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Military charter school could be losing money by managing Federal City auditorium

Board members for the New Orleans Military and Marine Academy decided not to buy environmental insurance on the auditorium they are managing in a special arrangement with the New Orleans Federal Alliance.

The board in October agreed to enter into a lease on the Federal City auditorium that gave it access to the facility and its rental business in exchange for NOMMA managing the facility and paying all of the auditorium’s operational expenses up to $35,000.

During the board’s May 9 meeting, Commandant Col. Bill Davis said the expenses of managing the auditorium have exceeded the revenues generated by those who want to rent the space.

Without the exact figures in front of him, he estimated rental income of about $8,000 to $9,000. But he said the expenses are on track to run roughly $15,000 to $20,000, with the school incurring costs for technology repairs on top of regular maintenance expenses.

He said the environmental insurance, which would cover mold damage, could cost $3,000 a year or more.

Board members declined to agree to purchase the insurance, but they did approve a measure to add general contractor HRI to the parties insured under the management agreement, which HRI recommended.

Attorney Eades Hogue and Capt. Dave Whiddon suggested simply amending the contract there at the meeting. The two board members got out their pens, and deleted the environmental insurance provision.

In his update on the school, Davis told the board he wants to purchase more classroom equipment for teachers. He said science teachers, for example, need laboratory equipment to demonstrate science concepts.

“The teachers are putting a lot of heart and soul into it,” Davis said, “and we need to find them more equipment and support, to keep them motivated going forward.”

Davis also told the board he reached out to state legislators concerning a bill that would prohibit schools from being able to suspend students for school uniform violations. Davis said NOMMA school is in an unusual situation when it comes to uniform enforcement because of its military focus.

“NOMMA is a choice school,” he said. “We spend a lot of time educating people on what it means to go to an all-JROTC school … It’s integral to the program itself.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Smith of East Baton Rouge Parish has since proposed an amendment exempting military schools from the provision.

Davis updated the board on the school’s new building construction, saying that any environmental factors, such as contaminated soil, lead paint, and asbestos tiles, have now been removed from the space.

Davis said that Woodward, the contractor in charge of construction, said the work would be completed by Jan. 3. Barring any complications during hurricane season, this means that NOMMA could move into its new location beginning Jan. 7.

Present were Board President Col. Terry Ebbert, members Maj. Blake LeMaire, Maj. General Walter Paulson, Dr. Marcellus Grace, Gen. Jack Bergmann, and Courtney Bagneris. Also present were staff member Tony Taffaro, Ben Hicks from accounting firm Silva, Gurtner, and Abney, principal Cecilia Garcia, and her husband Rene Garcia. Absent were Carol McCall, and James Reiss.

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  • nickelndime

    Excuse my French, but this thing with NOMMA doesn’t pass the smell test anyway! This is a Type 2 charter school whose nonprofit board was founded by Adams and Reese LLP. The law firm is politically connected and has people on its payroll because they are politically connected. This is Paul G. Pastorek’s former law firm, and he was the Louisiana Superintendent of Education at the time this charter application “sailed” (I mean “floated”) through to BESE for approval.