Franklin County Community Outraged over School District's Financial Crisis

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Eastpoint- One after another teachers, students, and concerned residents laid into Franklin County School Board members Thursday.

"The thrust of all that has to be fixed is on these shoulders right here," said one person.

"As a business owner, that's probably going to end up coming back to haunt me," added added another concerned speaker.

And each time there was roaring support from an audience outraged by the school district's nearly $550,000 in debt. The state requires school district's to maintain a minimum 2% fund balance, but the situation is so severe in Franklin County, the school board has declared a financial urgency with the state.

"This thing can't be too hard to figure out. I mean you as board members are ultimately responsible," another resident told school board members.

A big question on many people's minds is how did this happen? School district officials blame lower property values and a smaller-than-estimated student population.

"Do you as the superintendent take any responsibility for being so far in debt?" NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson asked Franklin County School District Superintendent Nina Marks.

"Absolutely because at the end of the day I'm the one that has to answer the questions," Marks responded.

To get out of debt, the district is considering some drastic proposals. Three out of five options would mean double digit teacher pay cuts. Furlough days and health insurance reductions are also on the table.

And time is running out. The teachers union has until next week to make some sort of concessions. If not, the district said it can only afford to pay teachers until May 1st.

"Right now all we wanted to do is get to the line," said Marks.

Both sides meet next Thursday in a public negotiation meeting. The budget deadline is June 30th.

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