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OneApp poses challenges for specialized military school

As a specialized military charter requiring all of its students to enroll in the JROTC program, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy would like to participate in Orleans Parish’s new OneApp centralized system, the school’s top two administrators said during the school’s Jan. 10 board meeting.

New in the 2013-14 school year, the OneApp system should allow students’ families to apply to several charter schools using one application rather than filling out applications for each school individually.

“To fill [the school] adequately, we need to cast a wide net, to catch a lot of fishes,” said Commandant Col. Bill Davis.

But the school has a challenge in that it only wants students who are willing to be a part of its military culture by enrolling in JROTC and wearing a uniform.

Principal Cecilia Garcia said that, among other things, Orleans Parish School Board officials are objecting to how NOMMA’s selectivity will fit within the OneApp system. The school has a 100 percent college prep curriculum, and requires all students to pass the LEAP before attending.  Also at issue was the question of how to incorporate NOMMA, which is allowed to admit students from anywhere in the state, into an enrollment system designed solely for Orleans Parish.

Garcia said that state officials understood that NOMMA was a special case, but had not yet decided what to do about the problem.

In a report on new building construction, Col. Davis said that all environmental testing had been completed for the future site of the New Orleans Military Academy’s permanent building.  The new site is located, like its temporary building, on the Federal City development in Algiers.

The school will need to have around 500 tons of contaminated soil removed and replaced due to environmental factors, including lead.  Davis said that the lead level was markedly higher in one sample tested than the others, suggesting that it might have contained a lead paint chip that could have created an abnormally high reading.

“We’re in New Orleans. Lead is everywhere,” he said.

Davis said that the new building would be gutted, and its windows stripped and sealed to encapsulate any lead remaining from old paint. Because NOMMA’s students are all high school age, Davis said there is little danger of students eating paint chips, and that these preparations were consistent with common practices in treating buildings with lead paint.

Davis said the school would make its Jan. 15 deadline to turn a yearly audit of its finances in to the state.  “We are right up against the boundary.”  He said that the upcoming February 21st board meeting will feature an in-depth discussion of the school’s financial outlook.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing an agreement for NOMMA to manage the auditorium located within the Federal City development. Col. Davis explained the sticking point: the other parties involved in Federal City, particularly the Algiers Development District and the developers, HRI Properties, want NOMMA to indemnify them against possible lawsuits involved in the auditorium.

This would mean that the parties indemnified would not be responsible for any injuries or losses connected to the auditorium. In effect, NOMMA might have to accept any responsibility the other parties might have.

MG Walter Paulson said that, with both NOMMA’s temporary and permanent buildings, the school was indemnifying HRI from things that NOMMA does in its course of operations. After much discussion, members agreed that the school could indemnify the other parties from any errors NOMMA might make, but not from mistakes the other parties might make.

“You indemnify our shortfalls, not their shortfalls,” said President Terry Ebert.  “These are the big boys, as the saying goes.  I don’t know that we need to take them off the hook.”

Present were Board President Col. Terry Ebbert, members Carol McCall, Capt. Dave Whiddon, Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman, Courtney Bagneris, Dr. Marcellus Grace, and Maj. General Walter Paulson.  Also present were Davis,Garcia, Eric Wilson Sr. and Jr., and Anana Anderson.

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