The 19-member board of the Los Angeles parochial school was one of ten Catholic schools throughout the United States — and the only California school — to receive the prestigious award.“I think the biggest reason we were recognized is we had a very defined strategic plan, and we executed it,” said school board chairman Karl Altergott. “There were a number of key things. We migrated from a half-day kindergarten to a full-day in August 2011. We also came to the conclusion that to be competitive in our market we needed to have a pre-K to help feed our kindergarten. So we came up with a $100,000 grant from the William H. Hannon Foundation, along with a special fundraiser to raise $50,000, and our pre-K will open this fall with 20 students already signed up.“Another thing was moving ahead with technology. So now every student from fifth through eighth grade must own an i-Pad. It’s a requirement. And then kindergarten through fourth-graders use school i-Pads moved around in carts”The last major improvement was facilitating a state-of-the-art science program, which included a dedicated science teacher for the upper grades, modern textbooks with lab kits and a plan for science fair projects. “So I would say 80 percent of the heavy lifting in the last five years has been done by the board,” Altergott reported. The school board is actually broken down into a number of committees, including: technology, policy and planning, development, marketing, pre-K and kindergarten. Individual board members head up these different groups composed of four or five volunteers. Of the 19 members, 16 are parents of current students, along with principal Michael Muir, pastor Msgr. Gabriel Gonzales and the head of the Parent Teacher Organization. Board members have professional expertise in marketing, finance/accounting, education, school administration, business management, technology, construction, fundraising, engineering, lobbying and law. Altergott, who has two children at St. Anastasia, is the CEO of Dunn Edwards Paints.“This wasn’t a one-year project,” he stressed. “It took years, careful planning and a lot of hard work to carry out the strategic plan.”Fellow board member Cheryl Hesse readily agrees. “We surveyed parents, students and teachers to identify growth opportunities and to understand our weaknesses,” she said. “An all-day planning session with wide community representation rewarded us with a set of short- and long-term goals to focus efforts of the board and the administration. Many improvements we’ve seen in the last few years are due in large part to board and committee members working with the school administration and faculty to achieve our strategic planning goals.”Regina Haney, executive director of the NCEA Boards and Councils department, explained that boards not only set the direction for a school, but also make good use of the varied skills of members to support and advance the school. “Each of these [Outstanding Board Award recipients] has proven itself to be a steadfast asset and champion to its school,” she said. “They have helped their schools to provide top-notch Catholic education and, in some cases, have forged entirely new paths for their community and schools to thrive.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0426/olaboard/{/gallery}