Lycée board welcomes new members to school with wine, cheese and veggie trays

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Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school held a special board meeting Thursday night, a changing of the guard one could say, as senior board members sat among the members elected to replace them come July.

For the first time in months, the board’s table in the school’s cafeteria sat eight. After operating below the state required seven members for some time, the board is ten members strong now.

Four of the five newly elected members joined four of five senior board members for the meeting. The new members introduced themselves to the audience of about 20 parents.

In a casual cafeteria setting, parents brought veggie trays and cheese platters to welcome the new members. A few bottles of red wine anchored the snack table.

“I have a lot of respect for the French system,” said new member Alysson Mills, a lawyer who also serves on the CHOICE Foundation board, which operates three New Orleans charter schools.

New Lycée member Tim Gray said he thought New Orleans was “on the cusp of cracking the code” to provide excellent public education to all students and he was happy to be on board. Erin Greenwald echoed his sentiments, saying that had Lycée been open at the time, she would have liked her daughter to attend the school.

“I hope to bring my legal skill set,” said Ben Castoriano, saying that he has relations with the local French American Chamber of Commerce.

Founding board member Paige Saleun gave new board members a brief synopsis of the school’s history.

“Lycée is kind of my fourth child,” she said lightheartedly.

When Saleun wanted her children to have the opportunity to earn the French Baccalaureate in New Orleans, she said she realized it would have to start with kindergarten. She told new members expectations would be “very high” from both parents and students.

Current board chairman Jean Montes gave the new members an opportunity to ask questions of the board their first day on the job. New members asked about the building lease, recruiting for a middle school and the chief executive officer search.

Mills asked if the new class would vote on the upcoming nominations for additional board members.

“Yes,” said Montes, “you are in.”

Greenwald asked members how long the school has the building leased. New member Gray questioned how the charter school would build a middle school from scratch. Mills wondered when more board members would be nominated and how the search for a chief executive was going.

After the half hour meeting the board adjourned and parents descended on members both new and old to introduce themselves and chat.

Members Saleun, Montes, Greenwald, Gray, Mills, Catherine MacPhaille, Ben Castoriano, and Dan Henderson were present. Elizabeth Rhodes and Jacqueline Simon were absent.

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