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Franklin County schools still face painful cuts despite a little more money from supervisors.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Public pressure prompted Franklin County supervisors on Tuesday to kick in $300,000 more in support of public schools. The small gesture came with big strings: Supervisors would like the school board to restore middle school sports and send bright freshmen to the governor’s school, and they’d like for people to stop blaming them.
Supervisors are not callous villains. No. But they aren’t heroes of public school education, either. Nor when they squander children’s potential are they very good stewards of the county’s resources.
Franklin County, like every other locality in Virginia, has been dealt a raw hand by lawmakers who reduced state funding for public education and by the popping of the housing bubble that depressed values on the county’s richest taxable asset: homes along Smith Mountain Lake.
But supervisors failed to equalize the tax rate. A 2-cent raise in property taxes, or $20 per $100,000 value, would have done that and funded the schools. Instead, they directed the school board to pull the belt even tighter on a system already so squeezed by staff cuts that 30 pupils are assigned to classrooms.
The latest round of cuts eliminates nine more teachers and a couple of technology resource instructors at a time when students are required to master computers in order to take their Standards of Learning tests. And there are more cuts — $1.5 million of them — that reach into every classroom, affecting every student. Some of them just don’t know it yet.
Middle school sports and the governor’s school are integral to offering a well-rounded, robust public education. Consequences of their elimination are immediately known. But they aren’t necessarily the most egregious cuts. School board members need to spend this $300,000 restoring as much integrity to core educational programs as possible and as if every dollar is crucial. It is.
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