The board of directors for ARISE Academy Wednesday night approved a loan to buy their own buses.

The school will pay $220,500 over three years to finance the purchase of 12 buses, according to an agreement made available at the monthly board of director’s meeting.

The contract was a change from what the board approved to pursue in May – a $325,000 loan that would be paid back over five years.

The buses had already been in use, and were parked in front of Mildred Osborne Charter School in eastern New Orleans during Wednesday’s meeting.

“They’re here and they’re running,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Shahan said about the organization’s new fleet.

Shahan said there were a few hiccups that went along with the process of buying a fleet of buses, such as figuring out details like efficient routes, and the hiring of a good staff to drive the buses.

All in all, though, he said the school has managed to run its own fleet smoothly since the beginning of the school year. Most charter organizations contract the service out.

“Even if we had a bus company, it seems they always mess it up in the beginning,” Shahan said.

The board also approved a charter agreement for Mildred Osborne Charter School.

ARISE Schools recently doubled in size when the non-profit took over Osborne. The school formerly housed Pride College Prep, but Pride’s charter was not renewed last year.

Osborne is in a brand new building located on the 6700 block of Curran Boulevard.

ARISE Academy is in a new location this year, too, but school leaders said that its new building, unlike the one at Curran Boulevard, came with a huge set of challenges.

Last year ARISE held classes in the Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School on St. Claude Avenue. But that building was slated for renovations this year, so ARISE was assigned to the Douglass Building, which, conveniently, is directly across the street from Drew.

The Douglass building was supposed to have renovations finished by the end of July, but the building was still under construction by the time ARISE started classes on Aug. 7.

“It might be the hardest thing we’ve done in four years,” Shahan said about the process.

“I am much less bitter today than I was a month ago,” Shahan went on. “We were the guinea pig. Not only did we have to pick up and move, but we moved into a construction zone.”

According to Shahan, the Recovery School District may begin doing more construction on school buildings while kids are in them.

He added that things are running more smoothly now, about a month into the new school year, and that the teachers and staff of the school adjusted well.

“It’s monstrously better,” Shahan said, adding that the best thing for parents “is we’re still in the same neighborhood.”

The board’s 2013-14 budget predicts that ARISE Academy will end the year with a surplus of nearly $540,000.

Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative...