Principal Timothy Rusnak began the Feb. 16 meeting of Ben Franklin’s board by presenting teacher Christy Reed with a certificate of appreciation. Rusnak praised Reed’s ability “to do anything and everything necessary” to keep the school’s educational environment in tip-top shape.

In a report on applications, Rusnak said 265 new students enrolled in the 2010-2011 school year, the majority of them freshmen and sophomores. Rusnak said classes are getting academically stronger; the “quality of test scores, students, admissions are stellar,” he said. Enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year stands at 721, comfortably below the schools capacity of 800 students.

But projected growth of 37 percent over the next three to four years is grounds for concern, Rusnak said. He suggested that at their next meeting, the board – officially known as Advocates for Excellence in Education — discuss “how to project a population we don’t have, and how to construct a budget.”

Board member Carl Indest reminded fellow board members of the need to prepare for discussion of the preliminary budget, which should be reviewed and completed by April’s board meeting. Indest said students and teachers are happy with the student activity funds and there is a “$100,000 surplus, net income.” Indest said in 2010-2011, the e-rate refund was $40,000 and that successful negotiations with the Orleans Parish School Board could yield annual savings of $50,000 to $70,000.

The 39-minute meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m. Two of 10 board members were absent. Board members may opt to cancel their March meeting because they are scheduled to go on retreat towards the end of that month.