It’s summer and just because classes are out doesn’t mean school needs go away.
For years now, at Franklin County High School, demand has necessitated expansion to its career and technical education, or CTE, facilities. On average, approximately 1,600 students take at least one CTE class a year, and hundreds are turned down because the program is overcrowded. Programs such as robotics and trades are more in demand than ever as technology constantly evolves.
It’s been more than a year since the county board of supervisors, which has the power to allocate funding for the project, has held a joint meeting with the school board. Supervisors have said the project is way too expensive and they want to find a middle ground. However, the longer they wait the longer the search for that middle ground continues and the higher the price tag on the project climbs.
For example, the 2017 plan creating two buildings for CTE along with other campus improvements such as a new track and field had a price tag of $70 million at the time. If the project had gone to bid four years earlier, the cost would have been $20 million less.
Between the evolving needs and increasing construction costs each year, that price tag will only continue to grow.
The career and technical education program is a vital part of not only the school but the community at large. Some projects were outlined in a May 3 story in The Franklin News Post. From fixing canes for area seniors to larger projects such as the LOVE sign—a 2,000 pound wooden sign, CTE students built at the request of Community Partnership for its Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas celebration— students learn both their trades and the value giving back.
With businesses leaving Eagle Plaza, located beside the high school, perhaps there is an opportunity for CTE expansion. The Eagle Plaza Hardee’s recently closed and that building could either be knocked down or repurposed for a technical program, depending on cost.
There has been some talk of moving the tech students to the Summit View Business Park, which is certainly a novel idea but one that requires busing back and forth, adding cost. The plaza is next door and could use some TLC.
No matter where center expansion happens, the need is there. It seems both the school board and the board of supervisors recognize the need but are in a standoff over cost.
Franklin County has other needs besides the schools, but what are the priorities? Should today’s students be left behind students in other school districts that are moving forward?
During a recent interview, county Supervisor Cline Brubaker said he believes supervisors have expressed a desire to move forward with CTE, but haven’t reached a mutual understanding with the school system on a figure.
So settle on a figure, look for alternatives. It’s time to ignore bruised egos on both sides and get moving.
*EDTIOR'S NOTE* This article has been updated to reflect a correction that it was Franklin County Supervisor Cline Brubaker not Bob Camicia who said supervisors have a desire to move forward.