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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

County facing financial reality?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Franklin County School Board members made it clear last week that serious cuts will be coming, affecting jobs, sports and other programs, including Governor's School. All board members did not agree on some of the cuts, but the message is unmistakable: No money is available to get by without most of these cuts.

Some interesting dialogue surfaced during those discussions, including drawing the lines between academics and extra-curricular activities, as well as between spending money on students who excel and concentrating resources on those who may struggle.

Under the current proposal, all sports programs at the middle school would be cut, saving money that can be used on instruction. Of course, many educators and parents believe sports, for some students, is a vital part of growing up, keeping kids motivated and interested in school as well as teaching valuable lessons like teamwork and self-discipline, not to mention physical fitness. Taking that opportunity away would, they say, be counterproductive in the long run.

Others believe a sports program is a perk and not the purpose of a public school. In fact, some say too much emphasis is put on sports and not enough on instruction.

Governor's School is a good example of spending money on kids who, as many say, will excel regardless because they are academically talented. Money may be more wisely spent on those students who struggle and need extra help.

However, there is a solid argument that schools should individualize instruction as much as possible. That is, gifted and talented students have problems, too. They can easily get bored and distracted, needing the extra stimulation and opportunity to excel. It's a disservice to them, many believe, if those opportunities, like Governor's' School, are taken away.

Clearly, these are appropriate debates to have during a time when funds are limited.

But the real question is this: Do we truly live in a county where both residents and government are so financially strapped that we have to have these debates in the first place?

According to six of the seven individuals who comprise the board of supervisors, the answer is, yes, we do live in a county that is in dire economic straits, so much so that any way you look at it, there is just not enough money available to provide our students, our children, with some of the resources they need to at least have the opportunity to do better in school.

We have not, in the past, been very supportive of many of the requests made by our school system, mainly because we, along with many people in the county, had reservations about the veracity of those requests. They all too often seemed more like wishes than needs.

We do not believe that is the case this time around. And we do not believe this county and its residents want to see our schools needlessly deteriorate.

But if what the supervisors are saying is indeed the financial reality we are facing, then no one has a choice but to make the tough decisions and move on, hoping for better days ahead.

Those lines will simply have to be drawn.

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