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New Beginnings must find three top school leaders — and quick

Closing in on the end of the school year Capital One-New Beginnings Chief Executive Officer Sametta Brown has her work cut out replacing three of her top school administrators.

On Tuesday, Gentilly Terrace Elementary School Principal Tracy Guillory announced his resignation, along with the school’s vice principal X. Patrice Wright. Guillory and Wright mark the third and fourth school administrators to leave the network this school year.

Their resignations came on the heels of Pierre Capdau Elementary School Principal J’Vann Martin’s April 5 departure. And Lake Area New Tech Early College High School Principal Michael Booker left his post in December, though Brown has already installed Chad Broussard as his replacement.

Brown is now searching for two principals and one assistant principal and said she hopes to hire before the fiscal year begins July 1. That’s also the first day of most New Beginnings one-year employees’ contracts. Brown said it would be ideal to have the administrators in place to begin the year.

Guillory and Wright both appeared at Tuesday night’s board of directors meeting.

“I think you both did an excellent job,” said board chairman Tim Ryan, speaking on behalf of the board. He said the two would be hard to replace.

Brown said their resignations were “two great losses” for the network, adding she “pleaded” with them to stay on to no avail. Brown said Wright would serve as interim principal for the next few weeks at Gentilly Terrace but Guillory’s resignation was effective immediately.

“It has been two fantastic years,” Guillory said, as he wrapped up a brief presentation on his school.

Brown told board members that of the roughly 200 network employees, only 10 have indicated they will not be returning to the network next year. She said she has posted the principal vacancies and hopes to begin interviewing in the coming weeks.

Director of Finance Kendal Turner said she is budgeting for the 2013-14 school year and will likely hold the state required budget hearing in May. She said New Beginnings would continue to participate in the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana despite another rise in the network’s contribution rate, which will increase to 27.2 percent.

Ryan said they are projecting each school will end with an overall surplus. While Gentilly Terrace is projected to end the year with an operating loss, Turner said the fund balance from prior years will negate that.

Patrick Walsh, a representative from the Recovery School District’s Office of School Performance told board members about the state’s new school grading system. The school performance score will no longer be awarded on a 200 point scale, but on a 150 point scale. Walsh said schools would receive grades on both the old and new scales for this year.

One change in particular seemed to irk Ryan. Elementary schools will now have to track their eighth grade students into ninth grade and part of the school performance score will come from the eighth graders’ performance during their ninth grade year.

“None of us have the resources to track individual students,” Ryan said of charter operators.  He said he felt the system could penalize elementary school’s for something they do not have control over.

Executive Director of Student Support Services Patricia Ventura said the network will offer shared services to other charters this summer. Other schools can enroll their students in the network’s extended year services program for special education students she said. Ventura said the move is an attempt to bring down both costs for New Beginnings and other charters.

Board members decided to designate a bank account for student activity funds which became available through the Recovery School District. Each of the four schools will receive between $18,000 and $31,000, depending on the size of their student populations, said Turner.

The board was scheduled to vote on a credit card policy for the network but one was not ready and the board tabled the action item.

The board will likely hold its budget hearing in May.

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