​Director of Schools Contract Extended; Budget Dips Heavily into Fund Balance

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Contingent with the decision at the May 14 meeting to recommend the county build two new middle schools, the Franklin County School Board approved extending the two-year contract of Director of Schools Stanley Bean by an additional two years.
“Given the middle school project we have before us, continuity is really important,” said school board representative Adam Tucker.
Bean’s first year of service ends June 30. The recent board evaluation rated Bean’s performance in the good to excellent range in all categories.
In the discussion of the 2018–19 budget, Bean cited several circumstances causing the draw on the reserve fund balance to increase from $1.9 million in 2017–18 to $2.6 million for the coming year. The budget reflects a 3 percent increase in health insurance costs, a 1.5 percent increase in bus drivers’ wages, and an $100,000 shortfall in anticipated pre-K funding. Also, Bean noted, last year the school system’s property tax revenue increased by $700,000, with the projected increase for the coming year only $31,000. Funding from the state also decreased due to decreased enrollment.
The budget includes a 2 percent raise for all school system employees consistent with the raise proposed for all county employees. The board will ask the county to fund the school employees’ raise.
Reviewing the budget, the board asked Bean to increase the certified substitute teachers salary to $80 per day to attract quality substitutes. The board also asked Bean to restore the position of school system psychologist rather than expecting the Director of Special Education to fulfill both roles.
“We used to have three school psychologists,” said board member Linda Jones, justifying the request.
The board will hold a special called meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 24, to finalize the budget in order to present it to the county finance committee by Tuesday, June 5.
Franklin County High School Principal Roger Alsup addressed the board recommending changes to graduation honors policies to give due recognition to graduates who enroll in honors and advanced placement classes. The changes would also prevent circumstances such as the recent Grundy County High School dispute over the selection of valedictorian, Alsup said.
Alsup proposed honors scholars complete at least 12 honors courses; valedictorians and salutatorians must have attended FCHS for the last five semesters; the ACT test taken most recently prior to graduation be used to determine class ranking; and weighting honors courses with a maximum score of 4.5 and advanced placement courses with a maximum score of 5, instead of the traditional 4.0 high grade.
Bean will consult with Huntland High School Principal Ken Bishop about the recommended policy changes.
“We need to have the same policy at both schools,” board chair CleiJo Walker stressed.