Frustration over the slow pace repairs to the Einstein building, a problem exacerbated by Hurricane Isaac, boiled over at a meeting of the board, Sept. 4.

“Enough is enough,” several teachers and principal Shawn Toranto told board president Ryan Bennett.

The building’s roof replacement was put on hold this summer after an issue with the bidding process and the hurricane added to the problem. Most of the damage predates the storm, “but Isaac exacerbated those issues,” Bennett said.

Toranto said the roof over five classrooms was peeled back, causing significant water damage inside. A portable classroom lost its roof completely, the covered walkway between buildings was blown away and there was some damage to the electrical system, Toranto said.

“It’s not fair to the community and to the children,” teacher Darlene Mathieson said, referring to the generally poor condition of the building.

“We are failing our children by not holding the Recovery School District accountable,” said Toranto.

The board asked the faculty for patience and vowed over the next two to three weeks to:

  • Patch the roof temporarily
  • Lay out a timeline on a complete roof repair
  • Organize a meeting with Recovery School District officials regarding the status of repairs
  • Obtain information regarding insurance claims and reimbursements made on the building

The teachers have threatened to put a sign on the front lawn asking the Recovery School District where money for the school has gone. “If things don’t change, I will be putting a sign on the front lawn with you,” Bennett said.

Teachers were allowed into the building Sept. 4 to clean classrooms; students returned Sept. 5.  The roof over the affected classrooms has been covered with a tarp and the portable classroom will no longer be used.  Electrical problems were fixed over the weekend, Toranto said.

Bennett appointed Chuck Gasho to the board on August 31.  The board had fallen below the required number of members stipulated in its bylaws when Margaret Nyguen’s resigned in July.  Gasho was on hand to survey hurricane damage to the building over the weekend with Bennett and other school officials.

Board members Bennett, Gasho and Laurin Jacobsen were present along with Toranto and several teachers from the school.

The board approved minutes from its last three meetings.

The meeting began at 6:15 p.m. and adjourned at 8 p.m.  The board will hold its next meeting on Sept. 11 at the school.

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...