School board requests additional $272,613 of council

Published 9:28 am Saturday, May 17, 2014

FRANKLIN—Having heard the concerns about providing a quality education for Franklin’s children, school board Chairwoman Edna King said they can no longer reach their goals with continued level funding.

King said that council members have pledged to support the schools, so she hopes they will consider providing the additional funds, as when the cost of living increases, so too does the cost of education.

The primary place the additional $272,613 is requested will go toward providing an across the board salary increase of 2 percent. King said that Franklin is not on par with other divisions in the region.

Other factors in the increase include a mandatory Virginia Retirement System increase from 11.66 percent to 14.5 percent as well as a 2.6 percent increase in health insurance, said the system’s Coordinator of Financial Services Rachel Yates.

Ward 1 Councilman Benny Burgess did have a concern — how far below in salary range is Franklin City Public Schools? He also wondered what neighbors we were trying to compare with, as he was under the impression that some neighbors to the west might be making less than Franklin City Public Schools faculty and staff on average. Yates was not able to immediately provide that information.

City Manager Randy Martin said it would be roughly a 5-cent increase on the property tax rate to fund this increase, should council chose to go that route.

The level funding that had been provided since the 2008-09 school year is $4,837,395. The schools will also receive a carryover of $345,594 that they had not spent from last year’s local funding.

Additional changes include the school board returning two central office positions from part-time to full-time, as Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle had suggested making the positions part-time in her proposed budget to the city. This was being done to balance her budget.

The school board will help balance its proposed budget by eliminating three positions, one at central office, and two teaching positions, said Yates. Yates did not comment on which positions.

Should Franklin City choose to fund this increase, Yates said it would become the new-level funding.

The state is also mandating that summer school go from 8 days to a minimum of 16 days. King said this was a good change, as children from low-income families tend to fall behind too much during the summer. As they increase from grade to grade, many end up 2-3 years behind.

King said technology will also play a role in the future. Recently, all three schools added wifi access to their buildings. She believes adding more technology, such as iPads and laptops for departments to use, will help engage students.

Another topic King brought up, long term, was the capital improvement plan. She said Franklin High School was built in 1965, and J.P. King and S.P. Morton were built in 1958 — it is nearing time to consider building new campuses, she said.