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Grants sought until four-year enrollment eases budget crunch; influx of student transfers noted

Directors of the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy gathered briefly on Nov. 29 for a monthly meeting focused mainly on funding and the school’s growing appeal.

With a ninth-grade enrolled and plans afoot to add a grade a year until the academy is a four-year high school, NOMMA faces budget challenges. State and local funding, calculated on a per student basis, is much lower than it will be in 2014, when all four grades are in place and enrollment has expanded accordingly. So the board’s fundraising efforts have been directed at bridging the budget gap and finding technology grants to upgrade facilities.

Board members Col. Terry Ebbert, Maj. Blake LeMaire, Eades Hogue, Courtney Bagneris, James Reiss, Capt. Keith Amacker, Maj. Gen. Walter Paulson and Capt. Dave Whiddon were present.  Also present were Col. Bill Davis, the school’s commandant, and Carol McCall, a retired administrator of the Isidore Newman School who has been asked by board members to develop funding strategies for NOMMA.

Davis led the meeting with an explanation of bonds and grants the school is pursuing, among them Qualified School Construction Bonds to finance the new facility planned at Federal City on the Westbank, as well as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds for maintenance costs. Both bonds are issued through the state bonding authority.

Davis reported positive feedback from a series of open houses held by staff and students to publicize the school. “Word of mouth is getting out,” he said.  “It’s catching traction with others … people who want to excel in this type of educational environment.  The word of mouth is phenomenal.”

Without mentioning any other schools by name, Davis relayed comments from parents who have transferred their children to NOMMA from parochial schools. “It’s the leadership.  It’s the citizenship.  It’s the academics we’re pushing here,” he said.

Davis said the school placed an ad in The Beacon, a free publication on the Westbank.  “For $375, we’re getting a quarter-page ad that will run for the whole month,” he said.

The meeting ended with discussion of a possible interim facility for next year. Davis and Ebbert expressed concern that the current building at L. B. Landry in Gretna isn’t big enough for two grades.  Board members said they hoped to find temporary space at the Federal City site. “For psychological, security, and operational needs, it’s better for us to be over there,” Davis said.

The meeting, which began at 6 p.m. was adjourned at 6:42.

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