New Beginnings charter network hires former Orleans Parish administrator

The New Beginnings Schools Foundation board of directors unanimously selected Michelle Blouin-Williams as its new CEO today.

Blouin-Williams spent the last year as the chief academic officer for Orleans Parish public schools. Board chairwoman Leslie Bouie said contract negotiations will begin immediately.

A committee interviewed Blouin-Williams last week and recommended her at a two-minute meeting on Friday.

The board abandoned its self-run search in May after search committee members said they lacked confidence in their process. At that meeting, member Sheila Danzey estimated 19 electronic and 9 paper applications were received, but couldn’t confirm the number. Applicants were supposed to apply both ways.

The board hired Andre David & Associate search firm for $50,000. Executive recruiter Terry Patch presented two candidates to the board last week, including Blouin-Williams, but she was the only one interviewed.

Blouin-Williams earned $145,000 last year, the same as New Beginnings’ most recent CEO, Sametta Brown. A packet of information the board received from Patch said Blouin-Williams is seeking about $160,000.

Asked how many applications were received in the second search, board member Wanda Brooks said that just wasn’t the process.

“There were no applications,” Brooks said. “He did it all,” she said, referring to the search firm.

In other business, the board approved a $6,500 consulting contract with Spears Consulting to recruit students to Pierre Capdau Charter School.

The board also approved a two-month extension of a consulting contract with Square Button, a firm helping the network analyze its finances and create a budget for the 2016-17 school year. The initial contract came as a surprise, considering the board has someone on staff overseeing finances.

Chief Financial Officer Karen Craig told the board she needed approval to pay Square Button through August; the work was set to end in June, when the fiscal year ended. When they hired the company in March, Craig said the network was on schedule to finish a budget by April.

At that time, company owner Allen Square said his work would be “a four-week sprint.”

The somewhat confusing motion was partially clarified by Bouie who said the continued work with Square Button would be “pending review of CEO to continue, to tweak or go in a different direction.”

Square and board members said the approval was not a contract amendment even though they’re paying him more money than initially planned.

New Beginnings operates Lake Area New Tech Early College High School and Capdau, Gentilly Terrace and Medard Nelson elementary schools.

Board members Bouie, Brooks, Travis Chase, Val Marshall, Kathy Saloy, and Jill Sylvain attended the hourlong meeting.

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