Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber addressed the Frankfort City Commission on Monday regarding a request for reimbursement for a program that provides internet access and workforce development services to city students and families.
The agreement funded by the commission, in cooperation with the Frankfort Plant Board, was entered into in 2017. The program has been implemented at different locations throughout the city, but the agreement expired in 2018 and FIS has not been reimbursed for the expense.
As part of a new interlocal agreement, Barber stated that FIS has worked with city commissioners, City Attorney Laura Ross and City Manager Keith Parker to continue the program that provides students with internships and opportunities to engage and grow the workforce in the community in positions including electricians, carpenters and welders.
“The program helps children who are struggling to find their passion and we’ve seen some great success," Barber told the commission.
Commissioner Eric Whisman affirmed his support for the program, but expressed concerns about how it was initially structured. He suggested exploring alternative ways the program could be implemented.
“We’re strapped for cash and the choices by the previous commission to drop the tax rate has hurt the city significantly,” Whisman said. “We’ve got to do some soul searching on the best use of dollars and be creative on what we can do, and I think we have some alternatives rather than just the cash allotments essentially to just the FIS school district.”
Commissioner Katrisha Waldridge agreed, noting that the program’s services should extend to county students living within the city. “If we’re going to help one student, who’s to say the child who lives two streets over shouldn’t have the same help and encouragement and resources, definitely being that the independent school did not use all the money,” she said.
Ross noted that the currently unused funds will go back into the city’s funds, then be distributed again to continue the program. The commission moved to reimburse the initial amount of $35,000 to FIS in two weeks, but continue the discussion of how the remaining funds of $165,000 can best be used.