$200G from casino to target psych services, homebound students, career coordinator

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The Net Charter High School anticipates receiving $200,000 that the city has been collecting from Harrah’s Casino.

At the Feb. 4 meeting of Educators for Quality Alternatives, the school’s board of directors, principal Elizabeth Ostberg said the money will be tendered in two annual payments of $100,000 starting in the next fiscal year.

Harrah’s Casino has given millions of dollars to New Orleans, and the Recovery School District now plans to disburse the money to schools, primarily for the education of at-risk students, Ostberg said. The Net serves at-risk students aged 16-21 with a year-round program focused on preparation for post-graduation opportunities.

Ostberg said the school plans to use the money to improve mental health and psychiatric services, for homebound services and to make the school’s career coordinator a full-time position.  Homebound services would help support students who are pregnant, injured, in jail, or who face other extenuating circumstances that preclude regular school attendance.

The board also discussed special-education services. Ostberg said her staff is putting extra emphasis on evaluating special-needs students who might benefit from additional educational services. Currently, 19 percent of students at The Net have special-education needs, but Ostberg thinks closer to 30 percent would qualify if staff were able to evaluate students more consistently.

Sixteen students graduated from The Net on Jan. 11, the biggest graduating class to date.  The school quickly recruited new students to fill vacancies. Enrollment stands at 152, two above the projected number, but attendance rates for January, at 65 percent, were the lowest of the school year.

“The big reason attendance was so bad was that enrollment was all over the place,” Ostberg said.  “Several new students enrolled in January but only attended one or two days.”

The board also approved a pupil-progression plan, subject to state review. She said no significant changes were made from last year’s plan.

The board approved the monthly budget report, showing a current surplus of $359,833.

“We’re in good shape,” Ostberg said.

Board member Melissa Lessell led discussion of the March 22 basketball tournament at Langston Hughes Academy, The Net’s signature fundraiser. It features food, beer, music and prizes for winning teams.

The meeting had been rescheduled from Jan. 28 because of bad weather.  The board will meet again Feb. 24.

Only five board members and Ostberg were present.  Board President Kristina Kent was absent.  Board member Marshall Fitz left after 45 minutes, leaving the board without a quorum and unable to take any votes.

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