ReNEW’s board of directors voted Thursday to expand the four-school network by taking on another school next year.

ReNEW currently serves about 2,400 students and with the additional elementary school, the network will aim to serve 3,300 students.

Encouraged by the Recovery School District to apply for another charter last year, ReNEW did just that and the charter was approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week. Now the RSD has matched ReNEW with Schaumburg Elementary.

“The academic committee voted unanimously to approve growth,” said member Mary Brown.

Brown said the committee toured the schools recently and was convinced school leaders were meeting academic objectives.

Sandra Cahill, member of the finance committee, said her committee also supports the growth plan.

In a plan laid out by ReNEW Chief Executive Officer Gary Robichaux, should the network expand to operate five schools it would run a deficit of $355,545 next year.  If it were to stay at four schools, the deficit would increase significantly to $831,545, he said.

“This is strictly off of per-pupil funding so it’s very conservative,” said Robichaux of the budgets. He said they did not include any outside funding, including grant money.

The board unanimously approved a motion to add ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary and expand the high school in the next year.

Robichaux also revealed long term plans to expand to a seven school network for the 2015-2016 school year.  At this point in time the network’s operating budget would carry a $358,455 surplus.

Cahill asked if the network would continue to take on failing schools or if any new schools would be opened.  Robichaux said the RSD needs networks to take over failing charters so expansion would consist of taking over failing elementary schools in the foreseeable future.

Financial Controller Tanya Bryant said the school has received a $500,000 line of credit at Gulf Coast Bank.  She said the timing is extremely important as school enrollments fluctuate in between the Oct. 1 and Feb. 1 counts which determine per-pupil funding.  The board also voted to move all bank accounts to Gulf Coast Bank. Bryant said she expects a draft of the audit Friday.

Bryant also said the school received its first Medicaid reimbursements on Wednesday.  The school has been working for over a year to obtain a provider number and begin receiving reimbursements for qualified services given to qualified students.

Development Director Pete Rodway said the November fundraiser, Future takes Flight, raised over $38,000. This money will help fund end-of-the-year educational trips for students.

The board also approved a motion to rename all schools with ReNEW in their titles. Thus SciTech Academy will become ReNEW SciTech Academy.

Board president Sharon Courtney announced board member Amy Knower was taking a leave of absence from the board because of a possible conflict of interest.

Members Brian Weimer, Kathy Conklin, Donald Herry, Sandra cahill, Jim Dukes, Siona LaFrance, Randy Roig, Greg Harris, Liza Sherman, Mary Brown, Carol Asher and Sharon Courtney were present.  The meeting ran from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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...