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Bullying and transportation costs dominate charter board meeting

The Treme Charter School Association, the governing board of McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School, met Sept. 24. The meeting, in the school auditorium, began at 11:24 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.

Board members Bernard Robertson, Madonna Green, Roslyn Smith, Raymond Brown, Hester Cottles and Bherita Hall were present. Board members Tracie Washington and Carol McCree were absent. Joining them were CPA Sean Bruno, PTA President Liza Thomas, Principal of McDonogh 42 Gail Lazard and CEO Cynthia Williams.

The meeting began with President Roslyn Smith offering a brief discussion on bullying, especially as it relates to teachers bullying children. She said the school is doing a good job preventing this, but more training is always useful.

Then several action items were passed unanimously, including school reports and the monthly financial report for July (the one for August was not available at the meeting for either the board members or the audience) and the acceptance of several donations.

Also discussed was the school’s difficulty complying with the state mandate that it spend on instruction 70 percent of the funding it receives through the MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) – a challenge given the amount currently spent for transportation.

Currently, 68.9 percent is spent on instruction.

“We have children all the way from the West Bank,” Smith said. “I just want to acknowledge our transportation costs will be more than this law allows us to have.”

Smith also thanked everyone for their involvement in the recent Breakfast with Champions event. Supporters of the school were invited to the breakfast held at McDonogh 42. Smith’s thanks echoed letters of appreciation she had already sent out.

“You do not take that for granted,” said CEO Cynthia Williams. “And you do not see that everywhere.”

When reviewing the financial reports, Smith asked CPA Sean Bruno to look further into a possible discrepancy involving a Public Charter Schools Program grant that offers $200,000 for the first three years of operation. According to the internal audit, the school may owe $38,000 to the state, but Smith said this is a mistake in accounting as the school did not spend the allotted money, much less exceed it.

“The State has not asked us for this money,” Smith said, adding that she wants it checked for peace of mind and so the board ensures they are doing everything right.

Principal Gail Lazard offered the academic report, which included no expulsions and 60 in-school suspensions, during which the students still keep up with class work.

“We believe it’s helping,” Lazard said.

Finally PTA president Liza Thomas spoke about wanting more parental involvement and brainstorming on ways to do that. Ideas included spacing out events, offering transportation to parents and holding events at different times.

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