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Entire School Board in Small Virginia Town Resigns

The entire seven-member school board of a small Virginia city has resigned.

The resignations came last week, after the city council in Franklin, Va., asked board members to submit their resignations over "incompetence in the performance of their duties," according to the Virginia Pilot.

The issue relates to the school board's financial management, the paper reported.

The city council gave the school district an additional $343,000 in the 2014-15 school year to help financially. But it appears that the school board didn't need the money as it had a $151,000 surplus at the time, not counting the money the council gave it, the paper said.

The district also ended the last fiscal year with an estimated $481,000 deficit.

On Nov. 1, the city council passed a resolution calling for all the board members to resign, and to do so by Nov. 7.

The school board disagreed with the city council. Before handing in their resignations, however, they voted on Nov. 4 to fire superintendent Willie Bell, "without cause," the local ABC affiliate reported.

An interim superintendent Kelvin Edwards has taken over.

In a Nov. 4 letter announcing the change in district leadership, Edwards said the deficit in question had not been incurred by "wrongful or willful misconduct by any member of this administration."

"As always we are continuously working on our practices and procedures to be fiscally sound," he wrote.

That same letter expressed disappointment with the city council's request for the resignations, and sought a joint meeting between the two parties.

Edwards also sought to reassure the community in a Nov. 9 note posted on the school district's website.

"With the resignation of the entire School Board, we are facing a situation that is unprecedented in the Commonwealth of Virginia," Edwards wrote. "The challenge now before city and school leadership is the need to provide clarity and certainty around the governance of the school division."

The Virginia Pilot reported that the city hopes to appoint the new school board members in time for the school board's Dec. 15 meeting.

The district has an estimated 1,300 students, with one elementary, middle, and high school.  

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