Franklin Co. BOE Will Not Close School This Year

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

The Franklin County School Board will not pursue closing an elementary school as a cost saving measure next fiscal year.

Franklin County School Superintendent Dr. Ruth Odell said that the board voted on that decision at its monthly meeting last week.

“The decision points were coming up as far as needing to do hearings, if they wanted to move forward,” Odell said. “So, some of the board members felt it wasn’t enough to justify the disruption. Others on the board wanted to move forward because of our financial situation.”

Last year, the Franklin County Board of Education came under fire from parents when it was announced the board was considering closing Carnesville Elementary School this year as a cost-saving measure. Ultimately, the board voted to keep the school open another year.

Dr. Odell said that had the board decided to move ahead with closing a school in Fiscal Year 2014, it would have saved the Franklin County school system millions over the long term.

“It would be about $450,000 the first year,” Odell said. “Then it goes up to $700,000 the next year and then $1.2 million as it accumulates over the years.”

Odell said this fiscal year, the Franklin County school system is running about a half-million dollars short, even with the two mil increase the Franklin County School Board voted for last year.

She went on to say that the same deficit will be there next year with no more funding increases from the state or federal governments.

In addition, Odell said the Franklin County school system has exhausted its reserve of federal funding, all while looking at increased healthcare costs for workers and other increases in personnel costs.

“The decrease in revenue and the increase in healthcare costs is going to cost us another $500,000. So really, looking at FY14, potentially, we will have a million dollar deficit coming up in the FY14 budget,” Odell said.

The fiscal year for the Franklin County school system ends June 30 and the school board will soon begin the task of looking at how to balance next fiscal year’s budget in light of its decision and the new cuts in funding.

Dr. Odell said if a school is not closed, the only other options for the Franklin County school system are to raise the school millage yet again and/or make more cuts in personnel and staff.