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Community clamors for high school; board retreat focuses on two-year plan

Einstein’s Charter School’s board of directors focused on a multi-year plan and bylaw revisions as they met on March 10 for a development retreat.

A visit from principal Shawn Toranto kicked off the meeting.  She addressed the board about the long-term goal of opening a high school.  Toranto is concerned with the lack of high school seats in New Orleans East, near Einstein.

Community groups interested in starting a high school are encouraged to work with an existing charter management organization, and several such group have approached her with that in mind, Toranto said.

“There are seats out there for pre-k but not high school,” Toranto told the board when asked which would be her priority.

As the board began discussing development of a three-year strategic plan, they racked up enough ideas to warrant limiting the plan to two years.

In year one they plan to focus on board infrastructure and board recruitment.  Included under the board infrastructure rubric was revision of the board’s bylaws and creating a book of board policies. Year one also includes an assessment of the school and principal. A protocol for board meetings will include  a template for data the principal presents and consistent rules for public comment. The board plans to send a welcome letter to the Einstein community as well.

In their second year the board will shift attention to procuring funds and other resources to support the school.  This includes a focus on grant writing.  The second year will also include a self-review.

The emphasis was on consolidation and stabilization rather than enlarging the school. “I’m not convinced yet that we should pursue growth,” member Ryan Bennett said.

The board reviewed their proposed bylaws section by section. Proposed changes include increasing the number of members from between six and nine to between seven and twelve. Members agreed they would like advance notice from Toranto of any staff or faculty terminations.

The board opted to continue the current policy that limits service to two consecutive two-year terms. Members said they hope to have the bylaws ready for review at their monthly meeting, April 3.

Joining Bennett for the three-hour session were members Ramona Perkins, James Pineda, Laurin Jacobsen, and Margaret Nguyen.

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