Franklin County Schools: Budget, Code of Conduct
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
After learning the county finance committee denied the schools’ request for additional funds, the Franklin County School Board voted at the July 11 meeting to pay for the bus owner/driver wage increase by drawing money from the fund balance reserve. The board also approved the Code of Conduct for the 2022-2023 school year.
County Finance Director Andrea Smith said she reviewed how the certified tax rate was handled five years ago and used the most recent summary’s numbers to update projected school property tax revenue. The new calculation decreased the schools request for additional funds from $350,000 to $250,000. Smith said she was “comfortable” with the school board drawing the $250,000 needed from the fund balance reserve. She noted the schools had gained more than $3 million in sales and property tax revenue over the past few years, which had increased the fund balance. She also pointed out typically the schools used less of the fund balance than anticipated. The budget “includes the request on the bus drivers and the teachers’ step increase,” Smith stressed. “Everything you felt like you needed to have in there is in the budget.”
Introducing the 2022-2023 Code of Conduct for the board’s approval, Human Resources Supervisor Linda Foster said the 40-page document was “98 percent the same as last year…This is our attempt to comply with federal and state laws” and “to make everyone aware of what’s required.” The Code of Conduct will be published on the school district’s website. Paper copies are available on request.
Code of conduct changes include authorizing teachers to withhold a student’s phone for the duration of instructional time if the phone is a distraction to the class or student and stipulating students with e-Cigs and/or dab pens may be assigned to the Alternative School as well as face legal ramifications for their actions. The code also details the procedure and policy applying to students who seek enrollment outside their zoned district.
Commenting on personnel, Foster said there were still 15 open teaching positions. “We’re working very hard,” Foster insisted. “I want a teacher in every classroom.” Foster said some teacher applicants received online degrees. “Online Universities can be easier for people in our community to work with,” Foster pointed out. She also cited a change in state regulations on hiring retired teachers that might bring some back to the classroom.
Varsity tennis volunteer Linda Winn addressed the board, championing the health benefits of tennis and asking the board to fund the construction of tennis courts. At present, student athletes practice at the Winchester courts which were cracked and deteriorated, Winn said. She cited two grant opportunities and a $100,000 matching donation offer. “I would love to have tennis courts,” said Director of Schools Stanley Bean. He concurred about the health benefits, observing that unlike football, “Tennis is a lifelong sport.” Bean estimated the cost of six tennis courts at $300,000 and found the matching donation offer very enticing. “If we put up $100,000, they’re going to put up $100,000. That’s two-thirds of the money.”