In a report over at The Lens today, Charter School Reporting Corps member Della Hasselle digs into a conflict between the state's Recovery School District and ReNEW Schools, a charter school group which oversees several Orleans Parish schools.
Hasselle and Steve Myers, Managing Editor of The Lens, came to WWNO to discuss the story.
At issue, reimbursement from the federal government for subsidized student meals. The state Recovery School District administers the federal meals program — which covers breakfast and lunch — for ReNEW Schools. When ReNEW Scho0ls updated its student information system, mid-year, it somehow stopped sending student information about meals in the correct way to get reimbursed for meals.
Myers and Hasselle say that led to months of no data on meals for students at ReNEW Schools. And that led to bills piling up. From the story:
"One bill, signed by RSD superintendent Patrick Dobard in October 2012, said that ReNEW owes $557,763 to RSD for food services. A spreadsheet provided by RSD puts the total invoice amount for food services at $496,812."
ReNEW Schools maintains it owes about half that amount. The parties are in mediation with their lawyers. It's a specific case that says something larger about the charter school system. Again, from Hasselle's story:
"At the heart of the disagreement, the records show, are a series of communications and record-keeping difficulties on both sides. They hint at the challenges the Recovery School District faces in trying to manage the operations of charter schools, which have some autonomy but are still overseen by the publicly funded district."
This news content made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.