How to attract more students was a focus of attention at the monthly meeting of the Milestone/SABIS board, Sept. 17.

Despite the addition of a ninth grade this year, the current enrollment stands at 394 students, the same as last year, but well below the school’s target of 528.

Principal Catherine Boozer said the school’s move to Gretna from Uptown is behind the enrollment problem. She estimated that over half last year’s student body did not return for one reason or another, the greater distance being the primary one.

Boozer said grades one, three, seven and nine are currently below their projected enrollments. Ninth grade is the most severely undersubscribed. It has 11 students, well short of its target of 58.

As a result, the school is ramping up radio ads and other recruitment efforts in and around Gretna.

“We will have to cut or delay spending on various non-essential items if we are still at this figure by October 1,” Boozer said. “The quality of education will stay the same but the quality of care of the school will be impacted by our budget reduction.”

The school had hoped to add a receptionist and an extra cafeteria and maintenance worker this year.

In other business, president Lorin Crenshaw urged the board to add more members as the school grows, especially members who bring needed skills.

Crenshaw also urged the board to consider removing member Tillman Hardy, due to his continued absence and lack of involvement with board activities.

Hardy has been absent for the last four board meetings. The board will revisit the issue next month.

Lastly, school officials said they were working to adjust the calendar and schedule make-up dates for the six days lost to Hurricane Isaac. The school sustained no major damage from the storm.

The board went into a 25-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues and negotiations with a contractor.

The 90-minute meeting was then adjourned.