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John Mac board changes Tuesday meeting to accomodate advisory board concerns

Future is Now: New Orleans, the charter organization that oversees John McDonogh High School, has changed the time of their June 4 board meeting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The meeting was rescheduled so that it could be held jointly with the John McDonogh Advisory Committee, a group of parents and community members that have organized in order to oversee the executive board, according to an email circulated by JMAC members.

As part of the meeting, JMAC members are requesting more transparency from the board.

One of the most pressing issues on the agenda is whether the board plans to drop Walter L. Cohen High School next year.

Future is Now: New Orleans took over the high school from the Recovery School District in the 2012-13 school year as “a favor,” according to Chris Lozier, chief operating officer for Future Is Now national.

In the past year, however, Lozier has said that the school has proven to be a burden on the board’s operating budget.

The Recovery School District was initially in charge of phasing out the school in the 2012-13 school year, operating only its grades 11 and 12, as the charter organization New Orleans College Prep took over, according to the charter’s website.

Cohen was to gradually transition so that New Orleans College Prep would operate the entire building of sixth- through 12th-grade programs, renamed Cohen College Prep Middle School and Cohen College Prep High School.

Meanwhile, the two schools were to coexist in the building for two years while operating “independently under separate administrations,” according to the website.

Under the plan, Future is Now: New Orleans would have one more grade to oversee during the 2013-14 school year.

But during the last meeting, the board questioned whether the operating budget is solid enough to support a school with so few enrolled students without additional help from the RSD.

“The impact of Cohen finances on overall organization may not have been fully understood,” read a financial presentation given by Lozier earlier this month.

“With no operating cash provided by RSD [to-date], all deficit operations have been funded by McDonogh.”

Information on Cohen is one of several things that John McDonogh’s advisory board requested from the board, according to an agenda released during an April board meeting.

The advisory committee has requested other documents such as the operating budget for the 2012-13 school year, the number of employed teachers with certification and drafts of a student handbook.

In an email, JMAC member Ann Marie Coviello reminded the board that Future is Now: New Orleans was under contract to cooperate with the committee and provide information.

I wish to remind everyone concerned that the JMAC requested certain information regarding the running of the school as per our MOU with Future is Now NOLA,” Coviello wrote.

“We look forward to reviewing all relevant documents.”

John McDonogh’s proposed 2013-14 budget hearing is also scheduled for 6 p.m., according to the school’s website. The proposed budget is $3.9 million and is publicly viewable here.

Despite the planned change in meeting time, the school’s website on Friday morning still listed the Future is Now: New Orleans board meeting as taking place at 10 a.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated what year Future is Now took over Walter L. Cohen High School.

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