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Federal grant application abandoned; Camp Street crowding issues tackled

At its monthly meeting on May 2, the board of International School of Louisiana postpone an application for funding through the federal “i3” program until a school leader has been hired.

“It’s a challenge,” explained board President Andrew Yon, “because you have to hire someone for a job they may or may not get, depending on whether our application is accepted. If it’s not accepted, then we’d have to guarantee them another job at one of the other schools.” The board agreed to revisit the issue later, with the fall i3 application deadline in mind.

A letter went out recently to Sustainable Modular Management accepting terms for six modular classrooms on the Olivier Street campus. The company has until August 1 to complete installation so that teachers have time to move in before classes start.

Having voted not to rent modulars for the Camp Street campus, the board decided to begin creating an ad hoc committee to study the purchase or rental of a building to deal with the school’s projected growth. The committee will be made up of board members, administrators, and a real estate agent.

To make room for added enrollment on Camp Street, the board has decided to centralize some administrative functions – including the human resources department and the head of school’s office – in the new Jefferson Parish school, at 822 S. Clearview Parkway. The move is slated for this summer.

Recruitment is going slowly at the yet-to-be-opened Jefferson Parish school. With a projected first-year enrollment of 320, the school has received only 280 applications, including 22 for middle school, which hopes to attract 80.

The board discussed the possibility that low registration in the upper grades is caused in part by older students being intimidated by the need to come up to speed in language immersion, though the Jefferson school has waived the language proficiency requirements for one year for all new students. A more certain impediment to enrollment, board members said, was uncertainty about where the school would be situated. The pace of applications is expected to increase now that the location is settled. Registration for kindergarten and first grade is closed, and registration for grades two through eight closes May 18.

LEAP testing was reported to have gone “extremely well.” Based on preliminary statistics, Camp Street principal Melanie Tennyson said she expected “lower lows along with some higher highs. The school is angling for a state grade of A-plus, she said.

In the public comment period, several parents expressed dismay over the school’s expansion plans. They urged the board to address problems at current schools. Board treasurer Charley Hadley, who has spoken out against expansion at several board meetings, said, “The board is normally unanimous. On most things, we agree. But on the issue of expansion we are not unanimous. Some of us share your concerns.”

The board voted to approve a new $350,000 line of credit. Hadley said the plan is to leave the money unused. “It’s simply a form of insurance,” Hadley said, “and applying costs $500, so we need permission.”

With Hadley stepping down as treasurer, new board member David Bordson-Bozzo agreed to succeed him. In general discussion, board members said they hope to interest more women and African Americans in board membership, so as to mirror the school’s enrollment more fully. Barbara Griffin accepted nomination as secretary and Yon accepted the board’s unanimous nomination to serve as president for another year. Matt Amoss asked not to be nominated again for vice president. The offices will be finalized in the future.

Present in addition to Yon, Amoss, Bordson-Bozzo, Hadley, and Griffin, were board members Duane Drucker, David Napoleon, John Wettermark and Mike Lappa. Also in attendance were members of the new Jefferson Parish school team, human resources director Emily Thomas, administrative assistant and parent liaison Robin Bordelon. Associate Olivier Street principal Rosa Alvarado was present as was Tennyson who will be principal of both the Camp and Olivier Street schools next year.

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