The board of Miller-McCoy Academy welcomed the school’s new chief executive officer to its January meeting and learned that bookkeeping problems that last year attracted the attention of Louisiana Board of Ethics have been resolved.

The problems arose when co-founders and former school leaders Tiffany Hardrick and Keith Sanders canceled a transportation contract without permission from the board, then awarded a new contract to a firm headed by Hardrick’s brother. Hardrick also employed two siblings at the school, an apparent violation of nepotism rules.

Though ethics issues have been put to rest, the school’s finances could stand improvement, according to the audit by LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors.

Treasurer David Bailey expanded on that theme, reporting a current deficit of approximately $213,000, which he said was “eating into” the school’s surplus of nearly $371,000.

“It’s important to note that these are cumulative numbers through December,” Bailey said. “December was not a bad month given that we had a one-time stipend from the RSD that mitigated some of the deficit.”

But the difficulties are likely to continue, Bailey warned. “We anticipate the coming months to be challenging, both from an expense and revenue position,” he said. “We have good people in place to monitor these expenses,” Bailey said, adding that the deficit is expected to shrink over time.

As a step toward improving the financials, Bailey presented the board with a proposal to buy a bus to transport Miller-McCoy’s special-needs children to and from school. The capital expenditure would reduce payments to Hammond’s Transportation.

In other business, Walter Strong reported to the board on school administration and funds development for the first time since succeeding Andrea Thomas-Reynolds as chief executive officer. Thomas-Reynolds took a job in the private sector, according to a Jan.14 press release. Strong was executive vice president of Dillard University prior to his retirement last February.

He said his introduction to Miller-McCoy was a reminder that “a school is a magical place, a  magical land, where special things happen in a classroom between students and teachers.” He added that he was “astounded by the quality of the faculty, the dedication and the passion they show.”

Strong announced receipt of a $15,000 unrestricted grant as well as two other restricted grants. He also saluted efforts by board members Martin deLaureal and chairman Michael Todd to recruit students of Vietnamese, Hispanic and Caucasian heritage.

“The Miller-McCoy experience is one that’s open to a diverse community,” Strong said.

Board members Bailey, deLaureal and Todd were present for the meeting as were Ralph Brennan, and Blake Oakes. The next meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Feb. 24, in the school cafeteria.