The Voices for International Business and Education, the board that governs International High School of New Orleans, is in the process of looking for a new head of school, and contemplating whether to look for a new building.
Head of school Anthony Amato will be leaving the CBD-based charter school at the end of this school year, VIBE board members confirmed. Amato’s departure was described as a “mutual” decision between Amato and the board.
Amato, a former superintendent of New Orleans schools, was chosen by the VIBE board in 2010.
A search committee to find a new head of school is chaired by board member Andrew Ward, who reported that the board has received 31 applicants after advertising in 15 different outlets.
The search committee will begin vetting candidates at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
The full board will need to meet at that time to achieve a quorum, but board members said they will immediately go into executive session to begin the vetting process, claiming an exception to the state Open Meetings Law that would allow them to meet in private.
Ward said the committee budgeted $10,000 for the search, but spent $7,000 on advertising.
“We’re actually under budget thus far, and ahead of schedule,” Ward said.
While the search committee considers whom to hire to lead the school, the board members and other school officials also are facing an unanswered question about the school’s building: Stay or go?
Over the next 60 days, each of the board’s subcommittees will be charged with putting together an analysis of the needs for the school over the long term and assessing whether the school is better off remaining in its current building, or seeking a new space.
Board President Robert Couhig laid out the question before the members as such: “If this building works, what do we need to do?…If the building doesn’t work, what are our options?”
The current building has termite damage in the library’s computer lab as well as a separate electrical issue. But the cost and nature of the necessary repairs are not fully known.
The state recently gave a “thumbs up” to the building in a recent inspection, facilities committee chairman Laval Hughes said.
Board members also raised the issue of the school building’s position of being owned by the Orleans Parish School Board, but held by the Recovery School District.
Some board members raised the possibility that the school could be told to move at any time as a result of the lease agreement. Couhig raised a hypothetical scenario where staff could be preparing for the next school year during the summer, then suddenly be told they have to move to the West Bank.
“I think the overriding thing is to make sure we have control of our own destiny,” Couhig said.
The review will go beyond just the facilities, as the academic and finance committees will also provide reports about long-term goals. Each subcommittee will submit a full report that will be entered into the public record, Couhig said.
Parents and teachers at the meeting also requested their groups have input into the decision about the future of the school building.