Sunday, February 17, 2008

Franklin Schools: At the Break; a letter from Ed Cafasso

Hello everyone!

I hope you are preparing to enjoy winter break week! I just wanted to drop you a short note with an update on a few important school issues.

First, a programming note… If you are in the mood for a date with your spouse that contributes to a great cause, the Horace Mann Middle School PCC is sponsoring a Spring Social on Saturday, March 1, at the Franklin Elks from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. This is a fun event that always offers top shelf, silent auction bargains.

As an added bonus, this year’s social will feature live performances from School Committee Chairman Jeff Roy's band, “Keep Your Day Job.” Tickets are $25 person, which includes a nice hot dinner buffet. A cash bar also will be available. For more information, contact Maureen Roy or Barb Mershimer. I look forward to seeing you there!

Now on to business… If you are as concerned about the future of Franklin High School as I am, I urge you to tune-in to or attend the School Committee meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26. Representatives of KBA Associates, our architectural design consultants, will be on hand to talk about options for renovating the current facility or building a brand new one on the site. We are also moving closer toward the naming of a citizens committee for the project. That too is likely to be a topic of discussion at the meeting.

If you need to refresh yourself on the challenges with the current FHS building, you’ll find the old feasibility and conditions reports on the Superintendent’s web page

The Committee is also moving into a new budget season and, as usual, the scenarios are not pretty. It will cost us more than $4.1 million to maintain the current level of school services in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That’s the price of predictable price increases for contractual pay raises, health insurance, utilities, etc.

However, town officials are projecting that only $800,000 in new revenue will be available to the schools. That leaves a $3.3 million funding gap that will not be easy to close without what Supt. Ogden calls “seriously painful cuts,” particularly to teaching staff who comprise 90% of our annual budget.

I’ll send out a FY09 budget update email following the Committee meeting on the 26th. You can find background on budget and fiscal issues on the School Committee web site

At this week’s School Committee meeting, Franklin Police provided an update on their efforts to put in place a lockdown emergency plan for each of our schools. These types of preparations are an unfortunate reality of life in the 21st century, underscored by the tragic news out of University of Illinois this week. Police officials have approached the issue with professionalism and smart thinking. They stressed that are eager to come to any PCC meeting to outline their approach and answer parent questions.

I hope you have a pleasant week. I saw the first robin of the year the other day and heard a cardinal singing, confirming that spring will indeed get here eventually.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am happy to add or remove any one from the mailing list for these updates.

Ed Cafasso


  1. Steve, thank you for posting the information about schools. Ed's letter addresses the challenges the school committee will deal with in this year's budget cycle, but doesn't mention the new donation policy they are ready to approve which will strictly limit the types of donations they will accept moving forward - it is hard to comprehend turning away donations when the school system in in financial jeapordy.

  2. Well, you caught me "anonymous." My failure to mention the proposed "new" policy was really just another nefarious step in the School Committee's super-secret effort to cut off all private funding for the Franklin schools. It's true! For many years now, members of the School Committee have been helping PCCs raise money; helping the Franklin Education Foundation raise money; spending our own money trying to pass overrides; trying to convince the Town Council to give the schools more money; publicly voting to accept gift after gift after gift for field trips and supplies; trying to raise money through advertising on atheltic fields; and, undertaking all sorts of other aggressive efforts to adequately fund public education in Franklin.

    But recently, while residents were sleeping, School Committee members decided to execute a 180-degree change; we grew tired of working so hard on behalf of students and parents and teachers. We decided in unison and in secret to completely contradict everything we have worked for since we started raising our families here. That's where this policy comes in. After decades of supporting the schools, we've decided to stop... NOT!

    I'm resorting to a little sarcasm here because I am frustrated by the intentional effort to misrepresent and distort this policy. The new policy would NOT "strictly limit" donations. It provides clarity and transparency around what has long been the practice of the school district -- to use donations for nonrecurring expenses, like supplies, scholarships or enrichment activities, instead of for things that should be publicly funded, like teacher salaries.

    To learn more, please see the open PUBLIC discussions on this topic at:

    and at: