City Council gets responses from School Board

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012


FRANKLIN—City Manager Randy Martin during a Monday Franklin City Council meeting updated members on questions raised during a joint meeting with the School Board on Aug. 28.

The special session was intended for Council to question the board on the condition of schools.

For example, S.P. Morton Elementary and J.P. King Middle schools went from full accreditation to accreditation with a warning after scoring lower on state tests than established standards.

S.P. Morton has four years to improve Standards of Learning test scores in reading. J.P. King must focus on math scores. Both schools will also endure academic reviews and must put improvement plans in place.

Questions by council and residents were submitted in writing to allow Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle and the Board to prepare answers.

At the August meeting, the School Board submitted questions in writing and vice-versa.

Martin announced Monday that he answered the board’s questions.

The council unanimously agreed to send Martin’s responses to the board. However, Councilman Don Blythe suggested that open discussion was needed in addition to any written responses.

Below are some of the board’s questions and responses.

When will the School Board be able to give the Franklin school employees a raise instead of a bonus?

Everyone seems to believe that the School Board is responsible for the salary increases, but it’s the city that decides whether funds are available. To attract and retain highly qualified teachers, our salaries have to be more competitive with the surrounding counties.

As discussed at the Aug. 28 meeting, the School Board can set salaries and make budget requests to the city for funding. The City Council then determines the level of local funding for schools.

What were the top reasons as to why the School Board’s budget request was not fully funded?

The recommended budget presented to the City Council funded the school-operating budget at an amount that was $598,008 less than the request. It was initially based upon level funding the local share. It also took into consideration the potential for additional state funding that would result when the legislative version of the state budget was finalized, which was significantly higher than the Governor’s recommended budget allocation on which the School Board had based its proposed budget request to the City.

How do we go about bringing our teachers’ pay up to par with surrounding cities and counties?

The School Board has the responsibility for establishing teacher pay scales.

Setting goals that are realistic are recommended and collaboration on longer-term goals between the School Board and Council is advised.

Who do we as a Board hold accountable in Franklin schools besides the superintendent?

The Board and superintendent have defined rules and accountability standards. Through the superintendent, the school staff has a most important role in accountability.

The City Council has funding responsibilities for the schools.

The parents and more broadly the community as a whole have a major stake in the operations and success of the public schools.