As parents flocked to the new Paul Habans Charter School to meet their children’s teachers for the first time during the school’s Parent Night, the board that governs that school and two others met for just over a half-hour to discuss facilities, staffing and other issues.
Though Crescent City Schools volunteers and staff gave Habans a mini-makeover – fresh paint on the walls and outside, cleaning and landscaping among other beautifications – there still is work to be done at the network’s newest school building, the one that houses Akili Academy, CEO Kate Mehok said.
“At Akili, we are in the building but we are still experiencing a lot of frustration with where the building is,” she said. As of Wednesday, the elevator was not operational, which is a problem because two Akili students use wheelchairs, she said. The floors also haven’t been tiled.
Akili is the only one of Crescent City’s schools getting a brand new building this year. The newly minted William Frantz Elementary School building in the 9th Ward was scheduled to be complete by Akili’s Aug. 19 move in date, but the contractors have yet to finish.
It’s discouraging, Chief Operating Officer Chris Hines said, because “the contractor does not work for us.” While Jacobs/CSRS – the contractor that the Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish School Board has hired to manage the various school construction projects under the city’s $1.8 billion dollar master plan – is “very friendly,” he said, “I’m not always sure they are committed to getting projects done on time.”
Frustration aside, they are very happy to be getting a building, Mehok said. It’s the first time in the school’s history that classes are no longer being held in trailers.
Things are moving along for Harriet Tubman Charter School’s renovations, too. Mehok and staff met with the architects who’ll design the newly remodeled Tubman building on General Meyer Avenue on Thursday, and they’ll be meeting with RSD next week to talk about the moving and remodeling process. They’ll update the board on those meetings when it convenes again in September, Mehok said. Tubman will move into the O. Perry Walker High School building in Algiers while the $22 million renovations to its own building are completed.
As far as staffing goes, Crescent City’s still looking to fill some positions across its schools, Mehok said, one of which is a special education teacher at Akili.
Mehok said she’s a little concerned about the vacancies, because most would-be employees have found jobs this far into the school year. But her staff’s moving around and taking on added roles. “We’ll be alright,” she assured the board.
The board’s next meeting is Sept. 25, at 6 p.m., at the new Akili Academy on North Galvez Street.