Tuesday, March 31, 2009
They did come to Franklin a couple of weeks ago.
Want to review some video highlights?
Click to play to enjoy!
The photo slide show of the visit can be found here
C. PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS – Putnam Investments
D. CITIZEN COMMENTS
Ouzo Corporation(Franklin Mobil)
for Failure to Pass Compliance Check -7:10 PM
G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS
- Request for Modification of Hours – 3
H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS –
- Update – Gary McCarraher, Fire Department
I. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS
J. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
- Resolution 09-06: Appropriation – 2009 Capital Plan
- Resolution 09-19: Franklin Village Mall, 1000 Franklin Village Drive Acceptance of Covenant with Property Owner
- Resolution 09-20: Authorization for Grant of Access Easement over Town-Owned Land Located off Cross Street
- Bylaw Amendment 09-630:Amendment to Chapter 37, Town Properties- 2nd Reading
K. TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
L. OLD BUSINESS
M. NEW BUSINESS
N. COUNCIL COMMENTS
O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required
Despite comments to the contrary from the Franklin Education Association president, school and town officials say they remain optimistic the teachers union will forgo their negotiated raises to save jobs.
Chandler Creedon, president of the association, which represents about 600 teachers, educational aides, nurses and van drivers, has said the union is unlikely to go along with the School Committee's call for a salary freeze.
Moreover, he said, not all alternatives to the unprecedented cost-saving measure have been explored - such as the $1.2 million in savings he and the union have identified, for instance.
School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy, members Susan Rohrbach, Ed Cafasso, and Town Councilor Stephen Whalen questioned whether Creedon's remarks represent the union majority, and hope members will meet soon and express their feelings on the freeze.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here
According to the MA DOE website an explanation of SIMS and EPIMS can be found here:
- Student Information Management Systems (SIMS)
- Education Personnel Information Management System (EPIMS)
SIMS & EPIMS
The state requires that each district have software in place that will allow districts to report data on all students and staff in a format that is compatible with the state databases. This process has been very time-consuming and costly to districts for training and updates.
With EPIMS, the labor and technology costs of providing the information to DESE are significant. Many hours are required to collect and verify information, upload it to DESE, and continually review to ensure accuracy. Administrative costs are incurred to complete the Teacher Quality Improvement Plan (TQIP) and update information. In addition, significant time is consumed by communicating with teachers and administrators to ensure validity of reporting.
With respect to SIMS, it must be recognized the reporting requirements consume significant secretarial hours and require extensive technology fund investment in terms of hardware (administrative computers) and reporting systems (student software programs). There are multiple reports required during the course of the school year.
Reporting & Auditing
The school district must provide timely reports to the state throughout the year. There is a financial end-of-year report that takes a great deal of time to prepare. An outside auditing firm must audit this report each year.
Student Activity Accounts
In a town it is required that these funds be kept in accounts under control of the Town Treasurer. The funds are deposited in an agency fund. Each school has a checkbook that allows the school to keep a small amount of cash to pay bills as needed. The checking accounts are reimbursed through a system that requires them to complete a form for reimbursement and attach the documentation. This is sent to the Business Office for verification and then sent to the Treasurer’s Office. These accounts must have a minimum of an internal audit yearly and an audit from an outside firm every three years. The town auditors perform a yearly audit on these accounts. Although this allows for more accountability, it adds a great deal of time to the workload of existing staff to monitor and process the transactions.
The full listing is available here (DOC)
What the heck is Goomoodleikiog?
Click to watch this brief (less than 4 minutes) video about transforming teaching in plain english. The creators pay homage to Common Craft with their presentation on how to transform the old paper based teaching with Google, Moodle, Wikis and Blogs.
My thanks to WNY Education Associates for sharing this posting!
Monday, March 30, 2009
See the table of info that drove these conclusions here.
It means that homes are selling faster than previously expected, usually around 4 months, if they are priced right. The data also tells us some other interesting things:
- homes priced under $450,000 are the most sought after price range
- there are not enough homes for sale for buyers
- homes are selling relatively close to their asking price
The full listing is available here (DOC)
Professional Development - with the enactment of Education Reform, all teachers and other professional staff must be re-certified every five years. The district must provide professional development required for re-certification, with no cost to the individual employee.
Highly Qualified Staff – this requirement is a mandate that ensures employment of and reporting on highly qualified staff members and requires a substantial investment of time and money at all school levels. In many cases, there is insufficient guidance for districts that enables administrators to assist teachers and professional staff to meet the requirements established by DESE. (For example, appropriate licensure and completion of a designated number of courses is required for teaching assignments for which licensure may not exist at this time.)
Foster Care & State Wards
Districts are required to educate students who have been placed by the state in foster care and state ward settings. If a student has special needs, the town is responsible for that student’s education, even if the student is enrolled in a day or residential school that is not in town.
• Districts are also responsible for the transportation for the student. However, the local district is only responsible for regular day/vocational education of these pupils. When that student requires special education, which cost can be billed back to the district from which the student came.
Grant Percentages of Federal Grant Funds to Private Schools
School districts are required to give a percentage of grants funded under the No Child Left Behind Act to all private schools whether or not our students attend the schools. The percentage is based on total school and district populations. The district must provide reading services from its Title I grant to all schools within the state that our students attend if the schools meet certain criteria.
The new sign is up and shining. The interior space is ready for the furniture delivery. The inspections are due soon. Once that occurs, then the food can start being delivered. The staff, already hired, can begin training in preparation for the ribbon cutting currently targeted for Monday April 6th about 9:00 AM.
Their normal hours will start at 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM. They want to catch the early train traffic. Given the recent parking fare increase (now $4.00/day), I have noticed more folks walking or being dropped off to take the train. That walking traffic will now have the option of stopping at Cafe Dolce for something to eat/drank on the ride into Boston.
There are plenty of electrical outlets along the walls. BJ and Dave confirmed that they wanted at least one at each table to allow someone with a laptop to come and plug in. As I would be one of those visitors, I noticed that feature and will be making use of it.
They are the first business to have installed some special energy saving 17W lights from D'Daddario. The lighting is good and can be adjusted. The background music is a jazzy-Frank Sinatra mix that should be conducive to good conversations.
I can hardly wait until they open. I think they will do well. Franklin needs a good coffeehouse downtown. BJ and Dave are doing a lot of smiling as the opening approaches. They have the desire to make this work.
1 - Put the MBTA on Google Maps
People who live in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Moscow, Montreal, and some 250 other cities can log on to Google Maps not only for walking and driving directions but also for instructions on how to get to where they need to go via public transportation.Read the full article in the Boston Globe here
Bostonians do not have that option, but a 20-year-old college student from Cambridge is trying to do something about it.
Last month, Luke Bornheimer created a Facebook group - which he named "Put the MBTA on Google Transit!!!" - to petition the MBTA to list the city's buses and trains with Google Maps. The group's membership grew to 135 people in less than a month.
"It seems so simple, and frankly the Boston area as a whole looks a little silly for not having their transit authority's buses and trains listed on the website," Bornheimer wrote on the group's site. "So . . . invite all your friends, anyone who rides the T, or simply someone who feels that this is a logical and simple step to more accessibility for the MBTA and Boston."
Join the Facebook group here
2 - Join Clever Commute
Clever Commute is a service that enables you to share with the other riders on your T route (i.e. the Franklin Line) what you see happening with service. Many a morning at the Franklin station, I could see the trains sitting in the yard not moving, the T Alert status board continuing to scroll "All trains are on or near schedule" and we could tell that was a lie.
You probably carry a cell phone that can send a text message. All you would need to do is enroll your phone for the Franklin Line and you can send status updates. By enrolling, you also will receive status updates by others in the group. This is a great tool to share information in a timely manner. Something you are well aware that the T can not do consistently.
Visit the Clever Commute website here.
Other articles published about Clever Commute can be found here
Join the Franklin Line with these steps
- On the Clever Commute home page, select "Find your line"
- From the drop down box, Select "Commurer Rail", then Select "Boston"
- The screen should refresh to provide the MBTA commuter rail lines, check off Franklin
- Complete the remaining information
- Watch for the confirmation email, reply to confirm enrollment
- Review the reporting tips and guidelines
- Provide and receive updates on the Franklin line status
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This immediacy drew Wellesley and Franklin police into the fold in 2007, ahead of many departments nationwide.
"We started it to keep the public up to date on traffic conditions, especially the morning and afternoon routes," said Wellesley Sergeant Scott Whittemore. "I was trying to figure out a way to put information out there in real time, and Twitter answered the call."
At the time, it was "kind of a radical idea," Whittemore said. "People didn't know what Twitter was. Now, we're hearing, 'You guys were really on the forefront.' "
"It's catching on like wildfire in the police and fire department communities," said Gary Premo, communications director for the Franklin Police Department. "It's a unique way of using a service not meant for police."
Read the full article on the police use of Twitter in the Boston Globe here
You can learn more about Twitter here.
You can sign up for Twitter here.
You can follow the Franklin Police here.
You can follow me here.
Armed with an open-ended 55-gallon drum and a used boat propeller from eBay, Northborough inventor Richard Burton plans to bring hydroelectric power to the masses, no dam required.
"Anywhere you get flow you can throw it in," the 67-year-old said of his Hydrokinetic Cogenerator prototype. The device is designed for an alternative energy market he predicts will surge when fuel prices rocket back up. "People are going to be screaming for green power."
While the majority of hydroelectric power in the country comes from dams, critics contend that the structures harm rivers and wildlife, with new applications facing numerous regulatory hurdles.
In contrast, Burton said, his device is not only easily removed, but also low-impact: Simply toss the Cogenerator into an average river and plug it into the grid.
Read more about this interesting concept to create hydropower in the Milford Daily News here
This program requires all school districts to admit students from other districts in the state unless the host school district takes action to restrict or prohibit accepting non-resident students from other Massachusetts school districts.
• Admitted choice students’ siblings are thereafter entitled to enrollment in the school also, even when there is little or no space for new local students to enroll. Districts losing students to choice have no control over the students who choose to leave and are charged for the cost of those students as assessments on the Cherry sheet.
• With declining enrollments and constraints on local funds, it is expected that this “free-market-choice” of school districts will expand causing a drain on resources from more vulnerable school districts. This will have an affect on the capacity to address issues for low-income school districts often having the neediest students.
School districts have no control over students who wish to attend charter schools rather than the local district and local residents have no say in how these schools operate or how their tax dollars are used unless they happen to be selected by the charter school to serve on its board of trustees. In other words, charter schools operate outside the reach of city, town, and regional government.
• Many persuasive arguments have been made to demonstrate such counter-intuitive outcomes as lower numbers of special education students enrolled, the virtual absence of limited English proficient students, and the ability of charters to transfer students out of their school back to the public school district.
• We believe that the current charter school funding formula is unreasonable because it draws away from a city or town (or region) chapter 70 allocation
The full listing is available here (DOC)
... budget problems are a big part of what’s happening here. State legislators who were budgeting more and more for schools over the years were powerfully tempted to play school board on all kinds of minutiae. Now that they’re cutting education budgets, some of them apparently are finding it a little harder to ignore how much their mandates drive up local costs.
That’s not to say we’re necessarily embarking on a new era of school flexibility. We don’t yet know what the new federal role in education will end up looking like, and certainly on some issues we’re likely to see stronger accountability, not less.
But school boards can take some comfort if there’s at least some more careful thinking about the difference between accountability and micromanagement. After all, that’s a distinction effective school boards think about constantly.
Bold for my emphasis!
Read the full article on the National School Board Assoc's blog "BoardBuzz" here.
Here’s an update Franklin’s school budget issues based on the administration’s budget presentation to the School Committee this past Tuesday evening.
A “level service” budget for the schools for the next fiscal year would total $53.8 million. That amount would preserve current personnel and programs and cover cost increases for teacher salary hikes and step changes; healthcare, special education, and transportation services. However, due to a decline in state and local revenues, the schools are being asked to create a “level-funded” of approximately $50.3 million, roughly the same amount as the current Fiscal 2009 budget.
This means that $3.5 million in reductions must be achieved in order to present a balanced budget for the schools by July 1. So far, some $600,000 in savings has been identified in the form of health insurance changes; a wage freeze voluntarily agreed to by 51 non-union school employees; and, an increase in circuit breaker reimbursement from the state.
That leaves a gap of $2.9 million. State and federal stimulus funds for the schools could total $773,000, bringing the projected school budget deficit down to $2.2 million. However, the exact amounts of stimulus aid are still a question mark, and there are reports that state lawmakers may decrease the town’s local aid payments by the same amount.
On Tuesday night, the School Committee asked the teacher’s union to agree to a wage freeze for this year. If all unionized school employees agreed to forgo the 2.5% salary increase they are scheduled for this year, the savings would total around $800,000. A freeze on all “step” salary changes would save around $720,000. Combined, the two moves would reduce the budget gap by approximately $1.52 million.
The School Committee’s letter to Chandler Creedon, president of the Franklin Education Association (FEA), acknowledged the stellar work of our teaching staff, as reflected in our student’s college acceptances and academic performance. It also noted that, for most of this decade, the School Committee has worked hard to avoid reductions in teaching staff by steadily reduced spending on other services and imposing new and higher fees for busing, athletics, and student activities, to name a few. The savings generated from these decisions have been poured directly into the classroom, to recruit and retain top quality teachers, to support a strong curriculum and to maintain appropriate class sizes. “We have cut around the edges to protect our core,” the letter stated. Parents and community groups, like the Franklin Education Foundation, also have worked hard to contribute more to classrooms through personal generosity and the fundraising efforts of the PCCs.
In an interview with the Milford Daily News the following day, Mr. Creedon reportedly stated that it was “not likely” that the teachers union would agree to a wage freeze. You can read the story on his remarks at http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/x515998073/Teachers-union-president-Pay-freeze-unlikely. It is unclear whether Mr. Creedon’s comments reflect the views of the union’s rank-and-file or whether FEA members have even been polled or have met to discuss the possibility of a wage freeze.
You can read the School Committee’s letter to the FEA at http://franklinschoolcommittee.wordpress.com/.
At last week’s School Committee meeting, the school administration presented a worst case scenario plan for accomplishing close to the $3 million in cuts. Administration proposals included:
- $110,000 in reductions in Central Office staff and services
- The elimination of 25 classroom and 5 support positions at the elementary school level
- Elimination of full-day kindergarten in favor a half-day scheme that would trigger a complex series of staffing moves to help prevent severe overcrowding in many elementary grades
- Elimination of all elementary-level library, the late bus, and instrumental music in Grade 5
- Elimination of 10 teaching and 5 support positions in the middle schools
- Creation of either a seven-period or eight-period (with study hall) schedule at Franklin High School, including the elimination of anywhere from 8 to 11 teaching positions and 6 to 9 support positions
- A $150,000 reduction in the athletic budget along with increased athletic user fees
The administration’s proposal carries serious academic implications, including the loss of accreditation for our kindergarten program; the potential probation status with accreditation at the high school (which is now on warning status in several categories); the potential for a downward turn in test scores; and, class sizes that would exceed School Committee guidelines in the vast majority of elementary and middle school grads.
The administration’s presentation marks the start of an intense discussion about how to best navigate the difficult financial circumstances facing the Franklin schools in this economy. Given that 45 professional teaching positions were eliminated at the start of this school year (and 14 were cut the year prior), members of the school community are working together to explore and discuss every possible option in an effort to avert another dramatic teaching cutback and even larger class sizes.
As a reminder of the budget cuts your schools have sustained in the past six years, I encourage you to visit this web link: http://www.slideshare.net/shersteve/franklin-ma-school-budget-reductions-updated-presentation?type=powerpoint
It’s important to keep in mind that many of the budget-cutting maneuvers under consideration, including the potential for stimulus money and wage freezes, are only one-time fixes. How the cost of these measures would be recouped next year, when we are planning the fiscal 2011 school budget, remains to be seen.
Citizen ideas and feedback are critically important in the weeks ahead. I hope you will share your thoughts. I also urge everyone to stay close to the budget process this year by paying attention to School Committee, Town Council and Finance Committee meetings. It is also important for parents and guardians to pursue a frank discussion of budget issues with your principals and your school PCCs.
These e-mails are provided as a constituent service. I try to distribute at least one e-mail update each month during the school year, as issues warrant. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you are receiving duplicate e-mails or if you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list. If you know of someone you would like to add to the list, please send along their e-mail address.
Ed Cafasso, Member
Franklin School Committee
Saturday, March 28, 2009
As it now stands, the 1.42-mile trail through Franklin State Forest looks like "a BMX course" or "mogul ski hills," but bicyclists, equestrians and politicians who gathered at the trail head yesterday envisioned a smoother path.
The goal is to forge a trail from Franklin to Bellingham, and ultimately to Palmer in Central Massachusetts.
Among those at yesterday's brainstorming session, state Rep. James Vallee said he wants to create a trail conducive to bicycling, horseback riding, hiking and other activities.
"It's in pretty good condition, it's in a pretty good state," but not quite ready for such pursuits, he said.
read the full article about the efforts to improve the rail trail in the Milford Daily News here
The full listing is available here (DOC)
Residency waivers and concerns arising from private entities such as sports boarding facilities within district boundaries and the implications of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act impact district budgets (also see above). Sports boarding camps attract players from various towns, states and countries. Local districts are required to educate said students without regard to tuition payments because residency statutes state that if a student is not at such a facility “solely for the purpose of education,” they are allowed to attend at no cost to the student.
• Residency also becomes an issue when a residential special education institution is located in a Massachusetts community. Students admitted to that institution sometimes attract the family, or a guardian member of the family, to relocate to the community for purposes of being closer to the resident student. This includes formerly out of state as well as in-state residency shifts and families with multiple residents. Such shifts determine assignment of costs to the host resident community.
• While there is local control on the admission to kindergarten there is a great deal of differentiation of starting age. Under choice students may be entered into a district at an earlier age and then require placement at the resident school district.
School districts allow students to attend out-of-district vocational schools when programs are not offered in the regional district to which the local district belongs. Unlike the Charter School Reimbursement, there is no apparent reimbursement for vocational placement, though the vocational student, like the charter student, is counted in the Foundation Budget of the sending district. In addition, school districts are required to transport these secondary students to the schools of their choice. There is only partial (up to 50%) reimbursement for vocational education transportation.
Amy Speace and her band, the Tearjerks, will perform at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse on Saturday, April 4th at 8:00 PM. This New York-based singer/songwriter demonstrates why she's quickly become one of her adopted hometown's most celebrated emerging artists. Possessing a commanding voice, a distinctive melodic sensibility and an uncanny knack for nailing complex emotions in song, Speace makes music that's both illuminating and effortlessly accessible. Time Out New York stated, "Amy Speace plays sweet, twangy folk music with a clear voice and an innocent vulnerability," while The Nashville Scene noted that she "balances wry humor with open-hearted honesty." And renowned Nashville critic Robert K. Oermann, writing in Music Row, dubbed her a "new star."
"Amy Speace has one of those fetching voices, the kind that taps you on the shoulder and motions seductively for you to follow it around corner after dark corner. You don't know where you're going to end up or how you'll ever find your way back, but that doesn't matter right now: you're enjoying the trip." Scott Brodeur, No Depression
Here is a clip of her song "The weight of the World" to entice you to attend and hear her in person.
The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse website is here
The Amy Speace website is here
Friday, March 27, 2009
It’s been a great 10 days in Australia, one that’s been too packed for much blogging, obviously, and one that was highlighted yesterday by a visit to one of those “I really wish my kids went to school there” type of schools in a Melbourne suburb. It’s hard to capture everything that’s cool about the Wooranna Park Primary School in a blog post, but let me boil it down to this: the kids are driving the learning, from the design of the school and the curriculum to the decision making around school policy and more. It’s one of those inquiry-based learning environments where the moment you step into it you just feel something different. Different spaces. Different colors. Different conversations. Different stuff up on the walls.Read the full posting by Wil Richardson on his blog here.
Franklin has been a model district for others in the state to come and view, especially with regards to the kindergarten program. Will that continue?
Franklin, we will need to decide which way we want to go. We can step up to properly fund the schools and our future. Or not.
What will Franklin decide?
Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:
Applications for Education
If YouTube is not blocked in your school district, YouTube Edu could be a nice resource for those involved in helping students research and select a college to attend. The lecture videos could provide a nice complement to instruction in a high school setting.
If YouTube is blocked in your school, you may want to look at some of these alternatives:
20+ Educational Alternatives to YouTube
Six More Educational Alternatives to YouTube
Save 20% on all books & DVDs from National Geographic!
Things you can do from here:
The Franklin Mobil Inc. faces a possible suspension of its liquor license after allegedly selling alcohol to a minor, police announced yesterday.
A clerk at The Franklin Mobil, 660 West Central St. (Rte. 140), sold a six-pack of Bud Light to a 20-year-old man in a sting operation March 13, said police Lt. Thomas J. Lynch.
"We had an underage operative go into the Mobil gas station, he grabbed a six-pack of Bud Light, put the money on the counter, the guy rang it up and he handed over the money and walked out with a six-pack in a brown paper bag," Lynch said.
The clerk did not ask for identification, Lynch said.
Mobil management could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The Mobil store has not had any past offenses, he said.
Read the full article about this sting operations and others to be conducted here in the Milford Daily News.
In one of its final tweakings of a long-term financial plan and report for the town, the Fiscal Planning Committee decided its wants to stress that the recession is not responsible for Franklin's recurring deficit.
"We have a crisis trend, a recurring fiscal deficit ... and it's been exacerbated by the macro-fiscal crisis," said Councilor Shannon Zollo.
The committee should give one set of recommendations for dealing with the current crisis in the short term, and another set for ending the structural deficit, Zollo suggested.
Echoing Zollo's sentiments, Vice Chairman Doug Hardesty said, "The fundamental message is, with or without this economic crisis, this problem exists in Franklin."
Committee members agreed that they do not want people to have a misperception that the recent salary freezes agreed to by town unions solves the structural deficit problem.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here
CurriculumThe full listing is available here (DOC)
Frameworks. Districts revise and create new curricula to conform to the state curriculum frameworks and demands for timely update as the revises and updates frameworks on a regular basis. This work must be done after school and during the summer. Instruction hours must provide at minimum 990/900 hours of instructional time.
Individual Student Success Plans. Districts are required to deploy administrative, teaching, secretarial, guidance, and technology staff and resources (including but not limited to intervention programs in ELA and Math) to ensure that students receive additional support services that address individual student needs as a result of statewide assessment mandates (MCAS). Instructional support and resources such as texts, workbooks, and online instruction are examples of areas that require increases in expenditures.
Curriculum Requirements. The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks require that districts provide additional instructional staff (e.g. health teachers and guidance staff) to ensure that all curriculum areas are addressed. The periodic review and alignment of every curriculum area requires substantial investment in time (including committee review, curriculum development, printing and dissemination of curricula) and resources (texts, consumable items, and online access).
The length of the school year (180 days) requirement impacts costs incurred for snow and ice removal and climate control in multiple buildings.
Note: on the length of the school year, it is defined in days (180 required) but as we recently found out with the Horace Mann/Oak Street complex problem, the State has not yet defined how much time qualifies as a "day" of school.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
- If we don't provide funding, the quality of education and services will go down.
- We would need to look the inherent cost structure of salaries and benefits.
- We would need to look at the unfunded mandates.
One point was to prove that we have been fiscally responsible. It has been done, the recent bond rating proves that point as well. We should continue to manage in the fiscally conservative manner as we have done.
Should add "reduction in property value" as a bullet? This is a big fear of a lot of folks.
the compensation package for employees needs to be sustainable as well as competitive
discussion on splitting the focus group into two, one group comes at 7:00 and one comes at 8:00.
April 2 -
Missing: Whalen, Nutting, Roche, Wilschek
Note: I am joining meeting late as I was participating in the Steering Committee for the School District Strategic Planning process. I'll catch up to the earlier points when I have had a chance to listen to my recording.
Reviewing the current deck and providing feedback on the contents and positioning of the slides
There needs to be an explanation of the difference between operational and capital dollars.
I spent a few minutes Dave Purpura and BJ Carlucci this afternoon at the soon to open Cafe Dolce coffehouse here in downtown Franklin.
The results of the interview and additional pictures will be posted in a day or so.
Disclosure: Mrs Sherlock teaches kindergarten at the Oak Street School. Our two daughters are the product of Franklin's school system, both graduated from FHS and (#1) is out in the working world and (#2) is working to complete her college studies.
The financial issues here in Franklin have been brewing for many years. Jeff Nutting, our fantastic Town Administrator, has worked very well to operate within the constraints provided by the Franklin voters. The Franklin portion of the overall Town budget has declined from about 70% to 50% as we benefited from political connections and the generosity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The real issue that will require action is the unfunded Federal and State mandates that drive the costs up. The impact is seen mostly on the school side but there are almost equal restrictions on the Town side.
The time has come to understand the mandates that have been imposed upon us and to take on the Don Quixote approach to go tilting the State House and other government bodies to get these mandates changed.
A listing of the mandates driving the school budget is being posted on Franklin Matters. This listing was compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. The listing can be found here: http://franklinmatters.blogspot.com/search?q=%22state+education+mandates%22
Let's not make the teachers the scape goat because you think they are an easy target.
Let's focus our energy on getting the systemic changes made so we not only get this resolved once but for all.
I am ready to charge the ivory towers to get unfunded mandates changed. Will you join me?
Flickr photo credit
The boiler room of Franklin Paint Co., at 259 Cottage St., suffered structural damage when it caught on fire at about 1:30 p.m. yesterday, said Fire Chief Gary McCarraher. No one was hurt.
The fire was quickly contained, though firefighters tore at the building from the roof to ventilate it and check for fire inside the walls, McCarraher said.
The fire appeared to be accidental, McCarraher said. It broke out after some employees were doing work in the boiler room. The fire was under control about half an hour later, he said.
"Raw materials in the boiler room caught on fire and damage spread to the roof," McCarraher said. "The structure of the boiler room has a lot of damage, and there is light smoke damage throughout the room."
Read the full article about the fire in the Milford Daily News here
Responding to the School Committee's plea for a salary freeze to save teachers' jobs, the head of the teachers' union is saying it's unlikely.
"I'm particularly concerned that they're looking at teachers to bail people out, because it's just such a tough place to be," said Franklin Education Association President Chandler Creedon, who is a school psychologist at Horace Mann Middle School.
The district is facing a worst-case scenario of a $2.9 million budget deficit.
Agreeing to freeze salaries will save $800,000 and only 15 or 16 teachers, Creedon said.
If everyone also stayed frozen in their lane and step, Creedon said, the town would save $1,760,000.
"I don't even want to consider the lane and step freeze," Creedon said.
Part of the reason teachers receive such pay increases is to offset the cost of obtaining a master's degree, which is required for educational licensure within five years of hire, he said.
The average teacher must invest $38,000 to keep their job, he said.
"We'd like to talk about options and not giving up a negotiated pay raise," Creedon said.
Read the full article about the complicated situation in the Milford Daily News here
Police have charged a 17-year-old from Wrentham with raping a 17-year-old Franklin girl behind Town Hall earlier this month.
Following questioning on March 18, police charged Brian K. Poirier, of 510 Franklin St., Wrentham, a King Philip Regional High School student.
Police learned about the alleged rape when Franklin High School Assistant Principal Joseph DiLorenzo told Officer Donald MacLean on March 17 that the victim, a Franklin High student, needed to talk to him, MacLean wrote in the police report.
The girl told MacLean that Poirier, who worked with her, had been pursuing her via text messages. On March 6, she agreed to go with him to McDonald's during their work breaks around 7 p.m., MacLean said.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here
The district must monitor and document all home-schooled students. This includes identifying families and reviewing detailed home schooling plans for compliance with state guidelines. Though school districts are required to provide this oversight there are not funding or reporting requirements to or from the state.
MCAS testing is required annually in grades 3 through 10. Students must pass the grade 10 testing in math and English in order to graduate from high school. All students must be proficient in English/Math by 2014, requiring needed extra help and extra time on task to meet this goal. District must continually upgrade the curriculum to keep up with the testing.
• Districts must provide special tutoring for students who do not do well in the testing and must track and contact non-graduates if they fail MCAS. This requires guidance time and mailings.
• The costs for instructional time and funds associated with the preparation for, documentation for, administration of, and reporting about the multiple assessments in grades 3-10 are difficult to quantify.
The full listing is available here (DOC)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Medway Public Library is on the verge of certification, after being outside the Minuteman Library Network for nearly three years, said Robert Maier, director of the state's Board of Library Commissioners.
"Everything I've heard from (Medway Board of Library Trustees Chairwoman) Wendy Rowe suggests, if Town Meeting approves a (sufficient) budget, the library should be cued up to come back to the program and have certification," said Maier.
While there are three major requirements that Medway must meet to rejoin, the biggest variable is getting a qualified library director - and sharing Franklin's library Director Felicia Oti a few days a week will do the trick, he said.
Oti works a total of 35 hours per week in Franklin. If the sharing agreement goes forward, she will spend about 14 of those 35 hours in Medway. Oti's annual salary is about $80,000. Medway would cover about $32,000 of her salary, explained Rowe who is acting director of Medway library.
"If Medway makes an arrangement for a part-time director, that will meet the requirement of the (certification) program. ... It's my hope it works out that way for Medway, it's been a long time," Maier said.
Read the full article about the combination of the Franklin and Medway libraries in the Milford Daily News here
Faced with the prospect of cutting 62 jobs, the School Committee last night urged teachers and other staff to take a pay freeze that could save $1 million.
Reading from a prepared statement, School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy officially asked the 600-member Franklin Education Association to voluntarily take a pay freeze.
"Time is of the essence," Roy said.
Besides teachers, the association represents teachers aides, nurses, secretaries and van drivers.
Superintendent Wayne Ogden also appealed to residents to call state Rep. James Vallee, D-Franklin, and state Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, to pressure them to stop the state's supposed plan to renege on its offer of $448,381 in stimulus money to Franklin schools.
Read the full article about the budget cuts in the Milford Daily News here
You can also read the live reporting from the meeting summarized here
McKinney-Vento and Costs Associated with Homeless and Transient Students
This component of No Child Left Behind requires that schools accept any homeless student who wishes to attend the public school. In addition, McKinney-Vento requires the school district to transport any homeless students living in town to the schools in their old home district.
Services to English Language Learners
Provides required ELL services to all students who are not fluent in English. Specially certified teachers must provide this service. There are educational materials and testing costs associated with the ELL services that are provided.
• All classroom teachers who service ELL students in their classrooms must have ten hours of training each year until they fulfill a requirement of 50 hours of training.
• All communications that need to be sent to the homes of all students (not just ELL) whose parents do not speak English as their first language must be translated into their native languages.
• ELL training is required even when only one (1) student in the district is an ELL student.
• Districts are required to provide Sheltered English Immersion services for students whose first language is not English. Districts are responsible for developing procedural manuals, forms, parent outreach, interpreters, and translation of documents. Districts are also required to provide Sheltered English Immersion training in Categories 1, 2, 3, and 4 for all staff who work with English Language Learners. All levels and types of services as provided for English-speaking students must be provided for ELL students in their primary language. Every student whose first language is not English is required to be assessed, to determine language proficiency upon registration and admission to the public school; stages of language acquisition need to be determined in order to identify the level of services required for each student. Students must also be supported by staff members in order for them to participate in Massachusetts English Language Acquisition – Oral (MELA-O) and Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) in reading and writing as well as the MCAS assessments.
The full listing is available here (DOC)
FRANKLIN - Parents of children who will be attending kindergarten in the fall are invited to attend the Kindergarten Information Night at their particular school.
Following are the dates and times:
J.F. Kennedy Elementary, Wednesday, April 8, at 6:30 p.m.;
Parmenter Elementary, Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30;
Jefferson Elementary, Wednesday, April 15, at 6;
Helen Keller Elementary, Wednesday, April 15, at 6:30;
Davis Thayer Elementary, Thursday, April 16, at 6:30
Oak Street School, Wednesday, April 29, 6:30.
Originally posted online at WickedLocal/Franklin Gazette here
Franklin's Earth Day Celebration
Saturday April 18th, 2009
Starts at 9:00 AM
Volunteer to clean up targeted areas and assist with planting flowers and shrubs around Franklin.
- Please bring your own water bottle.
- Please bring your own gloves and rakes.
- Community service certificates will be issued.
- T-shirts to the first 200 volunteers.
- Clean up goes to 1:00 PM
Get some Eco-Info at Beaver Pond:
- Water conservation kits and rain barrel display.
- Mercury thermometer exchange for digital thermometers.
- Recycling tips and composting information.
- Energy conservation tips.
- Much more ! ! !
You can register on the Town website here
- Live reporting - closing
- live reporting - action items
- Live reporting - general Q&A
- Live reporting - High School
- Live reporting - Middle Schools
- Live reporting - Elementary Q&A
- Live reporting - Elementary schools
- Live reporting - FY 2010 overview
- Live reporting - FY 2010 Budget
- Live reporting - Strategic Planning update
- Live reporting - Capital projects at FHS
- Live reporting - presentations
- Live reporting - School Committee 3/24/09
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
- I recommend approval of the remington recurring field trip to Providence Place Mall for Remington Middle School students as detailed. Approved 7-0
- I recommend approval of the Budget Transfers as detailed. Approved 7-0
- I recommend acceptance of a check for $136.67 from Target’s Take Charge of Education program for Horace Mann Middle School’s in-house enrichment. Approved 7-0
- I recommend acceptance of a check for $188.30 from Target’s Take Charge of Education program for Annie Sullivan Middle School’s gift account. Approved 7-0
- I recommend acceptance of a check for $107.18 from Target’s Take Charge of Education program for Remington Middle School’s scholarship fund. Approved 7-0
- I recommend acceptance of a check for $3,600.00 from the Parmenter PCC for the following field trips: Gr. 2 - Stony Brook; Gr. 3 – Plimoth Plantation; Gr. 4 – Museum of Science; and Gr. 5 – Freedom Trail. Approved 7-0
- I recommend approval of the FHS Girl’s Lacrosse Team recurring field trip to Guilford, CT for a Scrimmage and Dinner on April 4-5, 2009. Approved 7-0
- I recommend preliminary approval of the FHS Track Team’s trip to Philadelphia, PA/Mt. Laurel, NJ on April 22-24, 2009 for the Penn Relay track meet if they qualify for the event. Approved 7-0
- I recommend acceptance of the donation of 50 disposable cameras from CVS for the Davis Thayer 5th grade graduating class. Approved 7-0
Ogden - yes, the principals have been talking with them, Maureen and I are also cycling around to the schools and PCC's.
Armenio - I am worried about "finding money". These stimulus funds are one time funds, they are not in the revenue base.
Ogden - yes, the Federal stimulus is two years, the state portion is coming, the answer as to whether it deducts from Chap 70 or not is unknown.
Ogden - the late bus is not in this budget
Sabolinski - we stopped protecting class size about two years ago, the educational gaps are growing, the last bastion of curriculum and instructional support is within the elementary level. There is no district wide instructional support.
Ogden - this is totally new and potentially devastating to the budget (covering for the unemployment within the school budget), it spirals down a hole
Cafasso - I am not convinced about the half day kindergarten. In order to keep class sizes reasonable (albeit high) we have to short change the kids in their initial year? I am not convinced of it at this point. I am not convinced that a school closure and a re-districting might not be a solution.
Mullen - we haven't had the conversation yet about what are the "sacred cows"? We still need to discuss those things. You haven't made the asst superintendent change and that is not in the presentation but should be.
Ogden - the vendor has offered a package that would cost the district $250,000 less if we did several things, 1 - larger co-pay for tier 1 and 2 drugs, 2 - some doctor visits.
Sabolinski - we also got a reduction as our claims were down. We have a healthy group.
Mullen - can you look at the high school fees?
Light - we are still in discussion on this, I think it would double the fees for sports. There would also be a simialr increase in activity fees.
Slight - we are $125/sport. Doubling would be $250. Compared to other towns, Canton for example is $350, we are lower.
Roy - I want to guauge the committee's feeling on fees? I would like to keep an open mind on fees. Other consessions might be out there.
Roy reads a letter to the school teachers union president: a copy of this will be made available later. Formally asking the union for a wage freeze, the freeze would be applied to saving teachers.
Still referencing the presentation posted earlier here
Estimating an additional 92 students at the high school for next year
Science safety dictates 24 as class size, schedules were then worked to accomplish this
Net reduction of 17 staff at high school
4 support (1 asst principal, 1 guidance, 1 secretary, 1 librarian)
8 core academic
Avg class size grows to 47 and 45, numerically that is how it works out, we can't physically fit that many in a room
A reduction from 1017 hours of instructional time to 890 hours, which would be below the state requirements
Adverse impact of Scenario B, lowers the avg class size but increases the case load for a teacher up to 200!
Important slide maps the critical considerations according to this year and each of the scenarios, A and B
If we go with Scenario A, we would likely go from "warning" status to "probation".
Scenario A with 8 teachers added back...
Armenio - I can understand 30 elementary in a classroom, at the high school these are adult size bodies, where do they fit?
Light - not easily
Armenio - there is an issue at the high school with text books, with 92 coming in, where do we stand?
Ogden - we did put in requests for capital to purchase the additional books, per Jeff Nutting the Council will be acting on the capital requests shortly.
Cafasso - how does NEASC work with class size?
Ogden - NEASC doesn't get into the specifics, they are looking at the overall performance
Cafasso - I am struggling with some avg class sizes being lower at the high school than at the elementary level where they should be lower
Rohrbach - what is the avg class load for the high school?
Light - I believe it is 80-100 student class load
Mullen - Would you keep the three languages?
Light - yes, with either of these.
Cafasso - what if you did cut one language?
Light - that would affect anyone with the language requirement to go on to college.
Many labs are not done this year at Annie Sullivan. 30 students in the lab does not create a safe environment for the lab to be conducted. This will spread to the other two middle schools with the increase in class sizes.
Math class size could be as high as 38!
Middle school is the foundation for the high school in math and science
The emotional needs of the 6th graders were considered. The effects are no less devastating across the school classes.
Between 0-3 years and between 11-14 years, the growth is critical.
Armenio - I did not understand case loads until about six weeks ago. If you are looking at an essay driven test or report, how long is that?
Ogden - for a 120 students, 10 minutes per student, would be 20 hours outside the classroom.
Armenio - without the proper feedback timing, the student would be continuing to make the mistakes.
Cafasso - foundational decision, with the cuts as they are, how were they allocated?
Ogden - 50% of the students are in the elementary by population, with the other 50% split between middle and high school.
Cafasso - no one wants to pit one level against another, how do we explain this?
Ogden - The worst scenario in the elementary school teacher would have 36 students to deal with, papers, etc. Compared to the middle school teacher with 120, and from 120-150 at the high school.
Cafasso - cuts were apportioned according to where the students are.
5 minute recess
Mullen - How many kindergarten teachers would be affected?
We would lose 9. With the 8 possible coming back, it would still be better to go with half day and improve the class sizes elsewhere in the elementary level.
Mullen - There is not a lot of items to play with at the elementary level. Teachers generally teach self contained, need prep time, etc.
Mullen - we haven't really talked about what are the "sacred cows"? We need to talk about where we want to invest the teachers back into the district.
Ogden - We did not proportion the addbacks. We targeted the two areas for reasons of class size.
Armenio - this is just devastating period. We haven't heard yet from the middle school and high school. If we go to half day, what does that do to preparation on the frameworks. We aren't teaching to the test but we do have MCAS to consider?
Kindergarten will only get half the material. Time in 1st grade would be spent going over material that could have been covered under the full day plan.
Ogden - Facilities is already visiting the classrooms to see how we could deconstruct to fit the amount of students into the classrooms. Computers, centers, etc would have to be moved out.
Goal is to reduce class size from K-5. The lower class size, the better academic success. Anything you see up there is higher than what we have seen this year.
Ogden - If the revenue picture improves, we can consider adding teachers back. This is the most dynamic budget we have worked with in years.
Rohrbach - if we add back the 8 positions, you're still recommending going with half day kindergarten. What would be the tipping point?
About in the 20's, you can't really teach 4th grade with 30 in the class.
Sabolinski - going to half day saves $700,000, closing Davis Thayer doesn't come close to that.
We don't want to do this (go to half day kindergarten).
Unemployment costs would be approx. $1.2 million. The Town may not cover that. We should be prepared to absorb that within the school budget.
This magnitude of cut would affect every teacher in their first three years and get significantly up into those with 4, 5 and 6 years of experience.
Red indicates class size exceed the school committee guidelines; only five of the 36 would meet the guidelines
The high class sizes will be costly for academic success
To meet guidelines, needed to think out of the box, how? Change kindergarten from full time to half-day.
The second elementary slide shows how the nine kindergarten teachers would be re-positioned to help reduce the class sizes in the worse cases. This would still leave 24 classes with size exceeding guidelines.
Switching to half-day would be devastating, we have been a model district. Others in the state have visited us to see how it works.
This would also eliminate library across the elementary level!
No resources for library in this draft.
Would loose the kindergarten grant, associated aides, and loose of NAEYC accreditation.
If some of the million in additional funds came through, that would add 20 teachers to the district. 8 of those would be allocated to elementary, 8 to the high school and 4 to the middle schools.
The major update is going from full day to half day kindergarten!
Original cut of 3.5 now reduced to 2.9 million
Worse case scenario = 60 staff cuts (teachers, etc.)
Ogden says that there is a storm brewing at the State House, rumor today was that the Fed Stimulus dollars announced on Friday may be deducted from the Chap 70 funds which would leave us in a net zero position.
Other sources of revenue are still under discussion at the State level
Possible $250,000 if school employees agree to co-pay changes
School Committee class size guidelines are posted in the presentation for reference.
With the cuts, there will be some changes to these class sizes
- Maureen & Miriam – Strategic Planning Update
200 draft logos were initially created by students within the district. That total was whittled down to a couple of dozen that the high school students have then taken to create a digital version of the art. There are now 5-6 logos for the committee to select from.
- Budget to Actual - no questions, discussion
- Mike D’Angelo – Capital Projects at FHS
Mike is talking to the items on the listing above.
Lots of energy reductions in lighting and heating processed in last several years. The utility companies have contributed to those efforts.
Cafasso - When you look at the last five years other than the generator, there really hasn't been much done for the building itself. Can you explain why the Town has not invested in this period?
D'Angelo - When we got the capital in 2005 for what we did, we know that the school building projects were going to be started and pending what that was going to result in, we held off. If something could be replaced and saved in a renovation, we would do that. If something would not be recoverable, why spend money since we don't know whether there was going to be state funding and at what level.
In an unoccupied building, the renovations would take 2 years. In an occupied building like at King Phillip, they were there five years.
We are approaching the crossroads where the State is going to have to say something to us. If they don't, the Building Committee, School Committee and Town Council are going to make a decision.
Certificates for Maddie Gordon and Jake Sargeant – ASMS 8th graders honored at MA Make A Difference award program for their volunteer work in Best Buddies.
Call to order Mr. Roy
Pledge of Allegiance
Moment of Silence
1. Routine Business
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the March 10, 2009 School
Committee Meeting. motion to approve 6-0, passed, 1 abstention
Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly motion to approve, approved 7-0
Payroll Ms. Armenio
FHS Student Representatives
Correspondence: Letter from Mark Tiede & Melissa McCann
Franklin's library board of directors lauded Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting's proposal to share the town's library director with Medway to help both towns maintain services.
"If the right things happen, it could be good for both towns. Bottom line is, (we're concerned with) what's best for patrons," said Ken Weidemann, who resigned from his chairmanship last night because he will be moving out of town soon.
Weidemann noted that Franklin and Medway's agreement to share recreational resources seems to be working well, and the town should consider other, similar ventures to save services in a precarious economy.
Read the full article about the Franklin Library Board's view of the combination in hte Milford Daily News here
Knowing that he's going to slash the library's budget by "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to preserve essential services, Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting said he is preparing to share Library Director Felicia Oti with Medway.
Nutting cannot say yet precisely how the budget reduction will impact library hours, services or employees, but it will be enough to necessitate combining resources, he said.
For now, Nutting and Medway officials are only discussing sharing Oti's services, splitting her hours between the two towns, he said.
Oti works a total of 35 hours per week in Franklin. If the sharing agreement goes forward, she will spend about 14 of those 35 hours in Medway. Oti's annual salary is about $80,000. Medway would cover about $32,000 of her salary, explained Medway Board of Library Trustees Chairwoman Wendy Rowe.
If Medway employs a part-time director (via Franklin or on their own), they would meet state certification requirements and receive their certification, Nutting said.
"Franklin's fate, with or without sharing the director's time, will be determined by our application for a waiver to the Mass. Library Commission," Nutting said. He said the only way Franklin can meet the Massachusetts Library Commission standard for certification would be to not cut library hours and increase the budget next year.
The waiver request is necessary, he said, because Franklin will not increase the library's budget, and the Franklin library will not be open the minimum 63 hours per week.
Read the full article about the proposed combination of Franklin and Medway's libraries in the Milford Daily News here