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FirstLine fund balance will cover slight revenue shortfall and Common Core tech costs

Chief operating officer Joseph Neary went over a preliminary budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year at the  FirstLine board’s June 3 meeting.

“We’ll probably have the required public budget hearing later in June, and seek approval at the August [27] board meeting,” Neary said.

As the budget currently stands, FirstLine anticipates operational expenses of $36,024,559 and revenues of $35,928, 347.

To make up the difference, $96,212 is being taken from the network’s fund balance of $5,627,589. Another $325,000 from the fund balance will be applied to a one-time technology investment to help FirstLine’s five schools prepare for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, which are taken online and align with the newly-adopted Common Core state standards.

“It is recommended that we have one computer for every three students,” Neary said. The current ratio is about six-to-one, he added.

FirstLine CEO Jay Altman spoke of launching NOLA Career and Technical Academy, or NOLA Tech, for short. In partnership with Delgado Community College, it provides students at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory, FirstLine’s only high school, with the opportunity to attend college classes and get professional certification while still in high school.

“We’re about to run into a train wreck of a crisis in Louisiana,” Altman said. “The number of jobs available is going to far exceed the number of Louisiana workers in certain skill sets.”

According to Altman, 16 students will begin taking classes at Delgado this summer, and 20 more are signed up for the fall semester. The goal for the coming year is to have 60 students in the program’s four areas of certification: allied health, digital information technology, cultural economy, and skilled crafts and trades.

During the facilities committee update, Derius Harrell said priorities include selling the former site of New Orleans Charter School, now a two-acre vacant lot at 3801 Monroe St. FirstLine is asking $825,000 for the property.

John Dibert Community School is making a transition to the former site of Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, at 2300 Dumaine St. The school’s official name for the 2014-15 school year will be John Dibert Community School at Phillis Wheatley. That will change to Phillis Wheatley Community School in time for the 2015-16 school year. To remedy parking problems, FirstLine seeks to acquire a lot within a block of the building.

The two-hour meeting took place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Arthur Ashe Charter School, 1456 Gardena Dr. Board members present were Christian Rhodes, Derius Harrell, Catherine Pierson, Alison Hartman, Greg St. Etienne and George Freeman.

Absent: Stephen Rosenthal, Lawrence Kullman, Brian Egana, Kim Henry and Monique Cola.

The Lens reporter was the only member of the general public who attended.

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