International High School of New Orleans makes a big leap in preliminary test scores

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Average scores on standardized tests soared from 62.6 to 75.8, raising hopes that International High School of New Orleans’ overall performance score may rise a full letter grade to “C”.

“We have not only blown the roof off of the house, we have blown it to the ozone layer, and the teachers are to be commended,” interim head of school Nan Ryan told the board at its monthly meeting, May 21.

The averages were preliminary, Ryan cautioned, and the test results constitute a single category that accounts for 30 percent of the school performance score. Other factors, including graduation and dropout rates, will be factored into the score released after all the numbers are in hand.

In other business, the IHS board, formally known as Voices for International Business and Education, voted 5-1 to give Ryan an employment offer for the coming year.

Under the offer, Ryan will be an at-will employee, as are all workers at the school, board president Rob Couhig explained. That means incoming head of school Sean Wilson, currently CEO of the International School of Louisiana, could decide not to keep her when he assumes the leadership role this summer.

Ryan took over as interim school leader following the death of Anthony Amato in December. In April, the school hired Wilson, effective July 1.

The employment offer to Ryan was a departure for the board, which normally limits its involvement in personnel decisions to the hiring of a head of school. Couhig noted that Ryan was unable to offer herself a contract and thus became the school’s only current employee without an offer.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of the administration, but I think this is a unique situation,” Couhig said in arguing for the employment offer.

During discussion, board member Carol Allen voiced support for the motion.

“It is a professional courtesy that we give the acting head of school the same rights as we give every other staff member in the school,” she said.

But board secretary Maria Garcia questioned the wisdom of “doing something different than what’s been our policy from the beginning.”

“The board signing its name to a contract has a different implication than the head of school giving someone an employment agreement,” said Errol George, who attended the meeting via teleconference. “Fundamentally I’m just against the board signing a contract for anybody except the head of school.”

Garcia cast the one vote against the motion.

Graduation will be held on May 29 at 6 p.m. at the school.

A legally mandated public hearing on the 2014-15 budget will be at 6 p.m. June 12, during a meeting of the board’s Finance Committee. (The Lens will post a preliminary report on the budget prior to the meeting.)

In addition to Allen, Couhig, Garcia, George (by phone) and Hughes, those present for the meeting also included Harry Blumenthal, Laval Hughes, Liljana Johnson and Karen Dwyer. Ed Graf was absent.

The next meeting of the full board will be June 18 at 6 p.m.

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