I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Here’s a brief update on recent school issues in Franklin…
The Late Bus is back! Late bus service for middle and high school students resumes this week after the Town Council approved a $10,000 appropriation. The money came from funds set aside for the town many years ago by a local developer. The four buses carried hundreds of riders each week during the 2007-08 academic year, helping students who stayed after school for extra help, detention, clubs or extra-curricular activities. Kudos to the Town Council for a decision that means a great deal to students and working parents throughout the community!
The School Building Committee held its inaugural meeting last week. This volunteer group includes town and school officials as well as private citizens who are experts in architecture, finance, design and engineering. Chaired by Tom Mercer, the committee’s mission is to oversee either the replacement or renovation of Franklin High School; decide the fate of the numerous modular classrooms that have surpassed their life expectancy; and, to map out renovations needed at the Davis Thayer, Parmenter and Kennedy schools, our oldest elementary facilities.
Several Franklin programs have earned accreditation from the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The latest to win this recognition for educational quality are the ECDC and the Kennedy School kindergarten. The kindergarten at Oak Street earned NAEYC accreditation last year. The kindergartens at Davis Thayer and Parmenter earned the distinction in 2005 and are currently working towards re-accreditation, which occurs every five years. Jefferson and Keller are hoping to become accredited in 2011.
Franklin High School Principal Pamela Gould has notified the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., of the impact of recent budget decisions. The Association is the accrediting body for high schools in this region. The loss of 16 high school positions, including an instructional technology slot, forced the elimination of Woodshop, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) I and II, Public Speaking, Journalism, French V, and French AP courses. Meanwhile average class sizes increased to two to nine students, depending on the subject.
The notification to the NASC came just a few weeks after Franklin High fared relatively well in a study commissioned by Boston Magazine. Based on a complex and somewhat controversial analysis conducted by Elaine Allen, research director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College, FHS ranked right in the middle of the pack in terms of cost efficiency (72nd out of 143 schools) and in the top half of the group in academic performance (62nd). You can view the rankings online at http://www.bostonmagazine.com/best_high_school_chart/index.html. The feature articles can be found at http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/the_best_schools_2008/.
Many parents have begun a letter-writing and e-mail campaign in an effort to have a school schedule adopted that allows classes to begin after Labor Day. Proponents of the change cite school calendars in other districts, such as Medway, in which several professional development days are scheduled in late August so that students do not start the academic year until after the holiday. Parents’ views on this topic are welcome. The School Committee typically discusses and votes on the school calendar in the spring. Stay tuned.
And finally, the School Committee hopes to name a new superintendent this month. It is likely we will discuss internal candidates for the post at our upcoming meeting on October 14. If all goes well, a final discussion and vote could occur as soon as the Committee meeting on October 28.
These e-mails are provided as a constituent service. I try to distribute at least one e-mail update each month during the school year, as issues warrant. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you are receiving duplicate e-mails or if you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list. If you know of someone you would like to add to the list, please send along their e-mail address.
Ed Cafasso, Member
Franklin School Committee