Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans plans to hold a rotating section of fourth-grade classes at the Cabildo in the French Quarter next year, and has hired new directors of development and admissions, school officials announced Monday night.
The Cabildo classes will immerse students in Louisiana history, specifically focusing on the French colonial period, similar to the life-sciences programs already offered to students at the Audubon Nature Institute, said school CEO Keith Bartlett at Monday night’s meeting of the school’s governing board. The school is just beginning to write the program’s curriculum, Bartlett said.
“It’s going to be humanities, culture and history related to the colonial period,” Bartlett said.
The Cabildo program will run for several weeks at at time, Bartlett said. Because of the logistical difficulties with getting to the French Quarter, parents will still drop off their children on Patton Street and the school will then bus them downtown, he said.
Bartlett also announced that he has hired two people for new administrative positions, director of development and admissions coordinator.
For development director, Bartlett hired Sarah Stickney, a former development manager for the Hearing Health Foundation in New York City, where she helped acquire new donors, research fundraising prospects and write grants, Bartlett said. She began work April 7, and her office is at the Claiborne campus.
For admissions, Bartlett hired Joanna Sese, a former chief operations officer for Omprakash, which matches volunteers with nonprofit service organizations around the world. Sese has also worked with 4.0 Schools here in New Orleans, Bartlett said. She has yet to begin, but her office will be on Patton Street.
Both admissions and development had previously been handled by Sweet Olive, a contractor hired by the school’s founders. After the leadership turmoil of the last school year, a group of parents had watched the position closely, asking at numerous meetings when those jobs would be handled by school employees instead of contractors and essentially removing the last link to the prior administration. In his announcements Monday, Bartlett thanked the Sweet Olive team for their professionalism in the transition.
The school administration and governing board are also seeking an attorney general’s opinion on whether they must release the applications as part of several public-records requests the school has received. The question legally will hinge on whether they are considered policy-making positions, board chair Tim Gray said, but he believes that making the applicants’ names public will discourage future potential employees from applying.
“This doesn’t have to do with hiding anything,” Gray said. “This has to do with not having a chilling effect on applications.”
That issue was not the only question of transparency discussed Monday. The agenda had not been posted 24 hours in advance, but because the meeting was on its regularly scheduled night, Gray opted to hold an informational meeting with no votes taken rather than cancel it outright.
Under the school’s new public-comment policy — in which comments are only taken prior to board votes — that left the parents in the audience without time during the meeting to comment on the new developments until the vote to adjourn. Parent Charlie Varley complained about the lack of interaction, saying there are issues relating to the school’s growth to an adjacent building at St. Paul’s church that the audience wanted to question the board about.
Board member Erin Greenwald suggested that parents have numerous other opportunities to make their thoughts known, including contacting school administrators or board members directly — as many parents do. The board meetings, she said, are not necessarily the appropriate venue to discuss every issue.
The school board plans to hold a special meeting next week to ratify a hiring plan discussed Monday evening, and that decision also drew some scrutiny, as one parent noted that the close proximity of next Monday to the Easter holiday may make it difficult for some parents to attend.
In other school news:
- The Recovery School District sent out letters Friday informing 155 students that they have been placed in kindergarten through the OneApp system, Bartlett said. The school had sought to accept 67 percent of the incoming kindergarten class as at-risk students, and Bartlett said he did not have a final tally on that effort Monday. State officials are encouraging the school to seek about 20 more at-risk students, however, to replace any that choose to go elsewhere before the first day of school.
- The Fete de la Musique raised a net of $41,000 this year, Bartlett said. Ticket sales were higher, but the total is down from last year’s $48,000, partly owing to new rules prohibiting the donation of alcohol. The event remains above the $35,000 the school budgeted, however, Bartlett said.
To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below: