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School board hopefuls talk finances: Candidates discuss funding because students want answers

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Buses and school websites could carry advertising, and Franklin schools could try to find ways to get students into certain classes that result in more funding from the state.

These were among the ideas for raising money for Franklin schools. Six school board candidates discussed their ideas at a forum conducted by two Advanced Placement government classes at Franklin Community High School.

The students wanted to know how the candidates would deal with funding shortages, if they supported a districtwide orchestra, how to improve athletics and if they supported new laws or proposals.

The stage was made up of five students who hosted the event and asked the candidates questions. The five students were Mason Clark, Ethan Clendening, Olivia Daily, Savannah Kramer and Connor Shank.

Next month, voters will choose the occupants of two seats on the nonpartisan school board. Candidates attending the forum were Christopher Bass, Cory Cooper, Tim Lavery, William Maschmeyer, Kristine Ott and Joe Skeel.

Candidate Bryan Wertz did not attend.

Larry Sheek’s name will appear on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election, but he no longer is seeking a seat.

How Franklin candidates would deal with a $2 million shortfall because of property tax caps was one of four questions students developed as part of their class. Two impromptu questions came from the audience and the Franklin Community Education Foundation.

Skeel suggested finding other ways to bring the school district money, such as selling advertising on the side of school buses and on schools’ websites and social media pages.

“There should be nothing that is off of the table,” he said.

Maschmeyer, the current school board president, proposed refinancing some school district loans to lower payments. He added the district trimmed more than $3 million from the budget through utility savings, early retirement for teachers and other cuts.

Cooper, a former Franklin industrial technology teacher, mentioned offering some elective classes that bring in money from the state.

Ott proposed more community partnerships.

Lavery said the district needs a long-range plan so tax dollars could be used more effectively.

Bass recommended a line-by-line review of the budget. For example, employees should make sure they aren’t buying the same product at different prices from the same vendor, he said.

“In these trying times, the (communication) line needs to be open,” Bass said.

The government class asked if the candidates would support a districtwide orchestra. Nearly all the candidates said they would if a feasible plan were presented.

They also discussed whether the middle school, intermediate school and elementary schools should be on a late start Wednesday similar to the high school’s plan, which gives teachers time to meet and develop plans, train and analyze test data.

All candidates said each school should make that choice for their teachers and students. Bass said parents and their schedules should be considered in deciding whether to start late.

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