Council OKs schools’ carryover request

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On Monday, Franklin’s City Council voted unanimously to approve a request by Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Tamara Sterling to recapture unspent funds from the 2017-2018 school year.

The council approved a budget transfer of up to $400,000, allowing the division to re-appropriate $391,211.54 in additional, unexpected state funds that were allocated to Franklin City Public Schools two days before the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

The division plans to use the funds for one-time expenses and renovations, including repairing the parking lots at Franklin High School, replacing the high school’s exterior lighting, adding security doors at FHS, and purchasing additional Chromebooks for use at J.P. King Jr. Middle School.

“Right now, when buzzed in at FHS, you can walk right into the school,” Sterling said of the need for security doors.

She added that FHS was the only school in the division that does not have security doors.

The Chromebooks at J.P. King, Sterling said, would further the division’s plans for a 1:1 student-to-computer initiative. At its July meeting, the Franklin City School Board authorized the purchase of 200 Chromebooks for S.P. Morton Elementary School.

Chromebooks are laptop or tablet computers running Google’s Chrome OS operating system as opposed to Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS. They almost exclusively run web-based applications through the Chrome browser.

Several council members asked about the possibility of the laptops being stolen if students were allowed to take them off school property. Sterling confirmed that the plan is for students to be able to take the computers home, however most would stay in the school. She explained that all computers would be tagged with a sophisticated tracking system, and that internet content would be filtered.

Ordinarily, Section 22.1-100 of the Code of Virginia would require school divisions to return unexpended state funds to the Commonwealth at the close of each fiscal year. However, according to a memorandum to all division superintendents from the Virginia Department of Education’s superintendent of public instruction, James F. Lane, the General Assembly’s 2018 amendments to the 2017 Appropriation Act overrides this code section. Therefore, divisions that have met required local effort and local match for fiscal year 2017-2018 are permitted to carry forward to fiscal year 2018-2019 any remaining state Direct Aid fund balances are are unexpended as of June 30.

Sterling estimates that all purchases and renovations will be completed by the end of September.