Suggestions offered to improve Franklin school system

Published 10:08 am Monday, October 7, 2013

To the Editor:

There have been many valid points raised in the discussion on the state of our school system. A few facts should be added to the discussion. We consistently have been spending more per pupil than the state average. In fact, we were the number one recipient of state aid per pupil in the cities category in the last report of school funding compiled by the state.

Local Funding Per Pupil – 2012

State Average $5,549
Franklin $3,615
Isle of Wight $4,333
Southampton $3,627
Suffolk $3,407

Total Funding Per Pupil (counting state and federal contributions) – 2012
State Average $10,793
Franklin $12,419
Isle of Wight $9,827
Southampton $10,449
Suffolk $9,825

Outrage has been real and justified given the above numbers and our poor academic performance. First in money and last in performance is not a justifiable position. It is my opinion that a few concrete steps should be taken sooner rather than later to begin the climb out of our problems, and deal with the state, which provides 56 percent of our funding per pupil.

1. The city council should formally ask for the resignation of the chairman of the School Board. She is an at-large appointee. She can decline, which is her right. At the very least, the School Board should hold a special meeting to elect a new chairperson.

2. The School Board should ask for the resignation of the Superintendent of Schools, or at the very least buy out her contract.

3. The city council should look for more ways to correct the underfunding at the local level. A general revenue tax (i.e. local sales rather than a property tax would be more palatable in the undersigned opinion.)

4. Request a five-year plan be submitted by the school board outlining their monetary needs and their academic goals by school. This should be monitored every six months.

5. I agree that the schools should be kept out of the political arena, but there can be put in place some sort of communication vehicle that does not jeopardize school independence and the need to know by the council. We are in for a long haul, at best, but we only have three schools and 1,500 kids. It is not like we are Chicago or Philadelphia. It should be manageable with the right leadership.

Bob Trainor