ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HOSTS PRESS CONFERENCE ON FIRST 100 DAYS AS A UNIFIED DISTRICT
October 10, 2018
On Tuesday, the OPSB introduced new leadership and provided updates on the district’s revised operational structure
NEW ORLEANS – (Oct. 9, 2018) – Today, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) held a press conference to give an overview on district performance since unification under the locally elected school board and to highlight changes to the operational structure and work of the new offices in district administration. The press conference provided the public an opportunity to understand how key OPSB staff is working to improve all New Orleans Public Schools and also served as an update for the public on the first 100 days as a unified district.
“I am very excited to have all schools back under the leadership of the elected members of the Orleans Parish School Board; together we have created a new day for public education in New Orleans. From the outside, unification on July 1st was seamless,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “Internally, we needed to assemble a team, create new and different job responsibilities, and implement new policies and procedures – to be ready to manage a unique system of autonomous, independent charter schools. Acting as one unified system of schools and one New Orleans Superintendent has meant being very intentional about the development of my leadership team.”
During the press conference, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. welcomed several new district officials in the Orleans Parish school system, including:
- OPSB Assistant Superintendent Mary Garton
- OPSB Senior Chief and Portfolio Officer Amanda Aiken
- OPSB Chief Operating Officer Eric Seling
- OPSB Chief of District Operated Schools and Student Services Officer Rene Lewis-Carter
- OPSB Chief of Student Access Officer Gabriela Fighetti
The Superintendent’s new leadership team is a result of the restructuring of the district following unification to better accommodate the school system’s governance of New Orleans public charter and direct-run schools. With these new roles, the OPSB aims to also address enrollment priorities, transportation policies, and student test standards and most importantly, the educational supports and services students need to succeed in both school and life.
“The importance of this moment and the reason we brought you all here today is to mark the significance of having public schools in New Orleans operate as a single system and having that single system held accountable to elected officials – like me – who are rightfully beholden to public will,” said Board President John A. Brown, Sr. “This is no small feat, but I believe we have the right direction and the right person leading us. I can say that because of Dr. Henderson Lewis’ laser focus on not only unification but also the responsibility and burden of public servanthood.”
“When I walked in the doors of OPSB with Dr. Lewis we had a big job ahead and brick by brick we built a strong, new OPSB,” said Assistant Superintendent Mary Garton. “Today we have a bigger job – building one district out of many and I am, as a parent and 20-year veteran educator, prouder than ever of what we’ve accomplished and what we have in front of us to do.”
“The Senior Chief and Portfolio Officer role is indicative of our system of systems and through it, I will utilize my experience leading and improving schools, as well as running charter organizations to build a balanced approach to governing in this new way,” said Senior Chief and Portfolio Officer Amanda Aiken. “Our portfolio division includes Innovation and Planning, School Support and Improvement, Equity and Accountability and Citywide Initiatives. This district will always remain nimble enough to build new strategies where needed and responsive enough to have those strategies work.”
“My job here is to work with our charter school partners and be an excellent steward of the finances and facilities of the district – to ensure that our resources are available to be leveraged long term for the success of New Orleans students,” said Chief Operating Officer Eric Seling. “Under my leadership the district maintained strong credit ratings, and has aligned costs and produced balanced budgets yearly.”
“I lead the work of our directly-operated schools, Cypress Academy and McDonogh 35 as well as the services we afford 10 additional charter schools who are a part of our LEA. I also oversee all of the critical services that our country and state promise to children, like our exceptional children’s services and our federal programs which does grant work for over 65 nonpublic schools,” said Chief of District Operated Schools and Student Services Officer Rene Lewis-Carter. “As a leader who has served at every level of education and as 2016 Principal of the year, I hold a deep belief in the structure and power of schools, yet at the same time I understand and identify with our charter school partners. I look forward to working as one district.”
“I lead our work that provides students equitable access to NOLA public schools at every transitional moment – entering school or transferring schools. I also lead the work of how we address students that may be expelled or truant from school,” said Chief Student Access Officer Gabriela Fighetti. “Coming the from Recovery School District and EnrollNOLA, I didn’t know what to expect at OPSB, but what I’ve found here is an unwavering commitment to the students and families of New Orleans and an ethical and principled approach to our work.”
The OPSB currently oversees 78 public schools, including 75 charter schools, two direct-operated schools and a school with two educational programs for students in secure-care facilities. On July 1st, all New Orleans public schools were unified under the oversight of the locally-elected Orleans Parish School Board for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Learn more about Unification here.
For more information, visit www.opsb.us. For updates, follow OPSB on Facebook, Instagram @orleansparishschoolboard and Twitter @_OPSB.