School board gets assertive

Published 4:38 pm Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Franklin School Board is showing some spunk, and we’re thrilled to see it.

From a ramped-up search for the next superintendent to stricter academic standards for athletes and other extracurricular participants, the board is demonstrating the assertiveness that citizens have been wanting.

Gone — hopefully for good — are the days of rubber-stamping administrators’ recommendations. An effective school board walks the fine line of leading without micromanaging. Franklin’s board shows some signs of handling that balancing act well.

Though slow out of the chute, the school board is now off and running on the search for a successor to retired Superintendent William Pruett. Board members had the good sense to invite the participation and counsel of the Virginia School Boards Association, which has given the local division a terrific blueprint for identifying its next leader. The plan, refreshingly, emphasizes public input.

The school board, thankfully, is not waiting for the arrival of a new superintendent to be pro-active about some things that need fixing. For example, when administrators brought forth a lukewarm disciplinary plan for athletes who skip mandatory tutoring sessions, the board insisted that it be tougher.

On that subject, we’d like to see the board go a step further and raise the minimum grade-point average for participation in extracurricular activities.

A student with a 1.25 GPA (the current threshold for eligibility) needs to be hitting the books, not the playing field.