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Wilson board members praise Cantrell, discuss fundraising

At its January monthly meeting, the Andrew Wilson Charter School board heaped praise on its former president, LaToya Cantrell, saying her leadership was instrumental in the creation and establishment of the school in the Broadmoor community.

“After the storm and the uncertainty that followed on whether a school could even exist in this neighborhood…our leader was LaToya,” board member David Winkler-Schmit said. “She was the force that brought the school to what it is today.”

Cantrell, the newly elected New Orleans City Council representative and a Broadmoor resident, thanked the board and the school staff for their hard work, support and dedication for making education a focus in the community. She promised to continue working to make the school a support system in the surrounding areas and a model school for recovery and sustainability in the coming years.

In other board developments, the board announced that it had approached Barbara McPhee, founder and former principal of New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High, to assist with Wilson’s fundraising.

The fundraising committee’s goals are to broaden the community of Wilson supporters and prospects through school tours and work strategically toward fundraising events. The committee will report on its progress at the next board meeting.

In his principal’s report, Logan Crowe gave an update on enrollment figures, school finances and the latest news on the water intrusion problem from Hurricane Isaac.

To date, Wilson has 632 students, 10 more since the last count in November, and on par with its enrollment goal, he said.

Crowe also highlighted the school’s Academic Achiever’s program, a Saturday school to help kids who need “the extra push” academically. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and currently has 100 students.

In finance, Director of Operations Darius Munchak said Wilson had implemented a deficit reduction plan to help balance its budget. Last year’s school figures show the school operating with a $457,771 deficit, which was mostly accrued during its partnership with Edison, it’s former for-profit management company.

Munchak estimates this year’s fund balance to be about $1 million, which will help clear up its past deficit and leave the school with a positive fund balance.

Munchak also added that the school was still waiting for work to begin on repairs to areas damaged by Hurricane Isaac. 

In other school news, Crowe announced that Wilson was the recipient of two grants: a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s to develop and improve its “Guardians of the Garden” program, and a $50,000 Believe and Include state grant that funds academic services for student with disabilities.

Sarah Kington and Jamie Broussard, who help run the school’s garden, said the Lowe’s grant will be used to purchase materials to build a tool shed, create a three-bin compost system and incorporate more outdoor cooking within the garden program using a solar oven.

Lastly, the board announced the resignation of two board members and approved its new member.

Sarah Baird and Santiago Burgos have resigned from the Wilson board due, they said, to time commitments.

Eric Griggs, founder of the Broadmoor Basketball Club, has joined the Wilson board. Griggs, a medical doctor, has lived in the neighborhood for the past seven years and volunteers in several school activities.

The meeting began at 6:39 p.m. and adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

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