There was no public, let alone public comment, at a two-hour public budget hearing Thursday to let interested parties comment on the proposed annual budgets for the four schools in the Capital One-New Beginnings Charter School Network.

Like virtually all public bodies, charter schools are required to hold such a hearing before approving their budgets.

Click on the school headings below to download an Excel spreadsheet (xlsx) of that campus’ budget.

On hand to answer questions were Chief Operations Officer Stephen Osborn and spokeswoman Monica Pierre. No board members were present.

The Lens reviewed the budgets of the four network schools, which are available to the public for 10 days prior to the hearing.

The change in the budgets range from a minute drop to a 16 percent increase.

Some schools are waiting to hold their public hearings, hoping to have a better idea of projected enrollment coming from Recovery School District’s unified enrollment process.

“We’re being conservative with enrollment projections,” Osborn said, saying they have not received student projections yet.

“We’re trying to figure out how the OneApp process is going to play out,” he said.

Asked why the hearing was set for the middle of the workday, from noon to 2 p.m., Osborne said, “It was established that it was the best time for the public.”

While many schools are holding off until June or July, Osborn said the board preferred to have the hearing earlier.

Osborn said the earlier the budget is approved, the sooner the network can send out offer letters to faculty and staff to lock them in for the 2012-13 school year.

The board only meets every other month, meaning the upcoming meeting on May 29 is the last before the new fiscal year begins July 1.  The budgets will be on the agenda for approval Osborn said.

“We’ve always gone into the fiscal year with an approved budget,” he said.

Across the board, each school is seeing a rise in general administration costs, somewhat offset by a complete cut of business services, Osborn said. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the network will charge each school 8 percent of its budget to cover shared administrative costs. Previously, each school paid a quarter of the shared network costs, Osborn said.

Each school projects a decrease in the cost of food service as well.  The three elementary schools are each budgeting for a $30,000 increase in transportation costs.  Osborn said transportation costs rose this year with growth of student populations.

Gentilly Terrace Charter School

The school is planning to spend 5 percent more than the current year, with the budgeted expenses rising from $3.7 million to $3.9 million for 2012-13.  Osborn said the increase in spending is tied to an increase in student population.

Among the more notable changes:

  • In 2011-12 the school spent $240,700 on pupil-support services. The school budgeted $173,000 for 2012-13.
  • General funds spent on instructional staff services will increase more than five-fold, from $22,596 to $128,938.  With restricted funds, the school will spend $187,438 this year, as opposed to $81,096 last year.
  • General administration costs will rise $109,813 in 2012-13 to total $319,424.
  • Business services were completely cut, freeing up $130,625.

Medard H. Nelson Charter School

The budget jumps 16 percent for 2012-13, from $3.9 million to $4.5 million.

Osborn said the current year’s budget does not reflect the number of students the school currently has enrolled, which accounts for some of the increase.  With the growth of the student body the need for additional instructional services also contributed to the spending increase.  Osborn said the largest growth in revenue will come from the state’s per-pupil allocation.

An additional $192,375 is budgeted for instructional services in 2012-13.

Pierre A. Capdau Charter School

The school’s budget is nearly flat, with a modest four-tenths of a percent decrease, or $13,000, hovering around $3.5 million.

Because the school has changed locations three times in three years, they will solely look to maintain the population at Capdau this upcoming year.  The network is hoping to add 34 students in 2013-14, Osborn said. They are being conservative by holding off that goal one additional year.

Lake Area New Tech Early College High School

One of the city’s newest high schools will get a 4 percent increase in its budget, from $5.2 million this year to $5.4 million next year.  Osborn attributed the growth to additional staff positions and expanded elective course offerings.

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...