The ReNEW Board of Directors discussed a shortage in federal funding for students at its accelerated high schools on Thursday.

Some students at the accelerated high schools aren’t eligible for federal Title I funding, the board has learned. The government doles out this cash to schools with high percentages of low-income students, but schools that receive it must meet student age requirements. ReNEW’s 18- to 21-year-old students aren’t eligible.

ReNEW officials are hopeful that a change in state funding will cover the gap. The state gives schools with high percentages of at-risk students additional money, and ReNEW is hopeful that the amount handed out may rise. The majority of ReNEW’s high school students fall into the at-risk category, executive director Gary Robichaux said.

The high schools currently rely on a large start-up grant, as well as federal and state dollars received for the network’s kindergarten through eighth grade students, controller Tanya Bryant said.

In other news, pre-test scores have risen, teacher recruiting for next year is underway, and the board has approved a new member and held board elections.

Student scoring on the school’s benchmark test, which ReNEW gives students in preparation for statewide standardized testing, were considerably improved over last year’s scores, Robichaux said. Although 52 percent of students taking a benchmark test last year were evaluated as being not ready for college, only 37 percent were evaluated similarly this year.  Robichaux said that based on these results, he’s feeling positive about the standardized test results this year.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Recruiting is in full swing for the next academic year, Chief of Staff Colleen Mackay said. ReNEW wants to keep 80 percent of teachers, and they are at 85 percent. They plan to hire new 30 teachers, MacKay said.

ReNEW voted in a new board member, former Recovery School District communications director Siona LaFrance, and elected new positions. Carol Asher, this year’s board chairwoman, is now an ex-officio. Sharon Courtney, this year’s vice-chairwoman, has taken on Asher’s spot. Brian Weimer has moved from secretary to vice-chairman. Sandra Cahill remains the board’s treasurer, and Kathy Conklin is the board’s secretary.

Members present included Asher, Courtney, Weimer, Cahill, Conklin, Jim Dukes, Randy Roig, Mary Brown, Amy Knower and Martin Feilbelman.  Network staff included Robichaux, Mackay, Gutierrez, Bryant, and five others, as well as a reporter from The Lens. The meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m. and ended at 6:18 p.m.

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...