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Enrollment reality requires amended budget; cuts hit school supplies, data manager post

With an enrollment 26 fewer students than expected, the board of Success Preparatory Academy has had to approve a budget amended to reflect cuts to several departments.

The original budget was based on 403 students enrolled in the school, Daniel O’Connell, director of finance, told the board at its Feb. 9 meeting. But there were 377 students enrolled by Oct. 1.

Fewer students means less revenue from the state.

Kathryn Broussard, a member of the board’s finance committee estimated the shortfall at $75,000 to $125,000. “That’s pretty significant,” she said.

The majority of the cuts will be made in purchasing materials, textbooks and supplies; a data-manager position has been  eliminated.

Smaller cuts, spread among many departments, include eliminating an online literacy assessment for upper school students.

“This illustrates how important it is, especially with the new enrollment system, that we’re on top of enrollment and are being really accurate with the numbers that we’re using to create our budget,” O’Connell said.

The amended budget passed unanimously.

O’Connell said that by law, if a school’s budget is five percent lower than expected, the board must make a formal amendment. Notice of the meeting was placed in the newspaper, but there were no public comments about it.

O’Connell said he anticipates an increase in revenue with the enrollment of five more students since October and with additional grants and savings in other areas.

Any savings will be used to buy  materials and supplies, textbooks and periodicals for next year, O’Connell said.

On student achievement, fourth- and fifth-grade students have shown improvement in English and language arts, the board was told. But second-grade student reading data seem to have reached a plateau; students at grade level are not moving up, lower school principal Niloy Gangopadhyay said.

Academic interventionists are coming to help 16 second- and third-grade students who are behind.

School administrators are pushing parents to re-enroll their children at Success Prep next year, especially for the school’s sixth grade, which will add its first class.

An advertising campaign to get more students to enroll is in place, Gangopadhyay said.

On the staffing front, Success Prep teacher bonuses will be paid out at the end of the year based on teacher attendance, evaluations and student achievement. Teachers can earn up to $1,750 for hitting all the benchmarks, Gangopadhyay said.

Success Prep will hire three new teachers next year, Gangopadhyay said; job postings will be up within the month.

Teachers were applauded for getting 100 percent of the fourth- and fifth-grade parents to meet for report card conferences. Fourth-grade math teacher Hedaayah Abdol said several teachers drove to student homes in order to accommodate parent schedules.

In other business, board members opposed the idea of a spring fundraiser with a “Top Chef”-type competition.  Board members said it was too ambitious, too similar to events at other schools, and that they needed more time and planning.

The next board meeting will be on March 1.

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