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Dual enrollment's strengths weighed against possible funding shortfall

Dual enrollment was a focus of Ben Franklin High School’s monthly board meeting, July 19. The board also passed its 2012-13 budget and went into executive session to discuss the school’s principal and chief executive officer, Timothy Rusnak.

Board member Patricia Adams, who is of counsel to the University of New Orleans, informed the board about a new state law that could lead to reduced per-student funding under the state’s Minimum Foundation Plan.

Under the new law, starting in the 2013-14 budget year, schools with students participating in the state’s dual-enrollment program could lose some of their per-pupil funding to the colleges or businesses where those students are studying, Adams said.

Seniors just one or two classes away from graduation typically fulfill the rest of their schedule at state-approved alternative outlets such as the University of New Orleans, Adams noted, and under the new law would take a portion of their state funding with them.

While the new system may have unwanted side effects, both the board and Rusnak lauded the partnership the school has with the University of New Orleans. The university, which shares its lakefront campus with Ben Franklin, offers courses for $100. Rusnak singled out expansion of the art program as a possible next step in deepening the ties between the two schools.

Social studies teacher John Parauka briefed the board on a new service-learning initiative under which Ben Franklin would become a site where Tulane University juniors and seniors could log required community-service hours. While the program is in its earliest stages, Parauka said he hopes it will provide students with another positive link to higher education.

With seven of 10 members present, the board unanimously approved its 2012-13 budget. Financial director Allison Bent noted that the school ended the year with a net surplus for the first time in quite a while. A public budget hearing was held July 12.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the board entered a closed session to evaluate Rusnak. Rusnak opted not to have the session held publicly.

Board members present included Duris Holmes, Carl Indest, Mark Mayer, Gary Ostroske, Ingrid Labat, John Williams, and Patricia Adams.

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