Monday, December 31, 2007

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Franklin, MA

Franklin in the News

In Michael Morton's recap of top stories on the political front during 2007, Franklin finds a couple of entries amongst them; the first operational override passes, agreement is reached with the developer on the Center Commons project, and the school departments fiscal woes continue.

Read Michael's full story here.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

wikis in Plain English

Continuing our series on web 2.0 tools, we have this one from the folks at Common Craft on wikis. The most common wiki is wikipedia which has more entries and is more accurately updated than a printed encyclopedia.

How could Franklin use a wiki? If we created our own, we could do any number of things with it.

You could create an account on wikipedia and edit the entry for Franklin, MA.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Franklin Center Commons - east bound view

I don't know. I think the building looks like dirty snow.

How will it look in summer?

What do you think?

Franklin Center Commons - west bound view

Friday, December 28, 2007

November home sales hit 13-year low in MA

Home sales dropped 12.6 percent in November compared to a year ago as the residential real estate market continued a sluggish autumn stretch.

The Massachusetts Associated of Realtors yesterday reported that 2,986 single-family homes were sold last month, compared to 3,416 sold in November 2006. It was the slowest November since 1994, when 2,847 home sales were recorded.

The statewide median home price held steady at $330,000 compared to October but was down nearly 3 percent compared to a year ago, the Waltham-based trade group said yesterday.

You can read the details online at the Milford Daily News

Thursday, December 27, 2007

20 Reasons to Not Implement a Dual Tax Rate

Thanks to the President of the United Chamber of Commerce, for providing this information:

20 Reasons to Not Implement a Dual Tax Rate

The issue of whether or not to have a dual tax rate is extremely complex, and can be deceptive. Unfortunately, the way a business is taxed is integrally different from the way a resident is taxed, which results, in itself, in a great deal of confusion. Many proponents do not have all the data needed to be fully informed concerning the long term (and often negative) effects a dual tax rate could consequently have on our local economy and home real estate values. The perception of immediate tax relief to homeowners often overshadows the true downwardly spiraling “ripple effect” such a move typically has on the local economy over time.

The United Chamber of Commerce ask that you help us in our efforts to educate residents and businesses alike concerning the impact of a dual tax rate by reading the attached, which is a partial listing of the some of the many reasons why a dual tax rate would be a very bad idea in Franklin.

  1. A dual tax rate raises no additional money for essential Town services. NONE WHATSOEVER. The total tax levy in any city or town in Massachusetts is set by “Proposition 2 ½” regulations and the level of new growth in a town. Again, the total amount of overall tax dollars raised does not change in any way under a dual tax rate system.

  2. When property valuations increase overall, the dollar tax rate is lowered. Noting an often increasing valuation every three years, residents can become fearful that their overall tax bills will increase dramatically and in proportion to the amount their assessed value has been raised. However, this is not the case. The tax rate is, of necessity, lowered when this happens, as a direct result of the higher valuations, due to a fixed set total tax levy end amount. Indeed, in the last fifteen years in Franklin, the real value of the average single-family home in Town has more than doubled (from $175,000 to 385,000, or about 200%). Yet the tax bill of the average single-family homeowner has only increased by about 50% (from $2,406 to $3,530).

  3. Of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, only about 100 or so, at any given time, have a dual tax rate in effect. There are many reasons why less than 30% of towns and cities in the state opt for a dual tax rate, some of which are detailed here.

  1. There is a known statistical ratio of number of for profit businesses to number of taxable residential units that should trigger a close look at whether a dual tax rate starts to make sense or not for a certain community, which is 30% business to 70% residential. Only if a town has reached the well-documented 30% level, and has among its major business taxpayers businesses that are difficult to move - such as power plants, or vast shopping malls - only then does it make sense to consider a dual tax rate. Franklin meets neither of these criteria.

  2. The current tax system is already neither fair nor equitable for businesses, for businesses pay toward such items as the Town’s school system and trash pick-up services, which they do not use. Residents have always received a greater value, dollar for dollar, from their tax payments, and still do so even now. Going to a dual tax classification system would further increase the inequity, would be a great injustice, and additionally continue to skew the ratio of payments made to services and benefits received.

  3. Under a dual tax rate system, because there is a ratio of approximately 80 homeowners per every 20 businesses in Franklin, homeowners would only see a small decrease in their taxes, whereas businesses would see a raise of some four times that, due to the 4 to 1 ratio.

  4. Over time, a dual tax rate may well decrease the amount of money available to the municipality for essential Town services, because it is a strong disincentive to local economic development, which is the real backbone of the overall tax base.

  5. Almost all local professionals and businesses have already suffered greatly from the poor economy nation-wide.

  6. Businesses and professionals have many costs of doing business that are invisible to the consumers, such as ever-increasing insurances costs (for property, errors and emissions, and health insurance coverage); licensing fees; innumerable additional taxes and fees; etc., on all levels, town, state and federal.

  7. In fact, Massachusetts is now known as one of the worst states, and many say the worst state, to do business in within the nation.

  8. If you look around Town, you will see many underutilized buildings and vacancies in our office parks and our Downtown; vacancies that are often of a long-term nature. You do not, however, see many houses vacant for long; houses turn over relatively quickly in Franklin, despite higher home values.

  9. A split tax rate is a significant sign to new and existing businesses that a Town is not “business-friendly”. It is often one of the first, if not the first, question that new businesses ask when looking to locate in a particular town.

  10. Conversely, a split tax rate is also an incentive to build more residential homes in a Town, which further increases the demands and burdens on a Town’s resources, such as the schools; whereas business growth adds to the tax base without utilizing a lot of these already limited resources. Overcrowding of schools is only one impact, although one of the most visible, of adding more homes in a town.

  1. Franklin does not face competition solely from other in-state communities to attract and retain necessary professionals, businesses and retail operations. In fact, many states in the country “court” our existing businesses and offer special incentives for them to relocate there. Furthermore, many businesses are moving entirely to other countries, whose governments are also courting them, such as Mexico, India or many of the Asian nations, where the cost of labor and other normal costs of doing business are so much lower. It is a fallacy to think that companies cannot or will not “jump ship”. They have and will.

  2. Some 80% of U.S. businesses are considered “small” businesses. Over 85% of United Chamber of Commerce members have five employees or fewer; and many are family run. Yet, because of triple-net leasing, unless a business or professional owns their own building (and most do not) they would most likely not be exempted from paying the burden of an increased dual tax rate under a split tax system. Also, even If they do own their own building, but do not solely occupy it, or do not meet other strict requirements, they might well have to pay the higher tax rate. The often cited “exemption for small business” - sometimes mentioned by proponents of a dual tax structure as a panacea for smaller businesses - goes only to those who meet certain low numbers of employees or low business values.

  3. Going to a dual tax rate can initiate a viscous cycle. Because business taxes are based differently from residential taxes (which are based on real estate property values), when the value of a business goes down – which it often does because of a higher tax rate – the commercial/industrial property tax base itself erodes, resulting in less and less tax dollars emanating from businesses. It is important to note that due to the nature of the commercial tax structure - which is mandated by law - the real value of the very entity that the commercial taxes are determined by often then decreases, and can continue to decrease, each year under a split tax rate system. As the overall commercial tax base erodes, it is entirely possible that the entire tax base could slowly erode with it, yet the need for critical municipal services, including police, fire and school departments, is still strong. Ultimately, home values can suffer over the long term, as a town becomes known as a less desirable place to live. While a dual tax format may seem as though it is a good way to temporarily “spread the pain” or “soften the blow” of increasing residential taxes, in the long term, it generally is not.

  4. Families in Franklin utilize local stores, businesses or professionals, who could then be forced to increase their pricing of goods and services to help combat their payment of any extra taxes. Town residents, in turn, would then pay more for these items. Ironically, the cost of these goods or services often has no tax deductibility, whereas property taxes do.

  5. Many area families are employed by local businesses, and employees suffer when their employer suffers, usually through loss of income and/or benefits.

  6. The vast number of local companies contribute greatly to our local youth and civic programs currently. Yet, when they are struggling to exist, they often cannot afford to give generously; and, if they are out of business, or have moved out of town, they will not be here to give anything at all.

  1. Assessed real estate values have escalated only because the true worth of residential property values in Town have escalated sharply. Home equity is a real and viable asset to homeowners, and companies doing business in our Town should not be penalized because of this; the values of their businesses have traditionally not gone up in times of a sluggish national marketplace, but rather down.
United Chamber of Commerce / 620 Old West Central Street / Suite 202 / Franklin, MA 02038
Ph: (508) 528-2800 / Fax: (508) 520-7864 / Web:

Franklin Industry: The Boston Group

In a retail era dominated by big-box stores, area independent appliance dealers credit the Boston Group - and its seemingly endless supply - as the reason why they're able to stay in business.

The group lets them buy more merchandise for better prices then they could individually. The warehouse holds the discounted merchandise for the independent stores and the stores in turn pass the savings on to their customers.

The group, founded in 1963 by Jerry Ellis, now the president of Building 19, is a cooperative of about 75 independent appliance stores throughout New England that have joined to leverage their buying power and warehouse space. Members say their combined market share attracts manufacturers' interest in a way they could never do alone, while helping them compete against big-box stores' prices and selection.

Read more about this operation based here in Franklin that the Franklin Gazette profiles.

Top Stories of 2007

The Franklin Gazette reviews 2007 and the top stories from the local area. The Franklin contributions to the listing are:

  • The new Fire House
  • Central Commons project stalled
  • Brick classroom facing closure
  • passing the first operational override
  • named one of the Top 10 in Family Circle
  • new Senior Center opens

Read the full article here to see what Plainville, Medway, Wrentham, Millis, and Foxboro contributed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where in Franklin? #25

Where in Franklin? #25, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Here is the next picture in the series "Where in Franklin?"

Where is this door?

Guidelines for playing "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Where in Franklin? Answer #24

Where in Franklin? Answer #24, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Susan provided the answer to picture #24. Apparently she did not need to use the second clue to determine that the picture showed the main entrance driveway to the Horace Mann Plaza.

Thanks for playing "Where in Franklin?"

Stay tuned for picture #25.

Franklin Train Crossing

Before the snow came, I was out running and got stopped by the train crossing at Union St. Camera handy, I caught this video segment.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Marry Christmas

1 - This Christmas enjoy the holiday trains from South Station:

2 - follow this link to a great Christmas story (be patient for the first commercial, the story is worth waiting for)

3 - and to recognize our countrymen and women serving in the military:

Merry Christmas to one and all!

PS - thanks to Joan at Songs of Experience for the link to ABC News

Monday, December 24, 2007

Attention Franklin Commuters

The MBTA/MBCR introduced the T-alert service recently. You can have an alert sent to your email so you can find out when your line is experiencing a delay for your normal commute period. This sounds good and should work. In the first couple of weeks since I enabled it, it has been fairly accurate. "Fairly" meaning the timing of some of the alerts could be better. Recall this is the same organization that manages the electronic sign boards at each station. Those are incorrect and or late most of the time, how are they going to be more accurate with another method?

It would be better if someone would set up a Twitter account so those on the line could provide updates. We, the commuters, would be able to share what we see happening. It makes sense to know that the train is running late. It doesn't always help to know why. The "why" almost doesn't matter, unless it has something to do with when it will arrive. And even then, in many cases, it takes too long to find out the why.

The Boston Globe writes today of a commuter service started in the NY/NJ area that is now expanding to Boston (amongst other areas). It is a moderated service that depends upon the commuters for updates. Moderated being the operative word here. Moderated means that spammers and nonsense messages will be filtered from the stream.

I just signed up. I can't wait to see how this will work out. The goodness of the more real time updates from fellow commuters will be a great benefit. The peer pressure of fellow commuters to silence the spammers and nonsensical messages will be helped with the moderation.

The Globe article is here.

MBTA T-Alert service can be found here.

Clever Commute can be found here.

Santa Foundation - based in Franklin

On the night before Christmas, Santa has already paid a personal visit to more than 700 families in the Milford area and MetroWest thanks to husband and wife team Bob and Elaine Sullivan who head the Santa Foundation.

In its 21st year, the charitable organization spreads holiday cheer by delivering gifts to families in need.

"We have always felt that at least on Christmas Day these families should be like every other family," said Sullivan.

Read the remainder of this good news story by Michelle Laczkoski's in today's Milford Daily News.

RSS in Plain English - Common Craft

I encourage you to view the brief video explaining "RSS in Plain English" by the wonderful folks at Common Craft. Click on the link here.

The video was created in April 2007 and is still very much accurate. I had used Bloglines as my reader of choice. I had started playing with the Google reader but never really got it set up. As I have little time to play, I haven't messed too much with this. Bloglines works very nicely. I did play with Google Reader and it gradually took over as it added more features so that I could send an item to a blog, to someone else via email, or to Twitter.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS. The orange button is on the right column below my Town Common Gazebo photo.

You can also subscribe to this site to receive updates via email. There are options to set to receive an email each time something is posted or to receive an email once a day. You can choose the frequency for what works for you.


Updated 10/20/10

Snow Bound Walkway -

Dolores and I took our usual Sunday walk around town. Our route took us up to the Dunkin Donuts in the plaza off King St/Upper Union. We usually use the sidewalk entrance to cross the drive-thru line and enter Dunkin. This was not to be today. The walkway which also serves as a handicap access is still snow bound.

We walked into the driveway that serves Joe's American Grill as well as access to the Dunkin Donuts. There we found a beaten path, tricky to walk but a short cut to Dunkin.

Updated: The location is formally called "Silver Maple Commons".

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Catching up on Override Central

When the Boston Globe incorporated their new web site a few weeks ago, apparently they also changed some of the RSS feeds. I had time to go checking on these today and found several of them had indeed changed.

What is an RSS Feed?
Stay tuned, I have a Common Craft presentation that explains RSS feeds and how they can be used. I'll post it this week.

In the meantime, here are some article previously published on the Globe's Override Central site that were not referenced here. Click on the article headline to read the full story.


Newton School Committe bets more than $100,000 on a successful override

NEWTON The School Committee is moving forward with plans to build $1.4 million in modular classrooms to address overcrowding at four elementary schools, even though the district can't afford to staff them unless the mayor's proposed tax override passes next...


Property tax frustration fuels revolt around US

The Wall Street Journal reports that the combination of falling home values and rising property taxes is fueling frustration around the US. An excerpt from Falling home values and rising property taxes in many parts of the country are...


Saugus to borrow $10-million to cover its bills

For the second time since June, Saugus will have to borrow money to pay its bills, including payroll and utilities, until winter property tax revenues are collected. Officials expect to have to borrow $10 million in January to cover expenses....


How Randolph's schools began to fail

Randolph voters have rejected four overrides over the last few years, but political leaders also see other strains on the town. The social compact is broken, one official says in a story in Globe South. Randolph school leaders say they...


Natick, Newton consider overrides

In Natick, an operational override question on the spring ballot is looking ever more likely as department heads in Natick ponder how to meet a projected $6.5 million budget shortfall. As it stands, the school system could face some of...


Property taxes rising on North Shore

Property taxes are going up all over, including the cities and towns north of Boston that were surveyed by Globe North this week for this story. "Almost universally across the state, communities have a lack of money to pay for...


Franklin Industry in the News - PLC Medical

FRANKLIN, MA, December 21, 2007 --- PLC Systems Inc. (AMEX:PLC) announced today that it has received the CE Mark Certificate for its RenalGuard System™, clearing the way for the Company to begin its initial launch of the product in the European Union. The Company expects to initiate a limited launch of RenalGuard™ in the first quarter of 2008 in Italy, targeting early adoptors who recognize the benefits of utilizing the unique fluid balancing capabilities of the RenalGuard System in a cath lab setting during cardiovascular imaging procedures for patients at higher risk of Contrast-Induced Nephropathy (CIN).

Read the remainder of this press release here.

About PLC Medical
PLC Systems Inc. is a medical technology company specializing in innovative technologies for the cardiac and vascular markets. Headquartered in Franklin, Mass., PLC pioneered the CO2 Heart Laser System, which cardiac surgeons use to perform CO2 transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) to alleviate symptoms of severe angina. CO2 TMR offers a treatment option for angina patients who suffer from severe coronary artery disease. The CO2 Heart Laser is the world's first TMR angina relief device cleared for commercial distribution by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and to obtain a CE Mark for European distribution.

PLC Medical is located at 10 Forge Park.

The PLC Medical web site can be found here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where in Franklin? #24 - 2nd Clue

Since the first picture didn't draw any guesses, maybe this is enough to attract some recognition of where this might be located.


Franklin's Santa - Frank Falvey

Spreading cheer in Franklin

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - He doesn't see you when you're sleeping, he has no idea when you're awake. And when it comes to being bad or good, don't worry about being good just for Frank Falvey's sake. "I try to stay away from that," said the Pond Street resident, in character as the jolly fat man during a downtown jaunt yesterday. "I don't think Santa Claus is trying to judge the bad or the good. It has to do with innocence and hope and possibility and wonder in what's going to come."


Yes, he does look like most common representations of Santa Claus.

Read the full story in the Miford Daily News here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Franklin Blogger: Model trains, his passion


Model railroads are Mason's passion

By Heather McCarron/Daily News staff

Although he was just 4 years old at the time, Scott Mason clearly remembers the first train set he ever received — 1950s vintage, used Lionel trains given to him for Christmas by a family friend.

Read the full article here

Scott Mason's website can be found here

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Where in Franklin? #24

Where in Franklin? #24, originally uploaded by shersteve.

This place would look considerably different today covered with snow. So going back to a few weeks ago, where would you have found these trees decked out in glorious shades of red?

The guidelines for playing "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.

Updated 12/20/07
As this has gotten buried with other posts this week, I wanted to raise it up again to see if anyone can identify it?

Patriots Traffic, MCAS, FHS Girls Hockey


Patriots place traffic: Wait till next year

The going isn't too rough, yet, on game days at the retail and entertainment complex near the stadium. But the challenge of managing it will only grow as the site fully opens

Read the full article here.


Mixed news on MCAS scores

Overall marks up, but some falter

Read the full article here.


Panthers pounce, shut down rival

In staying strong against Canton, Franklin shows maturity, confidence

Read the full article here.

Franklin can afford library repairs

Franklin can afford library repairs
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - The town can fit library repairs into upcoming budgets, councilors learned last night, but cannot take on any other large projects without tapping into its savings account, selling property or asking residents for more money.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Town Council Meeting 12/19/07 - Summary

The Town Council meeting of 12/19/07 was recorded and sections of the meeting are available as follows:

Announcement: Planning Board Positions (audio)

Proclamation: Carlo Geromini (audio)

Motion on License Renewals (audio)

Jeff Nutting on the Capital Requirements (audio)

Town Administrator's Report (audio)

Closing Comments

My notes taken during the meeting as it occurred:

Accepting applications for planning board up through Jan 9th, appointing Jan 29th to fulfill

Rep. Vallee – House Resolution in recognition of Carlo Geromini

Carlo’s comments, has been reading… currently in middle of Kerouac “On the Road”,

Discussion on Franklin Tavern, in bankruptcy, viewing with buyers, license up for renewal
Even with renewal the trustee can’t use the license until further proceeding are accomplished
Passed 7-0

Nutting – capital forecasts
Reference to gen fund debt worksheet “Franklin capital Plan, Dacey 11-29-07”

Bartlett, Q
1.4M debt currently in plan but not being used
Municipal parking used to leverage some grant application, several months application pending

Whalen Q
3.5 percent very conservative
As debt frees up, there will always be something else to spend it on, walk the balance
Policy and guideline, free to be changed

Doak Q
2010 or 2011 depending upon what you want to do
Council is authorizing projects
Staff or capital committee makes recommendation
Roads are not part of this capital planning
500-700,000 Chapter 90 money from state funds our road work
900,000 in 2001,900,000 in 2004 otherwise nothing from town funds, totally from the state
Pleasant St 9.5 million alone
One huge need unmet is roads, could suggest an override, cash or state

Capital requirements
Schools 3.5M for other non-HS repairs

Portables lifespan remaining 5,6,7 years; cost over 2M
Population continues to increase, they need the space

HS – renovate or replace, tens of millions, no specific game plan yet, not on state listing
No significant impact to tax bill

Library interior, next 3-5 years, outside priority

Need to cap landfill, trying to get a land swap to help the process

Underground utilities, should it be done at the same time? Open for discussion/decision

Recreation center (currently in Municipal building)

Open space – long term savings in this kind of purchase

Roads build up a fund year over year

Water – gone through the 15 m authorized years ago, still have miles of pipe to be replace, can pay as we go with cash

Sewer – unless Beaver St junction comes apart, can go with normal cash flow to cover

Delcarte property – unknown at this point

Whalen Q
DEP has been lenient on this issue thus far…
Expect best guess estimate in next couple of months
District Improvement Financing (DIF) – state process, up to 25% of the town
Economic development grants are possible, generally smaller amounts

We have done well with grants, some we are not eligible for due to the wealth of the community

Doak Q
Amounts in water/sewer for ongoing funds, what’s our capacity
Took money from water reserves, approx 2M in water account
Not making enough money on an annual basis thus far, so would need to use that to stabilize the rate before we raise it

Earliest would be for 09 or 2010 for additional water/sewer projects, probably next 60 days come forward with a plan

Bartlett Q
Policy versus advice, need some assistance from the appropriate parties

Zollo Q
Getting the other assets on the sale front is important, we will need to get that revenue sooner than later

Pfieffer Q
Library, should not be considered last on the listing

RFP received no bids
Should consider changes to go back out again

Nutting – Admin Report
Kudos to DPW, snow blowers travel slower, plows can go quicker but couldn’t handle the depth of the snow

Ryan Jette awarded Heights award
Nice award from an outside group

Holiday on Monday, Tuesday, Christmas, New Year day before as well

Councilor comments
Zollo, quality of rec program, convinced that we have one of the best programs
Creating an inflationary bid process by publishing estimates before hand

2 phase project
17 trades bid on amount of work for their potion, collated with those numbers, then general contractor takes that to include his portion to come back with the total

Various estimates will come in but bids will not come in with the inflation
Filed sub records are public record, according to specs
Seems counter intuitive, public bid law
Seems to be a recurring theme if we did not have to abide by the state laws

Councilors Closing Comments (audio)

Before the meeting moves into Executive Session, the Councilors get to add new business and make their closing comments.

Time: 8 minutes, 36 seconds

MP3 File

Town Administrator's Report (audio)

Jeff Nutting, the Town Administrator, reports on the snow removal, kudos for Ryan Jette and the recreation programs, and how the Municipal Building will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

MP3 File

Jeff Nutting on the Capital Outlook (audio)

Town Administrator Jeff Nutting outlines the capital needs for the near future and gets into discussion with the Council on how this could be done with either cash, grants, or debt.

Time: 51 minutes, 57 seconds

MP3 File

Motion on License Renewals (audio)

The Town Council after some discussion and clarifications passed by 7-0 vote a number of license renewals.

Time: 3 minutes, 37 seconds

MP3 File

Proclamation: C Geromini (audio)

Rep. Vallee reads the proclamation recognizing retired Councilman Carlo Geromini for 40 years of service to Franklin

Time: 3 minutes, 56 seconds

MP3 File

Announcement: Planning Board Positions (audio)

The Planning Board is accepting applications through January 9, 2008 with appointments to be made at a joint meeting of the Town Council and Planning Board on Jan 23, 2008.

Time: 22 seconds

MP3 File

Franklin's MCAS Results (Audio)

The presentation and discussion during the School Committee meeting of 12/11/07 on the most recent MCAS results for Franklin.

Time: 56 minutes, 44 seconds

MP3 File

Franklin Schools - MCAS Report for 2007

Michelle Kingston Smith, Director, Instructional Services, presented the following report to the School Committee during the December 11, 2007 meeting.

The report can be found on the district web site so you can follow along with the recording.

The audio for this presentation can be found here.
(Note: There is a delay during the beginning of the presentation as the presentation laptop is rebooted. Superintendent Ogden fills in the time with an update on a special education teacher that will need to be hired to meet the requirements of two 3-year olds registering in the district during February. They are hearing impaired.)

My notes taken during the presentation

EQA audit
4 -Commendations for district
Higher MCAS scores
Strong curriculum alignment with state frameworks
Professional development
Mentoring program

“High performing” district
Aggregate outperformed the state
105 students awarded the J&A Adams scholarship based upon Grade 10 performance

Grade 8 was 2 full performance ratings above the state
9th grade Biology out performed the state by two ratings

Low income and special education subgroups are underperforming according to plan (although they are higher than the state)

Subgroups dropping in science where state subgroups are improving, overall i.e. aggregate numbers are rating “High”

K different world for writing, important to be developmentally appropriate and feed to upper grades

K-12 literacy plan
District wide, draft philosophy
Identify core instructional expectations, assessment practices
Action plan for identifying and implementing

“Middle school culture is redhot with factors that affect student performance”
Media, choices kids have, forced choices with family environment, so many variables

Audit shows the curriculum is aligned
Quality assessment, engagement and motivation, how do you measure that?

Current 10th graders will need to pass science and technology test to graduate

EdTech Networks Presentation (Audio)

EdTech Networks presented to the Franklin School Committee on 12/11/07. This captures their presentation and resulting discussion with the Committee.

Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes, 19 seconds

MP3 File

EdTech Networks Presentation

EdTech Networks presented to the School Committee during the meeting on 12/11/07. The audio of their presentation can be found here.

My notes taken during their presentation and discussion with the School Committee:

EdTech Networks

Based in Wakefield, MA
Builds website platforms for school systems
No out of pocket costs
Unique fundraising platform (new money for schools)

Advanced web technology

Good examples of the proposal in action:

Medford -
Smithfield, RI -
E Greenwich, RI -
Georgetown -

Other school districts mentioned:

Hudson (not an EdNet site)
Marlboro (not an EdNet site)
North Reading (web site not responding)

Large pipeline in progress 30-50, about 2/month coming on line

Participating merchants, recruit local businesses
Rebate recovery
Member marketing
Franklin brings – members YOU!

Key piece of the partnership is working with Franklin, parents, PTO school boosters, etc.
Marlboro school students developed a marketing plan

Two ways to generate rebates
1 – Online mall, school website (no need to register)
2 – Shop in store at local participating merchants (register your credit, debit, loyalty cards)

National, regional, online and local
Online mall has 500 national merchants
Expedia trip at $5000 would generate 2% back to the schools

Collect only card and date for tracking purposes, does not collect any other data, can not initiate a transaction
PCI compliant, high security standards
Encrypted data, data segregation
No plan text files of any files kept, all encrypted
No information is provided to any party, period

Content management system
Control users via permission
Easy to use, no HTML coding needed

Portal, single database, cut/paste from any MS program
Instantaneous updates
Publish to multiple pages simultaneously
Archival system
Navigation design
24/7 hosted, technical support provided
Training, by group
Faster communication, lower cost

Not limited to Franklin residents, can designate a beneficiary school district

Municipal requirements
1 – Separate account
2 – Education foundation

Combo websites and email
Targeted registration campaigns, some dollar reward for each registration via incentives
Can track district, schools, via promotion codes

Shrink wrap a school bus, with logo, and participating merchants

“Better schools through smarter shopping”

Split rebates, 2/3… up to website subscription fee, after that, 100%...
Advertising split 50/50

Could do picture profile online, do PTO profile online
Capacity for electronic payments for school fees, lunches, etc.

Demo of Marlboro, East Greenwich sites
Headshot for teachers capable, CV capable

.net platform, more current

After the sale what’s the spam effect? Self directed by customer, check off, to opt out
Use of captcha to access directory online

Three components of revenue
1 – rebate 80/20 merchant split
2 – split revenue from promotions 50/50
3 - website subscription fee paid from subscribers as noted in split above

Future items:
Electronic yearbooks
Social networking amongst teachers that could be monetized

100 million Americans in K-12 world, no one marketing to this group today

Don’t have a gas vendor today
Grocery highest priority
Then casual dining, faster growing segment of personal expenditures
Then Office/school supplies
Then Apparel

Co-branded debit and co-branded credit being explored

My questions (to be asked)
What percent of Franklin population has and uses a system?
What are traffic counts for existing school pages?

Franklin in the News

Two hurt in crash

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - A rescue helicopter rushed a man to a Worcester hospital yesterday after a head-on collision at the intersection of Rte. 140 and Grove Street, police said.


Store clerk stops robbery

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Spotting a familiar customer opening the till at the Lincoln Street Market on Monday afternoon, clerk Ryan Lomberto ran in from pumping gas and grabbed the man before he could run off with any cash.

Franklin (continues) to wait

Franklin to wait for answer to $590,000 question

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - A law firm investigating how an undisclosed $590,000 school budget gap ended up on the wrong set of books needs more time, Superintendent Wayne Ogden said, with a report now expected in January instead of this month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Game at Milford Daily News (Video)

There is a new game at the Milford Daily News online.

If you know where Julia Spitz shot this video, e-mail or call her at 508-626-3968. The first three people with the correct answer will have their names listed here and in the newspaper. All those who submit correct answers before 4 p.m. Thursday will be eligible for a monthly prize drawing.

Have fun playing "Where'd She Go?

Note this was also posted on Steve's 2 Cents

School Committee: Health Survey - part 2 (audio)

Michelle Kingston Smith, Director, Instructional Services and Martha
Donovan, K-12 Director Health/Physical Education answer questions from the School Committee after their presentation on 11/27/07.

Time: 28 minutes, 56 seconds

MP3 File

Franklin School Committee: Health Survey Presentation (audio)

Michelle Kingston Smith, Director, Instructional Services and Martha Donovan, K-12 Director Health/Physical Education make their presentation to the School Committee on 11/27/07.

Time: 40 minutes, 6 seconds

MP3 File

My notes to accompany this audio file can be found here.

The presentation can be found here.

Metro West/EDC Adolescent Health Survey - Part 1

At the School Committee meeting on November 27, 2007, Michelle Kingston Smith, Director, Instructional Services and Martha Donovan, K-12 Director Health/Physical Education presented the results for the Metro West/EDC Adolescent Health Survey.

The survey results are important to understand. This is where a good deal of focus on the education of our children should be. The issues raised by this survey can put an appropriate context around budget discussions.

The presentation was rather lengthy so I have split it up into three posts.

  1. The first (this one) has the intro and my own notes taken during the presentation.
  2. The second will have the audio file for the presentation itself.
  3. The third will have the audio file for the question and answer discussion following the presentation.
The School Department web site has links for the executive summary for the Middle School results (PDF) and the High School results (PDF). Both these links are working.

The link to the presentation itself can be found here.

My notes taken during the presentation on 11/27/07

Lifetime – tried it at least once in their lifetime

Trend in survey showing decline in reported usage of alcohol amongst middle school students
Alcohol most prevalent amongst high school, no difference between male/female,
10% admitted it interfered with their school work
48% high school admitted drinking within the last 30 days
This trend line was actually increasing over the study periods

Tobacco use, males more than females – middle school
Significant reduction in those admitting trying smoking (both MS and HS)
High school – 10% identified as daily smokers

Marijuana is a concern, there shows a reduction in MS
Steroids have dropped

HS – marijuana nearly as prevalent as tobacco for students as trying it
Students using marijuana using within 30 days, exceeds the smoker numbers

Biggest issue at HS bullying and fighting
Decrease from MS to HS, although increases from 2004, 2006 at HS
Electronic bullying increasing

Stress levels double from 9th to 12th grade, (i.e. college process)

Community involvement recommended to address these issues
15 components to be convened in the community involvement effort

Must celebrate trends going in the right direction
But we’re still taking about 10-20% of the population participating in risky behavior

Comparative analysis since 1999
How to provide the info to the parents, summary, call to action in some attractive but none-turning away manner

Introduction of Open Circle at kindergarten level helps
Middle school intervention programs
9th grade collaborative at the HS
Peer mentoring, peer leaders going through training now

Discussion on 1999, data, first year results seem not to be real
Chief Williams coming back to put this in perspective within the Town context

Avoid one shot assembly approach, programs work well when connected to curriculum
Have not looked at correlation with economy

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Where in Franklin? Answer #23

Where in Franklin? Answer #23, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Ken identified:
"This property has been before the planning board and town council several times for public hearings. I believe the property was sold at a foreclosure auction last week. If so what will the new owner do with it?"

Time will tell.

Oh, and if you had not recognized where this open pit is located, you can find it along RT 140 at the entrance to Chestnut Ridge.

Thanks, Ken! Stay tuned for the next picture.

Town trying to project its building plans

By Rachel Lebeaux , Globe Correspondent / December 16, 2007

Now that Franklin has approved spending $300,000 for library and museum upgrades, some councilors want to get a better view of the big picture when it comes to future projects, and compile a new survey of the town's building woes

Read the full article here.

Brick Costs $37,600 Annually

Cost of Red Brick School: $37,600 annually

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - After debating the contents of their financial report, task force members studying the viability of the Red Brick School agreed yesterday that the historic building costs $37,600 to run annually, with $600 currently borne by town taxpayers.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Where are the drains?

Where are the drains?, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Union Street was newly rebuilt this year. Nice sidewalks. Curbed road. New storm drains.

Oh, where are they?

Yes, they are there. Covered under the snow. The plows just did not get that last foot or so on each side of the road to reveal the drains.

In the entire rebuilt section from the Common to Cottage, I found only one visible drain cover. (Yes, the rebuilt section extends up passed Cottage to Washington Street, but we didn't walk that way this morning.)

Library Hangover

Library Hangover, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Pretty? maybe.

Pretty harmful to the insides? quite possibly, based upon what we have heard about the leaks.

youths take charity into their own hands

Franklin youths take charity into their own hands

By Michelle Laczkoski/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Twelve-year-old Kayla O'Brien doesn't have a long wish list this Christmas.


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Web 2.0 thing explained (video)

I posted this to the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog last year when I found it. It is still relevant today. Dr Michael Wesch prepared this. It moves quickly but can be replayed if you need to catch specific parts again.

Franklin in the news

Franklin community mourns teen killed in crash
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Following a fatal rollover accident that took his life a week before he turned 17, Tobacco Road resident Matthew Blagdon is to be remembered at a wake today for his generosity and dedication to friends and family.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

climate change a top priority

The state Department of Environmental Protection is making climate change a top priority, a senior official said yesterday.

Martin Suuberg, central region director for the state agency, outlined a handful of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He spoke before local business and municipal officials at a breakfast forum cohosted by the United Chamber of Commerce and the Norfolk County Commissioners' Office.

"Climate change is the central environmental challenge of our times," Suuberg said, adding the state will seek solutions to reduce emissions. "We've been waiting too long for a national solution."

Read the remainder of the article here

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Superintendent's Evaluation

Chairman Jeffrey Roy reads the summary statement on the evaluation of Superintendent Wayne Ogden.

Time: 3 minutes, 0 seconds

MP3 File

My written notes from this portion of the meeting:

3 page summary, goals and major points
8 goals evaluated

(the evaluation) “needs to be more specific in quantitative and qualitative measures next time”
3% increase effective July 1, 2007

Brick Task Force Update

Sue Rohrbach provides an update on the Brick Task Force and asks for guidence on the report conclusion. The School Committee members comment on the conclusion and what they are looking for.

Time: 7 minutes, 43 seconds

MP3 File

For reference: the Brick Task Force charge can be seen here on the School Committee page

My written notes from this portion of the meeting:

Sue Rohrbach
Brick task force
5 of 6 tasks accomplished thus far, future use topic remains
Looking for guidance in terms of conclusion
Meeting this Saturday for three hours to complete and meet Jan 8th deadline

Roberta - Waiting for the data
Cora - Answer all the charges set forth, decision left to committee and superintendent
Matt – looking for a decision from the committee
Ed – not expecting a formal outcome, address the six issues, will expect that members are not going to be shy about saying what they think
Jeff – don’t get bogged down over any question, gather data and report back with answers to those six questions
Majority/minority report concept okay
Will get all the info, all the data, get all the backup

Franklin in the News

Senior center's glow a little too much for some

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - While seasonal lighting displays spread good tidings, neighbors say the permanent lampposts at the senior center are doing anything but.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Where in Franklin? #23

Where in Franklin? #23, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Not even stumps of trees are left in this pit. Where is it located in Franklin?

The guidelines to play "Where in Franklin?" are found here.

Where in Franklin? Answer #22

Where in Franklin? Answer #22, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Picture #22 apparently was a stumper. A couple of guesses but no one had the Montessori Sunrise School located on Upper Union. The Fenway-like wall is on the right side in this view protected by the chain link fence.

As you come down Upper Union, with the Franklin Industrial Park on your left, the Montessori Sunrise School is located on the right with the Fenway wall visible.

Thanks for playing. Stay tuned for #23.

Franklin in the News

A family of performers

By Heather McCarron/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - For the Hancock family, Franklin Performing Arts Company's holiday production of ''Tis the Season' is becoming a family tradition. But not as members of the audience.


Tax money from new growth lacking

By Aaron Wasserman, Daily News staff

The taxes area towns are collecting from new growth have declined substantially in the past three fiscal years, creating concern among some local officials about future budgets.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Franklin in the news

Need for money is not an act

By Aaron Wasserman/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - When they learned money was tight for this year's high school musical, Alexandra Lonati and a group of student theater enthusiasts decided to take matters into their own hands.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Franklin in the News

Franklin candidates report campaign spending

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - New Planning Board member Gregory Ballarino led all town candidates in spending for the November election, according to campaign finance forms filed with the town clerk, using his own money to buy $824.25 worth of yard signs.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Franklin in the News

Franklin library disrepair criticized

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Town Council voted to spend money on a library architect and museum renovations last night, but not before Councilor Joseph McGann questioned the cost and timing of the work at the leaking lending facility.


Franklin taxes going up

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - The council voted to keep a single tax rate last night with little discussion on the perception that commercial and industrial properties are not assessed as high as they should be.


A work of faith

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - When it comes to building a 7-foot tall menorah, it turns out there are no established instructions.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Franklin in the News

Franklin officials review assessment data

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - With lingering questions about how commercial and industrial assessments are calculated, new analyses of the town's system are expected to be unveiled at tonight's final council tax rate hearing.


Former Franklin official's firing a surprise

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Ten years after controversial administrator Wolfgang Bauer resigned from running their town, current and former officials reacted with surprise yesterday to his firing from a similar job in Rhode Island.


Where in Franklin? #22

Where in Franklin? #22, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Can you identify this location? Where do they have a Fenway style green wall overlooking a pool?

The guidelines for playing "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Where in Franklin? Answer #21

Where in Franklin? Answer #21, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The correct answer to picture #21 is the Municpal Building on Rt 140, or East Central St.

Thanks for playing Susan.

Stay tuned for the next one!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Franklin in the News

White bricks in new building not everyone's favorite

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - With the second building in the Franklin Center Commons project nearing completion, some residents are questioning why the much-anticipated project contains bricks with a whitish hue rather than the traditional red as expected.


West Warwick fires town manager over misspent river funds

By Staff reports

WEST WARWICK, R.I. - West Warwick Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer, who worked as town manager in Franklin, Mass., in the 1990s, has been fired by the town council, which found "gross mismanagement" of a river improvement project.


Live, from Franklin ...

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Unable in recent months to receive local public television channels, Verizon customers finally got a chance to watch a live town event with last night's Planning Board meeting.


Board to seek new members

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Paige Duncan will resign next month to spend more time with her family, Chairman Anthony Padula announced last night, prompting a search for a replacement.

Town Council Meeting Agenda 12/5/07

The agenda for the Town Council Meeting 12/5/07 has been posted to the town web site and can be found here (PDF).

The tax hearing resumes at 7:10 PM.

Audio recordings from the meeting 11/28/07 can be found here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

School Deficit - Discussion and Vote

The motion to take $590,000 from the Stabilization Funds to balance the books on the School Budget deficit before setting the tax rate.

Time: 8 minutes, 40 seconds

MP3 File

FY 09 Outlook

Jeff Nutting

Time: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 11

Doak, Bartlett, Nutting, Feeley, McGann

Time: 7 minutes, 17 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 10

Jane Curran, Eileen Mason, Lynn Narron (?)

Time: 5 minutes, 50 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 9


Time: 1 minute, 57 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 8

McGann, Nutting, Roche

Time: 6 minutes, 51 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 7

Michael LeBlanc, Lisa Piana, Carol Harpin (?)

Time: 6 minutes, 26 seconds

MP3 File

Historical Comm Q&A 6

Dave Collier (?)

Time: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

MP3 File