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FCBOE approves cafeteria funding

It wasn’t lunchtime, but nearly every seat in the Tharptown cafeteria was filled. Faculty, staff, students, parents and community members of Tharptown packed in for the Franklin County Board of Education’s called meeting to vote on a single agenda action item.

With four school board members in favor and one abstention, the wheels can keep rolling toward Tharptown’s new cafeteria.

With significant enrollment growth this school year, due in large part to Russellville City Schools’ new tuition requirements for students outside the city limits, the school’s already-packed cafeteria is now busting at the seams. A mobile unit is being utilized to serve the overflow of students. Additionally, the cafeteria is a long walk across campus for the high school grades.

The new cafeteria, which is projected to be completed by the start of next school year according to Superintendent Gary Williams, will house 115 additional students – enough to meet the needs of the school at this time, Franklin County Board of Education members determined. It will be located between the elementary and high school facilities.

The board voted in favor of leveraging $175,000 of capital outlay money to obtain more than $2.4 million for both the construction of the new cafeteria as well as the conversion of the old cafeteria into four new classrooms for the elementary school – a process that will begin upon the completion of the new cafeteria. The abstention came from Chairman Mike Shewbart, who emphasized his concerns that the new cafeteria/four new classrooms are not a sufficient fix for the problem, when considering the potential for continued enrollment growth.