Schools run by the Orleans Parish School Board have been the top performers on standardized tests. That continued this year, but several charters in the Recovery School District inched past them. The challenge: Replicating what’s working.
“That’s the right thing for kids. That’s a bar we want to set for our kids. We want our kids to write like that; we want our kids to read like that, and we want them to understand math like that.” — Todd Purvis
Algiers Charter Schools Association staff went on 19 trips over four years, including five out of state that cost $113,000. And new figures from KIPP New Orleans Schools show that it spent $133,000 on its trip to Las Vegas. All told, The Lens has added up $316,000 in travel for three charter organizations.
About 185 of KIPP’s 440 employees in New Orleans attended a national summit for KIPP staffers in Nevada. The trip cost substantially more than the $69,400 that Friends of King spent on a staff-wide retreat in Biloxi, Miss. But Kipp’s nine schools all have money in the bank, while one of Friends of King’s two schools posted a $1 million deficit.
Charter boards overseeing 17 schools must decide by the end of the year if they want to move from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board. But there are still reasons for schools to stay put, such as funding issues and concerns about the management and leadership of the local school system.
It will cost $30 million to bring students to and from public schools this year, compared to $18 million the year before Katrina. The increase appears to be a consequence of citywide enrollment and the shift from a centrally-run school system. A few schools are working together to negotiate busing contracts.
Some students who have to travel across town, or across the river, must be at their stop before 6 a.m. Martin Berhman, located on the West Bank, starts picking up kids in eastern New Orleans at 5:42 a.m. Parents say they’re willing to deal with early mornings in order to send their kids to better schools.
As KIPP New Orleans Schools’ large, one-time grants begin to run out, the finance committee prepared its board for a renewed push in fundraising and a drive to build cash reserves for the future. “A significant non-recurring revenue phase out in the near term could lead us to our own fiscal cliff,” finance committee member Stephen Rosenthal said.
“What is OPSB (Orleans Parish School Board) going to promise us that these schools are going to say at the level they’re at now? I don’t think they’ll do a great job because they haven’t in the past,” Cindy Williams, parent of a KIPP student said at Thursday night’s meeting.
Lacking a quorum at Thursday night’s meeting, the KIPP board met with staff to review test scores, enrollment, and financial statements. By the letter grade system currently in place, KIPP Believe and KIPP Central City Academy scored B’s—two of only three B’s in the Recovery School District this year.
From left, Martin Behrman, Arthur Ashe and KIPP Believe are three campuses that are likely to be eligible to return to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board, above. Photo by Jessica Williams
Several more independent charter school leaders soon will find themselves facing a question that several others, including Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s principal, have been grappling with for more than a year: Should we move back under the wing of the Orleans Parish School Board?
Lower than expected enrollment figures were revealed at the KIPP New Orleans board meeting August 16. They showed that, after the first week of classes, KIPP enrollment is four percent under the budgeted student count.
KIPP’s board of directors met Thursday, June 21, to approve the budget for the 2012-2013 school year. With only a 1-percent budget surplus expected, increased revenues from fundraising, including $400,000 from new donors and $2.1 million in philanthropic gifts, will be crucial.
The proposed budget for KIPP New Orleans Schools shows an increase of about thirty percent in both revenue and expenses for the 2012-2013 school year over last year, with total costs reaching $32.3 million. The schools are relying on an increase in per-student funding from the state as enrollment grows from 2,400 to 3,200 students.
KIPP schools will discuss the planned budgets for six schools for the 2012-2013 school year at the June 21 board meeting from 5:30 – 7 p.m. You can download the agenda here. Download the budget overview here.
By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer, and Kelsey Foster, charter school reporter |
One of the schools under the KIPP New Orleans brand is up for a contract extension this year. The school’s performance history, including a less-than-favorable 2011 financial review, was up for discussion at a recent board meeting.The state education department has deemed that one of the schools under the KIPP New Orleans brand needs extra fiscal monitoring.
The KIPP New Orleans school board, which manages six schools in New Orleans, held its monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 20, with all members present and an audience of three, including a reporter for The Lens.