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FirstLine board discusses construction

After missing its September meeting due to a lack of quorum, FirstLine Schools’ board of directors spent the Oct. 23 meeting discussing development and the network’s plan now that the current school year is in full swing.

During the governance committee update, three board members were re-elected to three-year terms and four board officers were re-elected to one-year terms. Board members Alison Hartman, Larry Kullman and Cathy Pierson were re-elected to three-year terms.

The officers elected to one-year terms were Hartman as secretary, Greg St. Etienne as chairman, Brian Egana as vice-chairman and  Stephen Rosenthal as treasurer.*

The governance committee also provided a calendar of board meetings for the next year.

During the development committee update, chairwoman Cathy Pierson announced that there will be a promotional bus tour on Nov. 7  to Samuel J. Green Charter School, Arthur Ashe Charter School and John Dibert Community School.

“This is an opportunity to cultivate potential donors and thank our current donors,” Pierson said.

Egana, chairman of FirstLine’s facilities committee, mentioned during his update that the demolition of the old New Orleans Charter School site at 3801 Monroe St. has been completed at a cost of $330,000, rather than the $1.7 million proposed by the federal government.

Intensive construction will be happening at 2300 Dumaine St., the former site of Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Treme, to prepare it to accommodate John Dibert Community School.* This will be a push to turn Dibert into “more of a neighborhood school,” according to FirstLine’s CEO, Jay Altman.

During his update at the beginning of the meeting, Altman mentioned that continuous progress was needed to improve instruction among special education students, who make up more than 17 percent of the network’s student body.

“We are the highest in the city (in special education students),” Altman said.

Annual school performance scores were released the day after the meeting, and each of the network’s schools improved by at least one letter grade. In a press release touting the improved scores, Altman said, “While we still have a long way to go, these letter grades reflect the progress we are making toward a shared vision with schools across the city–that New Orleans can be the first city in America where every child goes to a great school.”

The meeting ended with a presentation by Langston Hughes Academy school leader Mark Martin, who gave evidence of academic growth from last year to this year, which was lacking between 2011 and 2012. Langston Hughes Academy even has a high school consortium in which high-scoring eighth graders can take Algebra I, Biology or American History, and earn high school credits while attending grammar school.

The meeting took place from 5:15-7:15 pm at Arthur Ashe Charter School, 1456 Gardena Drive.

Board members Pierson, Hartman, Kullman, St. Etienne, Rosenthal, Egana, Christian Rhodes, Darleene Peters and Kim Henry attended the meeting. George Freeman, Paul Pechon and Monique Cola were absent.*

*Corrections: An earlier version of this story contained errors. It incorrectly reported that board officers were re-elected to the same posts they held last year. It also implied that construction at the Wheatley site would go on through the summer instead of ending in June as currently planned. The earlier version also did not note that board member Paul Pechon did not attend the meeting.

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  • nickelndime

    FirstLine is a State-favored nonprofit that has been disproportionately awarded takeover rights of a number schools in a system of “portfolio management” being utilized by the State LDOE/RSD to identify particular (favored, politically connected) charter operators/CMOs. Contrary to what Jay Altman (Stephen Rosenthal’s longtime friend) says, and his obscene salary even in educational circles, this will not result in a city where every child can (has the option to) attend a great public school.