Collegiate Academies expects to run a deficit for the first time in the 2014-15 school year. It will cover the shortfall with some of the reserves it has built up over the past five years, according to a proposed budget discussed at its May 21 board meeting.
The charter organization, which runs Sci Academy, George Washington Carver Collegiate Academy and George Washington Carver Preparatory Academy, expects that its $2.19 million surplus will help it through a transitional funding year.
“We’ve been very lucky to have built this surplus; now we’ve got to use it,” board chair Stephen Rosenthal said. “Going forward, it’s going to be tight.”
The board will take public comment on the budget through the summer and will vote on it at the August meeting.
Collegiate Academies expects its expenses to surpass revenues by $108,760 next school year, due mostly to the expiration of non-recurring revenues from previous years. That includes government grants and a large Investing in Innovation (or i3) grant from New Schools for New Orleans.
The Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit organization that invests in charter schools, suggests that organizations have a surplus of 10 to 15 percent of their annual budget. The projected $1.9 million surplus at the end of the next fiscal year would be about 15 of percent of Collegiate Academies’ $13 million budget.
CEO Ben Marcovitz said he does not expect any “meaningful cuts” to programming for students. He said the organization decided not to hire a few additional support teachers and that he’s planning to keep an eye on overtime.
Carver Prep and Carver Collegiate will see their first sophomore class this year, increasing the expected state and local government funding by $2 million. The additional students also raised salary and benefit expenses by $1.9 million.
Collegiate Academies President Morgan Carter Ripski said that the budget places the deficit at the charter organization’s central office, where state law does not require a surplus.
At the board’s request, CEO Ben Marcovitz presented statistics of the charter organization’s student population and performance:
99 percent of Collegiate Academies students are minorities.
18 percent receive special education services, compared to 10 percent of students across the Recovery School District.
More students at Collegiate Academies are on free or reduced lunch, too: 93 percent compared to an average of 82 percent in the RSD.
The retention rate is the same at Collegiate Academies and the RSD: 80 percent.
The board also elected its officers. Rosenthal, who has served on the boards for KIPP New Orleans Schools and FirstLine Schools, was elected board chair. Jonathan Wilson was voted in as the vice chair. Founding board member Doug Finegan will serve as treasurer and secretary.
This was the first meeting for two new board members, Kevin Wilkins and Gregory St. Etienne. Rosenthal, Wilson and Finegan took over signatory authority on the organization’s financial accounts.
The board also approved hiring the auditing firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram for the fifth year in a row.