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Scores mixed, attendance down at high school

Test results from two schools and a drop in second-quarter attendance at another prompted questions from ReNEW’s board during its Nov. 10 meeting.

ReNEW Executive Director Gary Robichaux presented Batiste Cultural Arts Academy’s and SciTech Academy’s intersession test results to the board. The two-week period is a break for most students, but the administration offers remedial classes for others. The students are tested at the end of the first week and again at the end of the session. This intersession, scores generally improved in English and language arts but dropped in math. The board asked Robichaux how the schools planned to use these results, but there was no specific plan of action other than further evaluation of the students and teachers.

Attendance at the Westbank campus of the Accelerated High School dropped from 92 percent in the first quarter to 74 percent in the second quarter. ReNEW’s Director of Human and Capitol Development Colleen Mackay brought up two possible contributing factors. She said 20 percent of their students at that campus have children, and the school does not offer on-site daycare, though they hope to next year. Additionally, she said some students have been picked up for truancy by police because classes begin half an hour later than most RSD schools. ReNEW will be issuing new school identification cards for students with school hours listed to try to address this problem.

The three elementary schools had attendance above 92 percent both quarters; the City Park high school campus dropped from 89 percent to 81 percent.

Robichaux said he would likely make staff cutbacks this year, the third year of the charters. He said those likely to lose their jobs are AmeriCorps-placed staffers and some of the higher-salaried deans and behavior specialists that were necessary for school turnarounds. In other finance news, the board learned that enrollment across ReNEW schools was about 150 students fewer than projected, and they have adjusted the budget accordingly. Finance committee Chairwoman Sandra Cahill expects the annual audit to be ready by Dec. 1, when the finance committee is scheduled to meet.

Board Secretary Brian Weimer introduced new software the board will be using to communicate internally called BoardOnTrack through The High Bar. The High Bar also offers BoardSavvy, which is described as “training institute, virtual coach and interactive charter school governance encyclopedia” by the manufacturers. The program offers online tutorials and access to information to help increase board members’ knowledge of the laws and procedures within charter school governance. (The programs can be seen here and

The board held a 10-minute executive session, which Weimer said was to address litigation.

After the executive session, the board authorized board President Carol Asher to negotiate attorney fees expected to be incurred for the pending litigation. Kathy Conklin was the only vote against the motion.

Board members present included Asher, Weimer, Cahill, Conklin, Mary Brown, Amy Knower, Derrick Rogers, Sharon Courtney and Greg Harris. Board members absent were Jim Dukes, Essense Harris, Martin Feibelman, Randy Roig, and Donald Herry.

The meeting began at 5:47 p.m. and adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

The next board meeting will be held Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Asher’s home.

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