Friday, May 30, 2008

What You Need to Know to Make an Informed Vote on June 10th

The contents of a recent email from Tom Sousa representing the Franklin Cares email distribution listing is worth sharing here:

1. The Vote is Soon!
Voting will take place on June 10th at the Franklin High School Field House from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

2. The Proposed Override Will Average Only $243 per Household.
The override translates to an increased tax bill of only $243 per household. Since the tax payments are tax deductible, the after-tax cost is approximately $168 or about 50 cents a day.

3. Without the Override, You May End Up Spending More
You could be spending more per year by voting down the override because of cost increases for items such as pay-to-ride and athletic participation fees. If the override fails, there will be a $100 increase per student in the pay-to-ride bus, and cancellation of late bus service for students who need to stay after school for academic, clubs and extracurricular programs.

4. Franklin's Educational Spending is efficient.
Currently, Franklin is spending $2,200 less per pupil in 10 of the 11 State Department Education categories than the average in the state. We would have to add $13 million to the education budget just to be average spenders in the state.

5. Pink Slips Were Not Delivered for Dramatic Effect.
Teachers and administrators who received Pink Slips last week will indeed be gone if the override doesn't pass. This translates to a loss of approximately 43.5 teaching positions – 16 at Franklin high, 12.5 at the middle school level, and 15 at the elementary level.

6. It Will Be a Step Back for Franklin if Layoffs Occur.
The number of classroom teachers in Franklin is as follows:

School year
# of classroom teachers

During that same time period, enrollment in the Franklin schools has increased by approximately 500 students and the Keller-Sullivan schools were opened. If the override is unsuccessful, the number of classroom teachers is expected to dip below 400 for the 2008-2009 school year, which means we will have less teachers than we had in 2003, but 500 more students and a new school facility.

7. Class Size Will Significantly Increase Without the Override.
The range for elementary school class sizes will increase to between 19 to 30 students per class. The middle school and high school will average roughly 25 to 30 students per class.

8. The Charter School Will be Impacted.
The Town of Franklin per pupil cost directly drives state re-imbursement for the Charter School. If we spend less, the Charter School will get less.

9. Unemployment Costs the Town.
If the town rejects the override, it is liable for up to $675,000 in unemployment for the laid-off teachers and administrators.

10. Families With Young Kids Are the Lowest Voting Population in Franklin
Regardless of how you vote, make your voice heard about this issue. Absentee ballots are one solution for busy families who want to be heard. Absentee ballots can be submitted at the Town Clerk's Office, 355 East Central Street, between 9am and 4pm. The deadline for absentee ballots is noon on June 9th.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steve Whalen (audio)

Steve Whalen gets to explain his financial analysis and rationale for endorsing the override.

Time: 17 minutes, 41 seconds

Note: you may need to tune up the voume to hear Steve due to the quality of the recording.

MP3 File

"The first myth is that costs shouldn't increase"

Posted May 29, 2008 @ 01:02 AM


A townwide forum on the Proposition 2 1/2 tax override proposal ended last night with the tears of a choral teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School after learning chorus will be cut at Franklin High School if the override doesn't pass.

"I'm just very devastated," said Mary MacMurray, who attended Franklin public schools, "I think those kids," she said, choking up a second time, "kids need that competitive edge going into college."

"I can't imagine those kids not even having a choral program and not getting into colleges," she said, fighting tears and explaining she is not normally so emotional.

School Committee member Roberta Trahan stepped in to aid MacMurray, saying some students are right-brained and creative, and perform better in school with programs that emphasize creativity, such music and art.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Override Information Forum 5/28/08 - Summary

Notes and recordings from the Override Information Forum held at the Thomas Mercer Auditorium, Horace Mann School on Wednesday, May 28, 2008.

The Milford Daily News coverage for this meeting can be found here.

The audio segments were completed on June 1, 2008

Jeff Roy explains the yellow handout (audio)

While Steve Whalen gets his presentation ready, Jeff Roy explains the yellow handout that was provided.

Time: 1 minute, 57 seconds

MP3 File

Override Forum: W Ogden (audio)

Jeff Roy welcomes all to the Forum, introduces Wayne Ogden who makes the first presentation on the school budget for FY 09.

Time: 19 minutes, 33 seconds

MP3 File

Live reporting - Q&A

No one from Town Council wanting to make a comment before Q&A.

Q - Franklin is about 10-15% above the state recommended or 'foundation' budget. Can you explain the number?

A - Ogden, the foundation amount is the minimum amount that the town can contribute to the schools. If the town doesn't contribute the state minimum, there are penalties assessed by the state.

A - Nutting, if a town strives to meet the minimum, the education will be suffering, you won't be getting a quality education. Over the last 15 years the state has picked up a greater portion of the school expense, so the town tax payers have benefited from the state funding.

Q - Brett Feldman, Finance Committee member but speaking on his own behalf. Can you explain what next year will look like after the override if it passes?

A - Jeff Roy, we have settled contracts and will probably be in the 3-4 million increase range which is what we were looking for this year.

A - Nutting, suggesting that this is the bottom of this fiscal scenario we should be in a better position next year. Excise tax and other revenue sources declined.


Q - Been here for 4 years, 3 kids in school, came here because of the schools. If we have the override, I can afford to pay it because I have 3 kids. But are we looking at all the other expenses. Are we in line? Are we looking to increase revenues?

A - Ogden, speaking to the cost control measures mentions the teacher contract with a 3-year settlement for 6% in a time when other contracts were coming at 9-11%. They negotiate long term energy contracts. They are looking at other kinds of expenses like that to leverage and reduce costs.

A - Zollo, there are certain myths about town government. There is an unrealistic expectation that costs will not go up over time under normal circumstances. The town is the same situation as the schools. The Police, Fire and DPW are underfunded. We are getting a great deal. If we didn't build the Senior Center and the Fire Station we would not be in this situation. That is incorrect. Those are capital expenses and can't be used to cover the operational expenses. There are many myths that are getting perpetuated and we need to correct them.

A - Doak, picking up on another comment to increase the revenues. We get get a good deal from the industrial and retail establishments. We have tried to foster commercial and industrial growth with smart policies. Council has encourage good growth over the years and looking to continue that so the residential taxpayers don't take the whole burden.

A - Cafasso, the school department has made cuts over the years to protect the classroom and to be as efficient as possible.

Q - What about other revenue sources. Mother of 3 children, one a junior at the high school and facing significant cuts. She has heard of the 4 Corners Building,how will that help? She has also heard about the possible closure of Davis Thayer?

A - Nutting explaining that the 4 Corners Building is a capital revenue and to be used for other capital not for operational expenses. In MA, all tax authority is vested at the state level. Our industrial parks are pretty full. The Council has re-zoned some land and that is still in the process of development.

A - Ogden, referencing the space needs committee whose work is underway. There are the portable classrooms coming to an end of life that will need to either be absorbed or replaced. The school district wants to move cautiously due to problems with re-districting. There are 800 empty residences in town, there are a number of open permits for buildings to come online, there is potential for growth in the school population so closing schools prematurely could create greater problems.

Q - Teacher rates have a greater disparity, any chance of getting some of the older teachers to leave and replaced with younger less experienced teachers?

A - Nutting, no, that kind of program is authorized at the state level. It has been done twice in the last twenty years.

A - Ogden, new teachers are cheaper overall early on but year to year are more expensive

Q - What about the "emergency repair and replacement fund"? Can we dip into that?
A - Nutting, there is a minimal cost to the interest. The overall factor is that 4M on an annual budget of 100M is not a lot of cushion. It is not a lot of money in a savings account for a good business. it is similar to our debt. Our debt is going down next year to less than 3%. we are looking to continually reinvest an appropriate amount over time.

A - Doak, over the years from the power plant settlement we have benefited that we did not need to use the money for which it had been set aside to mitigate the power plant.

A - Zollo, to address another myth, 4500-5000 per year in taxes, three children in school, the Zollos are receiving a subsidy for the school education. K-12, would amount to a 275,000 subsidy. You never pay the town back to pay for your children to go through the school system. The value that the average citizen receives is great.

Q - Like to ask the Council to address the consolidation of facilities? In a time when the schools are in need, taking the money away from the schools.

A - Council took the corresponding dollars and responsibility (associated expenses) were taken away at the same time.

Comment from a high school student regarding cut of chorus at the high school.

Q - Father comes back appreciating the comment on the chorus. If there is a scale, where are we on the scale? Will there be continuous overrides? And we haven't even talked about the high school problem.

A - Nutting, Franklin gives a high quality service for a low cost. By any standard, we provide more or better service for less dollars. Overrides will not go away. Until the state and the citizens decide that there needs to be another way, it won't go away but it will not be every year. Most of the requirements are out of our control. Regionalization is an option but it will take a lot of pain.

A - Ogden, we are looking for other sources. The parent groups provide funding each year. The Franklin Education Foundation contributes approx. $20,000 per year. Working with a lawyer to set up an endowment. Looking at advertising revenue.

A - Whalen, he is a financial analyst by trade, it is impossible to continue to delivery high quality services at the low tax rate. Goal would be more near the median and not near the bottom.

Q - What about something like the Arlington plan? Do you think it would be wise to do that?
A - Committee being formed now that would look at that process.


Q - Would students or parents have a chance to dialog with whomever on what cuts would be made?
A - The parents can always come to the School Committee meeting and voice their concerns. The students are unknowingly participating with the student cost selection data. There are 17 teachers with 85 classes to be cut, there is not much room for wiggle. The music cut is bad for the music students but there are also English teachers, Math teachers, Science teachers, physical education, etc. These are bad choices. There are no good choices with the override. Parents need to express their choices.

A - Cafasso, to re-inforce that participation is open and looked for, if you have ideas we are looking for them. The meetings are open. Citizen comments are always on the agenda. Our email addresses are available.

A - Roy, in the short run, the way to save the chorus is through the override.

A - Whalen, it would be depressing if the turnout were less than 25% and the override lost. There is a popoulation that won't vote for an override under any circumstances.

Q - I commented about the recent cuts amounting the 83 positions since 2002.

Link to the numbers

Live reporting - Override info session

at Horace Mann - Thomas Mercer Auditorium

folks still gathering, about 2 dozen non-school committee/town council folks here thus far


Town Administrator, Jeff Nutting
Town Councilors - Bartlett, Mason, Doak, Feeley, Zollo, Whalen

School Superintendent Wayne Ogden
School Committee members - Roy, Mullen, Rohrbach, Armenio, Cafasso, Trahan


people continuing to arrive

School Committee Chair Jeff Roy welcoming folks at 7:10 PM

Supt Wayne Ogden
covering the presentation that the schools have used to make their case in several forums thus far in the budget cycle this year


up to approx. 50 citizens here in the auditorium at 7:15 PM


If you take the avg per student spend vs the state average, the schools are spending $13 million less than what the state average is. This is good to put the request this year in perspective.

The override amount of $2.8 million would bring the school department to level service, meaning the same programs, the same amount of teachers with an increase in enrollment.

Teacher turnover is about 10% during a normal year for all the reasons that people leave a work place. Mentors are required by the state for all new teachers.


Q - What is pupil personnel services?
A - anything that is not covered by the "normal" teacher in the classroom; i.e. special education, nurses, etc.


If the 47 positions do get cut, there would be about $675,000 of unemployment cost to the town


Major impact of the override failure would be an increase in class size. The increase will be felt across the district but not necessarily the same in each of the schools. Some schools would see higher class size than others.


Chart of sample teacher salary rates comparing Franklin with Wayland, Needham, Natick, North Attleborough, Mansfield, Arlington


Steve Whalen getting ready to talk about his analysis on the tax burden comparison for Franklin amongst 30 communities.

Steve did this analysis last year as a member of the Finance Committee to prepare for the override. He updated the analysis this year. This is not an official work product of the town. His personal analysis. He has offered for anyone to check his numbers.


Red lines indicate the single tax rate. Ones in black have a single tax rate.


Used income from the US Census Bureau from 1999, the last year the data is available. It is updated every ten years.


He calculated to determine the "Residential tax burden". We have a low rating because we are relatively high on the income scale and low on the tax rate. Hence, we can afford to pay more.


In the peer analysis, amongst 17 towns with a single tax rate, we are 14 in tax rate, 15 in relative tax burden.


To answer those who may say we are spending too much, one sheet in his analysis shows that we are 22 out of the 30 for total school department expense per capita. Continuing to the major categories, in General Gov't we are 16th, in Police 26th, Fire 10th, and DPW 28th.


One sheet looks at towns of similar size located in Eastern MA. For the 15 towns on this listing, Franklin ranks 7th in General Gov't, 14th in Police, 10th in Fire, 14th in DPW and 11th in Schools

Summary we have a pretty efficient and well managed town government.

What kind of town are we willing to sacrifice for?

Even if the override passes, the overall tax burden ranking doesn't change. We are ranked 15th today and would remain at 15th even if the override passes.


"it won't save the town money. It just doesn't make fiscal sense"

Milford Daily News
Posted May 28, 2008 @ 01:25 AM


Pushing along the consolidation of maintenance departments, Town Council last night unanimously approved an $88 million general budget for fiscal 2009 that shifts the $5.5 million school maintenance budget to town control.

The council approved Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting's figure of $49.9 million for schools, which, besides transferring janitorial services, does not give schools enough to maintain its staff and programs, according to school officials.

The budget is up $1.8 million, or 2 percent, from this year's budget of $86.2 million.

If the town does not pass a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override on June 10, Superintendent of Schools Wayne Ogden said he will have to lay off 45 teachers and two administrators, which will result in increased class sizes and cutting courses. Also, he has said they will eliminate the late bus and increase the pay-to-ride bus fee from $225 to $325 to balance the budget.

The override would cost the owner of an average home an extra $243 a year, Nutting has said.

School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy objected to the maintenance move, particularly because Nutting and Ogden have not yet completed a memorandum of understanding on the matter.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

School Committee - health update, action items

Ogden providing an update on the community health coalition, many of the folks who came to the meeting (over 100) self-identified as wanting to continue to work on the process

Some groups were under representatived, they are being reached out to to obtain representation from those groups

Likely 15-20 to be members of the group

Formation session being scheduled for June 5th, invitations have not yet been sent out


Action items
1. I recommend adoption of the 2008-2009 School Committee Meeting Schedule.
2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $5,000.00 from Michael Johnson for the FHS Michael Johnson Alumni Scholarship.
3. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000.00 from Natalie Brunelli for the FHS John A. Brunelli Memorial Scholarship.
4. I recommend acceptance of a check for $500.00 from the Fernando P. Baglioni Family – Peter Baglioni for the FHS Fernando P. Baglioni Memorial Scholarship.
5. I recommend acceptance of a check for $400.00 from the Remington PCC for Nurse expenses on recent field trips.
6. I recommend acceptance of the donation of an HP Photo Smart 1000 Color Printer with 5 ink cartridges from Ms. Karen Todd for the Remington Middle School.
7. I recommend acceptance of the donation of books (list attached) from Mr & Mrs. Darcey for the Oak Street Elementary School.
8. I recommend acceptance of a check for $10.00 from Mrs. Grassey to be used toward the HMMS 8th grade field trip to Hopkinton Laborers Training Center.
9. I recommend approval of the School Business Administrator’s goals for 2008-09.
10. I recommend acceptance of a check for $500.00 from the Fidelity Charitable gift fund for the Fernando P. Baglioni Scholarship fund at FHS.
11. I recommend acceptance of a check for $200.00 from the Franklin Soccer Booster Club for Ice Machine and AED for Athletic Dept. at FHS.

All items approved


bus accident, one rear-ended the other as the lead one avoided a motorist pulling out in front of the bus. The parties (Police, Fire, bus company, school admins) will be getting together to review role and responsibilities to avoid problems at a future event.


accreditation is like the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval for the school system.
"an objective outside measure", not being accredited would not be a good thing, it may hurt our students; public, private and parochial schools have this in common


policy sub-committee report, continuing to review policies


Town Council de-funded or reduced the school budget by 5.5 million dollars
How the school committee decides to spend what money they do get
Roy - "You either consolidate or cut?"

Ogden has the memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the moment, Nutting may have unfairly taken some heat over the lack of the memo, he has some edits to make to the document to remove what has been agreed to be removed and corrected.

"My recommendation would be to move the facilities services over to the town side. I think it will have a negative impact. I don't think it would be worse to do otherwise."

Rohrbach - "I do not see us saving us any money"

Armenio - "kneejerk reaction would be to heck with the MOU, we need the MOU to protect the students, the principals, the custodians, etc."

Sabolinksi - "The level of trust, the level of customer service will likely decline"

Rohrbach - "at no time did we agree to take the money out of the budget before the MOU"


Trahan - Friday night graduation - thanks to all night party for the preparations

motion to move into executive session for contractual negotiations

School Committee - override reductions

In the event of the override not passing, the cuts were not previously announced in specific for a couple of reasons (1) notification to the teachers needed to occur first (2) to avoid "scare tactic".

Will not know until evening of the 10th what will happen but the high school is preparing two schedules; one with the override passing and one if the override fails.

Listing provided of the specific positions (to be posted soon)

high school class size will run 28-30
middle school
elementary schools some classes can go as high as 28-30 in specific grades

Ogden - FHS accreditation will be looked on "unkindly" with 17 positions being removed from the school. You can't predict what they will do. However it is likely there will be some adverse action.

Gould - transition to high school is the most important thing to protect, a "sacred cow"

class size discussion, most classes are going to be exceeding the range, not just on the high end of the ranges (if the override fails)

Gould - Franklin has done well at protecting the school instructional side, there is nothing else to cut. The FHS supplies budget is less than it was in 2001 and this is with an increase in students since 2001.

Mullen - would cutting French V affect the college placement for the seniors?
Gould - possibly. Students have to go somewhere, the electives can go higher. "Under Ed Reform, you can not have study halls. You have time to learn measurements."

Cafasso - could you get some others to assist with some of the journalism or public speaking?
Gould - they would need to be certified according to the state


School Committee - budget to actual

Miriam Goodman
clarification of the $1.8M that appears to unencumbered is actually being planned to be used within the budget for items that are already required

line item currently in deficit was usually covered by the Medicaid revenue which the schools are not getting this year. the budget for FY 09 has been adjusted accordingly. If the schools do get the Medicaid funds, there will be further adjustments.

Roy - facilities budgets question from Town Council meeting earlier? Is there a "slush" fund there as claimed by one Town Councilor.
Miriam will look into the numbers in detail but they are running into deficits at first glance


Finance Administrator goals
Miriam is comfortable with them

School Committee - FHS handbooks

Pam Gould, FHS Principal, discussing the high school handbook
memo to committee highlighting the changes, relatively small amount but a good time spent reviewing the whole handbook

tardiness - allowing some leeway for the vice principals to listen to the students explanation before making the decision

cell phones and iPods moved to a whole new section

drug and alcohol policy, there was not clarity around the policy
the MIAA had guidelines for the athletes but there was not something similar for the other students
1st offense - 5 day out of school suspension and a 45 day (term) social probation
looking to add an option of a contract with the principal with random drug and alcohol testing and counseling

sounds like a very reasonable proposal to address the real issue behind the problem
did use the contract in a previous position, had only one failure with one student who had significant problems

Armenio - pushing on the attendance policy
Gould - the rules need to be tightened in some cases, most of the students would not be in these scenarios, if there are exceptions, I can change the record

Armenio - troubled by DPH guidelines
Gould - agrees that there is room for improvement at the DPH

Roy - has a beef with the parent note not being accepted as an excused absence, partially due to the School Committee policy reference differences (JH vs. what is referenced as approved in 1999)
Gould - disagrees, she attempting to put the state rule in this handbook

Roy - concerned with the pattern
Gould - would it be amenable to provide a couple of "freebies" per quarter?
Roy - yes, it would be

Roy - chain of command policy should be in all handbooks

Gould - putting policy into the 7 Habits diary that is given to the 9th graders


School Committee - live reporting

called to order at 7:45 PM

reason for delayed start due to last week's Tuesday mishap with the scheduling

Matt Kelly absent

minutes approved for May 13th, one abstention

Seniors graduate this Friday, Juniors now rule the school with more room in the halls

Horace Mann Rube Goldberg competition
3 hours to build machine, came in 11 of 27 teams
certificates for each student who participated
bubble needed to float 5 seconds in the air
15 transfers required
first team from Horace Mann to participate


Oak Street stock market essay winner
funded through FEF grant
1st at Boston Globe, 7th in nation
- Austen Sholudko -

Michele Kingsland-Smith
presentation on District Literacy Initiative

goal - develop a philosophical and instructional vision for literacy

1 - What do we want students to know and be able to do?
core expectations were identified as
  • read widely
  • read strategically
  • think critically and creatively
  • communicate effectively
2 - How will we know when/if students have meet these expectations?
not a small task

3 - What is exemplary literacy instruction?
need to expand the team, focus on K-8 and work up

Team challenges
amongst them, differences in instructional philosophy around the district

Literacy vision developed

assessment planning on-going

- wonderful approach, how is this going to be done with an increase in class size under the scenario with a failed override? - my two cents

Cafasso - can we bring this down to the household level? where do the reading lists and required texts fit in?

Michele - bed & breakfast analogy, what are the essentials? it is easy to by a program but it is a one size fits all. "Hopefully parents will see greater enthusiasm, a greater variety of materials"

Town Council - Budget hearing - after recess

Going back to the elected officials item
raise was an average 2.1%
elected officials got 2%

Mason, "amounts to a token increase"

motion made to increase salary treasurer/collector , passed 7-2

motion mode to increase town clerk, passed 7-2

motion made on downtown planner, 5 yes 3 no 1 abstain

motion on adoption of town budget for FY 09

motion passed unanimously

Doak "budget time trying to choose between least bad options"
need to think seriously about what kind of town we want to live in

Pfeffer explains why she was driving in the parade

Bartlett outlook on budget has changed, impressed with effort on part of all in the town
"I can find no waste and believe me I have looked"
"need to tackle much harder redundancies due to state and local requirements"

motion to adjourn

Town Council - Public Hearing on FY 09 Budget

These are notes taken during the meeting and published live... they will be updated as the evening progresses.

Clerk reading budget line items, anyone can put an item on hold for further discussion

Doak arrives at 6:06; Whalen and Zollo still not here

Instructions on motion or release of hold for the items that were held

Mason hold on Treasurer/Collectors Salary
opened a can of worms here, Jeff and Susan aren't in agreement on the timing of the 2 vs. 2.5 percent increase
Bartlett, willing to reconsider but would like the confusion resolved before she makes up her mind
Doak supports the 2.5 percent that was previously voted
- Zollo arrives -
Feeley explains that the elected officials are not entitled to merit or step increases
Doak clarifies his position to review the elected officials on an annual basis

moving on while the item is clarified

Bartlett motion to reduce planning and growth management salaries
effectively removing the downtown manager position

- Whalen arrives to complete council attendance -

McGann speaking against motion
Nutting clarifying that the position is going to be needed and used as the downtown planning progresses in response to Zollo question; can be reviewed next year
Zollo speaking for the position, does need to have the position justified but shouldn't be terminated prematurely
Doak concerned about the overall Planning Dept increase of 13%
Doak challenges McGann's reckless comment to save us all some time by identifying the "waste in this budget"
motion failed 4-4 with one abstention
new motion
second failed same vote
determined to come back to this item

Vallee speaking for the addition of 2 police officers
"not providing adequate safety for our citizens"
making motion to add 2 positions with commensurate salaries
Jeff makes technical amendment to make the salaries and expenses align properly
Vallee approves of the amendment
money to come from the stabilization fund
Doak agrees with the justification but not with the money coming from the stabilization fund
Whalen agrees also with Vallee's sentiment on safety
Whalen also takes on McGann's comment on "waste in the budget"
"as a community we have to come with a plan"
Nutting saying with 40 plus teachers going out the door, adding two here is not good
"tough thing to do at this point"

"3 years in a row the department waived raises"
McGann will back Vallee on this
Bartlett "can't support hiring unless we are falling apart at the seams"
Zollo "this conversation underscores the seriousness that the citizens need to understand"
"We are the least taxed, understaffed in every department, too late to repair after breaking at the seams"
"What type of community do I want to live in?"
"Commends chair for coming up with group to study and develop the multi-year plan"

Jim Roche, put forth increase to override to cover the increase for Fire and Police
should rename the stabilization fund as the "emergency repair and replacement fund"

Pfeffer thought she found a million dollars by using the revenue from the 4 Corners building but that would only free about 100,000 dollars of operating revenue
motion to add the police failed at 7-2 vote

Dept 300 - Town Schools
the budget item seems to include the transfer of the support staff yet there is no MOA, there is no hearing by the Town Council, there is no number crunching as requested by Councilor Zollo
the budget does not include the $5.4M for the facilities consolidation

Doak, without memorandum in place are we exposed if we proceed down the way
Nutting what has to happen, town has two actions, school committee has to approve
Nutting "have to meet the net school spending"
should make it now or next year, not practical to do in October

Whalen concerned
Vallee wants an answer
Pfeffer doesn't understand either

Rohrbach disagrees with the budget subcommittee statement that Feeley made about the budget dollars

Roy stating the case for the School Committee/Department maintaining
This proposal will not save the town money, this proposal will cost money
It is a good idea to explore, let the planning committee explore those opportunities
Why can't we wait until the memo is done?

Armenio budget subcommittee member, present at the meeting
MOU would be put together and then the budget would be discussed

Cafasso was put on hold previously to not confuse the override last year
under the state law, the school principals have authority over whoever works in the school
a transfer could take place mid-year

Feeley motion to accept town administrator's version of the budget (giving the town the building management)

Nutting restating the prior arguments
Nutting won't give an answer to Zollo's question

Vallee consolidate to save money
Is that item overspent or underspent? It makes him suspicious.

motion approved unanimously



TUESDAY MAY 27, 2008

6:00 PM




the first time in five years Franklin is not using its reserves for operating expenses

Posted May 26, 2008 @ 10:28 PM


The Town Council is due to vote tonight on the town's $88.02 million operating budget, following its second public hearing at 6 p.m.

With water, sewer and solid waste spending included, the town's fiscal 2009 budget totals $99.5 million.

The council will also consider a request Councilor Robert Vallee last Wednesday said he would make to add two officers to Police Chief Stephen T. Williams' 46-member force.

Williams had asked for the additional officers in his initial budget request, but was denied.

Policing in town continues to increase each year, while the department is understaffed, Williams said.

Each new officer could cost the town $60,000 to $80,000, Williams estimated.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Go to the Council Chambers tonight to participate or tune in via cable to see the Town Council and School Committee meeting back to back tonight. Town Council at 6:00 PM. School Committee was scheduled for 7:00 PM (before the Town Council adjust their schedule to finish up tonight).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Letter from Ed Cafasso

Good evening everyone!

I hope you and your families had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. We certainly could not have asked for a better stretch of weather…

I wanted to pass along a couple of important scheduling notes as we all head back into our work and home routines, and the kids enter the homestretch of the 07-08 academic year.

On Tuesday (the 27th) at 6 p.m., the Town Council is schedule to finalize Franklin’s budget for fiscal 2009, which begins July 1. The school budget will be among those voted upon by the Council. Immediately following that session, the School Committee is scheduled to meet at 7:15 p.m.

Tuesday’s School Committee meeting will be an important one because it will be the first time we will be in position to analyze in more detail how the recent move to lay-off school personnel will impact academic classes, class sizes in key grades, and extracurricular offerings in the fall.

Now that the lay-offs have gone forward, in combination with retirements and terminations, Supt. Ogden and his staff will be able to present a clearer picture of the potential impact on student services. I urge you to tune in to the discussion Tuesday night if possible.

On Wednesday night, members of the Town Council, the School Committee and the Finance Committee will gather at 7 p.m. at the Mercer Auditorium at Horace Mann Middle School for a town-wide forum to answer citizen questions about the override votes scheduled for June 10.

I hope you will take the opportunity to attend Wednesday evening’s forum to learn more about the town’s fiscal condition and to speak your mind on budget matters, the town’s financial management and the value of the school services to the quality of life and property values here.

For additional information, you can view the Town budget page at:

You can view the proposed FY09 school budget at:

In addition, an override page is available that offers a central repository for a great deal of school and financial information. You can view it at:

A small group of parents has begun to organize a citizen’s group in support of the override. If you are interested in meeting with them, please let me know and I will connect you.

Thank you for your time and attention, and your continued support. Please stay tuned for additional budget information in the weeks ahead.

Ed Cafasso, Member
Franklin School Committee

In case you missed the parade

Here are some musical highlights from each of the Franklin Public Schools as the marched by this morning.


Franklin Fire Dept. new Tower Truck

The new $860,000 Tower 1 truck is at home in the new fire station in downtown Franklin, MA.

The truck will be paid for over five years, the first payment this year at $160,000, followed by four yearly payments of $175,000 each.

With a little luck it will be used for training and parades. If it does get called out to be used in a fire, the safety features it contains will hopefully enable a safe operation and rescue, if necessary.


From the Town Council meeting authorizing payment (audio and text)

From the Finance Committee meeting authorizing payment (audio)

"The family atmosphere we have is because of them"

Posted May 25, 2008 @ 08:40 PM

Thousands of Bay State residents will observe Memorial Day today with cookouts, parties, days at the beach or soaking up sun with family and friends.

While she doesn't begrudge anyone having a good time this holiday weekend, Jodi Cabino-Cipriano wants people to remember the cost every Memorial Day entails.

The Franklin resident will this year mark the third Memorial Day since her son, Shayne Cabino, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. She said the holiday this week should serve as a reminder of the cost her family - and thousands more like it across the country - have paid.

"It'll never be the same," she said of the holiday. "I'll never have it again. We'll never, ever, ever be complete."

Cabino joined the Marine Corps after graduating from high school and was just 19 when he was sent to Iraq. He was killed along with three others when an improvised explosive device exploded outside Fallujah.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

"The energy this crystal has is very loving"

Posted May 26, 2008 @ 10:00 AM


It's not a bad life, being one of Sage Marianne's "babies."

Sage gently sings to the "newborn" crystals and says she infuses them with a divine healing energy.

A few of them even rest in their own purple velvet-lined basinets.

Since Sage's first "birth" in October 2000, she has opened her Glenn Meadow Road home to hundreds, possibly thousands of quartz crystals she unearthed during her bi-annual crystal mining trips to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Recently, 63-year-old Sage "Crystal Singer" returned from Hot Springs where she unearthed a few new gems, a tradition that began when she decided to take a six-week absence from work to explore who she is, she said.

"I'm an adventurous woman. I always wanted to drive cross-country - it took me (more than a decade) to do it," Sage said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"50 cents a day, just seems like such a bargain"

As Franklin's second Proposition 2 1/2 override vote in as many years approaches, town officials are seeking to inform residents about the possibility of teacher layoffs, among other proposed school-related cuts, if they turn down the requested property-tax increase.

A special election has been called for June 10 to ask voters to decide on the proposed $2.8 million override. If approved, the additional funds would allow the district to save approximately 43.5 teaching positions - 16 at Franklin High, 12.5 at the middle school, and 15 at the elementary school - that would otherwise be eliminated, according to school officials. The extra tax money would also forestall a $100 increase in the pay-to-ride bus fee, and spare late bus service for students who stay after school for clubs and other extracurricular activities, they said.

Read the full article here in the Boston Globe

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Simple choice - maintain or cut

As demand for services rise our staff levels continue to fall. There are two unpleasant solutions to this problem. Continue to reduce services or increase taxes.

An override will be requested for the FY 06 Budget. I estimate it will require approximately $4 million to maintain the level of services that currently exist. A successful override will allow us to balance the budget in the short term but in the long run the fundamental gap between revenues and expenses will arise creating the same problem in the future. The only long-term solution will depend upon changing the the tax laws to curtail the over reliance on the property tax as the primary source of funding local government.

The override is intended to address the current financial problems. It does not address the need to upgrade the high school, reconstruct roads and sidewalks, or fund a hugh unfunded health insurance obligation. These issues will have to be addressed over the next three years.
From the FY 2005 Budget Statement (PDF) published by Jeff Nutting in April 2004. This quote can be found on the bottom of page 11. The override mentioned was held in November 2004 and it failed by a 1,148 votes.

The future fiscal years beyond FY 07 will be difficult to deal without additional revenues. Please carefully review pages 4-6 titled FY 08 Budget Projections. You will note that with a very modest 2.5% increase in general costs along with increases in energy, health insurance, etc. the town will face a multi-million dollar shortfall. The 2.5% increase is not adequate to provide the same level of services that are currently provided and will lead to reductions in school/municipal services. realistically, the increase would need to be closer to 5% to maintain services. There is no way to avoid the eventual reality that our reserves are dwindling while our costs continue to rise faster than our revenues. I believe that FY 08 will be the year that difficult choices will have to be made in order to balance the budget.
From the FISCAL 2007 Annual Report published April 20, 2006 (PDF) by Jeff Nutting. The quote can be found on the bottom of page 2. The difficult choices mentioned did occur in FY 08 and resulted in the first operational override to pass in Franklin by a margin of 1,306 votes.

Final Comment - What do you get for your property taxes?
Franklin's property taxes are very reasonable. Unlike other taxes we pay, all of your property tax dollars remain in Franklin. The average tax bill in Franklin is $3,872. That amount provides high quality education, saves property and lives, plows your streets, provides library and recreational opportunities, and assists our senior citizens and veterans. When you need a paramedic, police officer, or other public service, they are a phone call away. Your tax dollars are used to improve your quality of life, and in the case of property owners, maintain and increase the value of your investment. In good times or bad, we strive to be prudent with your tax dollars and be responsive to your needs.
This is from the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Statement (PDF) as published by Jeff Nutting in March 2008. This quote can be found on the top of the last page, page 11.

As these quotes from the budget information provided during the past several years indicate, an override this year is not a surprise. We have a systemic issue that is not being addressed. We have avoided the painful choices by drawing down the stabilization fund. It is no longer a smart fiscal choice to make. The choice remaining is to cut services (in this case educational services for our children) or raise taxes.

Put all the other arguments aside: Do you want to maintain our quality educational services or do we start cutting deeper than we have before?


Learn all you can by visiting here frequently.

Visit the School Committee override page for the schedule of information sessions

You can find override related information here

Be informed to cast your vote on June 10th

"We are compelled to never forget"

Posted May 23, 2008 @ 11:19 PM


In a poignant "Missing Man" ceremony, Police Chief Stephen Williams urged a roomful of veterans, their loved ones and local dignitaries gathered at the Elks Lodge yesterday, not to forget missing and fallen soldiers.

Lined up in crisp uniforms and white gloves, the solemn-faced Franklin Police Honor Guard - Lt. Thomas J. Lynch, Sgt. Mark Manocchio, Officers Paul Fiorio, Paul Guarino, Jonathan Bussey and John Maloney - held symbolic items as Williams honored soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war.

Music played as the chief, who was a military police sergeant during the Vietnam War, spoke of the "sweetness" of honor and serving one's country that is tainted by the bitterness of loss.

"We are compelled to never forget," he said, explaining why he showed a documentary video about the painstaking work and precision involved in guarding Arlington National Cemetery where "unknown" fallen soldiers rest.

"We call them brothers ... they're unable to be with their families," but Arlington is a place of dignity and honor, he said, encouraging audience members to visit.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Honoring 175 Years of Education at the Red Brick School

The Brick School is 175 Years Old!

Come One…Come All…Everyone is Invited!

Please join us for a Fun Family Picnic

Honoring 175 Years of Education at the Red Brick School

Sunday, June 1st
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Franklin Town Common

Bring your chairs, blankets and pack a picnic lunch -- relax and enjoy a fun day!

Musical Performances include:

Jamie Barrett and friends singing the “Franklin Song” and other hits! 1:30 - 1:50

Remington Middle School Jazz Band 2:00 – 2:30pm

Franklin Middle Combined String Orchestra 2:45 – 3:15pm

FHS – Sound in the Hall artist Adriana Driggs, Tom Lazinski, Bodacious Banana Extravaganza and more! 3:45 - 4:45

And more……

Okey Dokey DJ will be on hand the entire day providing music and fun Karaoke sessions between performances

Fun Free Activities for the Kids!

Gerwick Puppets performing at 2:00pm
Face Painting
Capron Park Zoo Mobile


To go with your picnic lunch, we will have water and soda available for $1.00

Save room for dessert!! There will be free cake for everyone!

This is event is sponsored by the Benjamin Franklin Bank Charitable Foundation

For more information email: Brick School Association

We hope you can make it!!

From the Town Crier posting here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"the remainder can be directed toward any number of capital items"

Posted May 22, 2008 @ 09:26 PM


Town Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to sell the former Four Corners School to Walgreens for $2.5 million.

Councilor Robert Vallee abstained from the vote.

The vote authorizes Town Administrator Jeffery D. Nutting and Town Attorney Mark G. Cerel to enter into a purchase and sales agreement with Arista Development LLC of Norwood, which is proposing the Walgreens Pharmacy.

Arista, which has developed several Walgreens across the northeast, including one in Bellingham, was the only bidder for the town-owned property at the intersection of King Street and Rte. 140, Nutting has said.

Though the council has agreed to the sale, Arista must still obtain various permits from the Planning Board, Council Chairman Christopher Feeley said Wednesday.

"In the past, I have fought against selling" town-owned property, said Councilor Scott Mason, adding that he voted for it in this instance to help improve the town's finances.

"I don't think it's fair to keep asking people to dip into their pockets," he said, cautioning that people should be clear about how the $2.5 million can be used.

"(Some) residents have a misguided sense of what we can and cannot do with the money. It cannot go into the operating budget, it can't be used to hire teachers or new DPW workers," Mason said.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

"this gift will have increased tenfold"

Posted May 22, 2008 @ 11:05 PM


By sacrificing a Gatorade here, a candy bar there, Franklin High students collected enough dollars to give impoverished families a heifer, llama, pig, goat, or swarm of bees to improve their lives.

For the third year, the students spent four weeks raising money for Heifer International, an organization devoted to ending hunger and poverty by giving families a way to produce food and goods for themselves, rather than short-term relief. The students raised a record-breaking $8,400 in donations, said foreign language teacher Jackie Eckhardt, chairwoman of a teachers committee on global awareness.

As part of the global awareness program, which staff initiated to expose students to cultures around the world, the school has held interactive assemblies for students, Eckhardt said.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Budget Hearing Schedule - 2nd Hearing 5/27/08 at 6:00 PM

Town Council decided not to hold another hearing today and instead will hold a second public hearing and vote on the fiscal 2009 budget next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

So the next budget hearing is Tuesday 5/27/08 at 6:00 PM.

Why 6:00 PM?
The School Committee already has a regular meeting scheduled for 7:00 PM in the same location.

So be prepared for Tuesday to start at 6:00 PM.

From the town's perspective, it's a matter of not filling positions

Posted May 22, 2008 @ 01:08 AM


During the first of two public hearings on Franklin's fiscal 2009 budget, Councilor Robert Vallee announced he will recommend adding two new police officers to the force.

Neither Police Chief Stephen T. Williams nor Fire Chief Gary McCarraher could answer affirmatively when Vallee asked whether they felt comfortable protecting citizens with their department's budget.

"I can't tell you I feel comfortable. ... Things begin to fall apart" when the Fire Department has to respond to multiple, simultaneous calls, McCarraher said.

In his initial budget request, Williams sought two additional officers as police work in Franklin continues to increase, including handling children, the elderly, traffic and safety, he said.

"In past years, those areas had significant increases in caseload," said Williams.

The Police Department employees 46 sworn officers, including the chief and deputy chief - well below the norm for towns like Franklin, Williams said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Cicada Tracking

An interesting site appeared on my reading radar thanks to the folks at UniversalHub; Massachusetts Cicadas.

Living in Massachusetts, unfortunately, there aren't many species of Cicadas to study so this site will be focused on studying the cicadas of New England along taking part in field trips to other states and studying the cicadas there.

So far, I have managed to document several different species of Cicadas in Massachusetts. Those being Tibicen auletes, Tibicen lyricen, Tibicen canicularis, Tibicen chloromera and Okanagana rimosa. Massachusetts even has Periodical Cicadas from Brood XIV which is a 17 year variety.

Since 2004, Okanagana rimosa has proved to be an elusive little insect. Fortunately, in the summer of 2007 shortly after my return trip from the mid west to study Brood XIII periodical cicadas, I did in fact find a sustainable population of Okanagana rimosa in a town in central Massachusetts known as Montague. More information on this interesting periodic-like little insect can be found here.

Also Brood XIV periodical Cicadas, a species of Cicadas that emerge once every 17 years also makes an appearance in Massachusetts along Cape Cod, Barnstable Plymouth counties. These are not scheduled to appear here until 2008.

So if you would like to know more about cicadas in MA and New England, visit this site.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Last day to register to vote

Every vote counts.

Make sure you are registered.

If you are not going to be in town for the vote on June 10th, obtain an absentee ballot from the Town Clerk.

Ashland voted on their override yesterday and the margin was 49 votes.

Every vote counts.

Make sure your cast your vote on June 10th!

Budget Hearing Postponed

Posted May 21, 2008 @ 12:37 AM


After meeting for 25 minutes last night, the Town Council unanimously voted to postpone the first of two public hearings on the fiscal 2009 budget because it could not be televised.

Council Chairman Christopher Feeley made the motion, saying, "I think it needs to be televised."

"We apologize to the public and are rectifying the situation by postponing the meeting," Feeley said.

The council continued the hearing to 7:05 tonight, and will likely continue the second hearing, originally planned for tonight, to Thursday.

So if you did try to find the meeting on cable last night and didn't, know you know why.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Industry: Liko New Disposable Repositioning Sheet

New Disposable Repositioning Sheet for Hospitals and Nursing Homes

    FRANKLIN, Mass., May 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Liko, a leading supplier of
patient lifting equipment, has announced the launch of a new disposable
repositioning sheet. Repositioning patients in bed is often cited as one of
the most potentially dangerous care tasks for caregivers and may account
for between 45% to 60% of bedside patient handling injuries.

The new sheet, designated the Solo RepoSheet(TM), is designed for those
patients and residents with specific needs such as isolation patients,
where specific needs exist to control infection and cross-contamination, or
where a method is needed consistent with current laundry control practices.
Outbreaks of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and C.diff
(Clostridium difficile) and new CMS regulations have greatly increased the
demand for products that can help control nosocomial or
institution-acquired infections.

The Solo RepoSheet is usually applied above the fitted sheet and below
the draw sheet, but can be used in place of the draw sheet. Because the
Solo RepoSheet rests under the patient ready to be used, the sheet is not
composed of ordinary disposable paper-like material, but a fabric made of
100% light weave breathable cotton. The soft fabric was especially selected
for the patient's comfort. The Solo RepoSheet is a single patient use sheet
which should be disposed of when it becomes soiled or when the patient no
longer needs it.

As part of a Safe Lifting Initiative in Healthcare, the Solo RepoSheet
is used in combination with a facility's existing overhead (ceiling) or
mobile floor lifts. In addition to eliminating rotational and compression
forces associated with moving patients up in bed, the Solo RepoSheet can
eliminate cumulative trauma associated with turning patients, holding them
in side-lying, and rotating a patient from supine to prone.

In order to facilitate these patient handling actions, each Solo
RepoSheet has five strap loops sewn securely to each side. One strap loop
is color coded to indicate the head end of the sheet. The strap joints are
sewn onto the sheet without pressure points for maximum comfort and skin
safety. While laundering does not impact the sheet's safety or physical
properties, the original label disintegrates upon washing and exposes a "DO
NOT USE" symbol to prohibit use with other patients.

For more information on the Solo RepoSheet(TM), write to Liko at 122
Grove Street, Franklin, MA 02038, e-mail at, call them at
1-888-545-6671, or visit them at

FRANKLIN TOWN COUNCIL - Agenda - 5/21/08


May 21, 2008

7:00 PM







q FY 2009 Budget2nd Public Hearing

q Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-616: Amendment to Chp. 185, Town Code: Adult Entertainment Establishments Districts- Public Hearing - CANCELLED

q Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-617: Amendment to Chp. 185, Town Code: Water Resource District – Public Hearing

q Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-618: Amendment to Chp. 185, Town Code: Biotechnology Uses – Public Hearing

q Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-619: Amendment to Chp. 185-5: Zoning Map - Biotechnology Use – Public Hearing

G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS - Piccadilly Pub – Transfer of License, Change of Manager, Pledge of Stock




q Resolution 08-35: Adoption of FY 2009 Annual Budget
q Resolution 08-36: Declaration of Town-Owned Land (Four Corners Property) As Surplus and Available for Disposition
q Resolution 08-37: Authorization for Disposition (Sale) of Town-Owned Land (Four Corners Property)
q Resolution 08-38: Appropriation: Forfeited Bond Funds – Wadsworth Farm
q Bylaw Amendment 08-621: Amendment of Service Fees – Curbside Trash – 2nd Reading
q Bylaw Amendment 08-624: Amendment to Sewer System Map – 1st Reading





O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

register to vote by May 21st

If you are of age, please register to vote. Visit the Town Clerks office at the Municipal Building. You would need to register to vote by May 21st.

If you are going to be out of town on June 10th, you can pick up an absentee ballot at the Town Clerks office.

If you can't visit the Town Clerks office in person, you will need to write a letter explaining why you are out of town on the 10th (attending school, etc.). An email is not sufficient, they need your signature for the records so an "old fashioned" either hand written or typed note will do the trick.

Spread the word to register to vote. Franklin Schools need the money from this override.

If you need details on the Town Budget or School budget, visit the Town web site

The School Committee blog

Town Budget Hearings Tues/Weds 7:00 PM

According to the Franklin School Committee blog, there are two Town Budget Hearings scheduled for Tuesday, May 20 and Wednesday, May 21. Both scheduled for 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building.

Wednesday is also a scheduled Town Council meeting although there is no agenda posted and I have been able to find a confirmation of the Town Budget Hearings either.

Tune into the local cable or stop by the Municipal Building to attend this meetings in person.

I will be traveling on business and unable to report on them for you to read here.

Understanding the Special Education Budget

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 7:00pm

Linda Waters, Director of Pupil Personal Services and Jeffrey Roy, chairman of the School Committee will lead a panel discussion on how Special Eduction receives funds in the Town of Franklin. During these difficult fiscal times a clear understanding of how the system works will benefit all parties involved. Jeffrey Roy will also give us an update concerning the upcoming over-ride vote that will take place in June. Please join us for this open discussion.


From the Town Crier