Perhaps the situation was best summed up by a school official who said that Franklin County residents have a lot to celebrate but that the county has room to improve its school performance numbers.
That was the word from Dr. Lela Baldwin, chief academic officer, of the county school system as she addressed a recent board of education meeting.
Most schools maintained or increased their letter grade from the state. There was also a significant improvement in school growth in a comparison from last academic year--to the current one.
The Early College High School not only earned an "A" for the second straight year, it exceeded growth for the third straight year.
Bunn Middle School exceeded growth for the second straight year and Royal Elementary exceeded growth for the first time ever.
Franklinton Elementary School is no longer a low performing school, earning a "C."
In a very significant turnaround that deserves to be singled out for special accolades, Laurel Mill Elementary is a "B" school, going from a 54 or "D" low performing school to a 71 or "B" in just three years.
Laurel Mill is only one of four North Carolina schools to see that much increase in a three-year period -- and Principal Genie Faulkner and her staff deserve a special pat on the back for helping their students achieve that kind of improvement.
All high schools met or exceeded growth with Louisburg High School increasing by 2.5 composite points. The Early College High School went up 2.8 composite points.
Franklin County's graduation rate came in at the highest ranking since the state started to keep track of the figure. Some 86% of high school seniors graduated in the last academic school year, up one percentage point from the previous year.
The county graduation rate is in line with the state average of 86.3%
That's the good news -- at least some of it.
Yet Franklinton Middle School remained at the bottom of the local heap, scoring a "D" this year and being designated by the state as low performing.
In a word, that is simply unacceptable. Those children must be provided an adequate education, somehow, and to do any less is unthinkable.
School Superintendent Rhonda Schuhler said the district is placing additional resources and focusing more attention on that school "to be sure they are on track."
That will help, but those additional resources must be backed by a firm commitment from both the county and the state because, after all, it's going to take special resources -- meaning money -- to make a material difference at Franklinton Middle as well as to improve the other county schools.
Parents -- and anyone who values public education and sees it as an important path to a better tomorrow -- must demand that the county commissioners and the state General Assembly adequately fund public education, not continually relegate it to the back burner or, worse, chip away at essential funding.
In recent years, the General Assembly has trimmed funding, chipped away at successful programs, played money games with local funding and teacher pay and tried to remake public education so it fits their particular political philosophy.
None of that has worked well and most of it has diminished our public schools and made them less effective for students.
The reality is that the schools have done a pretty good job with our kids -- but after all, we've giving them some of best children in the world to educate!
But it is incumbent on the rest of us to demand that our elected and appointed government officials continue to give education the priority it deserves -- and to demand continued improvement and performance from those we have running our schools and classrooms.
Educating a kid is a big job -- but it is perhaps the most important job any of us will ever have.
We can do this -- mainly because we have no choice.
And finally, if you happen to see Principal Faulkner and any of her staff, give them a big "atta boy" and encourage them to continue to excel.