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Financial books are in order, but unpaid aftercare bills worry Morris Jeff board

Directors of Morris Jeff Community School reviewed a clean audit at their Feb. 20 meeting and mulled whether to write off uncollected fees for the school’s aftercare program.

Accountant Mike Caparotta of Hienz and Macaluso presented the school’s state-mandated independent audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The school’s books were rated “unqualified,”  meaning no financial irregularities were spotted.

Caparotta noted that the firm recommended a different procedure for collecting cash for food service. School finance director Jared Frank said the charter has been using the recommended method recommended since the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Board member Jennifer Weishaupt praised the finance committee and staff for otherwise flawless audit.

“We’ve always had one minor finding each year, so that was good news,” she said.

In other business, the board discussed whether to write off uncollected money that was supposed to be paid for the school’s aftercare service, known as the Explorers Program.

Treasurer Melissa Jagers estimated the currently uncollected amount at $18,943, with an overhang of $50,000 to $60,000 uncollected last year. Since the school does not expect to collect the money, Jagers proposed that the money be eliminated from the receivables line of the school’s financial records.

“Generally it means you expect to collect it by the next statement,” she said of money categorized as a receivable. “We can’t sit here and honestly say that we expect to collect that money.”

Weishaupt expressed consternation, given the amount of work that goes into fundraising.

“I’m not comfortable with us just writing off such huge amounts,” she said.

Jagers said attempts have been made to collect the money. She said the finance committee did not want to take the step of hiring a collection agency to find the families because they felt it wouldn’t be consistent with Morris Jeff’s values.

Weishaupt disagreed, saying it is “standard financial practice” to collect money that is due.

The board opted to table the matter for further discussion at the finance committee meeting. Jagers said she would provide more specific details, and board members would have a chance to hear more about what has been done to collect the money.

In enrollment news, Principal Patricia Perkins said the school received 395 applications through the OneApp process for next school year. The school has 82 openings, 60 of which are in the pre-K program. “There seems to be a nice demand for our programs,” she said.

The school community is mourning the loss of a beloved member. Pre-K instructor Jerry Foxworth passed away in late January. Foxworth was in her fourth year at Morris Jeff having  taught in New Orleans schools for three decades.

“We know she left a huge, indelible mark on our school,” Perkins said.

Following her passing, Perkins got a call from a teacher whom Foxworth had mentored.

“When she finished trying to process Ms. Foxworth’s death, she came to me and said, ‘I know Jerry wants me to teach her kids,'” Perkins said.

Perkins then arranged for the teacher to take over the class.

“They haven’t missed a beat,” she said.

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