Saturday, June 28, 2008

"nothing beats the flavor"

By Krista Perry/Daily News correspondent
Posted Jun 27, 2008 @ 10:52 PM

Local farmers and artisans lined the paths of Town Common yesterday for the third Friday in a row to sell their fresh produce and crafts to zealous customers.

The variety of the produce and the ability of local farmers to concentrate on specialty crops makes this farmers' market unique, many vendors said.

"This farmers' market is great for building the community," said Catherine LaValle, of Grateful Farm, an organic farm in Franklin. "People know our produce is fresh and that we do not use harsh chemicals."

LaValle said the presence of the farmers' market every Friday gives local farmers an opportunity to succeed during a terrible economy. Competition with larger farms is very high, she said.

Despite the hard times, LaValle said that Grateful Farm takes pride in the way they treat the earth.

"Many large farms do not rotate their crops and the soil loses its nutrients," she said. "We grow all kinds of different vegetables in all kinds of colors. You can't get that at a grocery store."
Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

Friday, June 27, 2008

"as you learn more, you evolve "

Posted Jun 27, 2008 @ 12:10 AM


The Conservation Commission last night took a step forward in its plan to cut select trees from about 25 acres of the Franklin State Forest bordering Summer Street to keep the forest healthy and thriving.

The commission voted to allow Conservation Agent Nick Alfieri to prepare an request for a proposal to hire a consultant who will draw up a forest management plan.

Two commission members, Pearce Murphy and Jon Fournier, voted against the plan. "I feel ... for 10,000 years, forests have survived" without human intervention, Pearce said.

Commenting that he is not speaking for or against the plan, Alfieri advised the commission that it will have complete control over which trees it wants chopped, and they can change their minds even after consultants create a plan.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"it just means other things won't get done"

Posted Jun 26, 2008 @ 12:26 AM


Taking a break from packing boxes, wrapping up "small issues" and moving out of Town Hall yesterday, Lisa Piana reflected on her 3 1/2 years as downtown manager, saying she is most proud of the work she's done in bringing people together.

Her role as the town's downtown manager ended yesterday, due to Town Council's recent decision to stop funding the position.

She had two separate roles, splitting her duties between working for the town nine hours a week and working for the Downtown Partnership 12 hours a week. She will remain the executive director of the Downtown Partnership.

"The downtown manager was the point-person to bring the community together with the town to make projects happen" - like attracting $30 million worth of development from Canton developer John Marini, she said.

"It's going to make a big difference for downtown retail," said Piana.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"It's not a shell game"

Posted Jun 25, 2008 @ 10:01 AM


At the recommendation of Assistant Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski, the School Committee last night agreed to use $180,000 of unspent money found in the athletic revolving account this year to put three teachers back in the classroom.

Former acting Finance Director for schools Paul Funk notified the committee of the accounting oversight this spring, but the committee opted to wait for the results of the Proposition 2 1/2 tax override on June 10 to decide how to use the money.

"In the past, the superintendent (Wayne Ogden) recommended using it for bringing back three teachers. We said right up front, teachers, teachers, teachers," which will reduce class sizes, Sabolinski said.

The School Committee agreed to allow principals to hire a Grade 4 teacher at Helen Keller Elementary School, a Grade 3 teacher at Oak Street Elementary, and a Grade 2 teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, as class sizes there were slated to be 28 to 30 students, Sabolinski said.

"There was consensus among all elementary school (principals). A lot of thought went into making those recommendations. They looked at the needs of students in those classrooms," Sabolinski said.

School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy noted the district is still losing the vast majority of teachers they expected to this spring.

"It's only three teachers out of 45, so it's a net loss of 42 teachers," Roy said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

School Committee Meeting 6/24/08

live reporting - Superintendent's report, subcommi...

live reporting - Action items

live reporting - FY 08, Brick closes

Allocation of $180,000 - 3 teachers come back

live reporting - late bus

Live reporting - school choice, Pay-to-ride

Live reporting - budget effects

School Committee meeting - live reporting

School Committee Meeting - Agenda - 6/24/08

Franklin Town Common sign

Franklin Town Common sign, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The Town Common sign that took the Town Council two meetings to decide where to place it, is up and under utilized as of this picture last Saturday.

It is placed along Main St, near the sideway (just to the left in this photo) that leads to the gazebo (just to right rear in this photo). It is away from the other monuments along that side of the street so the intentions of the Council were met in this placement.

The sign will hold the historic walking trail map. The map apprently wasn't not ready at the time the picture was taken.

The prior Town Council discussions can be found here and here

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

live reporting - Superintendent's report, subcommittee reports

Superintendent’s Report - Maureen Sabolinski
a. Projected Enrollment - numbers in School Committee packet
b. School Choice - discussed previously
c. Ed Nets
becoming involved, contract still up in air, breaches of staff and student information still need to be reviewed

d. Bus Accident Update
one of the outcomes of the accident as previously reported was who was going to be in charge to avoid the situation where some students were not examined after the incident. Protocols being set up with a very productive meeting, will be updated into the crisis manual. Will come back with an update.

e. Traffic Study at High School/Horace Mann
The Town is initiating a traffic study in the area and engage a traffic engineer to study and report back.

MSBA opening a window to accept new statements of interest for building projects, need to submit by Sep 15

technically according to the statute don't need a building committee until the State says you are getting money for construction. Should not re-submit what we did previously, should get together to decide what should be re-submitted

Jeff Roy requesting that the audit copies be sent directly to the school committee as an internal control, should not have to go through either the Town or the Central Office. He has made the request before and will make it again

Subcommittee reports

Matt Kelly will be meeting with Miriam Goodman on a weekly basis to review and approve the bills on a timely basis

live reporting - Action items

Action Items:
1. I recommend acceptance of $13.50 from Kaitlyn Simmons & Corinne Lewis, raised from their lemonade stand for the Oak Street Elementary School Gift Account.
approved 7-0

2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $285.00 from Lifetouch Pictures for the Future Enrichment Programs at ECDC.
approved 7-0

3. I recommend approval of the request of FHS teachers Jackie Eckhardt and Debbie Murphy for the annual trip to Spain for the summer of 2009.
approved 7-0

4. I recommend adoption of the revised 2009-2010 School Calendar
approved 6-1

5. I recommend adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Jeff Roy - school department lawyers were not required to work out the issues on the MOU, this covers most of the items raised in the previous meeting, not perfect but a good ways along, can still be modified as it goes

Cafasso questioned to make sure the heating utilities were being covered by the town given the discussion about the Brick school

hopes that the principals are vigilant and report back to us if things do not go smoothly

Jeff Roy - did get the clause to state that the principals will retain level of control over personnel in their buildings

Rohrbach - hope this goes smoothly, hopes that this does generate some cost savings

approved: 7-0

6. I recommend adoption of the Consolidation Plan.
approved: 7-0

7. I recommend the increase to $325.00 per year for the Pay-to-Ride Program.
approved: 7-0

live reporting - FY 08, Brick closes

Miriam will be bringing the school year to a close with the budget coming in where it needs to be, no surprises

Brick school was not in the budget

needing to put students with disabilities in two places instead of just one
principal agrees with the placement in this way
makes it more efficient to have the two classrooms in Davis Thayer

no one on the committee is happy about not having the Brick school in the budget
in difficult budget times extremely hard to continue that operation
building use subcommittee needs to look at and make a good use of

Allocation of $180,000 - 3 teachers come back

With the additional funds from the athletic funds that were in the budget and not currently encumbered, the budget subcommittee decided to use it to return three teachers from the 45 layoffs, likely at the elementary level

biggest impact of cuts were at the elementary level
school principals got together to come up with a recommendation

Proposed to add back at
Keller - one grade 4
Oak - one grade 3
Kennedy - one grade 2
class sizes were slated to be 28-30

would now reduce the overall teacher layoffs from 45 to 42

Cora Armenio -
The reduction at the high school of 17 teachers, already on warning for that situation
Would 3 make a difference for this status?

Sabolinski -
Maybe, but with the positions already cut and courses already reduced
there is still the facility issue

the importance of the elementary levels is where it all starts
literacy is important
high schoolers will get into larger class sizes in college

Jeff Roy -
Miriam Goodman has currently allocated a budget of 49,760,242
She adds the 180,000 and comes back with the new budget of 49,940,242
with a full line by line accounting so we can vote that budget in July

Ed Cafasso -
can you enunciate a little better about how these three are being re-allocated so we can create a better understanding of what these decisions are and why we are making them

tried to get a close to the school committee guidelines as possible, we would need more teachers to make a better decision

Maureen Sabolinski -
So to clarify the principals can move forward and start to fill those positions

Jeff Roy

the final FY09 budget will be ready for vote in July

live reporting - late bus

Sabolinski -
Exploring options, will have another update in late July
GATRA is one alternative being looked at
current bus service from Holmes is also being looked at

If GATRA is willing to be a partner, there are needs to be fulfilled particularly for the kids, especially from the high school based upon the survey results

Jeff Roy - "happy to hear that you are committed to find a way to have some way to get the kids home"

GATRA is only $.50 versus the late bus at $1.00, could be better for the families involved

looking at Holmes for a "pay for use"
kids who opted for "pay to ride" rode the late bus free
pay to ride does cover a two-way fee, this would then be a third charge

Live reporting - school choice, Pay-to-ride

School choice
previous decision to continue to with school choice
early applicants were notified of not guaranteeing slots
40 overall - 23 in K, the remainder is sprinkled amongst the other grades
76 enrolled in school choice last year, 61 returning, 5 graduated, 10 others left for other reasons, bulk not going to Grade 1 (they came here for K).

have 23 applications for K, would have to do a lottery to chose possibly 10-12
have not publicly held the lottery but could do that to generate some publicity

decision from budget subcommittee to keep any extra funds in the School Choice amount (approx $120K) for a contingency
there are a number of items that it could be used for, instead of a recurring cost (i.e. text books, school supplies, etc.)

anticipating a reduction in revenues for next year as only 61 students are returning which would provide about $300,000 in revenue

Ed Cafasso "one quarter of one percent, a good idea to keep that money unencumbered"

Jeff Roy
"school choice is only offered on a space available basis "

Pay to Ride
616 applications as of Friday, 860 as of this morning
920 applications as of end of day today, last year about 1800 total
on target to where we were last year at this time

seat guaranteed to those with application submitted by June 27th; after that, no guarantee
people moving in do get some slots held for them, others will go to the wait list

Ed Cafasso - would be good to do a survey of the Pay-to-Ride to find out why they use the service
get an idea of routes and schedules in August, before school opens, to try an head off some issues like what occurred last year

Maureen Sabolinski - some parents disagreed with the Franklin Police assessment, that is not a decision the Central Office makes (on bus turn points)

Live reporting - budget effects

3. Discussion Only Items
• Budget to Actual
• Override Ramifications

Current Budget Number

Level funded $54,626,000
plus Additional Rev 830,000

subtotal $55,456,000

less Facilities Consolidation $5,515,758

equals the FY 09 Budget $49,948,242

$3.1 Million less than the level service budget of FY 08
really 2.8 less as another $300,000 will be coming to the schools from the Medicaid reimbursement

- Personnel Changes
teachers were notified for non-renewal during May

in total 74 teachers leaving the district for a variety of reasons, 28 positions will be filled
the others were cut due to the budget changes
there are turnovers in other positions that are funded and need to be filled

45 teachers were notified, there is no shell game

FHS over reduced their number of teachers to add an additional counselor

Jeff Roy
all teacher notices given in May, two reasons
1 - give an advantage to find jobs where they could
2 - to the extent that they can find jobs, that would be a reduction in the unemployment costs the Town would face

The district will look different in the fall

School Committee meeting - live reporting

1. Routine Business
• Citizen’s Comments - none

• Review of Agenda - no changes

• Minutes:
I recommend approval of the minutes from the June 10, 2008 School Committee Meeting.
approved unanimously

• Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly

• Payroll Ms. Armenio

• FHS Student Representatives
enjoying their summer vacation

• Correspondence:

2. Guests/Presentations:
a. Tamatha Bibbo – Recognition
of 10 years service at Franklin High School

Franklin: new museum repairs

Franklin: new museum repairs, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The pictures tell the story of work being done on the new Horace Mann Museum which is moving into the former Senior Center, former Town Hall.

Franklin Area Climate Team - Meeting - 6/26/08

The Franklin Area Climate Team will hold its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the First Unitarian Society, 262 Chestnut St.

Combining the effort of residents of Franklin, Norfolk, Wrentham, Bellingham, Medway and other towns, the team works to make changes in local towns and homes to stop global warming.

Plans include organizing local actions such as the Environmental Protection Agency's Community Energy Challenge or the Massachusetts Climate Action Network's Low Carbon Living or "LoCal" program, which is being adopted in communities around the Boston area.

For more information on the LoCal team challenge, see

All are welcome to show enthusiasm and ideas to help stop climate change at the local level.

School Committee Meeting - Agenda - 6/24/08

Franklin School Committee Meeting
June 24, 2008
Municipal Building – Council Chambers
Executive Session 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 June 10, 2008 School Committee Meeting.
• Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly
• Payroll Ms. Armenio
• FHS Student Representatives
• Correspondence:

2. Guests/Presentations:
a. Tamatha Bibbo – Recognition

3. Discussion Only Items
• Budget to Actual
• Override Ramifications
o Current Budget Number
o Personnel Changes
o School Choice
o Pay to Ride
o Late Bus
• Budget Sub Committee Recommendation for $180,000.
• Close out fiscal year

4. Action Items:
1. I recommend acceptance of $13.50 from Kaitlyn Simmons & Corinne Lewis, raised from their lemonade stand for the Oak Street Elementary School Gift Account.
2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $285.00 from Lifetouch Pictures for the Future Enrichment Programs at ECDC.
3. I recommend approval of the request of FHS teachers Jackie Eckhardt and Debbie Murphy for the annual trip to Spain for the summer of 2009.
4. I recommend adoption of the revised 2009-2010 School Calendar
5. I recommend adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding.
6. I recommend adoption of the Consolidation Plan.
7. I recommend the increase to $325.00 per year for the Pay-to-Ride Program.

5. Information Matters:
• Superintendent’s Report
a. Projected Enrollment
b. School Choice
c. Ed Nets
d. Bus Accident Update
e. Traffic Study at High School

• 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
• Personnel

8. Adjourn

Monday, June 23, 2008

"$8 for residents, $12 for non-residents"

Posted Jun 22, 2008 @ 09:55 PM

School days are over and regional swimming spots are opening to let residents cool off.

Despite a tight town budget, the Franklin Recreation Department will aim to break even with outside revenue so that residents do not feel the effects of budget constraints on summer activities.

"Our budget is a little over $400,000," said Recreation Director Ryan Jette. "We charge patrons so we can break even. We try to be a self-supporting entity."

This year, the Recreation Department is sponsoring movie nights at Beaver Pond, during which kids can play soccer or Whiffle Ball for an hour before watching a movie. A 20-by-14-inch movie screen will be set up on the turf. On July 18, "Bee Movie" will be shown, and on Aug. 15, "Shrek 3." Games start at 7 p.m., the movie will start at 8 p.m., and admission is $3.

"Families bring their lawn chairs and eat snacks," Jette said. "We are bringing a great service (to Franklin)."

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

In the Globe - fundraising, new school construction

"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.

Read the full article in the Boston Sunday Globe West section here


"We're building schools for education, not for phys ed, not for the arts, not for community events"

By Rachana Rathi Globe Staff / June 22, 2008

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

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Franklin Matters: Vallee doesn't want the teacher layoffs

One in a series of podcasts on Franklin (MA) Matters. This one presents the New Business section of the June 18, 2008 meeting where Councilor Vallee objects to the "massive teacher layoffs".

Time: 6 minutes, 53 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

During the New Business section of the Town Council meeting of June 18, 2008 some interesting discussion occurred. I have captured the 3 and half minutes or so here for you to listen to. I’ll come in after this segment with my analysis.

Oh, one other item before you listen, only five members present (Feeley, Vallee, Bartlett, Pfeffer, McGann) and four absent (Whalen, Mason, Doak, Zollo), there is a procedural discussion on what vote is required to bring the item to an agenda item. A simple majority ultimately is required, or 3 of the five present.
after listening to the segment

Okay, so what has just happened?

Vallee for all his experience shows his lack of knowledge of the protocol required. While I would love to find money to save the layoffs, Vallee would have been better off spending his time on the circuit with the other members of the Town Council, School Committee and Finance committee explaining the override.

The recent audit report (also covered in a recent podcast) reiterates the need to keep the savings account at around 5-10% of our annual budget. We are slightly under that already. It is fiscally irresponsible to take more money to avoid the layoffs. It would have been fiscally responsible for Vallee to have expressed his support during the override campaign.

Coming in now, after the decisive vote. Sorry, it is too little, too late in the game.

A nice recap of the situation was presented in the Milford Daily News. The link is available in the blog post that accompanies this podcast.


This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow Franklin citizens and voters by Steve Sherlock

For additional textual information, please visit

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve dot gmail dot com

The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

Where in Franklin? #50

Where in Franklin? #50, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I was riding around town looking for pictures for the Rainbow Challenge and found this as an entry for "blue".

The guidelines to play Where in Franklin? can be found here .


Where in Franklin? Answer #49

Pine Woods along trail, originally uploaded by lastonein.

Yes, after some time focused on the override, the Where in Franklin series will resume.

This entry had been provided
by Susan Speers. The location was identified by Joel D'Errico. Susan described the location as:

"It's on one of the trails on the protected open space around Franklin Woods, off Lincoln Street. Land owned by Metacomet Land Trust, which links with Conservation Commission land."

Thanks for playing!

Stay tuned for the next opportunity.

"It doesn't get more exciting than this"

Milford Daily News
Posted Jun 21, 2008 @ 11:26 PM


Many high school students sit in class all day dreaming about getting their big break into stardom and touring Europe in a bus with their own band. Now, 15 students at the Franklin School of the Performing Arts are living that dream.

Electric Youth, a group of 14- to 18-year-olds, is performing their Broadway hits and American popular music for audiences in Austria, Slovena and Italy during its 7th annual one-month European tour. The group recently completed its third concert in Obergrafendorf, Austria, just outside of Vienna, in front of a very zealous audience.

"American music plays very well in Europe,'' said Raye Lynn Mercer, founder and director of the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, in a telephone interview.
"The audience in Obergrafendorf was so enthusiastic. We did three encores.''

Andrew Holmes, a senior member of Electric Youth from Holliston who will attend the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music next fall, said that he loves the idea of being on tour in Europe.

"I love going from place to place with 15 of my best friends. I love being able to wake up and be somewhere completely new,'' said Holmes, in a telephone interview. He is on his third trip to Europe with Electric Youth. ``At first it was scary but I learned to love it.''

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

For more about the Franklin School for Performing Arts visit their website.

Spreading the word

The podcast is now available via iTunes. There is a box on the right column so you can subscribe and listen via your iPod or other MP3 player as well as clicking on the individual links in the posts here at Franklin Matters.

I have created a group in Facebook: "I Believe Franklin (MA) Matters". For those who use Facebook, this will provide an opportunity to spread the word.