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Friends of King expects $671,000 deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30

A financial deficit and the possible takeover of an additional school concerns dominated the last monthly meeting of Friends of King Schools’ board of directors.

Leaders at the April 30 board meeting circulated a list of grants that the organization has applied for, the largest being a $1 million Experienced Operator grant requested from New Schools for New Orleans to turn around a low-performing elementary school.

School leader Doris Hicks said she did not know which school the board might be asked to run but that there were only a few potential prospects. She speculated that Benjamin Banneker Elementary, on Burdette Street in Uptown New Orleans, was a prime candidate for a turnaround.

In his financial report, board treasurer George Rabb said the organization is projecting an end-of-year deficit on June 30,  due largely to the takeover this year of Joseph A. Craig Elementary. Documents showed that shortfall was projected to be $671,186.

“It was something we anticipated,” Rabb said. “We were prepared for it and expected it.”

Board president Hilda Young explained that the two largest contributors to the deficit were the school’s transportation budget and the ongoing shortfall in special-education funding.

The board voted unanimously to use the school’s $300,000 line of credit to cover the deficit.

“We have 39 seniors, and 39 graduates this year,” Martin Luther King High School principal Lindsey Moore told the board.

Moore also presented a report outlining student scores on the ACT standardized exam. Seniors averaged a composite score of 15.4, while juniors averaged 14.6.

Eighth- and ninth-graders took the ACT Explore, and both classes scored around one point below the national average.

Student Jamal Preston was introduced to the board, which applauded him for achieving a perfect score on the PSAT exam. Hicks said Preston plans to attend Harvard and eventually go to law school.

Also present were Joe Long, Thelma Ruth, Kenya Rounds, Eartha Johnson, Sandra Monroe, finance director Shawne Favre, project manager Sylvia Arcenaux-Ellison, and other King staff. Board members Gail Armant and Cora Charles were absent.

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  • Here are several points which may be useful for the purpose of establishing context for information reported in this story;

    1) For 2012, the most recent year for which complete data is available, Louisiana’s state average composite score on the ACT was 20.3 and the national average composite score was 21.1. The lowest composite average for any state was in Mississippi, whose students averaged 18.7 on the ACT. Martin Luther King High School’s average composite scores of 15.4 for seniors ranked between the 16th and 23rd percentiles within Louisiana. Here is the link to the ACT website showing score distribution and corresponding percentile rankings for all students who took the ACT in Louisiana in 2012. Within the national context, MLK’s average composite ACT scores fall somewhere around the tenth percentile of all students who took the test. A composite score of 18 is considered the minimal threshold score for college readiness.

    2) The Explore Test is a diagnostic test, not an achievement test like the ACT itself. A link to the homepage of the Explore test is posted below. The purpose of the test is to assist students with course planning in high school and career choices in adult life, so the claim that the school’s 8th and 9th graders scored “around one point lower” than the national average is essentially meaningless. Here’s the link;

    3) Borrowing against a line of credit to cover a budget deficit is simply exchanging one debt for another. Unless there is a reliable source of increased income in the pipeline to pay off the line-of-credit debt (and perhaps there is one which the Board hasn’t made public) the Board of Directors of this school hasn’t addressed their budgetary problem, they’ve only postponed it.
    Thanks to The Lens’ Charter School Reporting Corps for bringing into public view information which otherwise could pass by unnoticed! It is an ambitious task to cover the workings of more than forty independent charter school boards, but without such coverage important stories such as this would easily fly under the radar.

  • nickelndime

    Alan, you have expanded The Lens’ “Friends of King” article. With friends like this, I don’t want any friends. Joshua provided the facts, but you explained (interpreted) what they mean. By and large, charter administrators, authorizers (RSD, BESE, & OPSB), and the nonprofit boards that run them love the fact that “the public” does not have a clue as to what is going on financially and academically at these schools. It is my understanding from another source that “Friends” is looking to expand to Baton Rouge (although Doris Hicks may not say so publically). Maybe that is where most of these individuals have 2nd and 3rd homes (cuz gawd knows they live large – millions of dollars in public money), so they will have somewhere to go when the schools go under (water, financially, academically, belly up…)