Board of Education sign

Questions and concerns over lower than normal annual pay raises for the county’s teachers, faculty, and support staff services was a major topic of interest at a special called meeting of the Franklin County Board of Education on May 28.

Other topics included a brief progress report from Franklin County Director of Schools Stanley Bean on the ongoing construction of the county’s two new middle schools, a fund increase for Franklin County High School’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, and the passing of the 2019/2020 cafeteria budget.

A moment of silence for loved ones was observed in honor of the late School Board Member Gary Hanger, whose sudden death “weighed heavy” on the hearts and minds of school board members.

Hanger was a longtime teaching veteran in Franklin County and had recently begun serving as a 7th District board member.

Following the moment of silence, 8th District Board Member Sarah Liechty led board members and visitors in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean took a moment to share a memory with fellow board members of his first days as a new teacher North Junior High School in 1978, and how Mr. Hanger had helped him and made him feel welcome.

Bean then shared a brief progress report concerning the two construction projects currently underway at North and South middle schools.

According to Bean, good weather has been a boon to construction efforts and both projects are proceeding according to schedule.

The meeting’s business then began with a conversation regarding the county’s annual budget.

Board Member Christine Hopkins asked questions concerning the county’s property tax and sales tax revenue and how much of a percentage of this revenue goes to the school budget each year.

It was determined that this number can vary from year to year, and the exact percentage for this year’s pending school budget was unknown at the time of the meeting because the county’s Finance Committee can change the percentages each year.

Board Member Chris Guess asked, “What I want to know is if the county collects (for example) $100,000 in property taxes, what portion of that money is allocated to the school system?”

Bean said that the figure can change from year to year, and the current figure is unknown, which forces the School Board to go by last year’s percentages when making budget requests for this year’s pending budget request.

Guess asked how the School Board could submit an accurate budget request to the Franklin County Commission without knowing how much money was being allocated to the school budget.

Guess went on to say that the school system was the largest employer within the actual county government, and yet it seemed that the school system was getting much less from the county than other county departments.

“Every School Board member wants to give our county’s teachers, faculty and support staff the best annual salary raises we can,” Guess said.

He also said that unless something changes with the Franklin County Commission or the Commission’s Finance Committee, the county’s teachers could see a salary increase of less than 1 percent for the 2019/2020 school year.  

The board concluded the evening’s business by voting to increase funds for the Franklin County High School STEM Program, which will now see $20,000 of startup money.

Finally, the board voted to pass the 2019/2020 cafeteria budget.