ReNEW Schools board members had money on their minds at their Thursday meeting. They voted to simplify how ReNEW pays teachers across its six schools, heard an update on audits and discussed a variety of grants.
Chief Financial Officer Tanya Bryant said ReNEW’s annual audit has been completed, though a short, follow-up audit should be finished by Tuesday. It will examine how ReNEW has used its school improvement funds, which Bryant said is a routine check. She still expects to have a final report ready for the board by Dec. 20.
Board members approved a resolution to give Bryant sole discretion in approving certain wire transfers for payroll payments.
In the past, ReNEW has used separate companies to handle up to seven separate payroll payouts across its schools. The organization has consolidated this into a single payroll payment handled by ADP, Bryant said.
But the new single, combined payroll is so large that the bank requires ReNEW to review and agree to the payroll transfer. Bryant had to get approval of board President Sharon Courtner, Treasurer Sandra Cahill or Chief of Staff Colleen Mackay.
With the board’s approval of this resolution, Bryant will now be able to approve the wire transfers herself.
Bryant said the combined payroll should reduce confusion when employees file tax returns. Some employees who have worked across several ReNEW schools received a W-2 form for each school, which can look bad to lenders.
President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Guitterrez told board members that he has met with a Sprint representative to discuss what could happen in a “worst-case scenario” for ReNEW’s application for E-rate communications subsidies. That covers up to 90 percent of a school’s telecommunications bill.
ReNEW has always paid 10 percent of its bills, Guitterrez said. He said he believes Sprint will still accept that even if ReNEW does not receive enough E-rate funding to cover the rest.
Guitterrez said ReNEW has received several grants since its last meeting, including a $3,500 grant from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for new instruments for ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Elementary and ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy, and an Ezra Jack Keats Foundation literacy grant for ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary. ReNEW will also add a librarian from the Americorps VISTA program.
Development Manager Pete Rodway said the school has received grants for a 3-D printer at ReNEW SciTech Academy, along with more than $20,000 from Chevron for improvements to SciTech’s science, technology, engineering and math lab.
A pending application for a Carl D. Perkins grant could help fund A+ certification training at the school, which would prepare students for careers in IT.
Hector Ulloa, school leader for Schaumburg and Dolores T. Aaron elementary schools, spoke to the board about how he gives teachers relevant feedback. He said he hopes to turn his schools into “destination schools” for veteran teachers who want to continue to improve.
The next board meeting will be Jan. 9 at ReNEW Accelerated High School, 3649 Laurel St., at 5:30 p.m.