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Head of schools offered new term; plans for Jeff campus roll forward; mission statement debated

The board of the International School of Louisiana authorized the acceptance of a three-year, $100,000, no-interest loan at their monthly meeting,  March 28. It also decided to approve ISL’s plan to apply for a much-discussed “i3” grant, from the federal program that encourages innovations that foster academic achievement.

In other business, head of schools Sean Wilson reopened  discussion of whether to acquire modular classrooms for ISL’s Camp Street and Olivier Street campuses. Currently, 10 companies are bidding to provide the modulars, with a decision scheduled for the board’s meeting on April 16. President Andrew Yon suggested that Olivier Street, which needed modulars because of a law restricting kindergarten and first-grade classrooms to the first floor. “The case for [Olivier Street] is much clearer,” said Yon. “The need doesn’t seem as immediate on Camp Street.”

The Jefferson Parish school board has offered the pending ISL start-up in Jefferson Parish (ISLJP) the use of one of its administration buildings, and help readying the building. The board inspected the property at 822 Clearview Parkway, but no decision has been made. The Jefferson Parish expansion is seen as a way to bolster recruitment and enrollment.

At a seven-hour retreat on March 24 the board fleshed out a strategic plan for the school’s charter management organization, including a five-year vision and the following mission statement:

“We provide an academically rigorous education which instills in our students confidence, creativity, and the ability to think critically. Utilizing an internationally enriched curriculum, we promote community responsibility, respect for self and others, and the power of diversity. We are committed to continuous improvement for all students and to growing as an organization to meet the needs of our communities.”

Parent Angie Trotter expressed concern that the mission statement implied that the language immersion program would be watered down. When Yon assured her she would see no change, Trotter argued that she has already seen a change and noticed “a disconnect between the parents and the school” as ISL has grown. She cited what she called a mass exodus from  fourth-, fifth, and sixth-grades.

“There will be no visible change to our existing schools,” Yon assured. “But in the future if we want to survive and not get left behind, we need to broaden our mission in case we want to do a non-immersion or a takeover. We just want more options going forward.” Yon also assured the parent that attrition at ISL this year had been the lowest ever for the school.

At meeting’s end, the board went into an executive session in which it decided to offer Wilson an extension of his term of service as head of schools, now scheduled to expire on June 30. The board authorized Yon to  negotiate the particulars with Wilson directly.

Present at the meeting along with Yon were treasurer Charlie Hadley, secretary Barbara Griffin, and board members John Wettermark, Dominique Wilson and Stephanie Davis. Vice president Matt Amoss and board members Mike Lappa, Duane Drucker, David Napoleon and David Bordson-Bozzo were absent.

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