Warren Easton Charter Board President David J. Garland said the attention brought to the school by Sandra Bullock might have made it “the most famous high school in the United States,” at least at the moment.
Bullock was honored on CBS Jan. 9 as the “favorite humanitarian” for the People’s Choice Awards for her work with Warren Easton post-Katrina.
Warren Easton could receive as much as $200,000 in grants as a result from Walgreens. The school has yet to decide how to allocate these funds.
“This is a very good thing to happen to Warren Easton,” Garland said Wednesday during the school’s board meeting, “both from a recognition and prestige point of view, as well as from a monetary point of view.”
Members of the board also noted that Warren Easton’s website had 90,000 hits the night of the People’s Choice Awards, and that the number of Facebook fans jumped from 3,000 to 7,000. Garland announced that Bullock’s award would be on display in the school for the students to see.
The school also received a $30,000 grant from the 49ers Foundation, to be used to manage a new health clinic and scholarship development fund, and a $15,000 grant from the Rex Pro Bono Publico Foundation, to be used for academic development.
In regards to the building, principal Alexina Medley said she was concerned about the school’s needed structural repairs and facility updates, including roof and water damage ruining instruments in the band room and the school’s need for a new fence to bolster security.
Other security measures, such as additional lighting, employment of armed guards and improving locks on some of the doors, had already been implemented.
Facilities consultant Kenneth J. Ducote announced that several Orleans Parish School Board projects could be re-prioritized because they came in significantly over budget, reportedly due to market conditions. This could affect ongoing school maintenance work designed to stave off the facility’s deterioration.
The school is awaiting reimbursement from the Orleans Parish School Board for $319,482 in construction work that was completed following storm damage. Ducote said the district has reported delays in getting the school that money due to problems with the software used by the state to process such claims.
Contractors from Orleans Parish School Board began Hurricane Isaac damage repairs to the roof this week, Ducote announced. But there are still windows that need replacing, he said.
Principal Alexina Medley delivered her reports along with quarterly reports from support staff. She noted that second quarter disciplinary actions, including suspensions and detentions, were up from last quarter. Medley added that she expects these numbers to further increase in the third quarter as Mardi Gras nears.
The school is also up for a five-year renewal for AdvanceED accreditation and is busy preparing for the ACTs, Medley said. The school has a goal of obtaining a score of at least a composite of 18 out of 36. The average composite score in Louisiana last year was 20.3.
After Medley gave the academic report, Assistant Principal Joseph W. Gilyot III said that 253 of the school’s 929 students made the honor roll this year. That’s about 27 percent of the student body.
During a technology report, Garland said that he was proud to see that Easton is currently at a 1-to-1 ratio of students to multimedia Internet-capable computers. Also, he thought it noteworthy that Easton is moving toward “cloud-based” computing, with 24-hour access available for all teachers, students and staff.
“When people ask what’s going on around here, we are training kids to work with 21st century technology,” Garland said. “We are doing it, and I think that is as close to state of the art as we can get.”
The board also voted to create a new, updated website.
From the finance committee meeting, the board announced plans to purchase a license for a program to better track school alumni. The board also projected that they are $240,000 above budget, due to an increase in the rate of per student funding from the state.
The board also discussed plans for the school’s 100th Anniversary on Sep. 16, 2013, which will include the sale of memorial bricks to alumni. The bricks will be placed around the flagpole.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 6, but didn’t officially start until 7 p.m., when board secretary David Napolean arrived. Starting at 6:20 p.m., they held what they termed an “informational” meeting, during which they discussed board business, but took no votes.
Board members present were David Garland, Robert Delle, Charley Petrey, David Napolean and Brenda Christiansen.
The next board meeting is scheduled for February 20.