Sunday, March 14, 2004

Franklin schools slashing services

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FRANKLIN - When the work day ended Friday in the Franklin schools, there were three fewer nonteaching employees.

When classes finish Monday, the doors to all schools will close at 4 p.m. to all students and the community except those participating in spring sports and the high school musical. Field trips and all school purchases of workbooks, supplies, media or technology will end.

And when high school students return from spring break April 12, it won't be on school buses. Two or three drivers will lose their jobs, as will one cashier at the high school and a part-time cook at the junior high.

"I didn't get on the board to do this," said Brandon Saylor, president of the Franklin Board of Education. "It's unbelievable. But we have to respect the voice that spoke during the election."

School officials said state mandates and those from the No Child Left Behind school reform act combined with a reduction on inventory tax to deplete the district's reserve funds. That forced the district to go back to voters two years sooner than originally planned, only to be rejected.

Cutting jobs, closing schools to the community, freezing purchases and reducing busing are immediate cuts the board voted this week to impose following the March 2 defeat of a combination levy. They are slated to save about $55,000.

A second round of cuts will begin when classes end in June and 11 teaching positions are eliminated.

The final round of cuts comes in August. Funding of all sports and school clubs will end, Laura Farrell Elementary will either close or be converted to a sixth-grade building, and one library aide and two custodial positions will be eliminated.

Altogether, the cuts will save the district $1.2 million on top of the $485,000 in reductions imposed last fall, said Assistant Superintendent Bill Wood.

Similar cuts are being considered in the Lakota, Fairfield, Edgewood and Ross schools, where levies also went down to defeat.

Saylor said the board will put another issue on the August ballot, but has reconvened a steering committee to study the issue.

A separate group is exploring a pay-to-participate program should another issue be defeated in August.

Parent Missy Guyton said if there are no sports, she will move to another school district.

If you goFurther cuts will be discussed Monday when the Franklin Board of Education meets again. The 7 p.m. meeting will be held at Franklin High School, 750 E. Fourth St.

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