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Success Preparatory board will vote on budget Thursday

The Success Preparatory Academy Board of Directors will vote on the charter school’s $5.1 million 2013-14 budget at its monthly meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The budget shows a $13,212 surplus.

At a public hearing held Monday, finance committee members seemed pleased with next year’s budget, which reflects a $200,000 increase in revenue from the 20012-13 school year.

The committee included board members Ryan Bates, Kathryn Broussard and board chairman Anderson Baker.

There is a significant increase in the number of special education students who are enrolled at Success Prep this year, Finance Director Dan O’Connell said.

O’Connell reported that there are now 70 special education students enrolled out of a total of 450 students this year. He said there are 19 new special education students who enrolled this year. The increase in special education students is a result of the OneApp application that sorts and assigns students throughout the city, said the school’s director, Niloy Gangopadhyay.

“These students were dissatisfied with their current schools,” said Gangopadhyay, adding that many are enrolled in the school’s upper grades.

O’Connell added: “Seventy (special education students) is even a conservative number,” because the school enrollment fluctuates at the beginning of each new school year.

While Success Prep gets additional state funding to educate special education students, the school must now hire two more paraprofessionals to accommodate the needs of those students, Gangopadhyay said.

One notable budget change this year is a lowered percentage of the budget going to administration salaries, while a higher amount is going to classroom teachers compared to last year.

This is in part because upper school principal and co-founder St. Claire Adriaan left his post at the end of the school year to move to Houston. His position and approximately $100,000 salary is not being replaced; Gangopadhyay has taken over as the sole school leader.

“We’re putting our money into teachers and support staff,” O’Connell said.

This year’s budget calls for spending $1.8 million in teacher salaries, up from $1.5 million last year.

Aside from salaries, the biggest part of the budget is transportation and food services, O’Connell said.

The school is increasing its special education funding for this school year and lowering its enrichment budget slightly, which includes student extracurricular activities like gym, dance class and Spanish class.

In addition to the 2013-14 school year budget, O’Connell presented the school’s five-year projected budget and said in a few years the board will have to make decisions about expensive building repairs, projected to top $75,000.

The school building at 2011 Bienville has an unusual configuration. Walls do not separate classrooms; partitions do. O’Connell said the school had to recently spend $8,000 soundproofing a kindergarten room.

“The ($75,000) is enough to make some adjustments; not major construction,” O’Connell said, adding that the school with work with the Recovery School District on building improvements that they are willing to help fund.

The vote on the budget will be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the school.

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