"Thanks to the Knight Foundation for this 'knot-hole' [The Vault] through which we, the unwashed, can peer to see just how our tax dollars are being spent by City Hall. Please keep up the good work."
—Eugene B. Kordahl
Their school, Morris Jeff, was in the middle of the Aug. 5 flood that paralyzed the city and seeped into homes. So when they learned that the subject of a LEGO robot competition was water, they didn’t have to think hard to come up with a problem. Since then, they’ve been working on a solution.
The move by the Morris Jeff board to establish a contract with the union is the second action by a city charter school in the past month, following Benjamin Franklin High School, that indicates teachers — and school operators — may be willing to give unions a role in education.
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.
But RSD official says all Type 5 charters have to pay about $90 per student for school property insurance. With $17,438 in charges so far, Morris Jeff documents show the school is on track to spend more than five times what it projected in property insurance expenses for the year.
At the monthly Morris Jeff Community School board meeting Thursday, Principal Patricia Perkins said the school met its goal for 275 students, as of the official Oct.1 count. To accommodate the growth, board members considered an array of temporary locations, ranging from the West Bank to New Orleans East.
While the line of students hoping to enter its doors grows, Morris Jeff still needs to bolster achievement inside school walls, the board learned at its meeting June 21, which included a discussion of the school’s budget. Already one over its sixty student cap for pre-Kindergarten, the school has a 76-student waiting list.
The Morris Jeff board of directors discussed expanded operations and a projected year-end surplus this time next year at its 2012-13 budget hearing on May 24. Principal Patricia Perkins is anticipating surpluses for the next two years as the school rebuilds its reserve fund and prepares to move to the former Fisk-Howard site on Rendon Street in 2014-15. With $3,045,960 in revenues and $2,967,110 in expenses projected for 2012-13, next year’s budget is predicted to produce a $78,850 surplus.
Morris Jeff’s proposed budget for 2012-13 anticipates a bigger school and correspondingly higher costs. With at least 60 additional students expected to enroll next fall, revenues are projected to jump by $500,000 to $3 million while expenses rise by $400,000, also to $3 million
With the incoming pre-kindergarten class and expansion to fourth grade, next year’s student count is projected to hit 335.
The Morris Jeff board discussed board expansion, green space, and a year-end deficit at their monthly meeting, May 17. With the board one member short of the seven mandated by charter law, board chair Aesha Rasheed called for nominations at their April meeting.
More than 200 parents participated in April’s student-led parent conferences, the highest number in the school’s history, board members learned at their April 26 monthly meeting. Preliminary application data for the coming year show high demand for Morris Jeff Community School, principal Patricia Perkins reported. One hundred thirty-four pre-kindergarten applicants made Morris Jeff their first choice.
The Morris Jeff board of directors focused on plans for a new building at their monthly meeting, March 15, and principal Patricia Perkins said she is determined to have the building ready for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. As part of the ongoing community engagement phase, the Recovery School District and the Verges Rome architecture firm are seeking input on where to put the building, how far it should be set back from adjacent streets and other topics.