The Lusher Charter School governing board has for 11 years underpaid Chief Executive Officer Kathy Riedlinger, an oversight that’s added up to about $51,700 owed in back pay, officials announced during a board of director’s meeting Saturday. Board member Rachel Wisdom said members had every year been underpaying Riedlinger by about $4,700, or roughly 2 percent of her total salary. Riedlinger had recently made $262,778 for running the 1,700 student, A-rated school, according to a NOLA.com analysis of federal tax forms from 2013-14. That figure made her the city’s top-paid public education leader as of last year. Wisdom said that while Riedlinger had been consistently underpaid for more than a decade, the board’s Chief Financial Officer, Charmaine Davis, had made her aware of the problem just a couple of months ago.
As officials at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans anticipate an influx of special education students in years to come, members of the board that oversees the school on Monday night announced plans to devote more resources to that population. The school will be devoting about $50,000 more in professional development for teachers and other special education-related services next year, board members announced Monday night, using the money to hire interventionists, data specialists and other supporting staff. In addition, members announced plans to create a separate committee tasked only with overseeing special education development in the school’s curriculum. “It’s going to continue to be an expanded population of our students, so I think its completely appropriate of our board to form a committee,” said Michael Williams, the board’s chair. “We want to do it sooner rather than later.”
Williams’ comments came after a detailed presentation by board member Dr. Lisa Tropez-Arceneaux, one of several school officials and educators assigned to a task force over the last few months directed at examining the school’s policies on special education and making suggestions for improvement.
Teachers at Audubon Charter School are becoming increasingly frustrated with conditions at the school’s Milan Street campus, and have voiced numerous concerns over issues like cramped classrooms, faltering heating and cooling systems and broken playground equipment. Those were the findings of a recent teacher survey conducted by the Audubon Charter School Parent Teacher Organization and presented last week to F.A.M.E., Inc., the board of directors that oversees the school. “The complaints and concerns are becoming more and more often,” Mandy Lilly, president of the PTO, told board members on Saturday during a regular monthly meeting. “We’re being approached by faculty members about how the size of the Milan campus is affecting testing.”
Audubon Charter School moved its upper school campus, which included grades 4 through 8, from its location at the old Carrollton Courthouse to the former McDonough 7 campus at 1111 Milan Street in late 2013. At the time, school officials touted that building as being “newly renovated.” Since then, teachers, board members, parents and even students have started complaining about the facility’s various defects.
After neighbors’ research suggesting that a private patrol in the Lower Garden District would not be cost efficient, members of the Coliseum Square Association have opted instead to hold a raffle in order to raise funds for security cameras. The goal is to raise $10,000 for the purchase of 40 cameras, which cost roughly $250 for equipment and installation. The neighborhood association plans to use equipment bought through Project NOLA, a city-wide network system that relies on individual residents to invest in crime cameras. To raise the funds, the neighborhood association will sell 200 tickets at $100 each. The winner of the raffle will get $10,000, according to association board member Ryan Kropog, and the remainder of the money will go to the crime camera program.
Since he first discovered how New Orleans’ social aid and pleasure clubs exist in the city through zoning laws six years ago, Uptown resident and documentary film maker Trent Robinson has been trying to figure out how to create one of his own. He may finally have his chance, he told members of the Coliseum Square Association on Monday night. He’s applied for a license to run the newly-envisioned Gris Gris Social Club out of an old firehouse, located on 907 Terpsichore Street in the Lower Garden District. At a regular neighborhood meeting, Robinson invited all of the association’s members and nearby neighbors to be members of the club, for about $1400 a year, or for fees that could be paid on a per-day basis. He may not have as many takers on the offer as he thought, however.
More de-escalation training, a renewed focus on New Orleans youth and better programming to help the indigent could be integral to reforming the criminal justice system in Louisiana, according to key members of the system in Orleans Parish. Those were some of many topics raised during a panel discussion held by The Press Club of New Orleans in collaboration with Tulane University’s Criminal Law Clinic on Thursday night. Other subjects included the crafting and enforcement of laws, the city’s history of mass incarceration, and ways to better implement rehabilitation within state and federal facilities. Moderated by Travers Mackel, a news reporter at WDSU News, the roundtable was held as part of the Press Club’s Newsmaker Series, which examines issues such as criminal justice and education. During Thursday’s discussion panelists were asked to examine “the components necessary to create and maintain a fair, effective and healthy criminal justice system within the state of Louisiana,” according to the press release publicizing the event.
Just a month after contemplating the creation of a new security district, with 24-hour manned patrol cars, residents of the Lower Garden District are now exploring another way to increase safety: a widespread installment of crime cameras. Members of the Coliseum Square Neighborhood Association took a preliminary survey at their monthly meeting this week to see how many residents would be interested in one or both measures, in order to beef up security in the area. About a dozen people — the majority of those in attendance at the meeting — indicated they’d like to have crime cameras installed around the neighborhood. Nine raised their hands when asked if they wanted private patrol, too. “That’s a lot,” said Julie Simpson, the neighborhood association’s president.
Seth Bloom, who has represented a large swath of Uptown on the Orleans Parish School Board for eight years, will not run for re-election this fall, he announced Tuesday evening — leaving his seat open a day before candidates begin qualifying for the election. Bloom announced his decision shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday as the evening’s meeting of the Orleans Parish School Board began. “In thinking about the future of the board, I have also spent time thinking about our work and the progress we’ve made as a school board. It was in this reflection that I began to think about the direction we are moving and how the board, the district and the city have benefited where there is diversity of opinion and perspectives,” Bloom told the members of the board, and an audience of a few dozen people. “It is time for me to afford someone else the chance to work with, learn from and contribute to our community.”
Members of the Coliseum Square Association floated the idea of adding a private patrol in the Lower Garden District on Monday night – a suggestion that was met with both strong support and staunch opposition from residents. Association board member Ryan Kropog presented the “rough” proposal during the association’s monthly meeting as a response to complaints neighbors frequently make about crime in the area, he said. “People are concerned about it,” Kropog said. “I’m seeing whether or not hiring security is the right way to go.”
Kropog suggested that a private organization patrol a swath of land with boundaries from St. Charles Avenue to Constance Street, and from Calliope Street to Jackson Avenue.
If all goes as planned, the Lower Garden District will soon get a 600-foot-long bioswale along Coliseum Square Park, thanks to money pledged by the Sewerage and Water Board to give the city more green infrastructure. The bioswale being designed and engineered by Gaea Consultants, LLC, is a drainage course or trench planted with local vegetation that filters and stores rainwater. According to designers, it can aid storm water management by slowing how quickly rain gets flushed into the city’s drainage system. In the Coliseum Square neighborhood, the project is designed to ameliorate an area that floods every time there’s heavy rainfall. During a presentation at a neighborhood meeting held Monday night, project engineer Kyle Galloway drove the point home by showing photographs of almost-flooded cars sitting in muddy water alongside the park.