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Plans for Moton move to a new schoolhouse are in limbo; search for teachers continues

At their May 21 session, the board that oversees Robert Russa Moton Charter discussed plans to move the school and grappled with financial issues, but in ways out of step with open-meetings rules.

Board president Victor Gordon called the meeting to order at 12:33 p.m. without the roll call indicated on the agenda. All board members were in attendance, except for Barbara Major.

Members of the board and principal Paulette Bruno failed to provide financial advisor Marlene Wade and The Lens with documentation of issues slated for discussion. When pressed for copies before the meeting began, Bruno said, “You’ll get them after the meeting is over. There is no one here to make copies.”

In declining to provide The Lens with copies of financial records discussed during Wade’s presentation, Bruno called the paperwork irrelevant. The records, made available after the meeting, detailed grant reimbursements and the current status of the school’s finances.

With Moton slated to move into a new building, a spreadsheet was presented with a list of estimated utility costs. According to Bruno, that was the last information about the building received from the Orleans Parish School Board. Bruno said OPSB director of facilities Herman Tate has told her the building is nearly 200 days behind schedule and the move-in date is in limbo.

For lack of a move-in date, the meeting did not dwell on the budget for the 2014-2015 school year, though it appeared on the agenda under both “old business” and “new business” headings.

Other budgeting issues included whether to renew the school’s contract with its current bus company, which expires with the current school year. According to Gordon, the issue is part of a “wait and see game.”

The school continues to look for opportunities to expand both facilities and enrollment. Bruno said one of Moton’s kindergarten classes has been meeting in the teacher’s lounge because the classroom air conditioner isn’t working.

Bruno addressed the meeting briefly regarding tentative Title I and Title II projections for the next school year. The estimate for Title I grants received is $217,160 and $15,283.83 for Title II grants. Title I Grants typically are used for disadvantaged students while Title II Grants provide funding for the recruitment and training of faculty and staff.

Wade advised the board that cleaning up accounts receivable for the past year remains problematic. The Orleans Parish School Board has suggested resubmitting a new claim/reimbursement request, she said.

Bruno said she had LEAP scores for all grades tested, but declined to release the information beyond saying that three third-graders failed the test. She touched on the possibility of creating a rewards program for students who perform well academically.

Bruno said the school seeks teachers for third and seventh grade. The board voted to approve continuing the search, but did so without amending the meeting agenda to allow such a vote. Though the board had scheduled an executive session for the end of the public meeting, they adjourned at 1:12 p.m. without going into executive session.

A public hearing on Moton’s budget is scheduled for June 25. By law, the budget must be made available for public viewing during school hours starting at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The board’s next meeting will be in July at a date and time to be announced, Bruno said.

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