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Warren Easton’s board of directors supports hiring grant writer in light of financial loss, expected increases in expenditures

Warren Easton High School Financial officer Mike Greer said the school recorded an overall loss of $184,680 on the fiscal year.  The school had $9.1 million in reserves at the end of May.

President David Garland said Warren Easton is anticipating spending $200,000 on new textbooks for incoming ninth-graders. The mandated switch to common core standards at the state level requires new materials.  Garland said the school expects to spend around $1 million in all on materials over the next four years.

Principal Alexina Medley will add a grant writer to the school’s staff next year.  The board discussed the position for some time, debating between hiring a full-time employee and a contract worker.  There was a general consensus from the board in support of hiring a full time worker.  Garland said the position would likely have a salary between $50,000 and $60,000.

Garland’s report detailed nine staffing changes for the coming year.  He skipped over them initially, addressing other items in his report, but alluded to moving to executive session if discussing personnel became necessary.

The only position not being renewed was the School Fund Developer, a position currently held by Janet Gaudet.  Gaudet also takes notes for board meetings and was present at the meeting.  When staffing changes were brought up, she initially requested to have the meeting held in open session.

Garland had previously implied Gaudet “may want advocates” in the personnel discussion.

“I feel like there is nothing to hide,” Gaudet told Garland in response.

“Do you want to think about that for a second?” Garland replied before calling for a five-minute recess in the meeting stating it was to allow Gaudet to think about her decision.

Garland left the room while other members and Gaudet remained.

When Garland returned, he called for a motion to move to executive session.  Asked by a reporter from The Lens which exemption to open meetings law the board was citing, Garland replied “personnel.”  He said that, in accordance with the law, the person had been notified prior to the meeting and then identified the person as Gaudet.

“We are going into executive session with the consent of Ms. Gaudet,” Garland said.

Six board members, three former board members, Medley and Gaudet sat in on the closed session, which lasted one hour.

“The result of the executive session was to approve the staff changes recommended by the CEO,” Garland said when open session was reconvened.

The changes are as follows:

  • Three teachers resigned to return to universities and will be replaced.
  • One teacher retired and will be replaced.
  • Two new ninth-grade teachers will be added for Math and English.
  • One current technology intern will become a full-time employee next year.
  • The School Fund Developer position will not be renewed.
  • A school full-time grant writing position will be added for next year

Garland also brought up the possibility of splitting the foundation into two bodies.  Citing donors’ requests to remain anonymous, Garland proposed having one public and one private entity that would work alongside each other.  He said the board will explore “how we can separate them effectively.”

Facilities consultant Ken Ducote said that a window replacement project is now 99-percent complete.  He said Chenevert Architects was appointed by the Orleans Parish School Board for the school’s $2.8 million “refurbishment” capital project, though the schedule for work has not yet been determined.

The meeting began at 6:17 p.m. and ended at 8:38 p.m.  Six of seven board members were present, as well as three former board members, four faculty and a reporter from The Lens.  The school’s public budget hearing will be held July 18 at 5 p.m. with the regular meeting to follow.

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