Saturday, June 14, 2008

Commuter Rail Alert for this weekend

Saturday and Sunday June 14th and 15th

All Providence commuter rail trains will operate on Track 2 between Canton Junction and Mansfield.

Ruggles commuter rail station will be closed, to all commuter rail traffic; customers are advised to use the Orange line from Back Bay to Ruggles throughout this weekend with service returning to normal Monday, June 15th Saturday, June 14th and continuing through Tuesday, June 17th

Hyde Park Station will be closed to all commuter rail traffic. During this time all trains scheduled to stop at Hyde Park will make a special stop at Readville.

Saturday and Sunday - The trains will depart Readville at the scheduled Hyde Park departure time.

Monday and Tuesday - The trains will depart Readville two (2) minutes earlier that the scheduled Hyde Park departure time.

Customers should travel on the #32 MBTA bus from Hyde Park Avenue to Readville or to Forest Hills station where they can also pick up the Orange Line, to and from Boston.

Trains will depart South Station and the normal schedule departure time throughout this disruption.

Expected Delays

Saturday, June 14th passengers for all Needham, Franklin and Providence Line trains should expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes due to the various track work projects.

Sunday, June 15th Franklin and Providence Line passengers can expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

For the week of Monday, June 16th through Friday, June 20th

Passengers traveling on the Franklin, Stoughton and Providence Lines should expect residual delays of up to 15 minutes due to this project.

We apologize to the regular riders of these trains for any inconvenience this may cause.

Commuter rail service information is available on the MBTA website at, or by calling the MBTA Customer Support Services Center at 617-222-3200.

In the News - Douglas retires, Consolidation goes to the lawyers

Posted Jun 14, 2008 @ 12:02 AM


After 33 years teaching at the historic Red Brick School, Cindy Douglas had her last milk and cookies with her beloved students - those still digging tunnels in the sandbox, and the gray-haired ones alike.

"This is great - absolutely wonderful," Douglas said, between hugging a seemingly endless stream of alumni and parents of students at the school who celebrated her retirement at the school yesterday.

"These children are second and third children - I had some of their parents. I loved getting up every the morning to here. It's really not a job - it's fun and I like being here," Douglas said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Posted Jun 14, 2008 @ 12:03 AM


Unhappy with a memorandum of understanding on the town's takeover of the School Department's $5.5 million maintenance account, the School Committee has decided to send the document to lawyers representing the town and schools.

The committee tabled a vote this week to consolidate facilities with the town, which has been a controversial issue since first broached last year, though several members said they would agree to a modified version.

On June 4, Town Council approved the consolidation. Councilors and Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting have advocated for the merger because they believe it will create greater efficiencies and "make a good thing better."

Custodians and groundskeepers, including schools Facilities Director Mike D'Angelo, have objected to the move, saying they do not understand how it benefits anyone.

Both the School Committee and Town Council must approve the consolidation according to Massachusetts law, officials have said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Override failure reasons - my 2 cents

Why did the override fail?

By the numbers, 1600 yes votes from last year did not vote yes this year:
  • 500 of them chose to vote no.
  • Just over 1000 stayed home and chose not to vote at all.
What happened to these yes votes?

I think there are a number of reasons.

Apathy is always a factor - "My vote won't make a difference." On a national scale, the individual vote does not count for a whole lot. On the local scale, one vote is ONE vote.

Town priorities - The school budget is always a town matter. The School Department and Superintendent are properly advocates for what they need. The Finance Committee provides some oversight and validation but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Town Council. So while this year (and last) the School Committee brought forth what they needed to maintain the level of education that they were providing, the Town Council chose to follow the beat of their own drummer. Last year the Town planned for the override in advance and included town operations in the override amount. This year, the Town set the schools up on their own and only allowed an override when forced by the School Committee and the presence of growing support within the community. Alas, the support was not enough to carry all the way through.

Mis-information - The hearsay, mis-information and inaccuracies were prevalent in the community discussions. Trying to get the proper information out to the folks was like swimming against the riptide. The Milford Daily News closed out anonymous comments the day after the vote but the damage was done. The constant naysayers were abusive and out in force. Heaven forbid, you try to get a word in edgewise. The key point on this is the difference between a capital expense and an operational expense. Clearly, the majority of Franklin voters don't understand or appreciate the difference.

The 5 Year Plan - This is another aspect of the Town priorities but an important one. This item was brought up several times during the healthy discussion during the Override of 2007. Everyone agreed it was a good thing to do. During the ensuing year, the Town Council did nothing. They instead chose to sit on the school budget problem and hid it from the voters during the November election. That was more important. Some of the councilors chose to break their own by-laws and put up their election signs for the November election in advance of when they were supposed to. That was more important. Some of those councilors chose to make take pot shots at the School Administration and School Superintendent. Sound bites travel well especially when they are unfounded. Finally, the Town Council appointed a committee to develop a long range plan the week before this years override. Too little too late.

State money - The Town has gotten too used to the largess of the commonwealth and the ability of our local representatives to tap the coffers to fill the Franklin revenue needs. The decade plus time of increasing state aid is likely behind us. Other towns are recognizing what we have benefited from and getting jealous. We could make a case for the increases with a growing enrollment. The enrollment growth is tapering off and so will the state funds. The unwillingness of the Franklin tax payer to dip into their own pocket got proved again. Only one operational override has successfully passed. Don't ask a Franklinite to take money out of their pocket for something they should pay for. If the state won't pay for it, Franklin certainly won't.

I believe the Franklin voters who did not cast their ballots will come to regret their decision. The days of Franklin being selected in Top 10 or Top 100 are over. Digging out of this hole will be the hardest thing to do.

The task of the Five Year Plan Committee will be immense. We, the voters, will have a chance of getting a decent plan. There are two "normal, everyday citizens" on the committee along with the elected and appointed officials. We will have to monitor the committee to ensure that they are open and doing something productive. We can not let the Town Council let this opportunity sit idle.

What can we learn from the failure?

Personally, letting others direct the conversation, reporting the facts, hoping for the best doesn't work.

Action will be required. The level of engagement in the town meetings (especially the Town Council) needs to increase.

You, yes you! Don't sit at home and let the talking heads babble on. Make the effort. Go to the Council Chambers. Show them that there are real live people for whom they should care about what they do. Hold them accountable.

Conversation about what is happening needs to maintain some focus on the real issues. Don't let the agenda hide some items. Ask where is it? Ask what is happening? Ask why?

Together we can come out of the hole. Or separately, we can see our home values decline, or students fall behind, our future dim.

This is our choice.

What choice will you make?

How much does Franklin matter to you?

"we're going in the wrong direction"

Posted Jun 12, 2008 @ 01:36 AM


Now that the $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override has failed, school administrators are bracing for the aftermath: mediating larger enrollment with fewer teachers, the loss of valued teachers, and a blow to morale.

"It was a tough night, and a very tough morning (Wednesday). I have some very emotional staff members. They love this place," said Franklin High School Principal Pamela Gould.

"The top concern I have is kids, the education they get. I worry about the repercussions this will have on them down the road. I worry about my staff finding jobs. As a new principal in town, I worry about the statement the town just made about the value of education. But, they made their statement," Gould said.

Layoffs are now official for the 47 teachers whom administrators notified would not have a contract in May, said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Maureen Sabolinkski.

"Those cuts we'd been discussing will all be implemented, sad to say. The ultimate impact is larger class sizes across the district and reductions in programs," she said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

About time....

Milford Daily News
Posted Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:20 AM

You must now register to comment on our stories.

Readers have been able to comment on stories on our site since October of last year. That feature has sparked some lively debate and allowed greater interaction with our readers – and they with each other – that we welcomed. The feature has also generated some irrational and ugly nastiness. We let the conversations flow pretty freely for the most part – we allowed folks to post anonymously, we moderated with a light hand and left shutting off comments completely as a last resort.

As time has gone on, however, the need to more closely manage comments and commenters has grown. The new registration requirement is simple for users, but will give us more ability to manage comments and keep the conversation civil.

Read the full story here

Note: this applies to both the Franklin Gazette and Milford Daily News.

I took this step some time ago and have not regretted it. My email (shersteve at gmail dot com) is available for anyone who wants to have a civil conversation and does not have either a Blogger or OpenID.

In the News - "you do make a difference in people's lives"

Posted Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:46 AM


Just as Franklin High School Principal Pamela Gould finished praising Assistant Principal Tamatha Bibbo for her work in preventing students from dropping out - at times by literally going to their homes and returning them to school, or taking them to a store to buy them clothes - School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy looked down at his cell phone and went a little pale.

He got the news via text message: The override failed by 888 votes, he announced.

After Gould and Bibbo wrapped up their presentation on preventing dropouts at the high school, Roy told them some townspeople may have been critical of school employees leading up to the override, but their dedication and successes with students are noticed by the School Committee.

read the full story in the Milford Daily News here


Posted Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:44 AM


Townspeople yesterday rejected a $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override by 888 votes with many saying they just could not afford the tax hike.

The vote was 4,294 to 3,402, with 55.8 percent voting against it, said Town Clerk Deborah Pellegri.

The failure of the override is expected to lead to laying off 47 teachers, as well as administrators, elimination of the late bus, an increase in the pay-to-ride bus fee by $100, and the elimination of 24 classes at the high school, among other changes, according to a plan presented by Superintendent Wayne Ogden.

Last year, the town approved a $2.7 million override, also mainly to offset school costs.

Joyce Nash, a senior citizen, said she voted no, even though she is a retired teacher and still substitutes.

She voted for it last year, but simply cannot afford another one, she said.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

"diminished levels of student performance"

I want to thank the voters of Franklin who supported the $2.8 million override for our school system. Your positive vote during difficult times is a true affirmation of the work we do. I also want to recognize Councilors Shannon Zollo and Steve Whalen, Finance Committee member Jim Roche and the School Committee members who spent untold hours educating the community on the need for the override.

Unfortunately, I have failed the students and teachers of the Franklin Public Schools by not securing sufficient support for the override. I am very sorry not to be able to deliver to you the financial support that you rightly deserve. I take full responsibility for this failure.

Despite this regrettable defeat, we will enthusiastically reopen doors next fall. We will welcome the children of Franklin back to school and our teachers and administrators will work tirelessly to make the 2008-2009 school year a success for every one of our 6,254 students. However, the voters of Franklin should be aware that the potential consequences of continuing below average spending on our schools children will include diminished levels of student performance and increased rates of students leaving our schools without graduating. When this occurs, it will have a negative impact on home values and the quality of life in Franklin.

Superintendent Wayne Ogden

"Either we heal as a town or we’re going to crumble"

From Al Pacino's character in Any Given Sunday:
Either we heal as a town or we’re going to crumble;
inch by inch, play by play, until we’re finished. *

As seen in this YouTube clip (caution language)

Thanks to Bruce at Customer Experience Matters for the link.

* yes, I changed one word, from team to town for emphasis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Franklin Override Vote - Difference this year vs. last

Franklin Override June 10, 2008
Difference this year versus last

Precinct Blanks Yes No Totals
Total No Yes
1 0 388 538 926
-104 84 -187
2 1 380 532 913
-155 57 -212
3 0 226 653 879
-87 78 -162
4 0 568 561 1129
-102 109 -210
5 0 355 471 826
-141 56 -196
6 0 343 553 896
-99 81 -179
7 0 637 460 1097
-234 65 -299
8 0 505 522 1027
-144 38 -181
Totals 1 3,402 4,290 7,693
-1066 568 -1626

0.01% 44.2% 55.8%

live reporting -

Kudos to the Oak Street 4th graders who helped filled luminaries for the walk last weekend

Ogden won't get real accurate numbers on enrollment until September

Sue - will make most efficient use of our dollars as we can, don't walk away thinking that the problem is solved until next year when they ask for more. There is a whole lot of work to be done by multiple parties.

Matt - Brick celebrated the 175th anniversary, approximately 1000 folks showed up.

Brick School Open House Friday from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Ogden reads his statement (full text to follow)

live reporting - budget questions

Miriam Goodman responding

deficit in transportation has gone done due to recent transfer, will ask for an additional transfer at the end of the year

FHS sports teams have been winning and due to that success have run a deficit in transportation, we will be able to cover that with transfers from other areas

all deficits will be covered with additional transfers, given only 3 weeks left in the fiscal year, we are in good shape.

Live reporting - superintendent's report

Health group formed, initial meeting held last week

short and long term goals set, meeting schedule established

Sep 4th, a Thursday, is the next meeting

every two months on the first Thursday

Action items

Action Items:

1. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from Sheri Brodeur for the Will Briggs Memorial Scholarship for FHS. ---- approved

2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from the Franklin Country Club for their FCC Hall of Fame Award at FHS. ---- approved

3. I recommend adoption of the 2009-2010 School Calendar. ---- holding for two weeks

4. I recommend acceptance of a check for $100.00 from the Remington PCC for a nurse for the 7th grade field trip to the Museum of Science. ---- approved

5. I recommend reject approval of the Memo of Understanding, recommend sending it back to be worked on the by the attorneys. ---- approved

6. I recommend tabling the approval of the Consolidation of Facilities ---- approved

7. I recommend one FHS athlete to go to the NE Track Meet with appropriate supervision ----- approved

live reporting - Memo of Understanding

Wayne Ogden negotiated with Jeff Nutting
is the result of comprises, it is not a perfect document

Cora - what happens for the money after two years if the plan doesn't work out. There is an arrangement for the vehicles but there is nothing for the money.

Concern about the gasoline charge, open to interpretation as to continued price increases occur, we need some protection.

Need a provision for the principals to run their building

What about the bio-hazard response? The make up of the Town and School Committee may be different two years from now, there needs to be something clarified to protect the town as it goes forward.

Roberta - The initial MOU was longer, so I wonder what was taking out. How do you handle a custodial staff issue? Delivery of services should be equal to current services. I want this to go forward but there are things that have not been sufficiently explained or clarified.

Susan - what happens to the money of the school committee votes against it, also wants better language for the principal to run their building and having appropriate control.

Jeff - letter to accrediting body delivered upon visit for accreditation; overall responsibility for custodians resides with Town Administrator; this conflicts with Ed Reform. Both Town and School need to vote this in effect. There is nothing to prevent the Town Council to vote to give it back also. Hence, there needs to be a plan for that to protect the schools and the town folks.

Live reporting - School Committee

A somber mood in the Council chambers as the meeting continues with the knowledge of the vote results.


Discussion Only Items

· Capitol Needs Update – Mike D’Angelo

discussing the capital requirements for the school facilities
don't put huge amounts of money into the high school
even the generator, if we do something different with the building, the generator will still have useful life
carpeting pricing rising dramatically, primary raw material is oil and we know what is happening in the market with that
there is no funded capital budget either at the town or school level

paraphrasing Mike:
these projects are realistic but not funded
the school items at least can be bonded under state rules and regulations
the portables have 6-7 years life left in them, we own the large and 16 others are leased.
rubber roof guaranteed for 10 years, things will start going on them
we will need space in 6-7 years, the enrollment is not going down
the issue will be similar to a high school, this will be equivalent to a whole school to be replaced.

"you could spend money on the high school, but you don;t know how long the improvement will stay in place (given the decision on the replacement/rebuild pending)."
"the problem with the high school is that we don't have a real plan."

It will be very hard to renovate FHS with students in it.
Horace Mann as well as it was prepared before hand, it was amazing what we found once we opened up the walls. The same thing will happen with the high school.

· Memorandum of Understanding

Franklin Override Tally - June 10, 2008

Franklin Override June 10, 2008

Precinct Blanks Yes No Totals
1 0 388 538 926
2 1 380 532 913
3 0 226 653 879
4 0 568 561 1129
5 0 355 471 826
6 0 343 553 896
7 0 637 460 1097
8 0 505 522 1027
Totals 1 3,402 4,290 7,693

0.01% 44.2% 55.8%

The override failed

The vote for - 3402
The vote against - 4290
The total vote - 7693 (last year 8759)

precinct totals to follow

A sad day for Franklin but the vote is what it is.

Live reporting

heading to the High School fieldhouse for the results.

Science Safety Initiative Presentation

Maureen Sabolinski introducing the science safety presentation. This comes out of the salmonella incident that occurred almost 2 years ago. They have done the study and work to make this happen.

Currently focused on science but will expand to other study areas, like art (due to the ipigment materials) over time.

Laboratory Safety Institute provided training (based in Natick).

Looked for "best practices" to ensure safe learning in the classroom environment. Can't learn if students or teachers are at risk. Need to avoid liability.

Web based document, with hotlinks, can be expanded as necessary to get to the details required. Includes links out to the relevant government regulations and guidelines.

Has an elementary section to cover the aspect of the elementary school curriculum as well.

Document organized by curriculum area as well as by the safety procedures.
The live version will be on the web. Each classroom will have a printed copy for reference.

Butterfly certification from gov't for 3 years to obtain, grow and release according to current procedures.

Obtained two mentors from MA-DEP to help provide advice on operations.

Partnership with US-EPA to obtain a free survey on science and laboratory operations.

Issue with fire blankets, regulations and safety advice have changed. No longer stop, drop, roll and cover with a blanket. With the newer material, the blanket may worsen the fire condition and help to adhere the material to the body. So the procedures have been changed.

"We're trying to leverage what we have for what we don't have."


Tim Hurdlebrink presenting a check for $25,313 from Franklin Education Foundation fund raising efforts for teacher grants. Their efforts are raising in excess of $150,000 over the years. There are 15 grant winners this year; the most ever.

30 applications resulted in 15 funded grants.


FEF has a coffee at the senior center Wednesday evening for meet and greet.

Teacher Retirements - live reporting

Franklin Public Schools Retirements:

1. Joanne Bould

2. Susan Brewster

3. Cindy Douglas

4. Michael Gilmore

5. Nancy Gilmore

6. Jeanne McKenna

7. Diane Newcomb

8. Dennis Pelletier

9. Jean Ristaino

10. Elaine Sumner

11. Sena Anania

12. Suzanne Stilgoe


live reporting from the School Committee meeting


I recommend approval of the minutes from the May 27, 2008 School Committee Meeting.

approved with 1 abstention

Payment of Bills - Mr. Kelly; approved

Payroll - Ms. Armenio; approved


Remington Middle School National Latin Exam Achievement Awards

1. Rachel Ceskavich

2. Gregory Mouradian

b. Remington Middle School National Latin Exam Outstanding Achievement Awards

1. Naman Agarwal

2. Cynthia Swanson

3. Mimi Gualtieri

4. Stefan Herlitz

5. Emily Stickles

6. Jillian Ferrari


Remington Middle School Foreign Language Exam

1. Sarah MacClellan – Silver Medal Winner

2. Amy Stevens – Bronze Medal Winner

3. Lindsay Gualtieri – Bronze Medal Winner

4. Sara Rodgers – Bronze Medal Winner

5. Ethan Blank – Honorable Mention

6. Michelle Shafferman – Honorable Mention


Remington Middle School NELMS Scholar Leaders

1. Sara MacClellan

2. Drew Shaughnessy


Jefferson Elementary Stock Market Game Awards:

1. Michael Bullen – Second Place – Elementary Division

2. Dominic Pizzelli – First Place – Elementary Division

3. Chloe Ross – InvestWrite Award – Elementary Division

They turned $100,000 to over $144,000

James Barrett – 2008 MAEC Award for the Distinguished Music Educator

Mass Arts Educator Council


Reporting Live from the School Committee meeting

The group is still gathering. There is a good audience tonight with student and teacher recognitions scheduled.

I will break from the meeting to head to the High School fieldhouse about 8:00 PM to catch the results of the election today. I will likely have time to return to catch the remainder of the meeting.


Please vote today

Only one question on this ballot:

Question #1:

Shall the Town of Franklin be allowed to assess an additional $2,800,000.00 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of the operating budget for which monies from this assessment will be used for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008?

Yes or No

Cast your vote today.

Every vote counts!

"committed to the quality of life in our town"

Posted Jun 09, 2008 @ 10:19 PM


Voters today will decide the fate of a $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override, put on the ballot to keep the status quo in schools and prevent numerous layoffs.

With the blessing of the Finance Committee, Town Council put the question on today's ballot in hopes of preventing anticipated reductions at schools that include 47 teacher layoffs, elimination of many courses and the late bus, a $100 increase in the busing fee (from $225 to $325), as well as increased class sizes.

Opponents say a tax increase during a trying economy will further strain residents, striking another financial blow to struggling seniors and others.

Those stumping for the tax hike, which is permanent, note that Franklin's tax burden is lower than many comparable towns. They are pushing for it to maintain quality education.

Janice Foley, one of three founders of the pro-override political action group Invest in Franklin, said override advocates are optimistic about the outcome of the vote, because she has seen many Franklin residents take the time to learn about the issues.

"(They) are committed to the quality of life in our town. Our biggest hope is for the people of Franklin to get out and vote so their voices can be heard," Foley said.

Read the remainder of the story here in the Milford Daily News

Franklin School Committee Meeting - Agenda - 6/10/08

Municipal Building – Council Chambers

Executive Session 1: 6:00 P.M.

Regular Meeting 7:00 P.M.


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 May 27, 2008 School Committee Meeting.

· Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly

· Payroll Ms. Armenio

· FHS Student Representatives

· Correspondence:

1. Budget to Actual

2. Memo from Jeff Nutting regarding Capital Requests

2. Guests/Presentations:

a. Remington Middle School National Latin Exam Achievement Awards

1. Rachel Ceskavich

2. Gregory Mouradian

b. Remington Middle School National Latin Exam Outstanding Achievement Awards

1. Naman Agarwal

2. Cynthia Swanson

3. Mimi Gualtieri

4. Stefan Herlitz

5. Emily Stickles

6. Jillian Ferrari

c. Remington Middle School Foreign Language Exam

1. Sarah MacClellan – Silver Medal Winner

2. Amy Stevens – Bronze Medal Winner

3. Lindsay Gualtieri – Bronze Medal Winner

4. Sara Rodgers – Bronze Medal Winner

5. Ethan Blank – Honorable Mention

6. Michelle Shafferman – Honorable Mention

d. Remington Middle School NELMS Scholar Leaders

1. Sara MacClellan

2. Drew Shaughnessy

e. Jefferson Elementary Stock Market Game Awards:

1. Michael Bullen – Second Place – Elementary Division

2. Dominic Pizzelli – First Place – Elementary Division

3. Chloe Ross – InvestWrite Award – Elementary Division

f. James Barrett – 2008 MAEC Award for the Distinguished Music Educator

g. Franklin Public Schools Retirements:

1. Joanne Bould

2. Susan Brewster

3. Cindy Douglas

4. Michael Gilmore

5. Nancy Gilmore

6. Jeanne McKenna

7. Diane Newcomb

8. Dennis Pelletier

9. Jean Ristaino

10. Elaine Sumner

11. Sena Anania

12. Suzanne Stilgoe

h. Franklin Education Foundation (FEF) Grant Award Presentation

i. Science Safety Initiative Presentation

j. Dropout Intervention Update

3. Discussion Only Items

· Capitol Needs Update – Mike D’Angelo

· Memorandum of Understanding

4. Action Items:

1. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from Sheri Brodeur for the Will Briggs Memorial Scholarship for FHS.

2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from the Franklin Country Club for their FCC Hall of Fame Award at FHS.

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

4. I recommend acceptance of a check for $100.00 from the Remington PCC for a nurse for the 7th grade field trip to the Museum of Science.

5. I recommend approval of the Memo of Understanding.

6. I recommend approval of the Consolidation of Facilities

5. Information Matters:

· Superintendent’s Report

a. Enrollment Comparisons May 2007 & May 2008

· School Committee Sub-Committee Reports

· School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business:

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

7. Executive Session 2

· Contractual Negotiations

a. Non-Union & Administration

8. Adjourn

Monday, June 9, 2008

Letter from Ed Cafasso

People support overrides for many different reasons.

I heard from one School Committee member about a friend whose kids are grown and out on their own; she struggled to raise them by herself despite a great many personal and financial obstacles, including serious illness. She said she would be voting yes because “the community” helped educate her children and she feels it’s now her duty to support the community in educating others.

I heard a Town Councilor describe “the bargain” he feels the Franklin schools are. He looks at his tax bill; he looks at the services he gets – the low crime rate, the convenient businesses; the clean streets, the award-winning schools – and he realizes that his family is getting an exceptional value for the money.

I heard a School Principal talk about how a child only goes through each grade once. You’re only in 5th grade once. You only get one crack at high school. And how important it is that each step along the way be the best it can be; because this is the part of life that’s the most fun. You’re only a kid once.

And, over the years, I have heard dozens more great reasons to support overrides. All of them deeply personal; each of them fueled by an individual’s own upbringing, experiences and values.

For me, it’s really about wanting the best for my kids and for the rest of the young people in town. In my job, I get the chance to meet a great many new college grads – either as employees or as job candidates. I look hard at their resumes and cover letters. I interview them. I review their writing tests.

I can tell you firsthand that we truly do live in a very competitive, global economy. There are many more resumes than there are open positions. And, unfortunately, there are a number of countries that invest much more in education than the United States. I worry about what my kids will face when they try to make it on their own; just as I’m sure that my parents worried about me; and their parents worried about them.

The only things that we can leave our children that truly matter are a loving upbringing, strong values and the absolute best education we can possibly deliver. That’s why I am voting Yes on Tuesday.

I completely understand that some people feel they cannot afford a Yes vote. I would argue that they can’t afford not to, but these are very personal issues. Who am I to tell them what they can and can’t afford?

And there are others, too many others I’m afraid, who are concerned about where Franklin is headed and how financial decisions are made. I share that concern. We need to work harder to make sure citizens trust us with their hard-earned tax dollars; that we listen to their views; and that we do a better job explaining what we are doing and why.

People support overrides for many different reasons. On Tuesday, I hope you will look into your heart and find your reason to vote “Yes.” Thank you for your support!

Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"we have a better chance of getting state aid if we scale it back"

By Rachel Lebeaux Globe Correspondent / June 8, 2008

The new high school in Franklin will not be a Taj Mahal project, if town officials can help it.

Mindful of the examples set by Newton and Wellesley, both criticized by a top state official for approving expensive high school projects, officials in Franklin are working with the state to find a less costly plan for updating the town's 37-year-old high school.

Days before a vote Tuesday on a proposed $2.8 million override of Proposition 2 1/2, meant to raise property taxes enough to prevent the loss of more than 40 teaching positions, officials also said they do not believe that taxpayers would foot the bill for a $100 million renovation of the high school or a new facility costing $130 million.

Those two options were put on the table by an architect earlier this year.

Read the full story in the Boston Sunday Globe here

The architect's presentation to the School Committee made in February can be found here

Class sizes will be "significantly increased"

GateHouse News Service
Posted Jun 07, 2008 @ 10:58 PM

In addition to laying off 45 teachers and two administrators, 24 courses are on track to be eliminated at Franklin High School, and class sizes will increase districtwide without a $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override, according to Superintendent of Schools Wayne Ogden.

Under the fiscal ‘09 school budget approved by Town Council, the School Department is slated to receive $49.9 million, which is $2.8 million less than schools need to maintain the same level of services and staff as this year, Ogden has said.

In order to balance the budget without the override, Ogden has proposed cutting 17 teachers and an assistant principal at the high school, cutting 12.5 teaching positions at the middle schools, cutting 15 teaching positions at the elementary schools, eliminating the late bus, and increasing the bus pay-to-ride fee from $225 to $325, among other measures.
Read the full story in the Milford Daily News

Overide at a Glance

From the Franklin Gazette, you can get the details here.

This is not the last override, if not one next year, there will be others in the near future. This was foretold and captured here,

The Override Information Forum was recorded. All questions and answers you can listen to here.

The town is not mismanaged, if it was, we wouldn't be on the bottom of the per capita spending list.

The school department does not have too many administrators. If it did, it would not be well below the state average for administration.

The School Department has been cutting their budget since 2002. 83 positions have already been lost. If another 47 go out the door, the ranking of Top 10 as best place to raise of family, the ranking of Top 100 places to retire, and of Top 100 places to start and run a business are in jeopardy.

The Commonwealth of MA has been generous to Franklin taxpayers. Our percentage contribution to running this town has decreased over the years. Now the time has come for Franklin to pay its own way.

If is your choice Franklin. What will you choose to do?

Check out the factual information. Don't listen to the hear say and unsubstantiated rumors.

Caste an informed vote June 10th.

Ben's advice for Franklin

This is the text of a "Letter to the Editor" that I submitted to the Milford Daily News in May 2007. It did not get published that I was ever aware of. Other than the dates, the sentiment applies just as much now as it did in 2007. Oh, and it took a year, but the Town Council has finally appointed the committee referenced here to come up with the Five Year plan.

We arrived here over 11 years ago. Yes, we were part of Franklin’s big growth wave. At the time, we came because of the good schools, the affordable housing, the central location to most of the major cities of New England, and especially the rail transportation to Boston. Those reasons are still valid today. Our two daughters have graduated from Franklin High School and are now both in college. Yes, we have two tuition bills to face. But you know, we knew that before we came here. We have planned for this period of our family life for some time.

So let’s put the Franklin budget problem in perspective. Many, if not all, of the Finance and Town Council members at one time or another have said that this budget problem was several years in the making. Continuing to draw down the stabilization fund while limiting departmental budget growth in order to balance the budget has created a situation where the slightest change in a single factor sends major cuts through the budget. This year it was reported to be the special education increase mandated by the Commonwealth. Next year, it is likely to be something else that will force further cuts. And oh, by the way, if the override fails this year, another $1 million of our savings will be forced to be spent on unemployment insurance for the town and school personnel laid off. This will leave our savings at only $2 million dollars.

Yet, the Finance Committee on April 30th reviewed all the department multi-year capital plans. They commended each department for the level of detail provided to justify what they needed.

So where is our multi-year operating plan? When will the Town Council ask the Town Administrator and Finance Committee to lay that out for us? We have an override vote scheduled for May 22, how many more will we need to pass to get out of this mess?

“Industry need not wish” is the quote from Ben Franklin visible on the wall plaque in the Franklin Town Council chambers. Ben wrote this in the early 1700’s. In those days, “industry” meant hard work. Hard work meant sweat and labor. If you worked hard, you did not have to wish for something. If you worked hard, you got something for it. The residents of Franklin should ponder this quote. There is much to gain from the insights that Ben had.

We can chose to let the Commonwealth of MA fund half our school expenses.
We can continue to solicit our loyal legislative contacts for increases in any and all aid possible.
We can continue to live as Franklin was just a “little town”.

However, danger lies down those roads.

While Franklin’s growth in the last decade has started to slow a little due to the current economic conditions, it is here and with us. It will not go away as much as some might wish it too.

It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
It is time to start paying our own way.
It is time to start planning for what the next couple of years budgets will look like.

What do we do?

The override vote on May 22 needs to be passed.
The home of the first public library can not let it close.
The birthplace of Horace Mann can not let our own children suffer the education cuts proposed if this override fails.

Then the Town Council needs to start working with all parties to provide the Franklin voters a multi year plan. It is possible, it can be done. Their leadership is required. To do otherwise would be fiscally irresponsible.

Vote “yes” on May 22. Then let’s get the appropriate folks to work on the multi year operating plan. As Ben said, “Industry need not wish”.

This was originally posted at Steve's 2 Cents on May 20, 2007.