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Milestone leaders unsure about adding 10th grade in 2013-14

Rising 10th graders could soon be applying to Milestone SABIS Academy.

The only trouble is the school’s leaders aren’t sure they’ll have that grade next year.

The Milestone SABIS Academy board of directors learned Monday night that the new OneApp application gives students the option of applying to be 10th-graders at the Gretna school in 2013-14.

“It was interesting when I saw us on the OneApp application because no one talked to us about whether or not we were going to really participate,” said school leader Catherine Boozer.

The OneApp is the Recovery School District’s centralized enrollment process, which was opened up to schools outside of RSD’s control this year. It allows a way for parents to apply to multiple schools with one application.

Boozer said when she arrived at what she thought was a OneApp informational meeting Jan. 7, the applications were already printed and the was school listed. The school participated in OneApp last year she said, but she said she was not sure if that was why they had been included again.

Boozer said the application lists the school as offering kindergarten through 10th grade. But board member Nayita Wilson said the board had voted in December to pursue OneApp as a kindergarten through ninth grade school.

Wilson said it seemed as though the state had proceeded with listing the school prematurely.

Wilson said the school has a resolution with the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that would require board approval to add new grades.

But board Joseph maintained the school would need a resolution if they did not intend to offer 10th grade the year after promoting ninth graders.

Board members debated whether or not the school was required by its charter to offer a 10th grade next year. It only has 12 ninth-graders now.

“We just got approved with our charter to go K-12 with ninth grade automatically going to tenth grade unless this board has a resolution that says we are not going to have tenth grade,” said Joseph.

“In order not to have the progression from ninth to 10th it would require a board action,” said Joseph, “the expectation is that there will be grade progression.”

Boozer said the school could hold one tenth-grade section with some rearranging.

The board tabled the discussion after about twenty minutes so they could review past meeting minutes, votes, and resolutions.

As the board moved to the agenda item listed as “Facilities: resolution to exercise lease option” discussion was abruptly stopped.

“This discussion is going to revolve around contractual issues…” said Robert Giordano, a SABIS representative, via phone when Wilson interjected.

“If this is a legal matter would the board like to postpone this?” asked Wilson, noting an executive session was not on the agenda.

“These are issues that are pertinent now,” said Joseph, who did not want to wait until the next regular board meeting.  Member Lorin Crenshaw agreed.

Members elected to hold a special meeting Friday instead of adding the item to the agenda in order to give the public 24 hours notice.

When asked after the meeting to clarify what would be discussed in Friday’s meeting Wilson said “facilities”, and when asked to elaborate, she repeated “facilities”.

Business Manager Rodney Lilley said the school’s current budget projections reflect a $72,815 deficit for the year, which he said is in line with the school’s revised budget.  This year’s operating deficit will be offset by the school’s general fund.

School leaders revised the budget earlier this fall when an enrollment shortage led to a drop in anticipated funding.  Officials attributed the dip in enrollment to the school’s move from Uptown to Gretna. The school currently has 454 students, well shy of its anticipated enrollment of 528 for the year.

The board interviewed two potential board members and voted to extend an offer to one.

Members Nayita Wilson, Tonia Moore, Maureen Joseph, Kimberly Moorehead, Tyler Douglas and Kenya Kennedy were present for the meeting.  Member Lorin Crenshaw phoned-in for the meeting.  The meeting began at 5:36 p.m. and adjourned at 7:23 p.m.

The board will hold a special session Friday at 5:30 to discuss a number of items tabled at Monday’s meeting. They will also likely hold a strategic planning session on February 23.

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