Budget and enrollment grow as Bricolage adds first grade in its second year

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With Bricolage Academy expanding its elementary school to first grade and doubling its enrollment, the tentative budget for next year is nearly half again as big as the budget for the current year.

On Tuesday the school held a budget hearing at its Touro Synagogue campus with the board’s Finance Committee presiding. Committee members discussed budget details before forwarding the document to the full board to be voted up or down at its monthly meeting, June 2.

The 2014-15 budget anticipates $2,253,267 in revenue and $2,251,397 in expenses. That’s an increase in expenses of more than $700,000 from the school’s budget of $1.5 million in 2013-14, its inaugural year.

Fifty-nine percent of next year’s budget is allocated for salaries and benefits.  Bricolage Academy will add seven new positions to its staff, including four first grade teachers.

Another change is the percentage of revenue from state and local sources versus grants and donations.  In the school’s first year, 38 percent of revenue was from per-pupil government funds — the main source of revenue for most schools — and 58 percent was from private grants and donations.  Next year’s budget will draw 63 percent from per-pupil funds as the enrollment jumps from 75 students to 150.

Principal Josh Densen said there is “no risk of under-enrollment next year.”

In the current start-up year, non-government grants included $1,040,000 from New Schools for New Orleans from its NOLA Charter Excellence Fund and $250,000 from the Walton Foundation, according to Densen and Ashley Beckner, the school’s director of finance and operations.

In the coming year, Bricolage expects $734,000 in private grants and donations, of which about $300,000 has been committed so far, $200,000 of it from Walton and $100,000 from individuals, Beckner said.

“I think we have healthy [fundraising] goals, but they are doable,” board chair Alan Philipson said.

The academy had a relatively large fund balance of $453,021 as of May 22. Densen and Beckner said a fund balance of that size was appropriate for a start-up school, especially given plans to move to a new facility for the 2015-16 school year.

“Our facility situation is unknown, so we are going to sit on it,” Beckner said of the fund balance. “There’s a number of unknowns, so that balance is not that conservative.”

The board will meet for its June 2 session at 12:30 p.m. in Touro Synagogue, 4238 St. Charles Avenue.  Bricolage is not religiously affiliated with the synagogue.

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