Lusher Charter School’s governing Advocates for Arts Based Education Board of Directors approved the acquisition of two properties adjacent to the school at a meeting Saturday.
The hour-long meeting began with the re-election of the board’s three existing officers for the new school year: President Blaine LeCesne, Vice-President Paul Barron and Secretary Rachel Wisdom.
All were unanimously confirmed by the board. The process does not require outside input or votes.
Alysia Loshbaugh, an addition to the board along with four others in April, was elected as treasurer. Loshbaugh is the director of budget and financial affairs in the Tulane University Provost’s office.
The board then unanimously voted to ratify the purchase of two parcels of real estate adjacent to Lusher’s Willow Street campus. LeCesne said the precise use for the two residential properties located at 7326-28 and 7330-32 Jeanette St. has not yet been decided.
He said the houses likely will be demolished, and from there they will figure out how to best incorporate the additional space.
Regardless, we are “busting at the seams,” LeCesne said. Enrollment is currently at capacity with a waiting list, Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger said.
Riedlinger also said that a recent increase in state funding from $8,100 to $8,900 per pupil was “very good news,” and “moving toward living within our budget.”
Riedlinger said the school is awaiting funding designated for teacher salary increases that will be applied to one-time “well-deserved” bonuses for certified classroom teachers.
Addressing facilities, LeCesne and Riedlinger said they are still awaiting the latest reports on the scope of construction for the planned stabilization of the schools’ Freret and Willow Street buildings. LeCesne said he hoped the updated reports on scope would be available in November.
For as long as she could remember, Riedlinger said they had not paid the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board for a water bill. However starting this year, that expense must be included in the budget, at an estimated cost of $28,000 for the year for all campuses.
This led to a lengthy discussion of the the cost-effectiveness and safety considerations of turning the grass football field into artificial turf to avoid the cost of watering the field.
Riedlinger also said she was excited that Lusher has been selected as a field test site for the new Common Core standards for certain grades, including seventh grade English Language Arts (ELA), math, ninth and 10th grade ELA, Algebra II and Geometry.
Sheila Nelson, principal for the lower school, lauded the growth of the project-based learning program at the first through third grade levels. While tied to state standards, the projects foster creativity and collective learning, she said. “In the next three years we’ll have one of the best project-based programs in the country,” Nelson said.
Riedlinger said she would reach out to the parents organization at its next meeting to help with fundraising to pay for increased professional-development opportunities.
Riedlinger said she would have the data regarding last year’s ACT scores at the next board meeting. She said the average ACT score is not necessarily reflective of the totality of student performance, in that there are “different targets for different kids,” including the schools’ 7 percent of students in special education.*
Lusher also has declined to participate in the city-wide OneApp single enrollment process until it will be legally required to so in 2021. But Riedlinger said she is participating in the OneApp committee this year to stay apprised of the program’s latest developments, knowing that the laws could change and Lusher could be forced to participate sooner than 2021.
The next board meeting will take place at 10 a.m. at Oct. 12 at 5624 Freret St.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Lusher has a selective-admissions process. While many students are admitted through such a process, others are admitted to the lower school because they live within the neighborhood boundaries of that campus.