Brevard Academy To Pursue Loan For Arts Building – Brevard, NC
Last updated 1/20/2021 at 4:04pm
The Brevard Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy Board of Directors unanimously voted last Wednesday to pursue the feasibility of receiving a $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for an arts building.
The school already has a $7 million loan with the USDA to pay for its current campus.
Cory Draughon of Charter Success Partners (CSP), which handles the school’s financial records, said the school is in “very good position” in regard to the amount of money it spends on rent and debt service.
“You have some room here,” said Draughon of the school spending more money on debt service.
He said Brevard Academy’s debt service is 7.68 percent of its budget, which is lower than the debt service of the approximately 40 other schools that use CSP’s services.
Draughon said obtaining a USDA loan can be frustrating due to the layers of bureaucracy, but the USDA has the best terms.
“You cannot beat the terms,” said Draughon. “The terms are untouchable.”
The school could potentially receive a $1 million loan at 2.15 percent over 30 years at an annual payment of $45,000.
Board Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Lee Burgess said it was laborious to obtain a loan through the USDA for the current campus but well worth it.
“At the end of the day, we’re thankful to have it,” said Burgess of the previous USDA loan. “It was a game changer for us.”
Draughon said the USDA might have the right of first refusal if Brevard Academy seeks a second loan, but he said it is more likely the USDA would have to approve a second loan, regardless of who held it.
“If you take any additional debt, they have to approve your ability to do that,” said Draughon.
In other financial news, Draughon said state legislators passed a “hold harmless” agreement on school enrollment for this year based on parents not enrolling their children due to COVID-19. The state funds schools on the average daily membership (ADM) of students during the 20 days of school.
Last year Brevard Academy had an ADM of 425.
He also reported the school might receive funding from the state for 450 students. Certain funding formulas based on real and potential growth are used by the state to determine allocations to charter schools.
Draughon said it would “be a big win” if the school were funded for 450 students.
The ADM for this year 419 students.
He said the state usually makes a third allotment of funds to schools in February and that allotment might be lower if the state adjusts the ADM from 450 to be in more in line with the current enrollment.
Burgess said the school based its budget for the current year on 425 students. The budget currently projects a surplus of $29,095 at the end of the year.
He said, however, that does not reflect two large donations that have been made to the school.
Safety Donation Expenditures
One of the large aforementioned donations to the school is earmarked to upgrade safety.
School Resource Officer Jenny Light presented several items that could be purchased with the donation.
Those items include: expanding fencing for the K-2 playground; window tinting for classrooms; additional exterior and internal security cameras; card readers for entry from three exterior doors and the lobby into the main hallway; two LED lights in the bus parking lot; Plexiglas in the front office and reception area; and the Stop the Bleed program, in which staff are taught how to handle severe injuries.
School Director Ted Duncan encouraged the board to move forward with accepting Light’s rec-ommendations and that some of the specifics for items, such as the Plexiglas, could be determined later after discussion with the staff.
“There’s a little sense of urgency with the donation,” said Duncan.
“It’s got to be used on safety things,” said Burgess. “We’ve got to use it on certain, specific things.”
The board then unanimously agreed to appropriate $4,600 for fencing of the K-2 playground; $12,500 for tinting windows; $12,000 for security cameras; $11,000 for card readers; and $2,500 for lights for the bus parking lot.
Burgess said that with those expenditures, the board still had “plenty to play with” to fund the other safety requests.
Duncan said he would be in contact with the donor to explain the school would use the remaining funds for the Stop the Bleed program and front office protective measures after discussing the changes with the front office staff.
Lori Luhrs, director of compliance, presented the winter MAP testing results. MAP tests are used by some charter schools across the nation to assess student progress.
“We are stronger in our reading than we are in our math,” Luhrs said.
She said one reason math scores might be lower than reading scores is the school has implemented a new math curriculum this year.
She said staff members are not only looking at test scores for the current year, but also compare the current scores to scores from previous years.
For example, last year in kindergarten, there were 25 students not reading at grade level, but this year only 14 first grade students are not reading at grade level.
“As a school, we’re just improving,” said Luhrs.
Luhrs meets with teachers throughout the year to discuss each student and how the student is progressing. If a child has deficiencies, strategies to address those deficiencies are discussed and implemented.
“We don’t want to have any kids slipping through the cracks,” said Luhrs. “We want to keep our eyes on these kids.”
Both Luhrs and Duncan expressed concern that there may be too much standardized testing, which takes away from instructional time.
Duncan said an additional concern due to COVID-19 is that there may be more gaps in students’ education and staff members want to make sure those gaps are covered so that a student is adequately prepared to advance to the next grade level.
First Day, Enrollment
The board agreed that Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, would be the first day for students in the 2021-22 school year.
Board Chair Mark Campanini asked if that day coincided with the first day of school for Transylvania County Schools.
Duncan said Brevard Academy usually starts about one week earlier than Transylvania County Schools because Brevard Academy is usually closed for the entire week of Thanksgiving and its school year ends before June.
Open enrollment for next year begins this week. Duncan said the school’s maximum enrollment would be 44 students in kindergarten and 48 students in each grade from 1-8 grade.
If all those classes were filled, total school enrollment would be 428 students.
•Duncan said the school had been approached by Sarah Hankey of the local Blue Zones project to become a certified Blue Zones school.
He said the school would “very easily qualify” to be a Blue Zones certified school because it already offers daily recess, is part of the Muddy Sneakers program and provides healthy meals.
•The girls’ cross country team won the conference championship. Alison Gaston placed first in conference.
•The middle school basketball season has been canceled.
“It’s been a scheduling nightmare,” said Duncan, who noted that sometimes no teams are available to play due to COVID-19.
•Light was named Transylvania County SRO of the Year.
•The school currently has 400 students enrolled – 337 are learning under the hybrid model while 63 are learning entirely from home.
•All staff has been trained on the Greenlight symptom checker.
•The board approved hiring Nick Gianoplus as a second grade teacher, Amy Kelly as an exceptional children teacher and Ann Satterfield as a part-time art teacher for grades K-4.
•Jamie Atkinson was elected as the new secretary of the Board of Directors.
•The next board meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 p.m.