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Crescent Leadership Academy wants to separate younger and older students

As the Aug. 5 start of school approaches, Crescent Leadership Academy is eying additional space and transportation for its students.

School officials will explore potential options for moving into additional space to separate the school’s junior high from its high school, Education Director Tracy Johnson told the school’s board at a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

Johnson said the school’s leaders want to take 7th and 8th graders out of the current space in two modular units at 4300 Almonaster Blvd., and move them somewhere else. The move would offer more space for each group of students, and prevent middle schoolers from picking up some of the behavior patterns of older students, Johnson said.

Johnson said she would talk to Recovery School District officials to explore the possibility.

“We want to stay close by,” she said.

The school also is looking to add a fourth bus route, according to CJ Bower, chief financial officer for charter operator Rites of Passage. During a discussion of the school’s 2012-2013 finances, Bower said the school initially planned for two bus routes, but ended up adding a third.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the transportation budget has more than doubled from the initial 2012-2013 spending plan to make room for a fourth route, Bower said. Details of the route have not yet been finalized.

Bower also said the school budgeted for 200 students, but ended up with 162 enrolled.

“We have adjusted all our expenditures to account for that,” Bower said.

The school had higher than expected expenses for recruitment and the lease of the modular units from New Schools for New Orleans. The school also did not receive special education funding from the state, but is looking to additional options to provide speech and other services.

The school is expected to have about $7,000 left in the bank, Bower said.

The board also talked about recruiting new members, and forming new committees. In June, the board voted to raise its membership to nine as opposed to the current seven, insuring they will always be in compliance with state regulations.

Board members expressed the desire to have as a new member someone who is an effective fundraiser, as well as a parent of a graduate of the school.

The board also will work to form a governance and fundraising committee in addition to its current finance committee, and added that non-board members will have an opportunity to serve on those committees.

Community engagement also was  a focus of the meeting, as board members and officials brought various ideas to the table. Johnson said she was actively seeking to engage students in community-service opportunities in the coming school year.

“That’s really been our secret sauce,” Johnson said of the community service activities.

Former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, who is a board member, also brought a bevy of potential involvement opportunities for students to the table, including a possibility to connect with the Greater New Orleans Demand Reduction Coalition, which combines resources from across law enforcement, education, health care and other areas to promote drug-free communities.

Letten also offered to help get the ball rolling on a fundraising event for the school. Letten said he could attempt to work connections through the rock band he plays drums in.

The board will meet next for its annual meeting Aug. 20. The annual meeting is required by the school’s by-laws.

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