At their monthly meeting, July 25, trustees of the International School of Louisiana pondered an eclectic batch of issues ranging from solar panels to Title I funding to the décor of modular classrooms.
“Aesthetic is important,” an audience member interjected as the conversation touched on the modular classrooms being designed for the Olivier Street campus. To which the board replied that the facilities will be made attractive.
The board is also wrestling with both the city and the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans over a property tax bill on the Olivier Street campus that, with penalties, currently stands at $81,000. The school filed for an exemption, only to be told that the property owner, the Archdiocese, is the party that must file for such an exemption – but so far has not. Board president Andrew Yon said the school’s attorneys are now working with the archdiocese to file the exemption paperwork with the city.
The board said it would sign off on the budget for its start-up Jefferson Parish school when the last of its members returns from vacation. The budget counts on an enrollment of 310 students, though another 15 are expected. The school will offer Spanish immersion at all levels.
The bad news for Jefferson is that federal Title I dollars are not paid in advance, leading to a prospective shortage of $80,000. The good news is that leeway in the transportation budget will cover the shortfall without impairing service for the 230 students eligible for busing.
Solar panels cropped up during discussion of the Camp Street facility. A grant for the alternative energy source was secured four or five years ago, principal Melanie Tennyson said. All other schools in the grant program now have their solar panels, she said, while Camp Street continues to pay about $600 a month for power.
There is disagreement on the placement of the panels. A consultant wants to put them in front of the school; they’d be closer to the main electrical lines and would take up less playground area. The board decided that member John Wettermark would speak with the consultant.
Among brief reports from standing committees, the Governance Committee generated the most discussion. Along with minor policy changes and clarifications, the committee adopted a requirement that policy changes – such as a recent decision to stop offering Mandarin – be placed on the agenda for consideration by the full board. It’s a way to avoid surprises, board members said.
An ad-hoc committee is forming to consider possibly moving the upper three grades of the school, depending on building availability, during renovations scheduled for the 2013-2014 school year. The Camp Street building will be vacated completely for the duration of a major overhaul in the next four to five years. Even with the renovations, the building’s capacity will not increase enough to accommodate a projected increase in enrollment.
In planning for the upcoming school year, the board decided on committee chairs as follows: Finance Committee, David Bordson-Bozzo; Strategic Committee, Andrew Yon; Governance Committee, Dominique Wilson; Nominating Committee, Mike Lappa; Advocacy Committee, John Wettermark.
The board will continue to meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month, but will merge December and January meetings on Jan. 16, 2013. Future meetings will not exceed 90 minutes.
The board left the room at 8:25 for an executive session to discuss a personnel matter, according to the agenda. The board returned at 9:00 and adjourned.
The next meeting will be August 22.
Eight board members were present for the July meeting: Dominique Wilson, John Wettermark, Mike Lappa, Andrew Yon, Barbara Griffin, Matthew Amoss, Duane Drucker and David Bordson-Bozzo. Stephanie Davis and David Napoleon were absent. Twelve people were in the audience on child-size chairs clustered around comparably small desks. Until the air conditioner was turned off, some people had trouble making themselves heard.