per month.

The report by the financial committee indicated that over-budgeting in areas such as supplies and advertising are routine at the beginning of the year. Capital expenditures have included $120,000 to redo the walls at SciTech.

Board votes included approval of August’s meeting minutes, the Pupil Progression Plan, the promissory note for repayment of the Building Hope Loan, and the appointment of Barbara Schuler as point person for implementing a “Safe and Drug-Free School” grant from the Recovery School District.The meeting ended with the board going into executive session to discuss litigation concerning a former employee. Executive sessions are closed to the public.

The next board meeting is Oct. 13.

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