City, school division agree on roof funding

Published 6:29 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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Leaders from the city of Franklin and Franklin City Public Schools met recently and came to agreements about funds needed and funds available to renovate the roofs of Franklin High School and S.P. Morton Elementary School.

On Thursday, July 20, the Franklin City School Board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution approving a $2 million loan from the Literary Fund of Virginia for the roof renovations. However, board members also indicated a desire to have a discussion with the city to clarify the amount of money available for roofs beyond the loan.

Ward 6 Board Member Jerry McCreary noted that with the approval of the loan, he believed there should then be $2.9 million available for funding the roofs, alluding to $960,000 the school division had paid back to the city over the course of the past year.

FCPS Superintendent Dr. Carlton Carter made clear that a discussion with the city would be required to determine if that $960,000 was available for funding the roofs.

McCreary, who was interested in tabling approval of the loan until this discussion took place, confirmed with Carter that there will be more expenses on the roofs that will not be covered by the $2 million loan.

“Because we prepaid that $960,000, to me, that money should be immediately available to go to the roofs,” McCreary said.

“I follow the math,” Carter said. “I’m agreeing with you, but I’m saying to you that it’s going to have to be a discussion with the city one way or the other, and the only danger at this point is if you table this right now, it’s jeopardizing the opening of school.”

Carter had noted that delaying approval of the resolution would push back the renovation schedule and could interfere with the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

Consequently, McCreary and the rest of the board voted to adopt the resolution approving the loan, but McCreary asked for a discussion with the city.

Ward 1 Board Member and Board Chair Robert Holt informed The Tidewater News on Aug. 1 that this discussion did take place.

He shared a portion of an email that he sent to the other school board members in which he noted that Carter, FCPS Director of Finance Tracy Morrison and himself met with Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt and Franklin Finance Director Rachel Trollinger on July 31.

“We are all in agreement,” Holt wrote. “The total long-term cost of all roof work in our schools will be $4 million. The city is giving us credit for the $960,000 we paid from November 2022-June 2023. Actually we paid over $120,000 each of those months. The 2% Literary Loan for $2 million was too good to pass up. That leaves another $1 million that we may be able to secure from rollover or perhaps city capital funds.”

Holt told The Tidewater News that all parties left the July 31 meeting on the same page and in full agreement.

“I am pleased with our relationship with the city, and all seems well,” he said.