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Enrollment shrinks after Gretna move; $1 million budget shortfall means budget cuts

Budget cuts due to reduced state funds from low enrollment was the main topic at the monthly board meeting at Milestone/SABIS, October 22.

School director Catherine Boozer announced that despite additional recruitment efforts through radio ads, current enrollment stands at 428, well short of its projected enrollment of 528.

“With our student population, we will not receive $981,000 in student tuition which we had budgeted for this year,” financial director Rodney Lilley said on the issue. “We can only buy things we absolutely need, hold off on other expenses, and we will have to go to every line item and make necessary cuts if possible.”

Most of the school’s revenue, about 99 percent, is derived from state-allocated per-pupil income.

The move to Gretna from Uptown is viewed as the main reason for the enrollment drop, which resulted in the school losing half its student population from last year.

Lilley added that facility improvements to bring the new quarters up to fire code has cost an extra $15,000. Additional building repairs and maintenance are expected in the coming months.

As a result of major revisions to the budget, the board announced plans to hold a special budget hearing in the next few months.

In other school news, Boozer said the school held a Student Life Mini Camp at Milestone on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, along with students from its sister school, Linwood Public Charter in Shreveport, La.

88 students and 12 parents attended the leadership camp, which also included a dinner and a meet and greet breakfast.

Also, the school held a Back-to-School Night on Thursday, September 27. Parents had the opportunity to visit classrooms and meet teachers.

Boozer also remarked on the recently released school performance score (SPS), which saw Milestone record a 87.5, a “D” grade, representing a 6.6 point gain from last year.

“We don’t teach to the test (LEAP); we teach for college readiness,” Boozer said on issue. “If we taught to the test, our score gains would be much higher, but our students will not be college ready, which is our ultimate goal.”

In other agenda items, the board reviewed its partnership with SABIS, its for-profit management company.

Board members Maureen Joseph told the board that it should request regular reports from SABIS regarding its evaluation criteria and expectations for Milestone. Fellow members Nayita Wilson and Lorin Crenshaw concurred and proposed to tailor a working draft on the matter.

Before going into executive session, the board announced that Tillman Hardy, one of its founding board members, had resigned due to time constraints. The board accepted his resignation.

The board was scheduled to go into executive session to discuss the professional competence of a school staff person. However, a reporter inquired whether the person to be discussed had been notified ahead of time, Crenshaw announced that the individual had not been notified.

The executive session was then cancelled, and the two hour meeting was adjourned shortly afterwards.

The next board meeting is November 19.

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