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

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School board restores middle school sports
Governor’s School slots, bus routes also saved

Friday, May 31, 2013


Middle school sports will be restored in next year's school budget, along with $29,000 for the high school sports program.

The Franklin County School Board also restored seven slots for students to attend the Roanoke Valley Governor's School at a meeting Wednesday night to determine how to use an additional $300,000 approved for schools by the board of supervisors last week.

The school board voted 5-1 to approve a revised budget recommended by Superintendent Mark Church.

Last week, the supervisors allocated the extra money, which will be generated through an uptick in various tax revenues, including real estate and personal property, according to county officials.

The school board also used the extra funding to restore $12,760 to the gifted program, as well as the position of director of facilities and transportation ($103,519), which will be left vacant by the retirement of Steve Oakes at the end of this school year.

The remaining $34,741, along with new cuts in transportation funds for bus radios, cameras, tires and an engine replacement, will be used to restore five elementary school bus routes ($108,969).

During Wednesday's meeting, Oakes asked the board to consider restoring the five bus routes at Callaway, Ferrum, Glade Hill and Snow Creek elementary schools. The cuts would require about 200 students, ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, to ride the same bus, he said. Elementary students would get to school around 7:30 a.m. and not get home until around 4 p.m., extending their school day by about one and a half hours.

"This would not be educationally sound for our students, and we don't think it would be wise to move in that direction," said Oakes. "Students would become more and more tired, as well as irritable. We could start seeing discipline issues, which would require time to be spent on discipline instead of instruction."

In addition to the new funds provided by the supervisors, Church also addressed the possibility of using some of the schools' carryover funds from this fiscal year to restore some of the cut positions.

Estimates suggest that the school division will end this year with $1.1 million in carryover funds, which will revert back to the county's control. Church suggested the school board request the use of nearly $400,000 of that money to restore jobs, specifically 13 computer lab managers at the county's elementary schools.

"Typically, carryover funds go back to the county," said Church. "In the past, the county has been gracious enough to allow us to use the funds to help with capital expenses, such as school buses and transportation."

But carryover funds are not usually approved for recurring expenses, such as salaries, Church added.

The school board will make the request to the supervisors at their June 18 meeting, according to school Finance Director Lee Cheatham.

If the use of the carryover funds is approved, the remaining cuts to next year's school budget would still include nine instructional positions and the athletic director position at the high school, Cheatham said. Those nine positions include two preschool teachers, two preschool teacher assistants, three social workers and two technology resource teachers.

"Why are there not more instructional positions being saved?" Boone District school board member Thad Montgomery asked during Wednesday night's discussion. "Is this not a concern of ours?"

Montgomery cast the only dissenting vote on the revised budget, while William Helm, member-at-large, was absent from the meeting.

The school board also voted to advertise for applicants to fill the Blue Ridge District seat on the school board, left vacant by Ed Jamison, who resigned May 13 when the board voted to cut middle school sports. The board will appoint someone to fill the position until a special election can be held in November. The term for the Blue Ridge District seat expires Dec. 31, 2015.

Interviews for the vacant seat have been scheduled for Monday, June 24. Resumes need to be received by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19.

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