​Franklin County Schools: Testing Moratorium; Mascot Survey

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Sept. 14 Franklin County School Board meeting, the board opted to move forward on two circumstances with far reaching impact: support of a temporary moratorium on testing and surveying Franklin County High School students and faculty on whether or not to change the school’s mascot. The board also elected officers, designate funds to address the leaking roof at the central office, and approved using surplus middle school funds for a track at Franklin County High School and air conditioning at the Huntland School auxiliary gym.

Explaining the Tennessee School Board Association recommendation to resolve to declare a moratorium on standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year, board member Sarah Marhevsky said, “We don’t know what the year will hold. With teachers trying to juggle both virtual students and in-person students, if we could take away the stress of tests, teachers could focus on teaching and trying to make up the gaps from last year.”

The survey to access student and faculty opinions on changing the FCHS mascot will ask two questions: one, grade level; two, ‘Do you support changing the mascot?’ The respondee may answer, yes, no, or don’t care. FCHS guidance counselor Lee Brannon recommended conducting the survey electronically during school hours to verify all responses were from students and faculty.

The board will discuss the mascot question at the annual October workshop and vote on the issue at the Oct. 12 board meeting. The workshop will also address adopting a five-year strategic plan. Board member Chris Guess stressed the need to “focus on synching CTE and academics” to help students develop social skills like awareness of how important it is to arrive at work on time.

CleiJo Walker and Lance Williams were reelected to serve as chair and vice chair for the 2020-21 school year.

In the budget amendment discussion, Director of Schools Stanley Bean spoke to the need for allocating $150,000 in Capital Outlay funds to address the leaking roof at the central office. Broadview and Sewanee Elementary schools also have roof issues, Bean said. Gary Clardy, construction manager for the middle-schools project, is preparing a prioritized five-year plan accessing the roof, lighting, and air conditioning needs of all district schools.

Bean’s call for using surplus middle school construction funds for a track at FCHS and air conditioning for the Huntland auxiliary gym met with six to one approval when brought before the county finance committee.

“The track athletes have been running on asphalt for years. We’ve neglected that for our track athletes,” Bean told the school board. The board gave unanimous approval.

The two new middle schools are nearly completed with only some parking lot work remaining and a few other small details. An open house is scheduled for Oct.25, 1 p.m. at South Middle School and 3 p.m. at North Middle School.

Touching on personnel issues, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster said there had been a number of resignations and new hires. “Our first month was very busy,” Foster said. She expressed concern about the limited list of job applicants and having very few substitute teachers this year.

Marhevsky presented a letter of appreciation and support for district employees “for all the extra work it’s taking for them to do their job this year.” “Educating students couldn’t happen without them,” Marhevsky insisted. “They’ve all had to do so much more.”

The board will offer comments and edits via email before sending the letter to all employees as an expression of gratitude from the board.