Blair Bell

FSSD school board members Robert Blair and Allena Bell

An update on construction projects, the approval of a few new and revised policies and a report on the start of a new school year were highlights of the Franklin Special School District’s school board meeting Monday evening.

On the latter, FSSD Director of Schools David Snowden took time to praise teachers and staff for all the preparation work they accomplished over the summer break.

“There is a lot of planning and organizing that goes on in the summer months so we will have a smooth-as-possible start of each school year,” he said. “I just can’t say enough positive things about what people have done. Yes, we have had some bumps in the road. We had a few mistakes. 

“We’re going to have those, and it’s going to take a while to get the buses and pickup times [sorted out] because we’re adjusting to new routes and traffic patterns. But overall, we had a great day Friday and a great first day today. But it’s not without a lot of work. I just want to take this opportunity to publicly thank all the individuals’ hard work and dedication in this process.”

As summer comes to a close, construction projects continue at various sites within the district. Though they had grand openings back in the spring, the new Performing Arts Center and Poplar Grove gymnasium have just a few loose ends to tie up to be officially complete.

Next closest project close to being ready, according to David Esslinger, associate director of schools for Finance and Administration, is renovation work at Liberty Elementary. It’s left with just a few details.

Perhaps the most anticipated project is the makeover of ballfields and other recreation amenities in which FSSD has partnered with the city of Franklin. Located adjacent to Freedom Middle School, the complex is scheduled to be complete by early November or soon thereafter.

Board members voted to approve several new or revised policies that have come down from the Tennessee School Board Association, including a fresh one that deals with library materials.

“Every resource, every library book in our school has to be cataloged and made available to the public,” Snowden said. “We’re working on it now and still waiting for guidelines.”

Another new policy approved by the board is one based on a law passed by the Tennessee General Assembly that would allow FSSD retirees to return to the classroom. The policy introduced by the TSBA is one method to address teacher shortages across the state.

Board member Tim Stillings said the policy is a good one, but he believes more direction is needed from the Tennessee Department of Education.

“Given that this is such a game changer, I don’t think it’s getting enough airplay at the state level,” he said. “[It’s not helpful] to just throw it out there and not give us the details necessary to be able to communicate to potential retirees that may want to exercise this option. So I would encourage the state Department of Education to get on the ball and give us these details.”

Finally, for a twist on things, it was recommended at Monday’s meeting to view the opening day video and check out transportation director Bo Alexander around the 3:35 mark.