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March 6, 2020
 
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
 
I have spent the last 15 years of my life in service to the city of New Orleans by working to improve educational opportunities for under-served youth and families.  It has been a great honor to serve the community as a school leader and most recently as member of the Orleans Parish School Board.
 
While my dedication to public education in New Orleans remains steadfast, my wife and I are faced with the evolving realities of the recent birth of our 3rd child, aging parents and the desire for our family to be physically closer to our extended family members.  After deep thought and reflection, we have made the tough decision to move to Washington State for our family.
 
I intend to resign from the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), effective June 15, 2020.  Understanding our family challenges, I regret that I am unable to delay our move until after my term ends at the end of this year.  I am making this announcement now because I believe it is important that my colleagues on the board have ample time to prepare for my transition, and for the community at large to be aware well ahead of time of the impending vacancy on the board. 
 
Per policy, the board will consider all candidates and appoint a qualified individual to serve in an interim capacity for the remaining six months of my term.  I anticipate this appointment will be made during the June board meeting.  I am confident the right leaders will come forward to succeed me, both in the interim and for the next four years.  I will make myself available to my successors to support the transition in any way possible.
 
I have learned through experience that to be effective, the work of a school board member can never be solitary.  OPSB is at its best when all seven members work together in the best interests of children.  Our board has achieved many great milestones together since 2017, including:
  • Leading the smooth return of schools from state oversight, unifying all schools under the locally-elected board;
  • Creating a comprehensive school accountability framework for the newly-unified system of schools;
  • Modifying the city-wide funding formula to increase resources available to support our most vulnerable students;
  • Balancing the school system’s budget for the first time since Pre-Katrina without the use of fund balance reserves.
I am also proud to have played a leadership role in several important initiatives over the years, most notably:
  • The development and implementation of a rigorous and comprehensive annual evaluation process for the Superintendent, including high standards for system-wide academic and financial performance.
  • The elimination of school bus pick-up times before 6:00 AM;
  • A minimum living wage for food service workers;
  • More rigorous standards for approval of industrial tax exemptions, ensuring businesses who receive tax breaks properly invest in the local economy while also allowing for a significant increase in local funding for schools for many years to come.
Recognizing that my planned departure from the board is still several months away, I will continue to fulfill my responsibilities on the board until my very last day of service.  As the newly-appointed Policy Chairman, I plan to work together with my colleagues over the coming months to pursue a policy agenda focused on creating equitable conditions for students to succeed at the highest levels. 
 
I truly love New Orleans and its people with all my heart and soul, and it has been a great privilege to be a public servant for this community.  I expect to be moved by Louis Armstrong’s song “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans” more than ever in the coming years.  This city is a special place unlike any other in the world.  I will leave a piece of my heart here forever.
 
With love and gratitude,
 
Ben
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Paid for by Ben Kleban for School Board
www.benkleban.com
P.O. Box 750109
New Orleans, LA 70175


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