Archived Story

City Council gets responses from School Board

Published 9:32am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

FRANKLIN—City Manager Randy Martin during a Monday Franklin City Council meeting updated members on questions raised during a joint meeting with the School Board on Aug. 28.

The special session was intended for Council to question the board on the condition of schools.

For example, S.P. Morton Elementary and J.P. King Middle schools went from full accreditation to accreditation with a warning after scoring lower on state tests than established standards.

S.P. Morton has four years to improve Standards of Learning test scores in reading. J.P. King must focus on math scores. Both schools will also endure academic reviews and must put improvement plans in place.

Questions by council and residents were submitted in writing to allow Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle and the Board to prepare answers.

At the August meeting, the School Board submitted questions in writing and vice-versa.

Martin announced Monday that he answered the board’s questions.

The council unanimously agreed to send Martin’s responses to the board. However, Councilman Don Blythe suggested that open discussion was needed in addition to any written responses.

Below are some of the board’s questions and responses.

When will the School Board be able to give the Franklin school employees a raise instead of a bonus?

Everyone seems to believe that the School Board is responsible for the salary increases, but it’s the city that decides whether funds are available. To attract and retain highly qualified teachers, our salaries have to be more competitive with the surrounding counties.

As discussed at the Aug. 28 meeting, the School Board can set salaries and make budget requests to the city for funding. The City Council then determines the level of local funding for schools.

What were the top reasons as to why the School Board’s budget request was not fully funded?

The recommended budget presented to the City Council funded the school-operating budget at an amount that was $598,008 less than the request. It was initially based upon level funding the local share. It also took into consideration the potential for additional state funding that would result when the legislative version of the state budget was finalized, which was significantly higher than the Governor’s recommended budget allocation on which the School Board had based its proposed budget request to the City.

How do we go about bringing our teachers’ pay up to par with surrounding cities and counties?

The School Board has the responsibility for establishing teacher pay scales.

Setting goals that are realistic are recommended and collaboration on longer-term goals between the School Board and Council is advised.

Who do we as a Board hold accountable in Franklin schools besides the superintendent?

The Board and superintendent have defined rules and accountability standards. Through the superintendent, the school staff has a most important role in accountability.

The City Council has funding responsibilities for the schools.

The parents and more broadly the community as a whole have a major stake in the operations and success of the public schools.

  • shocked

    A town hall meeting would be great! Until then, just enter Walmart and observe… Parents who curse at their children, parents who leave home wearing a full set of pajamas with a “head scarf”, etc… The children in local school systems are being raised by the parents we see in Walmart and shake our heads! I think we ALL want our school systems to meet standards but we can not live in this city with. “blinders” on and pretend all accountability is on the school system! Behaviors that impede learning begin at home- lets hold parents accountable and make them parent the children they chose to give birth to! Teachers obtain degrees to teach children-that’s what they need to be able to do!! God bless the teachers…they are fighting the “battles” everyday with young people!! It’s time to have some tough conversations with all stakeholders and develop a plan to make progress!!

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  • timeforchange

    Happy2 is on target. Why can’t we have a town hall meeting? Let Dr. Belle answer to the citizens with out deferring to colleagues and without questions being censored.

    From what I understand, the teachers didn’t get a raise because Dr. Belle said it wasn’t in the budget. But if you ask city council they would say she never asked. If you don’t ask city council for the money to give our teachers a raise at ALL how can they have the opportunity to say no? You can’t blame city council when the person who is supposed to be looking out for our schools is not fighting for our schools.

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  • happy2

    Yes, I said raise! Those that qualify deserve it, those that do not then no! And yes there are numerous that do not qualify like subs. and others.

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    • handkusp45

      happy2, I agree there are many wonderful educators who really care about the children and can make a difference in their lives. Is there a way to reward those teachers and remove those that are just there for a paycheck and don’t care if the students learn or not? That is why the Chicago teachers were on strike. They didn’t want to have to prove that they are competent. Back when my kids were in school the Franklin schools were great. If they were in school n ow I would send them to a private school.

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  • handkusp45

    A raise? I thought the elementary and middle schools weren’t up to state standards. A raise? Did you say raise?

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  • happy2

    I do agree we need as a community an open session. Why must Ms. Belle always need to prepare for questions? I can answer that so she can try to decide who to blame, what to make up or lie about. It falls on her the shape of our schools and the lack of higher scores. The teachers teach according to what the state requires. Low morale with teachers and students falls on her and the lack of good quality leadership at the top! It is her boat to sink and she is all the way to the bottom!

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