STARS Moving on Seeking Charter Renewal
The board of directors at STARS continues to move forward toward renewing the school's charter.
During the board's regular meeting April 21, members were reassured that the school's finances are in order.
Tom Williams, of Acadia NorthStar, gave the board an updated financial report reflecting changes made since March's meeting when the board learned that there was $59,424 in federal stimulus funding that still had not been used.
Williams said the money had still not been accessed in March, though it had been allocated to the school in August. He said the money was federal stimulus funding allocated to help the school hire, rehire or retain teachers.
Instead of using the funding, Williams said the school had been spending its own money to cover the cost of teacher salaries.
Williams told the board that the school's finances have been organized according to state, federal and local funding and the specific uses of those allocations.
STARS, like all public schools, must spend state and federal funding by the end of each fiscal year.
"That has all been moved to the appropriate expenses," Williams said. "We are on track to spend that by June 30."
When board members asked why the money had not been used sooner, Williams said he did not know what kind of timeline the school's previous accountant, Pat Shenkle, and the school's finance officer, Barbara Stewart, had in mind for using the money before the funding expires June 30.
Board Chairwoman Sandy Lampros said the situation arose based on the fact that the individuals overseeing the funding allocations did not fully understand that the funding had to be used for specific purposes.
"It's nobody's real fault, but they just didn't understand entirely," she said.
In his report, Williams also told the board that the school is projected to see a $5,000 surplus from allocated local funding at the end of the school year, which the school will be able to roll into its general fund balance.
Williams reassured the board that STARS is in compliance financially, and the school is moving in the right direction toward renewing its charter with the state.
"The ship is sailing slowly, but everything is fully funded, and we will get through the year with a surplus," he said. "I believe we've gotten every skeleton out of the closet right now."
Board member Steven George complimented Williams for his thorough report and said he was glad that the school made the switch to Acadia.
"My comfort levels are really high," George said.
The board also approved the school's corrective action plan, which outlines how the school has implemented changes to ensure that the school is in compliance with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
The plan will now be sent to DPI and the N.C. Local Government Commission (LGC).
During his report, principal Wes Graner said teachers and students continue to make strong strides at the school both in academics and in the school's artistic endeavors.
Graner said that with the various means of preparation for end-of-grade tests (EOGs) among students and teachers, he feels very confident that the school will improve its test scores this year.
Both he and board members were also very complimentary of this year's ARTsplosion event, which included two sold-out performances of "Diversity," a collaborative production among students.
Graner also expressed excitement about preparations for the school's year-end production, "Footloose." He added that kindergarten registration held April 15 was a successful event, and the school expects to see a maxed out kindergarten class next year.
During her teacher report, the board's teacher representative, Cathy Buchan, said she has seen higher levels of morale among her co-workers in the last few weeks as teachers work to help students perform well on EOGs next month.
"I just don't have any teachers coming up with negative comments," she said.
Buchan said teachers have found EOG Testmaker to be an effective resource in helping students thoroughly prepare for EOGs.
The school purchased the test-taking practice program earlier in the year to help teachers create their own tests based on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and chart students' academic progress.
Students are scheduled to take EOGs May 10 through May 13.
The board also elected members Mia Lorenz and Geoff Cutler to an adverse action committee that will handle any cases involving grievances from faculty members, parents or students at the school.
The board will meet again at STARS May 19 at 4 p.m.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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