An open letter to Mayor Cutchins and Franklin City Council

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, June 6, 2024

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By Jerry McCreary

As the deadline fast approaches, the applicants for appointment to the Franklin City School Board are to be commended for their willingness to serve our community. I write neither to nominate nor advocate for a particular applicant. Rather, I am writing to encourage City Council members to consider asking some specific questions which may help guide your selection. 

The first question to Applicants is twofold:

  1. Broadly: what is your vision for the City of Franklin as a whole?
  2. Specifically: what is your vision for Franklin City Public Schools?

These two questions are intertwined. The future health and vitality of our city is reflective of the health and vitality of its citizens. While dependent on factors outside of the school system, our city’s future depends in great part on how well we teach and train our children and young people. When one child — “the least of these” — succeeds, the family succeeds. When a family succeeds, the neighborhood succeeds. When our neighborhoods succeed, our city flourishes. 

The current school board, superintendent, administrators, teachers, and staff recognize the weight of this responsibility. As such, this past fall, the School Board, upon recommendation of the Superintendent, approved the process to formulate a 5-year Strategic Plan for Franklin City Public Schools. People from across the city have volunteered their time to develop a robust and comprehensive plan for the benefit of our students. The committee members include educators, two school board members, parents, students, city leaders, and business leaders. 

Since October 2023, many hours have been devoted to developing a thorough 5-year Strategic Plan which addresses safe learning environments, community partnerships, instruction, recruiting/retaining high-quality staff, technology, and fiscal responsibility. Because of the diligent and competent work by the participants, I trust that this Plan will greatly benefit our students. Soon, the Plan will be presented to the School Board and pending approval, shared with the community. 

In light of the aforementioned 5-Year Strategic Plan, the second suggested question to Applicants: 

If appointed, would you be open to honestly reviewing and supporting Franklin City Public Schools’ five-year strategic plan?

During my time as a member of the Franklin City School Board, I and other members worked diligently to move beyond personalities in order to develop a healthy and workable vision for our schools. Reflective of that intent was the selection of our current Superintendent, Dr. Carter. In spite of growing pains, he has helped the Board and our schools greatly by having both vision and capability. One such initiative is the increased focus on career and technology training. By increasing the number of vocational choices, the goal is that every student will have completed a career or technology course so that they graduate with employable skills. 

My hope for new school board members is that they will recognize the hard work of the current board while still bringing both tested wisdom and fresh insight to the table. Maybe helpful to new members, I offer two of the many things I learned: 

  1. Many Board decisions are made in order to follow Federal and State government mandates. These are not optional.
  2. The rationale of a Board decision is not always knowable by the public. This is specifically true in personnel matters, where the privacy of employees is rightfully required to be maintained. This requires trust by the public.

In closing, I hope our families, students, and whole community will be encouraged as we move forward and that the new 5-year Strategic Plan will have a positive impact. While course corrections are needed at times, it is important that we citizens of Franklin have direction, hope, and a future.