With the contractor already preparing Audubon Charter School’s Broadway campus site for construction, an unresolved lawsuit by neighbors could prevent any work from beginning, officials said Thursday night. Neighbors of the school belonging to the Upper Audubon Association filed suit in Civil District Court in December, appealing a decision the previous month by the city Board of Zoning Adjustments to allow the school expansion to move forward. City code prohibits any action from being sanctioned while an appeal is pending, which could prevent the school renovation from receiving its construction permits and ultimately jeopardize the expected December 2013 return to the campus, said officials at a neighborhood meeting about the school project Thursday evening. Concern about the potential for delay was raised in December after the lawsuit was filed, but school officials said at the time they hoped the issues could be resolved during preparatory stages of the project. Attorneys for the neighborhood and the city have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, and the issue is scheduled for court June 22.
Long-needed renovations to the restrooms at Audubon Charter School’s Carrollton campus will be done over the summer, based on a contract approved by the school board Saturday morning. The board approved a $62,700 contract with Crescent Commercial Construction, after consultant Ken Ducote solicited proposals from seven local contractors. Among the repairs included in the contract: new sinks, hand dryers, stall partitions, mirrors, urinals, repairs to the walls, cleaning and sealing the tile floors, and repainting the walls and doors. Ducote said the contract specifies the work must be done by Aug. 3, before teachers or students return to school.
Audubon Charter School will discuss its plans for the Carrollton campus renovations at a meeting of the school’s governing board on Saturday, and its plans for the renovation and expansion of the Broadway campus at a neighborhood meeting Thursday, officials said. Conditions at the Carrollton campus have long frustrated parents and school officials, and although the Orleans Parish School Board has pledged a refurbishment that will make the old courthouse “warm, safe and dry,” Audubon’s governing board and PTO are moving forward separately on repairs to the restrooms and lockers. The contracts for that project will be discussed Saturday, amid updates on the Broadway project and on admissions. Meanwhile, preliminary work has just begun on the renovation and expansion of the Broadway campus, and the school community and neighbors have a chance to discuss the project with the contractor at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, 7100 St.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking public input on the upcoming renovation and expansion of Audubon Charter School’s historic Broadway Street campus. While some of the plans, such as removing portable buildings from the site, have no historical significance, FEMA has determined that the demolition of the custodian’s cottage on site and the addition of new wings on the rear are changes that affect the historic character of the school. Ideas on ways to mitigate those effects can be left at the FEMA site through June 5, but no comments had been left by Wednesday morning.
Orleans Parish schools could be receive less money from the state per-pupil next year than in years past because of the new private-school voucher program recently signed by the governor, and Audubon School officials are concerned about how that will impact next year’s budget. For each student that participates in the private-school voucher program, the school district’s per-pupil funding from the state will be reduced, school officials reported. Orleans Parish is considering increasing property taxes to make up for some of the shortfall next year, but Audubon Charter School officials are attempting to write next year’s budget with an uncertain amount of state funding. “The last couple of years we have budgeted no increase, but there is a distinct possibility that next year we will suffer a decrease,” said school principal Janice Dupuy. Costs have gone up every year without any increase in support from the state, so the prospect of a decrease now is a particularly painful blow, officials said.
The governing board of Audubon Charter School will hold its April monthly meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday in the cafeteria of the Broadway campus, and will discuss ongoing renovation efforts there and at the Carrollton campus, according to the meeting agenda. The full agenda:
FAME, Inc. Board Meeting Agenda
April 21, 2011
Broadway Campus Cafeteria
I. Call to Order/Roll Call
II. Approval of the Agenda Additions/Deletions/Modifications (Action Item)
III. Approval of the March 2010 Minutes (Action Item)
IV. Resolution to Approved a Payment of $20,000 to OPSB to incorporate 3 additional First Floor Bathrooms as part of the renovation project at the Broadway Campus
V. Approval of 2012 – 2013 School Year Calendar (Action Item)
Renovations on Audubon Charter School’s Broadway campus are scheduled to begin this month, neighbors learned Wednesday night, while Benjamin Banneker prepares to move to a new campus in Hollygrove. Audubon Charter School moved its classrooms out of the Broadway campus to a temporary location in Gentilly over the winter holidays in anticipation of the renovations. The modular building that were behind the Broadway building have been removed, and renovations should start later this month, said Orleans Parish School Board member Woody Koppel on Wednesday at the spring meeting of the Uptown Triangle Neighborhood Association. The project is still on track for students to return by fall of 2013, Koppel said, and when they do, they will find one of the best school buildings in the city. “Everything in that facility will be replaced other than the exterior walls and the hardwood floors,” Koppel said.
With more than $2 milllion allocated for repairs to the main building at Audubon Charter School’s Carrollton campus, school leaders are now hoping to focus the attention of the Orleans Parish School Board on the condition of the aging portable buildings there. Audubon officials learned in January that the Carrollton campus would receive more than $2 million in “stabilization” money, and the Orleans Parish School Board ultimately approved $2.5 million to bring the building to a new citywide baseline of “warm, safe and dry.” But because the portable buildings at the Carrollton campus are considered temporary — despite their many years of use there — they were not originally considered part of the project. Now, Audubon principal Janice Dupuy has sent a letter to the Orleans Parish School Board asking that the decision be reconsidered, since so many children attend classes in the buildings. “Initially when they came and did the walk-through, they said it would only affect the main building,” Dupuy said.
The Orleans Parish School Board’s operations team is recommending $2.3 million in renovations to Audubon Charter School’s Carrollton campus, officials said Saturday. The school board had previously allocated several million dollars for emergency stabilization projects to seven of its campuses. At a recent Orleans Parish School Board committee meeting, the board’s director of operations recommended $2.3 million for Audubon, principal Janice Dupuy said at Audubon’s board meeting Saturday morning. The decision still requires a final vote from the Orleans Parish School Board, but Dupuy said she is optimistic. “We have no reason to believe it’s not going to happen,” Dupuy said.