Charter Schools

Chosen by City Park Academy, ReNEW group begins studying options surrounding takeover

ReNEW Schools is beginning a three-month process to decide whether to accept McDonogh City Park Academy’s vote to join the charter management organization.

At ReNEW Schools’ monthly board meeting, president and chief operating officer Kevin Guitterrez said the process begins with committee-level discussion of criteria such as availability of startup funds, clean financial audits, an approved charter and academic performance.

The takeover would begin with the 2015-16 school year, with a partnership year in between. In past takeovers, ReNEW has not known which school it would get until as late as March 30 of the previous school year.

“We’re way ahead of where we typically are,” Guitterrez said.

In talks with the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Recovery School District, Guitterrez said ReNEW would have two options for taking over McDonogh City Park Academy.

One is for ReNEW to take on the school’s current charter and manage the school as is. McDonogh recently renewed its charter, effective in July.

The second option would be for City Park Academy to retire the current charter and accept turnaround status under the ReNEW’s umbrella. This second approach would reset the school’s performance score to a “T” rather than continue its current “C” score. Guitterrez said this option would give ReNEW access to funding and donations that are available to new schools.

The school must spend its current allocation of state and federal funds before joining ReNEW, Guitterrez said. The two organizations have already talked about projects that could make use of that money, such as additional technology and curriculum resources. Any money donated to City Park Academy can be transferred to ReNEW, however.

The school’s board of directors, New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation, would be dissolved, Guitterrez said, though some member have expressed interest in joining ReNEW’s board.

ReNEW is aiming to make its decision and, if necessary, prepare a recommendation for the takeover, by August. Guitterrez said he expects negotiations between ReNEW, City Park Academy, the Recovery School District and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to begin at the state board’s December meeting.

In other news, Guitterrez said ReNEW is switching to Apple Bus Company to cover all transportation needs, rather than continue to use several bus services.

Chief Financial Officer Tanya Bryant reported that ReNEW has received the remaining portion of $3.3 million in tax revenue owed to schools by the Orleans Parish School Board. ReNEW is now looking for ways to invest the money, she said.

For the last agenda item, the board withdrew into an executive session to discuss pending litigation over a job-discrimination complaint.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, at 3649 Laurel St.

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