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Auditors laud school but urge larger reserve; parent input sought on building plans

A clean audit was the highlight of the board of director’s monthly meeting, Jan. 19.

The LaPorte auditing group identified no deficiencies in with the financial reporting and went on to praise the Morris Jeff Community School for “two consecutive years of positive income” with assets exceeding liabilities.

While LaPorte affirmed that the school is “off to a good start” financially, the auditing group urged the school to beef up its slim operating reserve to at least $450,000, roughly the cost of operating the school for three to four months.

Melissa Jagers, of the board’s finance committee, stressed the need for the school to focus on fundraising because it is currently falling short of its goal for the year. Jagers noted that the school incurred a $1,500 expense for an asbestos inspection of the building.

By Jan. 20 the school should receive RSD packets to inform parents about the system’s new application process, one that allows parents to apply to multiple schools on a single form in which they rank their preferences.

The board asked about nuances of the new system, but at the end of the discussion Principal Patricia Perkins said she “feels good” about the new system and the RSD’s transparency in enacting it.  The application process ends March 31, and placement letters go out the first week of May. The school will take in applications, but the RSD will decide where to place students.

Absences are down from 9% last academic year to 5.9% as of December 2011.  The school is striving to get below 5% in the near future, Perkins said. She noted that 16 students have left since the start of the school year.

The school will host a meeting on Feb. 29, the first in a series to engage parents and other stakeholders in planning for a new school building.

Perkins announced that that the Verges Rome architecture group has been hired to design the building, which is not likely to be finished until 2014. Perkins said she hopes to keep the school in its current location next year.

In addition to Jagers and Perkins, board chair Aesha Rasheed was joined by board members Belinda Cambre, Jolene Jeff, Jennifer Weishaupt, and four members of the public.  Board members Wanda Guillaume and Adrienne Shulman were not present.

The 90-minute meeting adjourned at 7:26.  The next board meeting is Feb. 15 at 6 p.m.

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