At the Ben Mays Preparatory School’s board of director’s retreat on June 27 the talk of the day was an anticipated budget shortfall.

“Bad news is we need some additional funding to the tune of $140,000,” said Director of Finance Brent Washington.

A significant increase in transportation costs and the end of Public Charter School Program funding have contributed to the budget gap.

Washington said the buses cost about $300,000 this year, and he has budgeted $574,000 for the 2012-2013 school year.  The school is adding three bus routes next year to accommodate more students.

Washington also said he plans to enter into a contract with a grant writer on a commission basis.

Principal Shanda Gentry said she has filled all positions for the upcoming school year.  The school has 399 students enrolled for the fall, which is a total of 32 shy of its projections.

LEAP retesting is in progress this week, Gentry said.  She expects about 30 of the 50 fourth-grade students in remediation courses to move on to the fifth grade.

At its May meeting, the board discussed having Gentry meet with other principals and receive other outside help to set goals for her next year.  Gentry has scheduled those meetings for July.  Board president Sidney Barthelemy said he felt the board had not upheld its commitment to professional development for Gentry and that this would be a key point of focus next year.

Gentry said her scheduled tour of Frantz Elementary, where the school will be relocating mid-year, was postponed.  She said that representatives of the RSD told her they will have access to the new building December 26.  Board members were concerned that if the tour was canceled they may be risk running into the completion date.

The board unanimously approved a motion to accept certain resignations  A Lens reporter asked the board to clarify the motion.  Barthelemy said members Kristen Ponthier and Jenny Hunter had resigned.  At which point one board member said he was unaware of one of the resignations.

The board then approved a motion to “accept the resignations of Kristen Ponthier and Jenny Hunter.”

Hunter was the board’s vice chairperson.  The board now has five members.

The board is planning to meet with potential members over the next month with the intention of bringing on four new members in July.

The meeting scheduled for 4:30, began at 4:54 p.m. and adjourned at 8:25 p.m.  This included a half-hour break for dinner.  The next meeting will be held July 23.

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...