$2M literary loan approved for Franklin school roofs

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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The renovations to the roofs of Franklin High School and S.P. Morton Elementary School are officially underway.

The Franklin City Council voted 7-0 on June 26 to adopt a resolution approving a $2 million loan from the Literary Fund of Virginia for the school roof renovation projects.

The resolution noted that the City Council has determined there is an urgent need to make capital improvements to the city’s school facilities, specifically roof replacements and similar renovations at various school facilities.

The Franklin City School Board and the city previously applied to the Virginia Board of Education through the Virginia Department of Education for the purpose of securing a loan from the Virginia Literary Fund through the Virginia Literary Loan Program of $2 million, the resolution stated, adding that the loan is to be paid over not more than 30 years and the interest rate thereon at not more than 2.00% paid annually and be treated as general obligation bonds of the city for the purpose of financing the aforementioned projects for school purposes. 

The resolution also noted that the literary loan has been approved by the VDOE.

The council vote immediately followed a public hearing on the matter in which no one from the public spoke.

Later in the meeting, during her report to the council, Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt said, “As you all know, this literary loan has been quite the process.”

She noted that she wanted to thank the city’s bond counsel, Sands Anderson PC, and the city’s financial adviser, Davenport & Company LLC, both of whom were appointed to those roles in connection with the issuance of the bond, as outlined in the adopted resolution. She also thanked the finance staff from both the city and Franklin City Public Schools, as well as FCPS Superintendent Dr. Carlton Carter, for being so helpful.

“It’s been quite a while since the state has issued a literary loan, so we’re learning each of the steps that have to be completed,” she said. “So now that the public hearing (has happened) and the resolution has been adopted, we’ll be scheduling a time to close on that loan.

“The school system has scheduled the work to start and plan(s for it) to be completed in advance of the school year starting in the fall, so we’re hopeful that everything remains on schedule and that the weather is kind during this construction process,” she added.

In a Monday, July 3, interview, School Board Chair Robert Holt said, “We’re excited, and I’m delighted that the people doing the work have already started. We wanted them to do it over the summer, and they set up their work schedule to do that.”

He said the school board has been talking about the literary loan for more than a year, and he indicated that the board has always approved going for it. He noted that it is a very good interest rate.

“Actually, I think that literary fund goes back to Thomas Jefferson when he was governor of Virginia,” Holt said.

He explained one factor that extended the process of fixing the roofs.

“We had a contractor set up and went through all the processes and approvals and everything, and then for some reason, that did not work out,” he said. “I think they just decided that they couldn’t do the job that we wanted them to do, so they backed out of the project, and we had to start all over again.”

He credited Carter for getting things back on track.

“He rescued that whole deal,” Holt said. “Before he became our full superintendent, one of his responsibilities was facilities, so he was very up-to-date on our facilities and the staff that we work with and the process to get the loans and all of that, so we just kind of cruised right on into that.”

FHS Principal Travis Felts said the roof repair project at the high school is needed and appreciated, and he shared details on the issues at the school that it will help resolve.

“We have had problems for years in certain areas of the building with leaks and water damage whenever it rains,” he said. “Even though (the repair work has) required us to move summer school to third hall and sports to J.P. King Middle School, in the long run the inconvenience will be well worth it.”

SPM Principal Dr. Jennifer Tindle said she and her staff are thankful for the opportunity to address the elementary school’s roof this summer. 

“We know that there are a variety of factors that affect students and staff, one factor being the physical building itself,” she said. “We want our students to have a welcoming, clean and safe learning environment. We look forward to starting our school year with the new roof and reallocating the funds we had been using to replace ceiling tiles to other needs in and around the building.”