A cut in state funding for next year of about $181 per student dominated discussion at the Benjamin Franklin High School board of directors’ meeting on April 18.
Finance director Allison Bent Bowler estimated the cuts would cost the school more than $140,000 in lost revenue based on the school’s enrollment of 779 students.
Member Susan Weeks said the funding adjustments, which are based on final enrollment numbers for the current year, had never been announced so late. Bowler said state officials offered conflicting explanations for the cuts, but there are apparently 2,000 more students in Orleans school system than the state budgeted for.
The new 26-page formula for determining per-student funding under the Minimum Foundation Program was passed March 7 by the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Principal Timothy Rusnak distributed enrollment projections for the next four years. For the 2013-14 year, the school will admit about 270 students, 30 of whom are expected not to show up or to leave during the school year. This would mean a freshman class of about 240 students, compared with this year’s current count of 232.
Rusnak said the school plans to admit about 10 additional students every year, bringing the school’s total enrollment to approximately 917 by the beginning of 2016.
Member Collette Creppell recommended that the board hire a consulting firm with experience in institutional facilities to plan for this growth. The firm would make recommendations on maximizing available space and whether new construction is warranted. The board agreed unanimously to put out a request for proposals from consulting firms at a cost not to exceed $10,000.
Member Lester Alexander III submitted a charter for creating an audit committee to meet on an as-needed basis but not less than twice a year. The charter was accepted by the full board. The committee will oversee the work of independent firms hired to audit the school’s finances and will make recommendations to the board.
Members welcomed the board’s newest member, John Williams, recently appointed dean of the business school at the University of New Orleans.
Also present were board chairman Duris Holmes and members Carl Indest, Kim Bondy, Ingrid Labat, Patricia Adams, Joseph Horton, and many Ben Franklin staffers. Absent were members Anh “Joseph” Cao, Mark Mayer, and Gary Ostroske.