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Decision near at Ben Franklin on whether to accept petition for faculty union

Benjamin Franklin High School’s board will vote May 8 to accept or reject a petition by faculty and staff members to unionize.

Board president Duris Holmes announced the date at Franklin’s monthly board meeting, April 24.  The 10 board members in attendance then voted unanimously to repair to an executive session to discuss the unionization issue. The executive session lasted nearly two hours.  The school’s leader Timothy Rusnak and chief financial officer Allison Bent Bowler were the only non-board members admitted to the session.

Over a dozen faculty and staff members attended the board meeting, as did Audra George, a representative of the American Federation of Teachers, an AFL-CIO affiliate.

The approval of minutes was deferred until the next meeting because members had not had time to review them.

Faculty member Shannon Antoine was recognized for her work moderating the Riverbend Review, Franklin’s literary magazine.  The publication won the Gold Crown Award from Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association.

“The credit goes to the kids,” Antoine said.  “They are 100 percent the force behind the magazine.”

Admissions director Lynn Jenkins spoke to the board about registrations and enrollment. Franklin currently has 231 students registered for next year.  Jenkins acknowledged that the school needs a higher enrollment, but expressed optimism that more students would pass the admissions test.  She estimated that the school would see at least another 30 to 50 registrations.

Board member Gary Ostroske asked those present to consider suggesting worthy candidates to fill vacancies on the board that will occur in the next two or three years.

Ostroske also discussed the school’s strategic plan. He emphasized the need for “a more grassroots community plan,” saying that it was at an early stage of development. “It’s about coming together to create a pathway that makes sense,” Ostroske said.  “They (strategic plans) don’t have to be real complicated.”

Board member Susan Weeks echoed Ostroske. She said the plan will need input from parents, students, and faculty.

The board members present were Holmes, Baum, Ostroske, Mayer, Indest, Alexander, Weeks, Cao, Levy, and Adams.  Members Horton and Labat had excused absences.

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  • Clay

    Congratulations to Dr. Antoine!