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Audit shows jump in enrollment; access to UNO courses to be reviewed

The Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education Inc., the charter school board governing Benjamin Franklin High School, met Sept. 15. The meeting, in the school library, began at 4 p.m. and ended at 5:40, after a 20-minute executive session.

Board members Mark Mayer, Ingrid Labat, Susan Weeks, Carl Indest and Collette Creppell were present. Board president Duris Holmes and members Joseph Cao and G. Gary Ostroske were absent.

The board opened with CEO/principal Dr. Timothy Rusnak presenting Mike Townsend and Sue Haynie of facility services with certificates of appreciation.

“Instead of just clean up, these folks take care of us,” Susan Weeks said.

The board then discussed the admissions open house, scheduled for Oct. 6, and offered  to help in any way possible.

“Is there something we can do as board members to assist?” Mark Mayer said.

A report from Larry Baudoin, the school’s chief financial officer, revealed that the school’s enrollment has risen by 76, a 12 percent increase. Counselor Beatrice Flair was slated to give a Powerpoint presentation on testing statistics but was called away on an emergency, so the presentation was bumped to next meeting.

“We’ve been looking at [testing statistics] longitudinally,” said Dr. Rusnak.

He said the national rankings of schools often include a variety of different factors, including non-academic measures such as the proportion of students eligible for free or reduced lunches. He said after Hurricane Katrina, when all schools had free and reduced lunches, Benjamin Franklin ranked higher. Longitudinal statistics are a way to sort through these variances, he said.

Development director Christy Read said the ongoing fund drive “has gotten a great response so far.” He said the school would be announcing a new fundraising initiative later in the month.

Mayer requested everyone on the board to donate.

“We need 100 percent board participation in annual giving,” he said. “That is our standard.”

A final draft of the strategic plan was delayed until the next meeting because the copy in hand was found to contain typographical errors.

Weeks requested that Dr. Rusnak prepare a report on the possible expansion of a program that allows students to attend classes at UNO when the course work is not available at Ben Franklin.

The board ended the meeting by excluding the public and going into executive session, pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. 42:6:1(3). The reason for the closed session was to discuss the school safety plan. It contains sensitive information, such as what to do during a lockdown, that should not be made public, officials said.

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