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The school board also added back seven tuition slots for the Governor's School.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
ROCKY MOUNT — When the Franklin County Board of Supervisors voted last week to boost its funding of the county school division, Supervisor Ronnie Thompson said he hoped the school board would use the money to restore middle school and ninth-grade sports.
Thompson also said he would like to see funding restored to pay for more high school students to attend the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School.
And that’s exactly what the school board did during a special meeting Wednesday night. It voted 5-1 to adopt a revised budget recommended by Superintendent Mark Church for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Predictably, the board’s vote pleased some and disappointed others.
Gail Arrington, the mother of a seventh-grade student at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, said she was pleased as a “sports mom” and “cheerleader mom” by the restoration of middle school sports.
But teacher Carla Tyree, president of the Franklin County Education Association, said she was disappointed that the revised budget did not restore more instructional positions.
On May 23, supervisors voted 6-1 to add $300,000 to the county’s contribution to the school division. That addition brought the total county contribution to about $31.9 million, an increase of about 5 percent over the current fiscal year.
But even with the $300,000 pledged last week, the school division said it faced a budget gap of nearly $1.2 million. School officials had hoped supervisors would support a 2-cent increase in the real estate tax to support school funding, but supervisors rejected it, even though the county’s real estate tax is among the region’s lowest.
Although the budget Church proposed Wednesday night restored some positions and some programs, it still called for cuts in both. Specifically, the budget calls for eliminating 13 computer lab managers at elementary schools, as well as cutting three social worker positions and other instructional and noninstructional positions.
School board member Thad Montgomery opposed the budget adoption Wednesday night and William Helm was absent. Former board chairman Ed Jamison was in the crowd of about 60 people.
Chairwoman Sarah Alexander said after the meeting that she was glad to have a budget in hand.
“I think we need to move forward with all the progressive vision for the school division that has been put on the back burner,” she said.
Jamison resigned May 13 to protest the board’s vote that night, when the budget gap was about $1.5 million, to eliminate middle school sports and trim about $29,000 from the budget for high school sports. He said Wednesday that he was pleased the sports programs were restored, and expressed support for adding back the seven tuition slots for the Governor’s School.
“I was proud of Dr. Church and the staff’s recommendations,” Jamison said.
Meanwhile, Church said estimates suggest the school division will end the current fiscal year with about $1.1 million in so-called “carryover funds” — money budgeted but not spent that typically remains in the county’s control. He said the schools hope supervisors will allow the division to use about $400,000 of that money to restore other positions, even though the carryover money typically is not meant to fund recurring expenses such as salaries.
School board member Bill Brush said he thought the likelihood of supervisors agreeing to that transaction was “zippo,” but said “there’s no harm in asking.”
The school board also discussed Wednesday how to proceed with replacing Jamison, who represented the county’s Blue Ridge District, which includes Ferrum Elementary School and Henry Elementary School. His term on the eight-member board was set to expire Dec. 31, 2015.
The board has the option of appointing a person who is a qualified voter in the Blue Ridge District to fill the position until a special election in November.
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