Lower than expected enrollment figures were revealed at the KIPP New Orleans board meeting August 16. They showed that, after the first week of classes, KIPP enrollment is four percent under the budgeted student count.

Some board members worried that missing out on expected per-pupil funding from the state may affect the organization’s finances in an already tight budgetary year. Many schools budgeted over $7,000 per student– in KIPP’s case lower enrollment may translate to a loss of over $1 million.

Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, the organization’s executive director, said she isn’t too concerned about the empty seats. “They’re trickling in. Even in the first eight days, we’ve seen some kids come through the doors.”

Todd Purvis, school leader at KIPP Central City Primary,  updated the board on the school’s LEAP test results. Overall, 80 percent of fourth grade students passed the state test, while 91 percent of eighth graders passed. Purvis credited the older students’ higher scores to their longer experience in the KIPP system.

Purvis also discussed teacher retention and a reward system for high-performing faculty. Previously, KIPP has partnered with New Schools for New Orleans to offer Teacher Incentive Fund grants to teachers with good test scores and classroom culture.

In addition to board members and KIPP staff, one reporter from The Lens and two parents were present at the meeting. Ernest Charles, a grandfather of a student at KIPP Central City Primary, asked the board to test students there for gifted abilities. Kalifey-Aluise said that McDonogh 15 is currently the only KIPP school with special gifted classes and staff, but  she hopes gifted testing will begin soon at all KIPP schools.