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Franklin school board, council plan reconciliation retreat

FRANKLIN - Having failed to meet in December, the school board and city council are moving closer to a mutual "retreat" at which they hope to negotiate their differences.

Members of both governing bodies had planned to meet in December for what School Board Chairman Ray Yonaitis termed a retreat, but scheduling and weather problems forced a delay in the meeting.

Though members of both bodies have been at odds in past months over a number of issues, such as a recent proposal from the council to combine parts of school and city finance management, both sides say they are looking forward to a meeting to negotiate.

"There's too much there to discuss in emails, and really we should be discussing these matters in public anyway," said Mayor Ken Merrifield.

"We can't go on this way; it's not good for our children in this city," Yonaitis said.

Merrifield said the school board has presented city officials with three dates in February as possible meeting dates, and potential moderators have been proposed as well. He will present the information to the council at its regular meeting Monday night, he said.

The board and the council have disagreed frequently in past months, mostly over what school board members have said were attempts by the council to take over the district's finances.

Last week, school board members were upset because the council proposed an ordinance that would have city finance officials manage the school district's accounts payables and receivables and its payroll process to save the city money.

School board members were not pleased that members of the public were not allowed to speak at a city finance committee meeting Monday night on the issue; however, one school board member was allowed to speak.

"(The council's finance committee) wouldn't let people ask questions," Yonaitis said. "For someone who wants to meet with you over disagreements, that doesn't seem right."

Merrifield said it would have been unusual for the committee to take public comment at a meeting. "That's generally not something that's done at the committee level," he said.

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