What can be done?

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Franklin City School Board and central office leadership have found themselves in hot water.


The information revealed last week by the city’s superintendent of schools, Dr. Willie Bell, showed that the system had spent $480,000 more than it had been allocated by city council for the fiscal year, which ended on June 30. This indicates yet another instance in a very long line of mistakes and bad decisions committed by people who apparently have no idea what they are doing.

But of the many wounds inflicted by inept leadership on our once proud school system, perhaps what Shakespeare referred to as “the most unkindest cut of all” is that those at the top continue to thumb their collective noses at the taxpayers who pay the bills and the parents who have entrusted them with their children.

Without a doubt, the most frequent question we are asked by the growing number of those who have gone from concerned to completely appalled by the current state of affairs is “What can be done?” The fact of the matter is that the Virginia Department of Education, who many have hoped would ride into town to save the day, has little to no authority to affect personnel changes within the school system.

That responsibility lies at the feet of the school board, a board whose policy to date has been to deflect criticism, deny facts and ignore the wishes of those who have asked them to make change.

Board members, with the exception of Ward 6 representative Bob Holt, routinely decline to comment or outright ignore our requests for answers when questioned by this newspaper.

Not only is their attitude a slap to the face of the people in this community who are looking for answers, it also serves to embolden their brash superintendent who clearly operates as though he is above the law.

We ask questions of the superintendent and the school board so that we can keep you, our readers, abreast of what is taking place in your schools and school board offices. Their refusal to cooperate doesn’t harm this newspaper in the least. But it does keep you in the dark.

And that is by design.

So back to the question of “What can be done?” If the school board will not listen to the VDOE, and if it refuses to be forthright with the newspaper, the only solution is for the residents of Franklin to finally stand up and demand not only answers, but change; a change in personnel, beginning but not ending with the superintendent, a change in the way it communicates with the public, and ultimately, a change in those who sit on the school board.

The school board meets this Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. If you are interested in change, that is probably a good place to start.