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Schools receive funding boost

School administrators are known for stretching tight budgets to meet the needs of students, but this year funding from the Advancement in Technology Fund will make stretching a little easier for Franklin County and Russellville City school systems.

The Franklin County school system received $967,508, and Russellville City Schools received $639,383. 

The total amount available was divided evenly among school districts based on student population, according to an state press release.

“I think it’s important for people to understand this is not just extra money,” said Russellville City Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes. “This is money we have been doing without for several years now.”

Grimes said this money normally would have been in the education trust fund budget but has not been for several years because of preventing proration.

“So now that the proration prevention accounts are full, that is money that you have being returned to the schools,” Grimes said.

In the Franklin County Schools system budget, $617,000 will go toward building and maintenance repairs; $200,000 will go toward insurance costs; $100,000 will be allocated toward updating technology; and $50,000 will go toward school security measures, such as cameras and door locks.

Russellville City Schools is using $200,000 toward technology to update computers and add seven Chromebook carts and is also working to pave and resurface potholes in the high school parking lot and at West Elementary School. 

West Elementary is also receiving a new roof and is replacing existing air conditioning units on top of the roof with individual units in classrooms to be more energy efficient.

Franklin County Superintendent Greg Hamilton said education is underfunded, so having this money going back to the schools is long overdue.

“It’s a boost, and we’re glad to get it,” Hamilton said. “We hope next year’s appropriation will be that much or more.”

Grimes added the budget increase helps improve teacher morale and promotes pride in the schools.

“When you have to say no all of the time to people’s needs or things that they think are really important, like a roof or an air conditioning unit or technology, it really becomes frustrating and really affects the morale of the teachers,” Grimes said.

Grimes said the school system has not been able to meet the employee and student needs effectively over the past few years because of the budget, so everyone is happy to have additional funding going toward those needs.

“It’s been a long seven to nine years getting to this point,” Grimes said. “It just allows us to do things for our students and our community and campus that we haven’t been able to do in a long time.”

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