Unexpected computer costs send Audubon Charter budget back to the drawing board

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The board of Audubon Charter School will take another look at next year’s budget before finalizing and approving it during their June meeting.

That decision was reached during the board’s May meeting on Saturday, following a mandatory public hearing on the 2014-15 budget.

Discussion centered on $140,000 budgeted for network upgrades necessary to administer the PARCC test. PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing, is compatible with Common Core standards.

Technology director Dion Weber informed the board that she would also need $120,000 over two years for new computers.

Grants worth $24,000 have been received for the project, Weber said, noting that she had previously requested at least $220,000 for the whole project.

Facilities manager Alisa Dupre added that half of the $140,000 and half of the $120,000 would be used next year, since the school would upgrade one campus at a time, starting on Milan Street.

Certified school accountant Ben Hicks said the proposed 2014-15 budget needed to better clarify how the upgrades were being funded before it could be submitted for state approval.

“I was not under the impression that there was anything missing from the budget,” Hicks said, adding that he needed to meet with Weber. “If we want to spend it in the coming year, it’s got to be in here.”

The Rev. Cornelius Tilton, chairman, stressed that the board needs written information about financing for such projects before budgets are drafted.

Earlier discussion of the technology costs had been speculative, Tilton said, adding “now we’re getting down to specificity.”

Hicks and Weber said they will meet to better clarify the budget before the next meeting.

In other news, an operations report showed a list of projects still needed for the school.

Audubon Charter will need to purchase storage containers for physical education equipment and custodial supplies, since the former Carrollton Courthouse campus had more storage than the Milan Street campus, Dupre said, adding that the Orleans Parish School Board had backed off an earlier promise to provide the containers.

The Carrollton campus has been put on the Orleans Parish School Board’s surplus-property list, she added. That means it could eventually be sold and that Audubon Charter needs to get its property out of the building.

The OPSB also won’t put down pavers around a new playground to a address a mud pit caused during construction. That will also cost the school, Dupre added.

Finally, the board voted to enter into agreement with Knowledge is Power Program to act as Audubon’s school food authority for the 2014-15 school year.

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