ReNEW’s board of directors learned at its June meeting that two of the network’s three elementary schools will likely meet their internal school performance score targets.

Chief Executive Officer Gary Robichaux said SciTech Academy and Reed Elementary are predicted to score 71 and 65, respectively.  Robichaux’s predicted score of 63 for Batiste Cultural Arts Academy is five points below ReNEW’s target score.  With those scores, each school would receive an ‘D’ ‘F’ grade for performance.

Correction: Schools receiving Performance Scores below 75 will receive an “F” grade, not a “D.” 

Robichaux said ReNEW was asked by the Recovery School District to send a letter of intent to charter Schaumburg Elementary, currently an RSD direct-run school.  This would be for the 2014-2015 school year.

ReNEW currently has another charter application in the pipeline for the 2013-2014 school year.  Robichaux said the board would have to decide on whether to charter that additional school, the name of which has yet to be announced, by the end of the calendar year.

Member Mary Brown had many questions and cautioned the board about adding new schools.

Brown said she would like to see an assessment of the network’s current ability to “take on a new challenge,” including staffing capability and a budget.

Additionally, she suggested the board develop a list of certain items, such as audits, a school must be able to provide before ReNEW would apply to charter it.

Asked if submitting a charter would keep other charter management organizations from doing the same, Robichaux assured the board it would not.

Robichaux reminded the board that the network’s budget and long-term goals include working toward eventually enrolling 4,000 students.  ReNEW expects to enroll 2,430 students in 2012-2013.

The board approved a motion to submit a charter application for Schaumburg.

ReNEW will graduate 22 students from the group’s accelerated high schools this year.  The ceremony will be held June 21 at ReNEW’s West Bank campus.  The two high school campuses have 300 students enrolled overall, with about a quarter of the student population being middle school students over the traditional age, said Chief of Staff Colleen Mackay.

When the board looked at the rates at which students are passing individual high school courses, they found a range between zero to 54 percent.

Board members questioned staff as to what an appropriate target would be for students, given their challenges.  Robichaux said 40 percent is the goal set for next year.

Brown thought that number was too aggressive, since many students are not being retained.  Robichaux said he believed the high schools had 80 percent retention and would bring those numbers to the next meeting.

ReNEW Staff Member Tammy Robichaux outlined ReNEW’s three-year transition to Common Core State Standards.  There were no questions from the board.

Data from ReNEW’s first year of pre-K classes showed more than 70 percent of pre-K students are “kindergarten ready”.  This is a large jump compared to just 10 to 15 percent of students who entered kindergarten at ReNEW last year.

In budget updates, Controller Tanya Bryant said ReNEW will apply for a line of credit to carry the network through the first months of the fiscal year, before federal grant money begins coming in.

In staffing updates, Mackay said ReNEW is looking to fill 18 vacancies.  Staff retention for next year was at 72 percent, she said. ReNEW recently hired a Staff Accountant, who will begin on July 9.

The board held a 20-minute executive session regarding pending litigation.  In the vote to recess to closed session member Brian Weimer cited La R.S. 49:17 (2) “litigation when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body.”

Weimer provided an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case number after the executive session.  No voting was necessary regarding the content of the closed session.

Earlier in the day, a Lens reporter observed ReNEW’s web site to have three different meeting times listed: 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.  Though the reporter confirmed with Mackay the time was 5:30 p.m., the agenda available on the website said 4:30 p.m., as did the document posted at the school.  Two members of the public arrived for what they thought was a 5 p.m. start.

Eleven board members, several ReNEW staffers and a few members of the public were present at the meeting, which began at 5:44 p.m. and lasted two hours.  The next meeting is scheduled for July 12 at 5:30 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...