"We're in a little bit of a holding pattern"
By Rachel Lebeaux Globe Correspondent / June 22, 2008
More than 40 schoolteachers are expected to lose their jobs after Franklin voters turned down a tax increase, but town leaders are still searching for ways to inject money into the cash-strapped school system.
Last week, Town Councilor Bob Vallee asked the council to consider transferring $1 million from the town's stabilization account to the school department in order to retain some of the teachers. The council's chairman, Chris Feeley, agreed to hold a discussion at its July 9 meeting.
Part of the budget crunch for next fiscal year stemmed from town officials' reluctance to dip into Franklin's stabilization fund, which stands at $4.3 million, as they have in previous budget cycles.
"We're building schools for education, not for phys ed, not for the arts, not for community events"
The town of Wellesley has a vision: a $159 million new high school, where its students will have access to a theater, a state-of-the-art broadcast studio, and an indoor track. In Norwood, the plan is to spend $80 million to $100 million on a new high school with a gym large enough to replace the two they have now, and maybe even a replica of the old school's landmark clock tower.
Both plans face a major hurdle: the state, on which each project depends for significant funding help.
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill has made it clear that he will use the power of the purse to control the costs of local school projects. He criticized the Wellesley proposal for being too extravagant, likening it to the new Newton North High School under construction for $197.5 million. He vowed to prevent any more such projects in Massachusetts, saying earlier this year that the state's job is "not to build Taj Mahals."
Norwood has already received the go-ahead from the state to design its project, along with a commitment for funding, although the money is conditional on the school's final design being approved. Wellesley has yet to even meet with the state. Officials in both towns are concerned that they won't be allowed to build the schools they want, or believe their communities can afford, and Cahill is doing little to allay those fears.
Read the full article in the Boston Sunday Globe West section here