Crescent City Schools may take over City Park Academy as principal retires

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Crescent City Schools could be adding a fourth charter to its management portfolio: McDonogh City Park Academy — possibly by 2015.

Board members of the Academy, which runs from kindergarten through eighth grade, are in talks with several charter management organizations, as they look for someone to take charge when their principal, Christine Mitchell, retires at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

In addition to Crescent City, McDonogh City Park Academy is talking to ARISE Academy, The Choice Foundation, New Orleans College Preparatory Academies, and ReNEW Schools, said Mitchell, an educator for 21 years.

The possible takeover of McDonogh City Park Academy was a focus of discussion at a Crescent City board meeting earlier this month.

If McDonogh City Park Academy officials opt for Crescent City, it would be the second time a school has sought the organization’s guidance in as many years. Crescent City acquired Akili Academy in 2012 after former Akili CEO Sean Gallagher moved back to Philadelphia to be closer to family. Some of City Park Academy’s board members would likely join Crescent City’s board, as some Akili members did, Crescent City CEO Kate Mehok said.

The timing is right, Mehok said. Stacey Carter, a Crescent City leadership fellow, is on tap to take charge of a school in 2015. Crescent City’s school leadership fellows program trains would-be principals for at least a year before setting them up in one of the group’s schools.

McDonogh City Park Academy officials asked Crescent City staffers to fill out a questionnaire, a first step in determining if the organization is a good fit.

For now, “there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Crescent City board president JP Hymel said. Board member Carolyn Chandler said she was proud that schools were seeking out the organization.

The board also approved minor changes to its bylaws, approved its annual audit, and added a new member, Tiffany Robbins, an accountant from Algiers.

Before approving the bylaw amendments, the board called for public comment, the only time they did so prior to taking a vote. They did this shortly after a visitor entered the room. Mehok has said that the organization asks for public comment when new faces attend the meeting or when people indicate that they would like to speak. The state’s open-meetings law requires that boards call for public comment before every vote.

Crescent City’s audit was relatively clean. Auditors Ericksen, Krentel, & LaPorte, LLP’s only qualm was that some receipts accompanying the organization’s credit card purchases didn’t have the business purpose for the expense labeled on the receipt itself. They encouraged the board to include this on all receipts.

The board’s next meeting is Feb. 19, at 6 p.m., at Paul Habans Charter School.

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