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FirstLine leader encourages board to plan for a time when he isn’t there

The board of directors of FirstLine Schools has made it a priority to develop a change-of-leadership plan in case it loses the services of CEO Jay Altman or Chief Operating Officer Joseph Neary.

This was one of several strategic plans to come out of the board’s annual retreat, held Friday and Saturday. The board will also seek to expand its concurrent enrollment program with Delgado Community College for technical training, and it will reinvigorate its advocacy committee, to help spread the word about the organization’s five schools.

Altman reassured the board that he doesn’t have plans to leave. However, he said that too much of the organizational operations are in his and Neary’s heads, and that if anything happened to either of them, it would be a serious setback.

Such a succession plan was also raised on a self-evaluation survey given to board members the first day of the retreat. The survey also revealed that board members want a system of holding under-performing board members accountable.

The board also discussed NOLA Tech, or the NOLA Career and Technical Institute.* The program is a concurrent enrollment program with Delgado Community College, involving internships, apprenticeships, mock interviews and career counseling for students.

Altman said that middle-level skills in education are being dropped in many places in favor of college-prep courses. He said it is important to serve students who want to pursue a technical education. Seven student are enrolled in the pilot program at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School.

Members later broke into committees to discuss specific issues, reporting to the others afterward.

The Governance Committee will develop the succession plan for the organization. It also will develop recommendations for up to three new board members, who will help govern the organization’s schools: Arthur Ashe, John Dibert, Samuel J. Green, Langston Hughes, and Joseph S. Clark.

Altman said that member Darleene Peters would be leaving the board due to her busy schedule, and that Paul Pechon had already resigned for the same reason.*

The Development Committee said its goals would be to focus more on corporate relationships and donations in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.  Member Catherine Pierson said the organization already is doing a fairly strong job seeking funding from local and national foundations.

The Advocacy Committee, having been more or less dormant for the past year, will resume functioning and formalize its mission statement for the next regular board meeting. Member Christian Rhodes said the committee would develop contacts with teachers and parents, and create a system of mobilizing them to advocate for causes that benefit the schools. Rhodes said the committee will contact non-board members to join the committee, particularly people with experience in advocacy or public-relations fields.

Present were members Monique Cola, Gregory St. Etienne, Brian Egana, Catherine Pierson, Secretary Alison Hartman, George Freeman, Kim Henry and Christian Rhodes, as well as CEO Jay Altman and COO Joseph Neary.*

*Corrections: This story originally had the incorrect name for NOLA Career and Technical Academy. It also incorrectly stated that Paul Pechon is leaving the board, but he has already resigned. And it inaccurately stated that Stephen Rosenthal was present at the retreat. The errors have been corrected. (Jan. 14, 2013)

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  • nickelndime

    Well jeah, Steve, it best u get yo a$$ ova at dat dere Fir$tLine board meeting.