Franklin board terminates contract with sheriff’s office

Franklin Area School Board members voted unanimously Monday to terminate their school sheriff officer contract with the Venango County Sheriff’s Office.

School board president Brian Spaid explained the decision came after the county revealed it had made an error in calculating the fee the district would pay to have one school sheriff officer at each of the four schools.

“The (alternative) options provided by the county are not accepted by the district at this time,” Spaid said.

The board had initially voted to enter the contract with the department at $120,000 per officer during its Dec. 17 meeting after spending the majority of 2018 exploring school security options.

Spaid said the board would be handing the matter off to a committee that will continue to explore school security options for the district.

In other action Monday, the board voted to approve a contract with Zito Business to build a fiber optic line from Franklin Junior-Senior High School to Central Elementary School that will improve the schools’ Internet speed.

The contract will see the district pay a one-time installation fee of $500 and then pay $600 a month for three years.

Zito is based in Coudersport and describes itself as an advanced communications company. The company installs lines throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

The board also opened a new student activity account for the Caring Closet/Food Pantry at the high school. The account will allow for the purchase of necessary items for the Caring Closet and the restocking of the pantry when needed with funds from monetary donations received.

The panel approved several field trips, including a five-day, four-night stay in New York City in May 2020 for students in the Madrigal Choir. The choir consists of a select ensemble of 20 to 25 students in grades nine through 12.

The students will come together with choirs from several other high schools and universities to sing at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Hae-Jong Lee, an assistant professor at Youngstown State University. Franklin choral director Sarah Gilbert is currently studying under Lee.

The cost of the trip will be $1,600 per student, and fundraisers are in the works.

The board accepted the retirements of Victory Elementary first-grade teacher Nancy Henley, effective at the end of this school year; and secretary II Jackie Lamberton, effective March 26.

Lamberton will have completed 26 and one-half years of service with the district and Henley 22 years.

McGill, Power, Bell and Associates will continue to audit the district’s financial statements for the next three school years. Fees for the firm will be $21,115 in 2019 and then climb to $22,000 for both 2020 and 2021.

The board’s next meeting will be a Feb. 11 work session starting at 7 p.m. in the high school library.