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Audubon board members encouraged to raise and give money

Recent holiday breaks compelled Audubon Charter School’s F.A.M.E. Board to hold both its January and February meetings in February.

The board’s meeting Saturday was a board training session.

“Our responsibility is not just to show up at meetings, but to do work when we are not here,”  chair Cornelius Tilton said.

Most of Tilton’s presentation borrowed from “Board Meetings: A Guide for Charter Schools,” by Marci Cornell-Feist, founder of The High Bar, an organization that offers governance training to charter boards.

Along with encouraging board members to re-read Audubon’s bylaws, its charter agreement with Orleans Parish School Board and its articles of incorporation, Tilton focused on topics such as board members’ roles as goodwill ambassadors for the school within the community, and attendance at board meetings.

Tilton told board members that they are expected to each serve on a separate working committee that would deal with specific board issues, and that they should be making annual financial contributions to Audubon as well as actively raising funds for the school.

Audubon’s treasurer, CPA Ben Hicks, also took a moment to give this month’s financial briefing, and follow up on some financial questions from last month’s meeting.

Hicks said during the board’s Feb. 2 meeting that salaries and benefits had temporarily gone over budget.

“A significantly larger amount was spent on substitute teachers,” Hicks explained. “It happened all at once because teachers feel obligated to take sick days for fear of losing them.”

Because hiring substitutes costs extra money, Hicks said he is hoping to come up with an alternative so that teachers don’t have to “use it or lose it.” He pointed to Edward Hynes Charter, which buys back teachers’ sick days because it’s less expensive than hiring substitutes. Hicks said that Audubon spends more on benefits in general, because the school participates in teacher retirement plans. Twenty-four percent of each teacher’s salary is spent on benefits, said Hicks.

Those in attendance besides Tilton and Hicks were Eva Alito, Jacqueline Smith, Jason Coleman, Robert Sloan, Gregory Thompson and Jolynn King.

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