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Sophie B. Wright renovations will last through 2015-16 school year

The renovation of Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s building on Napoleon Avenue is moving along more slowly than planned, with the school soliciting bids for renovation just last week — more than three months later than planned.

This spring, a staffer suggested that quick work could get students in by next school year. The Recovery School District doesn’t expect that to happen until the summer of 2016, according to spokeswoman Zoey Reed.

Ray Martin, who lives behind the school on Jena Street, said the vacant building is starting to look blighted. “The grass is getting tall; there’s garbage everywhere,” he said. “Everybody else around here keeps their yard nice, and it’s becoming an eyesore.”

Martin said he’s worried that the repairs will cost too much and the building will remain unused. “I would hope that the school comes back and is revitalized, but I don’t want a big empty building just sitting there,” he said.

The Sophie B. Wright board learned in March that workers gutting the building found more problems than they expected, including termite damage in four roof trusses.

Still, the board planned to solicit bids in April for the renovation. That was delayed because of a holdup in getting approval from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Reed said. The building on Napoleon, which was built in 1912, is eligible for listing on a historic registry, and FEMA must take special steps in such cases.

The Lens tried to reach all school board members, as well as principal Sharon Clark and dean of students Lawrence Vinnett, for comment, but was unsuccessful.

While the Napoleon building is being worked on, the school is using the former James Weldon Johnson Elementary campus at 1800 Monroe St. in the Leonidas neighborhood.

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  • nickelndime

    From what I can tell, all of Napoleon Avenue is moving along more slowly than planned. How long is this street project going to take? Will these families’ grandchildren be asking grandma and grandpa to tell them how the fences got there? That is no excuse for the lack of progress at Sophie B. Wright, and I am sure that neighbors are keeping up their properties and their gardens – behind those barricades – if only I could see. Is Zoey Reed still the RSD spokeswoman? Well, there you have it. Not quite sure what the actual delay is! Then, we have the dilemma of trying to get information from the 6-figured annual salaried Sharon Clark. It would be different if the academic losses were not so dramatic this past year. We might be able to excuse Ms. Clark more easily. Now, this is where the charter board comes in – can’t get in touch with any of them either? One of the board members recently won a city election – damn! Memory loss. Last but not least – do any of these nonprofit charter boards (RSD and OPSB alike) actually know how to get rid of (fire) a poor administrator? It would not appear so! This too needs fixing,

  • boathead12

    N&D, as best as I can tell, Boh is on schedule at the moment if not a little ahead of their plan. We have asked, but SWB and USACE have never provided a detailed project schedule, which they certainly have available. I’m sure they can claim it is deeply buried under some URL, but it is not readily available, and despite my repeated requests they have never put up a placard providing public information.

    I do not understand the failure of School Board and RSD property managers to do proper due dilligance. It seems for whatever reason, every single project experiences major change orders that require a new bid and delay and more money. Is this all rooted in their hands being tied by bad laws coming from our legislature in Baton Rouge?

  • nickelndime

    Thanks, boat…, maybe a placard or two would help. It can’t hurt. This just seems to be a stream of neverending fencing, barricades, and strategically placed traps (set up to catch unsuspecting, naive motorists). Ha! That being said, there may be an analogy here between the streets in New Orleans and oversight of schools and buildings by the OPSB and the State/RSD.

  • nickelndime

    Jason Williams is the new City Council member who is on the Sophie B. Wright Board. As Tan stated, The Lens has been unable to contact board members. Well, Williams will be in court tomorrow (July 29). He is testifying in a contraband case involving an OPP inmate, in which he and inmate “K. K.” exchanged texts (no client-attorney privilege there – the cell phone was contraband). Maybe Mr. Williams did not know why The Lens was trying to reach him (Sophie B. Wright) vs. a court case. I am holding onto my chair, but it is beginning to rock. The irony in this city has me laughing so hard, it is difficult to hold on!

  • HalfFullClass

    I predict that SBW will lose their charter & that nice renovated building will be handed over to one of the “too big to fail CMOs” ReNEW, FirstLine, Collegiate Academics & KipP…. The single-school charters will be thrown to the curb and under the bus.

    We will soon have 5-6 super CMOs operating all the remaining schools Lika a faux school board without the restrictions of being elected or the accountability of a public entity. Our students will struggle and fail through this “experiment”.

    New Orleans is the charter school model for the country. OMG

  • boathead12

    You may be right. So goes the first wave. The second wave is where schools like Lycée and Audubon and Lusher continue to receive overwhelming 1st choice applications, and they begin to gain an edge on the supercookiecutter schools. It will take years, but I don’t think parents will continue to select KIPP when truly outstanding alternatives are available.

  • nickelndime

    Hey, with all of the turmoil going on in Baton Rouge, can you believe that today (July 29) John White explained that BESE voted to renew Milestone’s charter? Of course, you do. No principal, a “D” school for how many years now (8, 9, 10 ?), board consul-Juan Hernandez, also sits on ACSA board, ACSA decides not to take over management of the school… What can I say that hasn’t already been said? How about this? When Leslie Jacobs backs a State/BESE charter, it just can’t lose! (its charter). Now, I don’t want to start laughing, cuz this is just too damn serious, and my floor is…well, you wouldn’t believe! All of the corruption in this city keeps me very very very busy,

  • nickelndime

    SBW Charter: Sharon Clark has made a “boatload” of money as the CEO/administrator at SBW. In fact, Sharon hasn’t missed a paycheck even with Katrina. And why would she talk to the press when the press could not get a call back from any board member? If Ms. Tan wanted to interview at least one board member, she should have gone over to the Criminal Court building for the trial today (July 29). K.K., Jason Williams’ former client, was convicted on that cell phone contraband charge, even though he was capably defended by attorney Spears (bad court day). We might want to rethink prisoners’ rights and maybe exchange some of the prisoners for “criminal” attorneys (let me clarify that – attorneys who practice criminal law). Ha!