FirstLine Schools Board Votes to Transfer Oversight to OPSB
February 15, 2017
NEW ORLEANS – (Feb. 15, 2017) – Yesterday the FirstLine Schools Board of Directors voted to transfer oversight of its four elementary schools to local control, one year ahead of the legal mandate. The Orleans Parish School Board’s oversight of the four schools will begin in the 2017-18 school year. FirstLine Schools’ only high school, Joseph S. Clark, is not currently eligible for return, and will remain a part of the Recovery School District.
“As a product of the Orleans Parish School system, it has always been a personal goal of mine since joining the FirstLine board, to work in partnership with Orleans Parish leaders in an effort to re-unify our schools. I believe the necessary groundwork has been set, and there is no time like the present. I look forward to the continued collaboration between the FirstLine board and the Orleans Parish School Board,” said Brian Egana, Chairman of the Board of FirstLine Schools.
Middle School Advocates (the former name of FirstLine Schools) was approached by the state and asked to take over the failing Samuel J. Green Middle School in 2005. Green opened as a K-8 charter school the week before Hurricane Katrina. The school reopened in January 2006. Since then, FirstLine has grown to a network of five schools: four elementary schools and one high school. FirstLine is committed to helping New Orleans be the first city in America where every child goes to a great school. With a mission to create and inspire great open admissions public schools in New Orleans, the 3,000 students who attend FirstLine Schools are exposed to rigorous and engaging academic offerings, a variety of enrichment experiences that include arts, sports, music, and dance, as well as signature programming such as The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESYNOLA), a seed-to-table program that provides students with hands-on garden and culinary education.
Jay Altman, FirstLine’s CEO, describes FirstLine’s reasons for returning a year early: “Last year’s unification legislation provided a strong framework for OPSB to be a quality authorizer and partner in a way that provides assurance for the continuation of school autonomy and accountability. We greatly appreciate the work that Superintendent Lewis and his team are doing and have great confidence that along with the school board, he and his team are prepared to govern a unique system of schools where the district oversees the system-wide issues while the charter organizations themselves are responsible for the operations of the schools.”
Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr., OPSB Superintendent, said, “We appreciate the confidence the FirstLine Schools board has in OPSB as we transition our city’s schools to local oversight, and acknowledge that the next year will be critical in ensuring that this transition is a success. We thank FirstLine’s leadership for joining us each step of the way through unification. As we embark on this next phase of our plan, we are excited to have FirstLine Schools as our partner.”
“We commend the staff and students of FirstLine Schools’ four elementary schools for their hard work and academic achievements. We remain committed to working with the FirstLine Schools governing board to provide excellent schools to families throughout New Orleans,” said John A. Brown, Sr., OPSB Board President.
Patrick Dobard, Superintendent of the Recovery School District, said, “I congratulate the FirstLine network and the school communities at Arthur Ashe, Langston Hughes, Phillis Wheatley, and Samuel J. Green. The students, families and educators at these schools have made much progress. I will continue to work closely with OPSB leadership as we prepare for the unification of all RSD and OPSB schools in 2018, and we will work together to ensure a successful transition in 2017 for these FirstLine schools.”
About FirstLine Schools: The mission of FirstLine Schools is to create and inspire great open admissions public schools in New Orleans. FirstLine currently operates Samuel J. Green Charter School, Arthur Ashe Charter School, Phillis Wheatley Community School, Langston Hughes Academy, and Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School. For more information please visit www.firstlineschools.org.