The Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans board of directors held a retreat focused on board governance Thursday.

Marci Cornell-Feist, founder and CEO of The High Bar education management company, led the session.

Cornell-Feist stressed the need for board members and school staff to understand their clear and distinct roles, yet also work together as partners.

“The school leader should be treated like a CEO,” she said.

Staff and board members acknowledged that during the school’s second year board members were more involved than would be ideal in later years.

When Cornell-Feist asked members if their meetings were effective she received a range of answers.

While member Catherine MacPhaille thought meetings were efficient, while member Paige Saleun thought there should be more discussion at meetings.  Chairman Jean Montes said meetings were evolving and wanted to ensure the public had a voice regarding the school’s operations.

Cornell-Feist recommended the board develop a general timeline of agenda items for the remainder of the year. She suggested members start with financial items with strict deadlines, and work from there.

She also recommended the board laminate several copies of the state law regarding public comment and distribute them to parents and stakeholders who attend board meetings. She stressed the need for public comment, but also advised that public comment should not drive meetings.

Cornell-Feist then walked members though Board on Track, a management tool that board members will utilize this year. The program includes a group calendar, individualized task lists, tutorial videos, agendas, and data sets that track  current enrollment and cash on hand. The program can also walk members through open meetings law requirements.

Montes said a year’s subscription to Board on Track would cost about $10,000. Originally, board members intended to pay for the management system out of pocket, but Montes said the school had covered the costs upfront and members will pay back what they can.

In addition to Saleun, MacPhaille and Montes, members Jacqueline Simon and Hema Banangada were also present. The school’s General Director Jean-Jacques Grandiere and Director of Finance and Operations Julianne Ruocco were present as well.

The next board meeting is Oct. 8.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...