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Interim CEO named; enrollment nears targets; new cafeteria service lined up

At its monthly meeting, July 31, the New Beginnings School Foundation introduced Helene Derbigny as interim chief executive officer and announced  formation of a committee to replace executives who have resigned.

The board also announced plans to implement a new teacher training and evaluation system.

Derbigny, director of field experiences at the University of New Orleans’ College of Education and Human Development, will assist in the foundation’s search for a permanent leader to succeed Vera Triplett.

Juaquana Stewart has been named interim director of academic affairs. She was formerly an assistant principal at Lake Area New Tech, a New Beginnings charter school.

Board president Tim Ryan announced the resignations of board member Kim Bondy and Susan Wetwiski, executive assistant to the chief executive officer. Jessie Crais has replaced Wetwiski.

In her first report as interim chief executive officer, Derbigny updated the board on enrollment figures. Three of the foundation’s four schools have reached their projected enrollment targets, thanks to  Recovery School District’s OneApp admissions process, school leaders said.

Gentilly Terrace principal Tracy Guillory said she was confident her school would also reach its enrollment target of 510 students in the next few days. Currently, the school has 465 students. She reported that 12 eighth-graders re-took the LEAP test this summer.

In other business, Derbigny said all four schools would switch to an Orleans Parish School Board food service from the one managed by the Recovery School District, for a projected total savings of $231,000.

The foundation’s adult literacy program, with a current enrollment of 32, is moving into the community center at Nelson Charter. The move allows expansion of the program, which is sponsored by Capital One bank, Derbigny said.

In her school report, Capdau assistant principal Stephanie Peters-Jackson spoke of a professional development training held recently at Lake Area New Tech.

Five Capdau teachers attended the Training of Trainers class, which focused on how instructors can best serve as facilitators. The event was part of a Thinking Maps initiative to aid teachers with new software and implement curricula that upgrades student achievement.

Jackson congratulated two teachers: Katie Dunn was named to the Louisiana Believes Teacher Advisory Committee and June Johnson was selected as the Mathematics Teacher of Distinction by the Greater New Orleans Teachers of Mathematics.

In his school summary, Lake Area New Tech principal Michael Booker expressed caution about the grades of incoming students.

“RSD is sending failing students from failing schools to Lake Area … and their grades could be a big issue when school starts,” Booker said. “My staff is doing its best to institute a stringent acceleration program to help these students catch up to speed.”

The school will also launch a program that helps ninth-graders adjust to the high school setting, because the highest percentage of dropouts in Louisiana are in ninth-grade.

Booker said the school continues to register students and is awaiting information on those who failed the LEAP test and need waivers to attend the school.

Lake Area New Tech was one of the most requested high schools in RSD’s OneApp process, Booker said.

In her academic director’s report, Stewart said all teachers would undergo a three-day workshop to familiarize them with the new student and teacher evaluation standards, Common Core and Compass.

Common Core, which will be gradually implemented starting in the 2013-14 school year, is a more rigorous curriculum with standardized tests used nationwide.

Compass, sometimes referred to as Act 54, is the state’s new educator-evaluation model. Act 54 bases 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on the rate of student growth. The program provides greater support through feedback that acknowledges both successes and shortcomings.

Compass will be administered annually, starting this year.

Director of finance Kendal Jackson presented the finalized 2012-2013 budget to be submitted to the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The budget shows a positive balance for all schools.

The board went into a brief executive session to review its school leader’s performance last year.

The board reconvened and the two-hour meeting was adjourned shortly afterwards.

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