City school board OKs new safety alerts
Published 6:00 pm Friday, February 22, 2019
By Kenya Smith
The Franklin City School Board on Thursday approved one purchase order to Clinton Learning Solutions. Order No. 19-504 is a $27,135 installment of Audio Enhancement’s SAFE (Signal Alert For Education) System, which is an alert-and-notification solution that connects teachers and classrooms to first responders for quick response and communication. With the SAFE System, each teacher is equipped with a microphone that has a personal duress button, giving teachers the ability to send alerts instantly from anywhere in school. Office staff is then able to acknowledge the alert and to inform them that help is coming.
A public hearing on the budget for the 2019-2020 school year also took place. Superintendent Tamara Sterling presented its priorities. The school board wants to focus on the following:
• Teacher raises – Standards Of Quality (SOQ) instructional positions includes teachers, school counselors, librarians, instructional aides, principals, and assistant principals
• Other contracted staff member raises
• $60,000 for a school psychologist
• $75,000 for Vanguard Early College
• Increase of salaries of cafeteria mangers
• Increase of salaries of members of the board
• Health insurance benefits increase
• Local choice penalty
Sterling also presented survey results on the 2019-2020 budget. A majority of those surveyed feel that the school board’s highest priorities should be teacher raises, academic classes/elective classes and discipline. The survey also shows that the top three strengths of the school division are academic classes/elective classes, sports programs and professional development, while the top four challenges facing the school division are teacher raises, discipline, school maintenance and attendance. The responders also feel that teacher raises, academic classes/elective classes, and school maintenance needed continued or additional support.
After the presentation, city resident William Cannon expressed his concerns regarding the budget during citizen’s time.
“I know that one of the priorities in the budget is teacher raises, but what about janitors, bus drivers and aides? When the school board in Isle of Wight County determined their budget, they did not leave anyone out,” said Cannon. “I feel that we need to address this issue and maybe form a committee. Before determining the budget, we should consider adding janitors, bus drivers, and aides.”
He also addressed the issue of discipline in schools.
“Parents are pulling their kids out of school because of the issues of discipline. Not only so, substitute teachers and tutors are leaving schools, and 20-25 teachers left S.P. Morton,” said Cannon. “I feel that the board needs to be more involved. Why can’t we share with Southampton County the idea of starting an alternative school? Also, I think that it should be mandatory for each school board employee to spend a full day in school to see what’s going on. They should spend a day in school if anyone wants to work for the school board.”
Human resources/administrative services director Gail Wade, with the help of school board members, presented the Attendance Award trophy to J.P King Middle School and the Staff Attendance Award trophy to Franklin High School. Along with the trophies, perfect attendance certificates were also presented to faculty and staff. Wade also presented the Bronco Pride Clean School Award trophy to JP King Middle School and the Excellence Award to Kelvin Edwards.
In other school news, the school board recognized school board clerk Tammy Moore and presented her with a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Ralph Northam in honor of School Board Clerk Appreciation Week, which is held on the third week of February in Virginia.
Vice Chairwoman Andrea Hall-Leonard presented the application for the historical marker in dedication to the late educator Della I. Hayden.
The school board OK’d a budget amendment to transfer $122,000 from instruction to technology. It also approved two field trips, both requested by Franklin High School. The first trip is to the HBCU Festival in Washington D.C. was on Saturday. The second trip was to the VHSL Region 1 State Scholastic Bowl Tournament in Williamsburg this weekend.