Franklin County Schools spend more than $500,000 to hire more staff, prepare for new school year

Students who choose traditional school will be back in the classroom on Aug. 20.

Posted: Jul 22, 2020 1:59 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2020 2:50 PM

On Wednesday, the Franklin County School System told WAAY 31 it's spent more than $500,000 to hire more staff and prepare its schools for students to return safely.

Greg Hamilton, the Franklin County Schools Superintendent, said they plan on hiring about 30 additional staff members to help cut down the sizes of classrooms so students can socially distance.

"You'll see smaller classrooms this year, smaller group sizing and a lot of social distancing measures. Those types of things," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said some schools in the district often put an entire grade in one classroom or two classrooms. This year, the district is limiting class sizes to 15 to 20 kids.

"We will use every bit of space we can find. Whether that's outdoor space, gymnasium, where ever we can keep them separated," said Hamilton.

Plexiglas partitions are up in common areas like the front offices and hand sanitizer dispensers line the walls. Hamilton said the district partnered with volunteer fire departments and community centers to offer free WiFi to students who take the virtual route.

"It's been difficult. To say it's been a challenge is an under statement, especially putting together a remote plan that's best for our students when we have such limited WiFi access," said Hamilton.

Belgreen Principal Brianne Roberts said every school system needs the same supplies to make back to school work and that's causing some issues.

"Everybody is trying to get the same materials, so Chrome Books are on back order. We're just trying to get our name on the list and get them in as quick as we can. We're looking at ordering different brands that we normally wouldn't purchase or maybe looking at tablets instead of Chrome Books for other options as well," said Roberts.

All students in Franklin County will start school on Aug. 20. There will not be a staggered restart for students. Hamilton said students who have the means will use their personal tablets or computers to do class work remotely if they choose virtual school.

Parents have until Aug. 7 to tell the district if they will choose traditional or virtual school.

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