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|School board to honor students, make plans for renovations|
Plans to renovate two parish schools topped the agenda of the Franklin Parish School Board Tuesday evening.
According to Supt. Lanny Johnson, plans are currently under way to renovate Winnsboro Elementary and to repair fire damage at the Horace G. White Learning Center.
"We've secured the funding for the projects," said Johnson. "The contractors can begin the work anytime."
The school system received $1.5 million to rebuild a damaged wing of Horace G. White. Also, through a low-interest loan from Franklin State Bank, renovations are set to begin at Winnsboro Elementary.
The work at Horace G. White is necessary because of a fire earlier this year, which gutted much of the school.
A classroom and the administrative offices of the school were destroyed March 31.
Police arrested five individuals in connection with the blaze. Arson is suspected as the cause of the fire.
In other business, the board voted to approve the results of a tax election held Nov. 14.
Voters were asked to consider a 10-year renewal of a half-cent sales tax. Voters approved the measure by a margin of more than 300 votes.
At the time, Johnson said the tax represented a significant portion of the school board's operating budget.
"That tax brings in about $1.2 million a year," Johnson said. "It's our biggest tax."
Also Tuesday night, the board agreed to honor high-performing fourth and eight grade students.
Students who earn a score of Advanced on the LEAP or GEE standardized tests will be honored during the regular board meeting Dec. 7.
At a meeting later this month, representatives from the school board could learn more about the future of the school system's civil rights status.
Johnson informed the board a status meeting will be held Dec. 14 with U.S. District Judge Robbie James.
Attorney Bob Hammons will represent the school system at that hearing.
James is overseeing a federal consent decree issued in the 1970s to ensure Franklin Parish Schools complied with federal desegregation orders and racial parity amongst schools.
Johnson said the status hearing will be another step in achieving "unitary status," which means the school system has achieved the goals of the original consent decree.
Johnson said a unitary status would mean the system could cease status reporting.