Middle school students at New Orleans College Preparatory Academies are improving in math and Language Arts, according to testing data the charter organization’s top administrator shared with board members Feb. 5.

Ben Kleban, founder and director of the charter group, highlighted gains its middle schoolers showed on recent Achievement Network tests during the Feb. 5 meeting of the schools’ board of directors.

Kleban credited Cohen College Prep Middle School principal Noell Lugay for her leadership nudging the school toward better student performance.

The students showed steady quarterly improvement on the tests, leaving administrators hopeful that the school is on track to improve its overall grade.

Data from the high school level indicated Cohen College Prep High students are performing worse than other populations on a test modeled after one that Sci Academy in New Orleans developed. But Kleban said that the school’s tests for the high school grades were more difficult in comparison to the state exams.

Last year, the school outperformed its own fairly conservative estimates for end-of-term exams.

Chair Kenneth Polite announced that the governance committee will convene Feb. 21 at Cohen College Prep, at 10 a.m., to decide which members of Crocker’s board of directors will be invited to join NOCP’s board when it takes over operation of Crocker school in the Fall.  Polite said the committee had identified five potential candidates, and would discuss their strengths and weaknesses at the meeting.

In a further update on the Crocker transition, Kleban said that NOCP had hired four of roughly 16 current Crocker teachers, as well as one custodian.

Chief operating officer Kristen Morgan updated members on the board’s finances. The school currently expects $10.9 million in revenue for the upcoming year.  Current budget forecasts show a deficit of almost $383,000 although this fails to account for grants and other fundraising efforts.

The school has already raised around $200,000 in grants that would cut that deficit in half.  Morgan said she expected the organization’s fundraising efforts to cover the gap.

“We should end out the year net positive.” she said.

On a lighter note, the board reviewed a new logo for NOCP, designed by middle school staff members. Members joked Kleban about the rather basic solid green emblem designed early in his creation of the organization.  Members kidded Kleban that perhaps “artist” should not be added to his list of accomplishments.

Present at the meeting besides Kleban, Morgan and Polite were board members Murray Pitts, Ruth Kullman and Jim Raby and director of development Geneva Longlois-Marney.  Absent were members Peter Harding, Julie Walker, and vice chair Monica Edwards.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting concluded at 6:21 p.m.