Parents once again made their voices heard at the monthly meeting of the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy charter school board, Jan. 27.  This time they came to offer their help.

“First, I would like to say that I am satisfied with the school,” said parent Nicole Coleman.  “I struggled with my daughter to find a school that would challenge her.”  But she added that she would like to see more ways parents could participate in the school’s mission, such as a PTA and other community activities. She handed the board a list of suggestions, criticisms, and observations.

Grandparent Gail Encalade echoed Coleman’s sentiment: “… If you have a strong parent body that’s behind the school, it makes a big difference.  Many of us have educational backgrounds, and we know what it’s about.”

The Board welcomed such comments. “As we make these improvements here, we’re going to grow and learn,” Col. Terry Ebbert, the board’s president,  responded,. “I really appreciate you coming, and your comments.  We will reach out to you to take some of that assistance.”

Col. Bill Davis, the school commandant, gave his budgetary report. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in a far better place than we were before,” he began.  “We’ve pretty much closed the gap that we thought we had at the beginning of this year.  That’s the result of numerous grants we’ve received.”

Several board members congratulated Davis, crediting him with the financial improvements. “Evenings and weekends are over-rated,” he quipped in response.

The school received grants from Rex’s Pro Bono Publico organization, the Libby Dufour Fund, and the Selley Foundation, for band equipment and robotics. The Walton Foundation donated $50,000.

The upcoming Feb. 28 board meeting will review the budget.  A public hearing for community input on the budget will be scheduled soon.

The school is also awaiting a $22,000 insurance settlement for stolen laptops. New Orleans has suffered numerous school break-ins in recent months, the board learned.

In other business, Davis reviewed efforts to write  new policy in response to a bus stop fight between a parent and a student that was discussed at last month’s meeting.  He said that, on review of Louisiana law and BESE policy, the school had little to work with in terms of pre-existing policy.

“We’re on our own, so we’ll write our own.” Davis said, and proceeded to detail actions the school would and could take under different scenarios involving conflict.

In addition to Ebbert, board members present included Maj. Blake LeMaire, Eades Hogue, Capt. Dave Whiddon, and Capt. Keith Amacker. Board members James Reiss, Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman, and Courtney Bagneris were absent.

The meeting began with an hour-long executive session, advising the Board on instances of misconduct that had occurred since Christmas.  Davis declined to comment on the nature of the incidents.