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New Beginnings board adds more members

The New Beginnings Schools Foundation board came into compliance with state law Tuesday night by voting six additional members onto its six-member board.

With 12 members, the board is now well above the seven-member threshold required by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The charter board dropped below the required number in August after three members, including board chairman Tim Ryan, resigned.

New members Austin Zaunbrecher and Donald Wheat have a background in finances. Travis Chase works at Dillard University, and Wanda Brooks is a former school administrator. New member Leslie Bouie works in human services, and Autumn Harrell is a lawyer.

At the meeting, member Sheila Dancey insisted that all board members, including herself, go through a board orientation.

Board members also agreed to make bylaw revisions a priority.

 “Our bylaws are not in good shape at all,” said member and attorney Jade Brown Russell.

Three of the network’s schools, Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, Medard Nelson Charter School and Gentilly Terrace, are in good shape financially, finance director Kendal Turner said.

But the network’s fourth school, Pierre Capdau Charter School, continues to struggle with enrollment and is expecting a $189,000 deficit as a result of having about 20 students fewer than expected.

One cost-saving option would be to cut staff, but New Beginnings CEO Sametta Brown made it clear Tuesday that would not happen at Capdau, reassuring parents in attendance.

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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • nickelndime

    One cost-cutting option would be to slash administrative pay starting with Sametta’s salary. That $189,000 deficit could be wiped out overnight. And as far as the New Beginnings Board ensuring that Capdau will continue to operate in the red (less students and no staff cuts), isn’t this the school where Sametta approved the $43,000 payout to a teacher for “testing improvement”?