The Success Preparatory Academy Board of Directors seeks a waiver so it won’t have to pay the state $60,000 for supplemental education services. Instead, the school wants to do the work in-house.

Applying for a waiver is a new option for charter schools under the state’s Red Tape Reduction Act, and Success Prep has applied, Financial Director Kendall Wolfson told the Nov. 3 board meeting.

According to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) website, a waiver application must demonstrate how saving the money will increase the quality of instruction and improve student performance.

The decision from the state will be made in late December, and Wolfson is waiting until then to submit the school’s budget.

In other business, board members heard a glowing review of the school’s audit.

“The audit is clean,”  said Don Wheat of the firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram: “No compliance issues and a healthy balance sheet.” The school has 96 days of cash on hand, Wheat said. Wolfson said an unexpected expense not anticipated in the financial report submitted to auditors is the $16,000 the school will be paying a paraprofessional to help a visually impaired student who recently enrolled. For the November report of the board’s finance committee, click here.

Academic news focused on low reading-comprehension scores.

“The key concern is that a significant percentage of students are still falling below assessment (goals) in reading,” said Academic Director Tom McPherson.

Intervention strategies are being implemented, including smaller, homogeneous reading groups and coaching on reading test tactics, McPherson said: learning to break up a long passage into smaller parts, skimming for key words and the like.

By contrast with some of the older students, kindergarteners are scoring high on their reading tests, McPherson was pleased to point out.

A new “response intervention” system is going to help students who need extra help in any subject, Niloy Gangopadhyay, he school principal announced. The system helps track performance and spot students who are at risk of failure or need to be moved into special  education. For Gangopadhyay’s report, click here. For the report from St. Claire Adriaan, the upper school leader, click here.

Board members said they were pleased with the academic progress but requested that future reports be made easier to read, with acronyms spelled out and end-of-year goals included alongside current student test scores.

The school is cracking down on truancy and unauthorized absences, board members were told. Gangopadhyay said letters will be sent to the parents of chronic offenders — including those who repeatedly arrive late or get picked up early. If necessary, students will be sent to a truancy officer with the Recovery School District. Attendance rates factor into the overall letter grade the state assigns each school.

Donations continue to roll in, including a recent check for $15,000 from New Orleans Cold Storage, Wolfson said. For a report from the board’s development committee, click here.

The next board meeting is Dec. 12.