Education should be a priority this year

Published 11:20 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

If at all possible, the city should not deny teachers the raises that the Franklin City Public Schools Board would like to give them.

When looking at problems in the system, a common flag that came up when the Virginia Department of Education conducted its reviews in Franklin was teacher and administrative turnover.

In 2010-11, the turnover in the system as 23.7 percent. In 2012-2013, the rate was at 17.6 percent.

One of the personnel audits conducted by the state in 2013 blamed turnover as a contributor to problems in the system.

When the Virginia Board of Education came to Franklin in May, Chris Novakoski, a Franklin resident who teaches in Suffolk, talked a lot about the importance of teachers in the system.

One of the problems he mentioned was recruiting, and he said Franklin was not doing enough to recruit teachers. One thing that could help get in qualified teachers is being able to pay them what they expect to earn.

He also talked about the perception of the Franklin school system among teachers he had met over the years.

“From the impression I get, Franklin has become a stepping stone job,” he said at the meeting. “Teachers come here, with no experience, having never had a job, and then they go somewhere else.”

He said in the school he teaches at in Suffolk, that one of the better math teachers there was someone who came over from Franklin.

Novakoski cited salary as one of the major concerns driving some of the better teachers away from the system.

“You need continuity,” he said. “Teachers need to come here and stay here.”

In Friday’s article on the issue, school board chair Edna King stated that they had considered what the city had been giving them, and coupled that with the rising cost of living. She said that the school board thought what they were presenting was fair.

Ward 2 board member Nancy Godwin took it further, suggesting how important the teachers on the frontline were in having a quality system. She said that she did not want to see level funding.

Even a member of the City Council, Benny Burgess, suggested that the city ought to make funding the schools at a rate that they had requested a priority. In full disclosure, his wife is a public school employee, however, we have no reason to believe that he suggests this for personal gain.

Discussing it at the fall retreat is not a terrible idea. It may even be that the plan to come out of that will be to bump up the base rate for the schools.

But what about the turnover that decision might cause this year? And how long will it take to improve the reputation of the system as a stepping stone into a place where teachers want to stay?

When the schools are struggling with accreditation and that is a major part in slowing the community’s growth, it doesn’t sound like a decision you should put off until next year.