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Neighbors' suit stymies renovation work, but return to B'way campus still on track

Not enough members showed up to comprise a quorum at Audubon Charter School’s monthly board meeting, Aug. 18. The result was a relatively short and uneventful meeting at which it was not possible even to formally accept the minutes from the July meeting.

One topic of discussion was a civil complaint that has halted renovation of Audubon’s 428 Broadway campus. At the heart of the complaint, filed several months ago by the Upper Audubon Neighborhood Association, is an old custodial house located less that five-feet from the sidewalk. A new regulation requires that the house be at least 15 feet from the sidewalk. The building was mostly dismantled, but the law disallows construction while the suit is pending, and thus Audubon has been unable to move and renovate the structure.

The neighborhood association also has complained about cars blocking the street when students are picked up and dropped off. A traffic expert recommended “no parking” signs and a painted crosswalk, which could be paid for with a $250,000 Safe Walk to School grant recently awarded to Audubon. But the association wants Audubon parents to park away from the school.

With the school temporarily relocated to Gentilly, all renovations are on hold. Audubon nonetheless is confident that these issues will be resolved and construction will resume in time for a December 2013 return to the Broadway campus.

School started last Wednesday for 710 Audubon students, with 112 pre-kindergarten students arriving next week. Students were said to be delighted with new lockers and  restrooms.

The French immersion program has added three teachers and three assistant teachers, one from France, and two from local schools. The French program’s sixth grade has grown to 20 students, the biggest class ever; the French middle school has increased by six students to an enrollment of 51.

Audubon’s Gentilly campus has renewed its partnership with the University of New Orleans for the 2012-2013 school year.

The board addressed academic changes as schools throughout the state prepare to adopt the Common Core curriculum: second-graders will now focus on “higher order thinking” skills, by taking some third-grade lessons that place more emphasis on writing and non-fiction reading.

The financial report to the board showed Audubon with a healthy cash reserve. A proposal to move some money into an investment account was tabled until next month for lack of a quorum.

Present for the board meeting were vice chairman Tim Jackson and members Jacqueline Smith, Jolynn King, Greg Thompson, Jean Claude Brunet and Sean Barney. Board chair Cornelius Tilton was absent as were members Eva Alito, Derek Bardell, Teddy Lock, Claire McDaniel, and Robert Sloan.

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