KIPP New Orleans Schools enlisted the help of Algiers Charter Schools Association’s former chief financial officer Renae Montegut to help clean up its finances.

The organization’s leaders late last year warned of hitting a “fiscal cliff” as the school network’s startup funds run out at the end of this month.

Montegut faces a five-person finance department that has seen a 100 percent turnover in the past six months — and a proposed budget that predicts many campuses in the red in 2013-14.

“This is a much tighter budget but I think it’s much more aligned around our priorities,” said CEO Rhonda Aluise.

Aluise said that the charter organization hopes to build up a reserve of funds to protect against hard times in the future, eventually creating a 10 percent fund balance by 2020.

Aluise said the school plans to move 1 to 2 percent of revenues to this reserve each year and that, by the end of the upcoming fiscal year, they hope to have $1 million set aside. In the future, the fund balance goal will be a line item on the organization’s budget, Aluise said.

Academically, KIPP’s schools showed improvement in their state-assigned school performance scores, according to chief academic officer Todd Purvis.

Purvis said preliminary testing data indicates KIPP McDonogh 15 should have increased its school performance score by 8.5 points — a change that would improve its grade from a C to a B, according to his calculations. He said data for D-rated KIPP Central City Primary and KIPP Renaissance High indicate those schools moved 10.6 and 20.6 points, respectively, and will both become C schools when the state Department of Education releases school grades in the fall.

Only KIPP New Orleans Leadership is not expected to move up a letter grade, Purvis said. He said the school did improve 6.1 points, according to the school’s analysis, and will likely remain a D school. KIPP Believe College Prep should show the only loss in points, down 9.2 points, he said, but it should remain a B.

The board voted to approve the purchase of a plot of land next to KIPP Central City Primary at 1411 S. Robertson St. Jonathan Bertsch, KIPP’s director of advocacy, said the property is up for sale by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority for $1,345. The school plans to use the space for physical education classes and storage.