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Parent involvement and admission applications both high; board eyes lots near new campus

More than 200 parents participated in April’s student-led parent conferences, the highest number in the school’s history, board members learned at their April 26 monthly meeting.

Preliminary application data for the coming year show high demand for Morris Jeff Community School, principal Patricia Perkins reported.  One hundred thirty-four pre-kindergarten applicants made Morris Jeff their first choice.

The finance committee has scheduled a budget hearing for May 24. The draft budget, which must be available for public inspection 10 days ahead of the hearing, will be completed by May 14. The budget must be approved by June 30.

The school incurred a net loss for the month, which was expected,  according to board treasurer Melissa Jagers. Increased expenses included the installation of an intruder alert system as well as a buzzer system to facilitate access before or after regular school hours.

Perkins and other schools representatives were scheduled to meet with Mid City Neighborhood Organization on May 1 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss plans for the new building. The planning process will continue with a community engagement meeting on May 8 at 6 p.m.

Jennifer Weishaupt contacted the owners of two vacant properties near the school’s future site to ask about acquiring the lots.  A vacant lot at the corner of Palmyra and Lopez is available for $40,000 and has an assessed value of $18,000. The other space, a neighboring five-lot parcel containing an abandoned gym, is about to be transferred to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

With the RSD unable to purchase the land and OPSB slow to act, the school likely will have to take charge of acquiring the land if it wants to move forward, board members concluded. Weishaupt proposed that the board decide its future course of action by the June board meeting.

Board chair Aesha Rasheed announced the resignation of board member Adrienne Shulman, who has said she doesn’t have time for board work. Adrienne’s resignation brings the board down to six members, one short of the seven mandated by charter law.

Rasheed asked board members to send in suggestions for additions to the board, with an eye to diversity and a broadening of its skill set, possibly to include expertise in the fields construction and of early childhood education.

In other business, Rasheed asked permission to seek proposals from strategic planning consultants. She said she wants to emerge with a three-year plan that is “very actionable.”

Member Wanda Guillaume expressed concern about the efficacy of a three-year plan given evolving board composition. In response, the possibility of pursuing an ongoing relationship with a strategic facilitator was discussed.

In addition to Perkins, Rasheed, Jagers, Weishaupt and Guillaume, board members Belinda Cambre and Jolene Jeff were also present.

The two hour minute meeting ended at 8:00 p.m. The next board meeting is May 17 at 6 p.m.

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