Directors of Benjamin E. Mays Preparatory School were pleased with results of the school’s audit presented at their monthly meeting, Dec. 20.

Don Wheat of Carr, Riggs & Ingram, the school’s auditor, presented the audit results to the board. He said overall the findings were good, but the audit revealed a few deficiencies.  In one instance $69,548 was filed in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2011 but should have been filed in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2010.  This was easily corrected he said. In addition, two expenditures totaling $51 lacked sufficient documentation. In response, the school will now require all expenditures to be filed with itemized receipts.  Wheat also suggested the board review financial statements in depth on a monthly basis.

Wheat stressed the importance of keeping a cash reserve sufficient to fund school operations for 90 in the event pledges and reimbursements fall through or are delayed.  At the end of the last fiscal year the school had enough cash for about 60 days.

The board is waiting for word from the Recovery School District regarding their new campus. They anticipate moving into the Frantz Elementary building in January 2013.  A lease or shared services agreement has yet to be signed.

“It sounds like we are in the green for Pre-K,” said Principal Shandra Gentry after communication with RSD.  RSD’s Diverse Delivery program allows schools to operate Pre-K classes at no added cost by balancing funding from children with classified special-education needs.

In other school news Gentry said Hammond Transportation’s donation of $2,000 was used to buy coats, uniform shirts and pants for students. The items were distributed on Dec. 19.  The school has also received its donated Hornets tickets and begun distributing them. They are tabling discussion of how to transport students to games until the new year.

The school is also considering adding a parent literacy class. “I want us to be a neighborhood school again, we educate the whole child, and part of that child is the parent at home,” Gentry said, and the board agreed.

Board member Raashand Williams reported receiving an offer from Southern University at New Orleans to host and sponsor a spelling bee. Tentative plans were made to hold the event in February but details are still being decided.

Member Kristen Ponthier said the development plan will be presented for approval at the January board meeting.  She commended Gentry for answering all the questions the development committee presented in a sit-down session earlier in the month. The session worked up a school wish list, an “elevator speech” that quickly describes unique aspects of the school, and a compendium of useful facts about the school.

Member Morgan Williams announced that he must leave the board because of a new job that will require a lot of travel.  He will continue to participate by helping to finalize the governance process.  The governance process aims to identify the board’s needs, to meet with prospective members, vet their qualifications and introduce successful candidates to the school and the board. This is especially pertinent as the board will now be looking for two members.

The meeting was called to order at 5:52 p.m. and adjourned at 7:26 p.m.  Members Sidney James, Jenny Hunter, Damon Burns, Raashand Hamilton, Kristen Ponthier, Todd James and Morgan Williams were present.  Don Wheat of Carr, Riggs & Ingram was present as well as Principal Shanda Gentry and Finance Director Brent Washington.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...