MB: I had the previous experience as a member of the Board of the Academy of the Sacred Heart. After Katrina struck, when New Orleans’ need for quality public charter schools became even more pressing, I agreed to join the NOCSF Board. NOCSF had applied for and was granted charters for New Orleans Free Academy and McDonogh City Park Academy.
TTS: Was the charter school Board experience what you expected?
MB: It was anything but what I expected. It ultimately involved (a) closing New Orleans Free Academy as financially untenable; (b) severing ties with the operating company we initially retained to run the schools; and (c) operating McDonogh City Park Academy through Christine Mitchell, a very talented school leader hired directly by the Board.
TTS: Did things even out?
MB: Well, I have to say that things are evening out, that we have made progress, and that we see the chance for greater progress in the future. Our progress was truly astounding in the first two or three years after we took over the operation of McDonogh City Park Academy, but we experienced some problems holding on to those gains. The Board and Administration made a number of changes that have resulted in our recapturing our early gains and setting a foundation for future success. Perseverance has paid off, as has the willingness to look at different approaches, but the road has not always been easy.
TTS: Do you have any final thoughts?
MB: It has been a pleasure to serve on the Board, working with women and men on the staff of the school and the Board who are committed to improving the lives of our students and the future of our City. To paraphrase the late Iris Kelso, men and women who want to benefit New Orleans the most should work to improve public education.
The Top Shelf
The success of a charter school hinges largely on the decisions of its governing board. The Top Shelf enhances the capacity of charter school boards through professional development, board recruitment and community engagement.