Saturday, April 12, 2008

FINCOM Meeting Summary 4/9/08

I did not manage to capture all of the meeting but what I was able to capture during the first hour is written of and or recorded as follows:

FINCOM: Facilities - Demand/Response opportunity (...

FINCOM: Facilities - Gas/Electric Bidding (audio)

FINCOM: Facilities - lighting (audio)

FINCOM: Facilities Budget FY 09 Overview (audio)

FINCOM: Library Budget FY 09 (audio)

FINCOM: Technology Budget FY 09 (audio)

FINCOM: Comptroller Budget FY 09 (audio)

FINCOM - Facilities

FINCOM - Town budge review

FINCOM - Library

FINCOM: Facilities - Demand/Response opportunity (audio)

Mike D'Angelo talks with Brett Feldman and the Finance Committee about the next opportunity for cost saving in the utilities area as they discuss "demand/response".

Time: 3 minutes, 22 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Facilities - Gas/Electric Bidding (audio)

Mike D'Angelo reviews the commodity bidding process for gas and electric for the town facilities and how this alone has saved millions of dollars over the ten years or so since he started this process first with the school buildings.

Time: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Facilities - lighting (audio)

Mike D'Angelo reviews the efforts to provide efficient lighting in the town facilities with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), etc.

Time: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Facilities Budget FY 09 Overview (audio)

From the Franklin Finance Committee meeting 4/9/08, Mike D'Angelo reviews the budget for the facilities. One of the good pieces of work done to reduce cost by managing on a rationale and consolidated approach.

Time: 10 minutes, 4 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Library Budget FY 09 (audio)

From the Franklin Finance Committee meeting on 4/9/08, the discussion on the Library Budget for FY 09. Felicia Oti, Jeff Nutting were key participants.

Time: 21 minutes, 14 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Technology Budget FY 09 (audio)

From the Finance Committee meeting on 4/9/08, the discussion on the Technology budget for FY 09. Jeff Nutting, Tim Raposa, Ken Norman, Jim Roche amongst others.

Time: 12 minutes, 16 seconds

MP3 File

FINCOM: Comptroller Budget FY 09 (audio)

From the Finance Committee meeting on 4/9/08, the discussion on the Comptroller budget for FY 2009. Jeff Nutting, Susan Gagner, Ken Norman, Rebecca Cameron, and Jim Roche participate.

TIme: 12 minutes, 44 seconds

MP3 File

The proposed Town budget can be found here (PDF).

Regionalization, consolidation, two avenues to explore

In order to maintain a sufficient level of service in any industry, it is imperative to look at the process and the cost drivers. While much has been said and written on the rising costs for employees and they generally account for much of the overall costs in a company; the employees are only one leg of the three leg stool: people, process, technology.

Technology for technology sake is expensive. Technology implemented properly should enable the the people to execute the process more effectively and more efficiently, hence in a less costly manner. Then and only then does technology provide a return on investment in a short period. But you don't look at technology first.

Assume you have the best people, and start by looking at the process. Are they working in the most efficient and effective manner? If not, identify the steps in the process that hinder effectiveness and make changes. Goldratt's Theory of Constraints is a good model to follow.

As you work the constraints out of the process, you can look to apply technology. You may also find that the employees require additional training or that some may not be a good fit for the new process. Making those adjustments on a continuous and phased process will ensure continued improvement.

Part of the process evaluation should include an examination of the scope of work. Massachusetts is a commonwealth of 351 communities all self governed, most with their own municipal infrastructure: police, fire, library, schools, etc. It is time to look carefully at some of these areas to see where and how either regionalization or consolidation can help each local community continue to provide services but at a reasonable cost to the community.

Franklin has taken steps in this area with the consolidation of facilities, data processing and the current discussion underway on the consolidation of maintenance services. Properly done this will ensure delivery of service at the best cost. It may not guarantee a reduced cost, some cost factors will still be rising but the management of them will be done one time instead of multiple times (one department, not two or three).

The Milford Daily News last week had an article on this topic and the Marlborough Fire Chief was quoted as saying:
"Is (regionalization) possible? Absolutely," he said. "Is it feasible, able to be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time? No, not with what I'm looking at. I'm not opposed to regionalization or the concept of it, but there's a lot that goes into the makeup of trying to regionalize."
It will take time but the time to start is now. This is no reason to wait.

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the News - fire station open house, blues at Cottage St Pub

Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 11:31 PM


Eight years after the idea was first proposed, the town has a new fire station.

To mark the occasion, the department is hosting a dedication ceremony tomorrow and inviting the public inside for a look around.

"We're thrilled," said Fire Chief Gary McCarraher. "Our employees went from the old station, which was virtually crumbling, to (13 months in) a trailer.

"It's great to get them into a professional place to conduct business," McCarraher said of the new $9.3 million building constructed on the site of the former station at 40 West Central St.

"The troops really suffered during construction. It was cramped, especially in the winter," he said.

McCarraher and Lou Allevato, chairman of the Fire Station Building Committee, Town Council Chairman Chris Feeley and other dignitaries will speak at the dedication, which begins at 11 a.m.

The station will be open for public tours until 2 p.m.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News


Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 11:13 PM


A local pub owner has given the green light to the blues.

Inspired by the widely known Yard Rock Cafe in Quincy, Cottage Street Pub owner Phil Butkevich is bringing the blues to town this month.

Those who are blues fans run "from one end of the spectrum to the other - the blue collar worker to the white collar worker," Butkevich said.

"It's good sitting music, and it's good if you want to dance. Sometimes you're at a club, and the music's kind of loud. Personally, I think when you look at bands and hear the trombone, brass, bass and bugles, you're getting better quality sound," he said.

Every weekend this month, Butkevich will host at least one blues band from the Interstate 495/Rhode Island area at his 130-person-capacity pub.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Franklin School Budget Reductions (updated)

A few minor updates have come in to render this new version:

Thank you for your inputs

In the News - override, library, budget

Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 01:08 AM


The idea of a tax override to prevent massive school layoffs has drawn mixed reaction so far.

The School Committee plans to talk with the Town Council and Finance Committee about giving townspeople an alternative to the cuts that will be required under the budget proposed by Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

While Nutting's budget gives $800,000 more for schools than last year's budget of $54.6 million (a 1.5 percent increase, totaling $55.4 million), the district needs $58.6 million - a 7.4 percent increase - just to maintain the same level of services and keep teachers and staff, said School Superintendent Wayne Ogden.

Ogden has outlined some of the major impacts of accepting Nutting's proposed budget of $55.4 million: 45 layoffs (mostly teachers), elimination of the late bus, a pay-to-ride fee hike, and increased class sizes.

Town Councilor Stephen Whalen said he "fully supports" putting a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override question before voters.

"It would be extremely difficult to get it passed, but in my opinion, its passage would be in the best interests of the town," Whalen said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News


Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 01:02 AM


In continued budget hearings last night, the Finance Committee approved several departmental budgets including a reduction in the library budget that the library director adamantly opposed.

Franklin Public Library Director Felicia Oti requested a $976,985 budget, a figure that would allow her to fund replacing two full-time-equivalent positions in the children's department, but the committee instead approved about $800,000 as proposed by Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

The library's budget last year was $925,196, said Finance Committee Chairman Jim Roche.

Prior to the vote, Oti argued that the library is understaffed and that morale is at "an all-time low."

"It's the lowest it's been in the 10 years I've been at the library," Oti said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

FINCOM - Facilities

Mike D'Angelo explaining the building usage, added the new DPW building, the new Senior Center, adding the new Fire Station.

Explaining the internal phone system, a private network using lease lines for all internal departmental calls. Cheaper than the phone company.

Custodial staff are part time, adding two to cover the additional buildings.


Library only building not using compact florescent lighting (CFL).

Bids out gas and electric as commodity. Buy without huge risk, gets pretty good pricing. Saved millions of dollars over the ten years he did this with the schools and then the town buildings.


FINCOM - Town budge review

The Town Budget is available on the Town web site (PDF)

FINCOM - Library

Morale amongst library staff is at its lowest in the ten years that Felicia has been here.

Franklin's library is in the Top 20% of attendance, bottom 29% of purchases for books and materials, top 14% for hours open.


Jeff Nutting says times are tough, we need enough to get by and do more next year.


Mike D'Angelo on the Library status: Expecting final plans for work to correct the situation in the library, going out to bid in late May so they should be able to go forward in the summer. They'll come back to get funding for those repairs.


FINCOM approved budget as submitted.

In the News - consolidation, override talk raised


At its budget hearing tomorrow night, the Finance Committee will discuss possibly bringing the School Department's $5 million maintenance budget under the town's jurisdiction, a contentious issue between Town Council members and the School Committee.

The Finance Committee will make a recommendation on the change in its budget package to Town Council by April 18, said Finance Committee Chairman James Roche.

Roche and Town Councilor Robert R. Vallee said they support the consolidation, as proposed by Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News


The School Committee last night decided to send Chairman Jeffrey Roy to start discussions with the Finance Committee and Town Council about presenting voters with an override ballot question this year.

The committee is not advocating for an override, but members said they want to give voters the option in a year when the School Department faces 45 layoffs and other town departments will suffer from budget cuts.

The committee unanimously voted to propose two school options, a budget that would be close to level-funded, and one which would keep the same level of services, and which would require the override.

The close to level-funded budget would have a 1.5 percent, $800,000, increase over this year's $54.6 million budget, reaching $55.4 million. The level-services budget would rise 7.4 percent, or $4.1 million, hiking the budget to $58.6 million.

Both options will be discussed with the Finance Committee at the budget hearing Monday night.

A level-service budget would enable the district to maintain its staff and programs

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Monday, April 7, 2008

Franklin School Committee Meeting Agenda 4/8/08


Call to order Mr. Roy

Pledge of Allegiance

Moment of Silence

  1. Routine Business

  • Citizen’s Comments

  • Review of Agenda

  • Minutes:

I recommend approval of the minutes from the March 25, 2008 School Committee Meeting.

  • Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly

  • Payroll Ms. Armenio

  • FHS Student Representatives

  • Correspondence:

    1. Budget to Actual

    2. Letter from Representative James Vallee regarding Portable Classrooms

  1. Guests/Presentations:

    1. Prudential Spirit of Community Award Honoring Remington Middle School student

    2. Remington 6th Grade Project Report

    3. Signing of the Educational Support Personnel (ESP) Contract

  1. Discussion Only Items

  • School Choice for 2008-2009 school year

  • 2009-2010 School Calendar

  • Second Reading of Policy JEA Entrance Age

  • Second Reading of Policy JFAA-R Residency

  • FY 2009 Budget – FinCom and Council presentations

  • FHS Building Project & Building Committee

  1. Action Items:

  1. I recommend approval of the FY 2009 budget at the level service amount of (7.4%) $58,687,804.

  2. I recommend approval of continuing the School Choice Program for the 2008-2009 school year.

  3. I recommend approval of the 2009-2010 School Calendar

  4. I recommend adoption of Policy JEA Entrance Age

  5. I recommend adoption of Policy JFAA-R Residency

  6. I recommend acceptance of a check for $800.00 for a portable washing station for the Davis Thayer art teachers from the Davis Thayer PCC

  7. I recommend acceptance of a check for $35.72 from Follett Educational Services for surplus books for the Parmenter gift account.

  8. I recommend acceptance of a check for $2625.00 from the Annie Sullivan PCC for the 7th grade field trip to McAuliffe Center.

  9. I recommend acceptance of a check for $154.83 from Target for 8th grade field trip to YMCA in Hopkinton, MA.

  10. I recommend acceptance of a check for $198.00 from the Davis Thayer PCC for library books for DT.

  11. I recommend approval of the request of FHS for the Track Team to participate in the Penn Relays from 4/23 to 4/25/08 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Mt. Laurel New Jersey.

  12. I recommend approval of the request of FHS for the Football Team to participate in the Athletic Program & Retreat at Camp Cobbossee in Winthrop, ME from 8/21 to 8/24/08.

  13. I recommend approval of the request of Keller Elementary School for the 5th grade class trip to Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI on 5/2/08.

  1. Information Matters:

  • Superintendent’s Report

    1. School Choice 2008-2009

    2. School Calendar for 2009-2010

    3. Enrollment Comparison for 3-30-07 and 3-28-08

    4. Consolidation

    5. Online Courses

  • School Committee Sub-Committee Reports

  • School Committee Liaison Reports

  1. New Business:

  • To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

  1. Executive Session

  • Contractual Negotiations – FEA side letters and early retirement

  1. Adjourn

A letter from Ed Cafasso

Hi everyone,

At this Tuesday evening’s School Committee meeting, members will discuss how to handle the massive proposed cuts your community’s schools are facing in fiscal year 2009, which begins July 1. You can expect several updates on this topic in the weeks ahead.

The Town of Franklin, on average, spends $2,200 less per pupil than the average for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state Department of Education tracks school district spending in 11 categories, including administration, professional development, pupil services and operations and maintenance. Franklin spends above the state average in only one of the 11 categories – classroom teachers.

In fact, approximately 80 percent of our budget is driven by compensation to teachers. Over years of grappling with school budgets, the Committee has always tried to protect classroom personnel in order to maintain reasonable class sizes for our students.

But, unless we can improve school funding for the coming fiscal year, it’s unlikely that Franklin will be able to claim an advantage in that category any more.

The current school budget is $54.6 million. In order to maintain the same level of services in the new school year, a budget of $58.7 million is required to meet rising salary, healthcare, pension and utility costs. Maintaining the exact same level of services we are providing this year would mean an additional appropriation of $4 million.

Despite receiving an increase in Chapter 70 state educational aid of $2.2 million, town tax revenues are down overall, so the Town Administrator proposing to give schools only $800,000 more in fiscal 2009.

In order to fulfill our responsibility to submit a balanced budget to the Town Council, the School Committee and Supt. Ogden are considering $3.2 million in cuts, including:

  • 15 teaching positions at elementary level

  • 12.5 teaching positions at middle school

  • 17 teaching positions at FHS

  • A $100 increase in the pay-to-ride bus fee hike, and

  • The end of late bus service for students who need to stay after school for academic, club and extracurricular programs.

Last year, even passage of the town’s first-ever override was not enough to help the budget keep pace with escalating costs, and the schools cut 28 positions. The vast majority of those terminations were not educational positions. This year, the 45.5 jobs slated for elimination will have a direct, negative impact on class sizes in Franklin for the first time.

At Franklin High School, where a reasonable class size range is 22 to 26 students, the class size in September will balloon to 25 to 30. Middle school class sizes will range from 25 to 30, as well. Class sizes in most of the town’s elementary schools will push well past appropriate levels, and will feature 26 to 30 students each this fall.

At our most recent meeting, school principals expressed deep concern over their ability to deliver a top quality academic experience to students if these cuts go through. One even predicted that Franklin’s test scores, which have been outstanding despite lower-than-average per pupil spending, will begin showing declines in only one year.

Members of the School Committee – as well as members of the Town Council and the Finance Committee – need to hear your concerns and recommendations on how to proceed. Everyone recognizes that these are tough economic times, but disinvesting in our schools has no good outcome. It will not help our children prepare for their own economic future. It will not maintain our quality of life. It will not stabilize home prices in Franklin.

Please let me know your thoughts on the current situation. In the meantime, the following links provide additional information on budget proposals and discussions:

School Budget Information Home Page:

PowerPoint Overview on Proposed FY09 School Budget:

Complete Proposed FY09 Budget by School:

Franklin School Committee Web Site:

Franklin Town Council Web Site:

Franklin Matters Blog:

Franklin Town Common Discussion Site:

I hope you will use these sources, as well as newspaper reports, PCC meetings and cable broadcasts, to stay informed as budget discussions continue. As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you!

Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee

In the News - Seniors play Wii


Watch out, bingo. Wii has got seniors cheering, jumping out of their seats and swinging the "Wiimote" faster than they can stamp a square.

After reading that senior citizens are the second largest market for Nintendo Wii, Susan Bonvilar, director of enrollment for Suffolk University students at Dean College, decided to bring the video game system, to the Forge Hill Senior Living Center.

Last week, one dozen seniors offered stiff competition for six students in the Suffolk University Networking Club based at Dean, in their first Wii-bowling tournament at the center.

They rolled up in wheelchairs, put aside walkers, and grabbed hold of the Wiimote, a remote control which simulates a bowling ball.

"I love it. I love it because I like to bowl, I always used to bowl," said Janet Caton, a senior at the center who played for the second time last week.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In the news - how to handle stormwater

The Boston Globe Globe West section features an article today on how local towns are handling storm water. Franklin is amongst those mentioned. The new technology for handling this run off will get more discussion as the downtown redevelopment plans move forward.

"Before, the thinking was just to get the water off the road for safety reasons, and there wasn't much thought given to pollution," said Denise Zambrowski, storm-water manager for the town of Franklin. "But we have 48 miles of streams and 266 acres of ponds, and 95 percent of our watershed ends up in the Charles River. We are now giving storm water a serious look."

Zambrowski said the town recently received a $131,000 federal matching grant to pay for several projects, including installing a man-made wetland area or other technology to capture runoff from a large condominium development near Route 140. Storm water from the complex, which has approximately 200 units, flows through overflow pipes directly into Mine Brook, a tributary of the Charles.

Franklin, like a number of other area communities, is also considering redeveloping its town center to make it more pedestrian and retail-friendly, and officials are considering measures such as storm-water planters as part of the redesign, she said.

Read the full article here.

Survey says

Yes, this has been operating long enough (five months) to run a few surveys to generate some feedback on how to continue to develop this site, or not.

The survey has one question. You can find it on the right column.

Thanks for visiting and sharing your feedback!

Brick Classroom FY09 budget status (audio)

A segment from the Franklin School Committee meeting on 2/26/08, Supt Wayne Ogden answers a question from Sue Rohrbach on the Brick FY09 budget status.

Time: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

MP3 File

The full segment from which this piece was taken can be found here.

The full meeting summary can be found here.

Pay to Ride or 20 Teachers? (audio)

A segment from the Franklin School Committee FY09 budget discussion during the 2/26/08 meeting, one option to save some teachers (instead of cutting 45 positions) would be cutting instead the entire pay-to-ride program. Supt Wayne Ogden explains.

Time: 2 minutes, 4 seconds

MP3 File

The full segment from which this piece was taken can be found here.

The full meeting summary can be found here.

Where in Franklin? #43

Where in Franklin? #43, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Hmm, where in Franklin would you find this white mill structure?

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

Where in Franklin? Answer #42

Where in Franklin? Answer #42, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Yes, the giant fish netting in picture #42 can be found along RT 140 as part of the Franklin Country Club driving range.

Thanks for playing. How about someone giving ltsjs some competition? ltsjs has been on a streak!

Stay tuned for the next opportunity to discover "Where in Franklin?"

Franklin Schools Art Gallery - April 14th

FHS_Gallery1, originally uploaded by shersteve.

From Mike Caple via the Franklin School Committee blog:
The Art Department has been working this year to open a Franklin Public Schools K-12 Art Gallery. All the teachers in the department work tremendously hard to teach the students relevant art skills and thinking strategies. We believe it is important to get the results out of the class room and share it with the greater community. The new gallery space is yet another way we can share with the community.

The new gallery space, Gallery 218, is located in the old bank space at Franklin High School. I want to stress that even though the space is housed at FHS the gallery is K-12. The work that will be on display for the first show will represent all buildings in the district. We are calling it Young Artists 08! The art work is from this year’s Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards entries and work that is currently at the Worcester Art Museum as part of the Youth Art Month Program.

I would like to invite all of you to the Inaugural Exhibition Opening of Gallery 218! The opening will take place Monday April 14th from 6:30-8:30pm and is free to all. That evening we will also be running an Empty Bowls event to continue to raise money for the Franklin Food Pantry. A $5 donation will allow you to pick out your own mug or plate and fill it with hot chocolate, coffee, or sweet treats. I do hope you can join us.
Note: Mike Caple is the K-12 Art Director for Franklin schools. The "old bank space" in case you are not familiar with it, is located off the cafeteria at the High School.

In the News - still hope for Brick?

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 05, 2008 @ 10:45 PM


The little Red Brick School House that could just might.
Despite the School Committee's recent action banning the targeted donations on which the historic school is dependent for operation costs, the Brick School House Association remains optimistic about keeping it open, members said following their biannual meeting last Tuesday.
``As of right now, it's (funding) still in the School Committee's budget, so we're being optimistic. Until we know for sure otherwise, we're assuming it will be open'' next year, said Sandra Hunter, a Brick School House Association board member.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Brick is the least of Franklin's budget problems, loosing 45 teachers is far bigger an issue that needs to be addressed.

I provide additional editorial comment here.

Franklin Blogger: Susan Speers

Susan Speers writes:
Are you due to get a tax refund or an "economic stimulus rebate" this spring? Why not spend it on energy-saving improvements or other steps to reduce your carbon footprint? The Bush rebate of $1,200 for a working couple might not pay all the cost of a solar-powered hot water system but it would go a long way for less intensive, smaller-ticket items! A few ideas for the typical Massachusetts home:
Click through to read if one of the dozen ideas she lists would be something you could do.