Between 20 and 25 percent cumulatively of last year’s top undergraduates did not re-enroll in ReNEW schools this year, chief executive officer Gary Robichaux told the charter management organization’s board of directors at their monthly meeting in October.

Robichaux cited the state voucher program and low school performance scores—both SciTech and Batiste Cultural Arts Academy are ranked “F”—as prime reasons for the drop-off.

In her financial report, controller Tanya Bryant said increased telecommunications and transportation costs were the main reasons the ReNEW group of schools finished the 2011-2012 school year slightly in the red.

Total expenses last year were $27 million, 3 percent higher than projected, resulting in a $288,000 deficit. Total revenues for last year were $26.7 million.

Bryant said staff-issued cell phones and laptops cost more than anticipated. In addition, faulty accounting overlooked a $60,000 transportation bill, and bus services for students who needed remedial LEAP test work in June were much higher than anticipated.

Other factors contributing to the shortfall were cuts in  federal grant money, some funding lost from the Recovery School District for the pre-kindergarten slots at Reed Elementary and an additional $190,000 for new administrative hiring.

In other budget news, Bryant announced that the school was close to securing a line of credit from Gulf Coast Bank worth between $500,000 and $1 million. The money will be used as emergency funding to pay for expenses before federal grant money arrives.

In school reports, the board approved a resolution on school names. ReNEW president Kevin Guitterrez said the organization wanted to “name brand” its schools to increase their visibility; thus Sci Tech Academy will be renamed ReNEW Sci Tech Academy.

Robichaux announced that 55 ReNEW students took part in a field trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., as part of a program to augment classroom learning.

“This was a great opportunity to reward our top students to show them how much we care,” Robichaux said. “It was a great experience for all, and everyone had a great time.”

Before formally adjourning, the board went into a 10-minute executive session to discuss pending litigation, as allowed under La R.S. 49:17 (2) when “an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body.”

No vote was taken.

Ten board members and some staff attended the hour-long meeting.

The next meeting is Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m.