Audubon Charter School officials expect to learn soon what will be required to fix structural problems recently discovered at a building under construction at its Broadway campus.
In late January, Orleans Parish School Board officials announced that students will be stuck in modulars at the old Jean Gordon Elementary School in Gentilly for another year or longer because of construction problems.
The building’s steel frame was erected improperly, causing parts of the structure to buckle and slope, OPSB interim Superintendent Stan Smith said in January.
To fix the problem, the Orleans Parish School Board asked the contractor to partially demolish the exterior of the building. At first, the contractor wasn’t responsive, officials said, opting to open holes in the brickwork rather than expose all of the steel beams.
During Saturday’s meeting of the board that oversees Audubon, however, chairman Rev. Cornelius Tilton announced that the demolition was “95 percent complete” as of last week.
After the demolition is done, architects and engineers will report their findings to school officials and recommend a fix, Tilton said.
By this week, “we’ll have a better sense of what’s going on there,” Tilton said.
The board also voted to hire a new Mandarin teacher as part of a partnership with Xavier University’s Confucius Institute.
Audubon will pay no more than $2,000 a year for the service, as the teacher’s salary is mostly funded by the government of China, according to Yu Jiang, the director of the institute.
Audubon Principal Janice Dupuy strongly encouraged board members to accept the partnership and fund the Chinese teacher. She explained that the school currently has one Mandarin teacher whose salary is funded by a special grant, but the teacher was only allowed to stay for one year.
By participating in the Xavier program, Audubon will be able to offer Mandarin at both campuses, Dupuy said. The school’s French program requires a third language, which makes the partnership “very compatible” with the school’s curriculum.
The partnership will begin in the 2014-15 school year, and the instructor will stay for two to five years, according to Tilton.
Tilton also said that the school would have to start paying its two French teachers out of its own funds. Previously, the French government sponsored the teachers as part of Audubon’s curriculum, he said.
Aside from Tilton, board members Derek D. Bardell, Jean Claude Brunet, Gregory Thompson, Eva Alito and Jacqueline Smith were present at the meeting, which lasted a little more than an hour.