Students urge more trauma counselors

Gracie Parker and Kennedy Carrion gave a presentation that included an invitation to a Youth Mental Health - Help Rally Sunday, April 30, at the gazebo in downtown Franklin.

Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer

The School Board met on March 27, 2023 with a light agenda on tap. 

Fourth grader Gracie Parker gave a last minute presentation, not previously scheduled. Gracie went to Washington D.C. and spoke in front of the Capitol regarding the mental health crisis facing students (See March 9, 2023 issue of The Macon County News). In the presentation she urged the school board to hire more trauma counselors in the schools. Similar to her speech in D.C. she spoke of the many issues facing young students in elementary school and invited the members of the board to attend the Youth Mental Health – Help Rally on Sunday, April 30, at the Gazebo on Main Street. The rally will take place from 2-4 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

The board set the summer program for six Macon County schools. The summer program will provide students with additional learning opportunities outside of the regular academic calendar, and will allow students who may have been affected by detrimental circumstances during the administration of the EOG (end of grade) or EOC (end of course) testing, to have the opportunity to raise their proficiency score. 

Cartoogechaye, Nantahala, East Franklin, Highlands, Macon Middle, South Macon and Iotla will all offer these programs from May 30 through June 1 depending on the school. Parents will be notified by May 18 if their child is eligible for the summer program. This program is not mandatory but it is strongly urged for those needing a little extra help. 

School Board Attorney John Henning spoke in regard to opposing House Bill 219.  The bill provides charter schools with funds and Henning explained that the funding for these schools has a negative impact on the public school system. Henning said the passing of the HB219 would cause money to be disproportionately given to charter schools which would adversely affect public school funding.

The existing General Statute contains the list of funds not shared with charter schools: reimbursements, indirect costs, tuition, fees for actual costs, sales tax revenues, sales tax refunds, gifts and grants restricted as to use, trust funds, federal appropriations made directly to local school administrative units, municipal appropriations made directly to local school administrative units, and funds received for prekindergarten programs; in addition, the appropriation or use of fund balance or interest income by a local school administrative unit shall not be construed as a local current expense appropriation.

The proposed House Bill 219, Part VII, deletes the list of protected funds with the exception of trust funds, federal grants restricted as to use, and special programs.

A resolution signed by school board chairman Jim Breedlove and School Board Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin states, in part, that by deleting the list of protected funds, House Bill 219 creates unequal rather than equal local funding for K-12 education. 

Upcoming events 

– Thursday, March 30 – FHS UNIFY at 6 p.m. UNIFY March Madness is a basketball showcase for persons with disabilities who have been helped to learn the game of basketball by FHS student-athletes.
– March 31 – MVI Solar Panel Dedication, 8:15-8:45 a.m. There will be a ceremony in the morning, hands on STEM experiments, an energy exhibit and STEM activities throughout the building.
– Monday, April 3 – Friday, April 7 – Spring Break for Franklin area schools (excluding MEC), Highlands & Nantahala.
– Monday, April 10 – Students return to Franklin area, Highlands, Nantahala schools.
– Thursday, May 11 & Friday, May 12 – The Ballet by the Dance Arts Co-Op presents William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 10 a.m., at The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

The next school board meeting will be Monday, April 24, at Highlands School at 6 p.m.