All 3 of Franklin’s principals leaving

Published 10:37 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

FRANKLIN—Franklin City Public Schools has to hire principals for each of its three buildings.

Franklin High School Principal Dr. Rodney Berry has taken the principal’s position at Hopewell, which is closer to his home in Richmond, said Gail Wade, director of human resources for Franklin.

“Dr. Berry was commuting an hour and a half each day,” Wade said.

J.P. King Middle School Angela Byrd-Wright has taken a job in Hampton, which is closer to her home in Newport News, and S.P. Morton Elementary School Don Spengeman retired Friday.

The positions are advertised on the school’s website. Wade said applications have been coming in with a deadline set for the first week or two in July.

“We’re coming along good filling our positions,” she said. “When we get the principal positions filled, we’ll be all set.”

On a 5-2 last week, the Franklin School Board chose not to promote S.P. Morton Assistant Principal Lisa Francis to fill Spengeman’s position. Members Bill Scarboro and Will Councill supported the move.

Board Member Glenn Hopkins said the board wanted to see more candidates and doesn’t know if Francis — a 16-year veteran educator who has been with the district for 15 years — will be reconsidered.

School Board Members Mona Murphy, Edna King and Johnetta Nichols declined comment, while Verta Jackson and Bill Scarboro didn’t return phone calls.

Wade said Friday that the job would remain open until Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle gives the board more candidates.

Wade also said she didn’t know if Francis would be reconsidered.

Francis could not be reached for comment.

The board’s decision sparked reaction from educators and parents.

“I was floored,” Spengeman said. “I certainly hope they’ll rethink their previous decision.”

Spengeman said Francis was well trained and is a very dedicated worker, who has the best interest of the students and their families.

“She would have been an excellent choice,” he said.

Josette Sthole-Hays, president of the S.P. Morton Parent Teacher Association, said the organization is not in favor of the board’s decision.

“I’ve gotten to know Lisa as an educator, and she’s an excellent person,” Sthole-Hays said. “She’s definitely a great candidate for the job.

Sthole-Hays said her son Jesse Hayes, a rising first-grader, likes Francis.

Kindergarten teacher Cherie Karmilovich feels that if Francis had been selected, it would’ve made for a smoother transition since she and Spengeman worked together the past five years.

“She knows our school and our students,” Karmilovich said. “To me, we’re taking a step back if we bring someone in who came from somewhere else.”

Cara Butler, who has two children at S.P. Morton, believes Francis would’ve helped to bring continuity to the school.

“Over the last several years, he (Spengeman) and Lisa Francis have worked as a team,” Butler said. “The kids all like her, even though she is firm when necessary.”