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|Franklin Schools expect good year|
Franklin Parish school students entered a new year this week with apparent enthusiasm and Superintendent Lanny Johnson was even more optimistic about prospects for the pubic school system.
"If we don't have a good year, I'll be more than just surprised," said Johnson Monday, the first day of school, after ticking off a list of reasons to expect academic and physical growth.
In the past year, since the arrival and departure of Hurricane Gustav, the Franklin Parish system has been shocked with the near state-takeover of Winnsboro Elementary and shattered by arson at the alternative Horace G. White. While the hurricane delayed the start of school for two weeks, positive affects may be felt from the state-required memorandum of understanding at the elementary school and from the new construction required at the alternative school.
In a first-day review, Johnson said, "total enrollment remains to be seen. If you were to compare the first day this year with the first day last year, we are up as far as enrollment is concerned."
But, he cautioned that the enrollment of Oct. 1 is the important number, since the state will pay about $3,000 per student in school on that date.
"That's the date that determines how much money you get," Johnson said.
Aside from anticipating the arrival of operating funds, Johnson noted strides in academics for the entire system.
"For the first time, Winnsboro Elementary will have a completely certified staff," Johnson noted. He said more certified teachers are in teaching positions this year than at any point in the past five years.
"The number have come up tremendously," he said in reference to the grading system which the state gives to individual school systems.
"Last year, out of 69 school systems in the state, we ranked 63rd. I'd like to see us move up on that scale," the superintendent said.
He pointed out that scores were improved at almost all schools last year and that similar improvements would almost assure Franklin Parish a higher ranking in the 69-system scheme.
"I'm optimistic," he said. "The high school has the most qualified faculty I've seen and it is gradually getting back to where it should be."
He noted construction projects at Gilbert, Fort Necessity and Baskin are near completion with some sites forced into minor inconveniences.
"But, overall the new construction should add to the positive experience of being in school." he said.
The alternative school will have a burned out wing renovated and a new wing constructed before the existing gym, now converted to classrooms, is redone with a fund of about $2 million from FEMA hurricane funds and fire insurance money. The work will be done throughout the current school year.