​Franklin County Schools Finish Year Under Budget

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“The school system ended the 2017–18 school year with $100,000 more in the fund balance than anticipated,” Franklin County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham told the school board at the Aug. 13 meeting. The figure took into account outstanding encumbrances.
“That’s a good thing,” observed school board representative Christine Hopkins applauding the news.
The unused portion of the fund balance will roll into the 2018–19 budget. In June, the board voted to award all employees a 2 percent cost of living raise, which will draw the fund balance to an all time low, putting the school system in danger of not being able to make payroll, depending on when state funds are received.
Turning to the new school year, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster said three positions remained unfilled: a librarian at North Lake Elementary; a music teacher to serve the Cowan and Sewanee elementary schools; and an interim English Language Learners teacher to fill in for a teacher on leave.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean announced Binkley Garcia Architecture accepted the offer to serve as designer for the two new middle schools. The board approved the contract finalizing the appointment.
The board also approved a revision to the medical leave policy allowing employees to use all of their available sick leave during maternity leave instead of only 30 days of the sick leave accumulated. The Tennessee School Board Association recommended the change.
Looking to the coming year, the board approved the agenda which delineates items to be addressed by the board on a month by month basis.
“The agenda is the same as last year,” said Board Chair CleiJo Walker, “with the exception of moving the director of schools evaluation to July.” The board recently evaluated Bean. The agenda change will keep the evaluation on a 12-month rotation.
Maranda Wilkinson, coordinator of the STREAM summer camp program, presented a video highlighting camp activities created by students in the videography class. The STREAM acronym represents science, technology, research, engineering, art and math. More than 200 students participated in the summer day camp. Activity clusters were arranged by grade level: Arts (K-second); Science (third–fifth), Technology (sixth–eighth); and Engineering (ninth-12th). Students made maracas, cracked geodes, learned to fly drones, designed waterwheels and much more. Field trips included the Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City and Ruby Falls, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, and the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.
Equipment purchased for the program will be available for teachers to check out for classroom use, Wilkinson said. Funders included the Franklin County Kiwanis Club, Nissan and the PEN Foundation.
Huntland resident Greg Alverson addressed the board complaining about the school system’s failure to mow and maintain the lot purchased for a soccer practice field. Alverson resides on adjoining property. When he inquired about why the lot hadn’t been maintained, he said he was told it was “too wet to mow.” Alverson cited board policy stating the school system was responsible for maintaining property owned by the district.