The New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High board meeting, on Feb. 2, welcomed Dick Best as the school’s new director and expressed hope that outgoing school director Barbara MacPhee will quickly regain her strength.
MacPhee fell and was hospitalized recently with a broken leg, board members were advised.
Laney French, school administrator, was elected as MacPhee’s temporary replacement on the board.
After the update on MacPhee, the board’s finance committee reported it is seeking to replace a staff accounting manager who recently took a job in the Orleans Parish School Board’s special revenue office. The committee said a strong candidate is under consideration but that they will continue the search until a final decision is made.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the former accounting manager, Tammy Griffith, is not permitted to continue handling Sci High’s account in her new job with OPSB.
But according to OPSB, with a full complement of employees in the special revenue office, it should be possible to quickly clear out a paperwork logjam. According to the Sci High board, paperwork for approximately $146,000 owed the school has been sitting on Special Revenue Director Gregory Becnel’s desk since Dec. 27.
In other news, Sci High’s final enrollment count stands at 373, and next year the school anticipates the arrival of many more students from the shuttered Abramson High School.
The facilities committee is currently working to secure a permanent location for the school. The initial master plan approved in October 2008 included a citywide medical laboratory school in the bio-district. This is ideal for Sci High because of its focus on science and mathematics, board members suggested.
The new school director reserved his remarks for the end of the meeting.
Best described his first days at the school as “providing me a chance to do a lot of listening and learning. I’ve had opportunities to meet with staff and talk about areas of strength and development and resources needed.”
Best says his priority is on building trust among board members, parents, staff and students.
“When we do strategic planning we must really be engaged. It’s a creative process and all stakeholders must be considered and must be hands-on.”
Best said he took the job because of Sci High’s strong potential.
“The reason I chose to take this position was the level of commitment and dedication I saw in this school’s administrators. There is a willingness to roll up their sleeves and provide the best possible experience for the students. It gives me a lot of hope, and it is very exciting. It’s a privilege for me to be here.”
Best said his emphasis is on impeccable teaching. He called teacher quality the No. 1 factor in educational outcomes — “even more important than socio-economic status and parenting.”
“It becomes paramount at the high school level if they’ve had so many years without it. It can’t be a B-plus game it has to be an A-plus game.”