Morris Jeff Community School’s enrollment increased by six students in January, bringing the total to 257, board members learned at their monthly meeting, Feb. 15.

In reporting the enrollment uptick, staff member Sherah Lebouef said that 84 percent of current students have re-enrolled for next year.  While only 73 percent of prospective fourth-graders have re-enrolled, principal Patricia Perkins said she is confident that many more will, in fact, return.

Melissa Jagers, of the board’s finance committee, reported that the school’s financials remain “very healthy” but that fundraising will likely fall short of budgeted goals.  While not a problem in the short-term, a sustained drop in fundraising could hurt the school down the line, she said.

The board discussed multiple fundraising possibilities and expressed delight upon learning that the school recently received a grant for $50,000 from former first lady Laura Bush to be put toward the library.

Citing The Lens website as a motivating factor, Jagers said that the finance committee is hammering out a public budget policy and hopes to approve a draft of the policy during the March board meeting.

Perkins said she is interviewing staff for next year and should finish by mid-March.  The school is concurrently conducting mid-year reviews and much classroom observation.  Perkins lauded the quality and range of professional development opportunities now available to staff.

The school recently held two community-engagement meetings to discuss plans for the new building. With a projected completion date of July 2014, the building should be ready for the 2014-2015 school year.

Meanwhile, the school is searching for an interim home. Although the current location on Poydras Street is available for next year, the RSD is pushing the school to share a Cog Hill campus with McDonogh 15.

Perkins said she would prefer to stay put for another year to maintain consistency. Board chair Aesha Rasheed agreed, but cited the current lack of play space. Perkins said she is already considering solutions, such as busing children to City Park.

Perkins distributed the Recovery School District’s “Equity Report,” containing enrollment and test data for Morris Jeff  with a focus on the needs of special-education students.

In addition to Rasheed and Jagers, board members present included Jolene Jeff, Wanda Guillaume, and Jennifer Weishaupt. Board members Belinda Cambre and Adrienne Shulman were absent.

The 90-minute meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m.