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Inactive member voted off Morris Jeff board; Dave Matthews guitar brings $2,400

Morris Jeff Community School board members voted to remove a board member during a meeting Thursday night.

Jana Smith was unanimously voted off the board for being “inactive.” Board president Aesha Rasheed said she was initially excited to bring her on the board, but moved to remove her because she was unable to make the monthly meetings.

After the board passed the motion, Rasheed suggested that the board come up with some nominees for other members. With Smith voted off, the board is left with seven members.

Other board members suggested finding nominees with finance and legal experience, and decided to have nomination packets ready to review at the next meeting.

In other news, the board had a positive report about a recent fundraiser, the Morris Jeff Community School Art Auction, where a signed Dave Matthews guitar was sold for about $2,400.

School staff has plans to take a photograph of students with the guitar, principal Patricia Perkins said, and a copy of the photograph will be sent to Matthews before he comes in for Jazz Fest.

The March 2 auction raised more than $10,000, she added.

“It was a wonderful night,” said Jared Frank, the school’s director of finance and operations.

Perkins also said that a recent fundraiser held with Edward Hynes Charter School in City Park raised about $2,500 and saw a turnout of about 500 attendees from Morris Jeff and about 800 from Hynes.

“Being there with another school was a great experience,” Perkins said.

*Perkins said that she was expecting this week to get an update on tentative plans to relocate to Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church.

In her report, Perkins said that the school had gotten 484 applicants for the 2013-14 school year as of the March 15 deadline.

There were 212 pre-kindergarten applicants and 141 kindergarten applicants, Perkins added. Every year, she said, there are 60 spots open for pre-K and 15 for kindergarten, in addition to whatever becomes available when a child leaves at any other grade level.

Perkins also reported that about 95 percent of the students intend to return to the school, according to recent forms families filled out.

Perkins said the school is still looking for a new member of special education faculty for second grade. She also said that Morris Jeff is working on building stronger international connections by, for example, integrating stories from other countries in its curriculum.

Frank said that the financial committee report showed that the school ended February with more than $300,000 in revenue.

Frank also said that he is the grant manager for the “Believe and Include” grant that Morris Jeff received along with three other schools, and that those invoices and reimbursement requests are now starting to appear in the expenses section of the school’s budget.

A report also showed suggestions to increase budgets for contracted special education services, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy, and expenses for materials purchased for maintenance and repair.

Members from the governance committee suggested that the board finds ways to systematically establish offices and terms to avoid everyone’s terms ending at the same time. The board also discussed how to publicly share the most updated bylaws on the school’s website.

In addition to Rasheed, Perkins and Frank, board Vice President Wanda Anderson Guillaume and Secretary Belinda Cambre, J.D., PhD were in attendance. Board directors Stacey Gengel, PhD, Jolene Jeff and Jennifer Weishaupt were also in attendance.

Board Treasurer Melissa Jagers, CPA, was absent.

The next board meeting is scheduled for April 18.

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated where Morris Jeff Community School leaders are considering relocating the campus. The correct location under discussion is Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church.

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About Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.

  • nickelndime

    What happened to the “F. X.” in Morris Jeff? Can’t the State and the RSD get anything right? Anyway, here goes. Morris Jeff is a D school with an 84.6 School Performance Score (SPS). Granted that the Morris Jeff Board appears to be one of those State and NSNO-favored nonprofits and not likely to have its charter yanked, however, in 2 years and by 2015, will the school have raised its SPS beyond a “D.” My advice is to see if the board and the CEO/principal can get more Dave Matthews’ guitars to auction off (like about 5000), so it/they can continue to finance the school’s administrative staff and all the other superfluroius (oh ma gawd – did I spell that right) staff (events coordinator, yada yada yada) and raise that SPS so the school will exist long enough to move into a permanent building. Generally, it takes 3-5 years for the State/RSD to close a school. And good for you, Della Hasselle, reporter from THE LENS, I see they didn’t lock you out of this meeting. What happened to the fishy-fish fry? Is that like the Lusher crayfish boil (old habits die hard – Patricia Perkins – formerly of Lusher)?

  • musicman495

    As I understand it, Morris F.X. Jeff School on Rendon Street was destroyed in Katrina and is not coming back. Morris Jeff Community School is not the same school, although it is
    named for the same person.

    As for the “D” grade, the school narrowly missed a “C,” and that is with open enrollment (any Orleans Parish resident is eligible and no student is required to “test in” to be admitted, as they do at some schools), in their second year of existence, and very first year of standardized testing. Considering that some NO schools that have been failing for years, I would call that a pretty good start.