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Ed Jamison quit the Franklin County School Board after it axed middle school sports, saving about $104,000.
Monday, May 13, 2013
ROCKY MOUNT — With tears rolling down his cheeks, Chairman Ed Jamison resigned from the Franklin County School Board on Monday night after a 4-3 vote by his board colleagues that eliminated middle school sports as one way to close a $1.5 million gap in the public school division’s budget for the coming fiscal year.
“God bless you. I resign,” Jamison said.
Cuts in middle school and ninth-grade sports yielded a savings of about $104,000.
As he left the meeting, Jamison received hugs from several people who had come to Benjamin Franklin Middle School for the board’s discussion about possible budget cuts for fiscal 2013-14.
Jamison emphasized throughout the discussion that sports provide real and lasting educational benefit for students. And he said it seemed the school division was favoring the 30-plus students who might attend the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School over more than 200 youths who might participate in middle school and ninth-grade sports.
But the board’s vote Monday night did not spare the Governor’s School. Instead, it cut tuition slots for 14 students.
In addition, the board voted to eliminate the district job that manages facilities and transportation, a position being vacated by Steve Oakes, who is retiring. Schools Superintendent Mark Church had said the job was important to maintain student safety but ultimately agreed to its demise.
The $113,519 savings realized was put back into instruction. It was not clear how many jobs will be saved as a result. But it was clear that many jobs will be lost, regardless.
When the school board voted to move forward with eliminating middle school sports, cutting some RVGS slots and other measures, board members who voted “no” were Jamison, Sarah Alexander and G.B. Washburn. Board member William Helm abstained and board members Bill Brush, Crystal Naff, Thad Montgomery and P.D. Hambrick voted “yes.”
School board members have been steadfast about granting a one-step pay increase for school employees based on a minimum raise of 2.5 percent. The raise would rely on about $444,360 in state dollars and about $1.2 million from the school division’s budget.
At Monday night’s meeting, middle school teacher David Thorp said he would be willing to sacrifice a raise if it meant the division’s students would suffer fewer consequences from painful budget cuts.
Later, outside the meeting, Carla Tyree, president of the Franklin County Education Association, offered a different view.
“If we go another half a decade without a pay raise or a step increase we won’t be able to attract or retain teachers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Brush said he believes there is still a chance the county’s board of supervisors could come up with some more money.
On April 23, the board of supervisors voted 6-1 to leave the county’s real estate tax at 54 cents per $100 of assessed value. School officials had hoped supervisors would approve a 2-cent increase because the revenue yielded, about $1.2 million, would have boosted school funding.
Supervisors previously directed about $1.1 million in anticipated new revenues to the school system’s budget for fiscal 2013-14.
The $124 million budget supervisors adopted for the coming fiscal year includes a contribution to the schools of about $31.6 million, up from the $30.3 million allocated this fiscal year.
Brush said Friday that he had met with a few supervisors and described those meetings as frank and professional. Brush said he believes the county “has a variety of ways to partially or fully fund the school budget request without raising taxes or jeopardizing its credit worthiness or cutting back on county services.” He declined to name the
supervisors with whom he had met.
Supervisor Ronnie Thompson said Monday that he talked last week with school board members Brush and Montgomery and that Brush left some papers for his review.
Similarly, David Cundiff, chairman of the board of supervisors, said Monday he has not yet had a discussion with school board members but that Brush had left information at his office for consideration.
But Church said the school board had to face the decision about budget cuts.
“We cannot cross our fingers and hope that the board of supervisors comes through,” Church said.
The board of supervisors is scheduled to hold a regular meeting May 21 at 1:30 p.m.
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