The NET Charter High School will have a larger operating budget next school year due to sizable grants and new revenue this year. The board of Educators for Quality Alternatives, which oversees the school, discussed the proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year at its monthly meeting and public hearing on May 20.
Next year’s budget outlines revenue and expenses of about $1.9 million. That’s a significant increase from the current school year, when The NET took in $1.5 million.
Principal Elizabeth Ostberg outlined what’s behind the increase. She expects more money for special education students because The NET has a higher percentage of students that require special services than the state average.
The alternative high school school provides year-round, flexible programming for students ages 16-21.
The school is receiving $200,000 from Harrah’s casino via the Recovery School District, a $148,500 grant from the Walton Foundation and $140,000 from Orleans Parish School Board. Ostberg plans to use the OPSB money in the 2015-16 school year.
Ostberg said she’ll use the Harrah’s money to improve special education services and evaluations. The school will add a full-time, special-education teacher and another part-time teacher to provide services at home for students with chronic absences due to pregnancy, injury, illness, incarceration or other reasons.
Like other schools, most of the budget for next school year is committed to teacher salary and benefits. Most employees will receive $2,000 more in salary and bonuses.
“Our staff — their skillfulness and dedication — is the single most important lever in our students’ growth and success, so it is very important that we recognize and compensate our staff as much as possible,” Ostberg said.
According to the staffing plan, The NET will retain its part-time construction teacher and hire a part-time Next Steps Coordinator to help students after graduation.
Ostberg projected that the school will run a deficit in the 2015-16 school year. “We want to continue the services we’re putting in place next year,” she said.
However, the school plans to maintain $250,000 in reserves.
“That is roughly twice what the state deems to be fiscally conservative,” said Brett Hunt, director of finances for FirstLine Schools, which helps The NET with its finances.
After discussing the budget, the board approved the finance report. The board will meet on June 24 at 6 p.m. at the school to approve its budget proposal. The meeting is open to the public; the school is located at 1614 O.C. Haley Blvd.
The board also voted to change its meeting schedule to meet on the third Tuesday of every month instead of the last.
At the end of the meeting, board member Marshall Fitz resigned. He has been on the board since 2010.
“Marshall has been here since the beginning,” Ostberg said. “This was never a guarantee — we didn’t know if we’d have a school — and Marshall stuck with us.”
Board treasurer Will Kulick is likely to resign soon, according to board president Kristina Kent. She said she will try to add new members to keep the board at seven people.
In attendance at the meeting were board members Fitz, Kent, Michelle Brown, Anna Koehl, principal Ostberg, and Hunt, who presented an overview of the budget.