Why two school divisions?

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The prospect of deep state funding cuts for Franklin and Southampton public schools over the next few years should remind every taxpaying citizen in both communities of the need for increased cooperation between the two divisions at a minimum, if not outright consolidation.

Neither the school boards nor the administrations of either district have shown any leadership on the question of consolidation, which an outside, objective consultant pegged five years ago as critical to the long-range success of Franklin and Southampton County.

Momentum will have to come from the grassroots — specifically, property owners and voters in both localities who are footing the bill for an inefficient, wasteful system of educating our children.

Pressure must be applied to elected leadership — the Franklin City Council and the Southampton County Board of Supervisors — who in turn can insist that their appointed school boards get with the program and begin looking out for this community’s long-range interests.

Disappointingly, the topic of consolidation got no substantive discussion in last week’s interviews of two candidates for an at-large seat on the city school board. Instead, we heard a lot about trivial stuff like dress codes and menus for PTA dinners.

Without closing a single school or moving a single student to a different campus, hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, can be saved simply by sharing central-office staff and services. That the topic of cooperation is not getting any public discussion in the face of millions in state funding cuts is outrageous.

The folly of operating separate school systems in contiguous communities so small must be exposed.