Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ed Cafasso Letter - 1/11/09

Hello Everyone!

I hope you had a good weekend and a safe holiday break! Here’s a brief update on recent school issues in Franklin…

Spring 2008 MCAS Results: Franklin students continued to perform far above their peers statewide on MCAS tests for Reading, Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Science & Technology. For example, the percentage of Franklin students scoring at “advanced” levels on English and Math set new records in Grade 3, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 8, and Grade 10. Overall, Franklin schools were ranked in the “high performing” or “very high performing” categories by federal standards as well. However, we are beginning to hear concerns from administrators and teachers as to whether the Franklin schools will be able to sustain this kind of outstanding academic performance with the staff cutbacks and increased class sizes we are experiencing this academic year. You can view various aspects of our latest MCAS data at:

School Calendar Survey: More than 2,100 parents and guardians replied to the survey regarding the school calendar. Here are they top line results:

  • Seven out of 10 said they did not prefer the school year starting the week before Labor Day.
  • Seven out of 10 said they would favor scheduling all full day teacher professional development days during the summer months.
  • Two-thirds said they preferred the calendar model that places time off in December, February and April.
  • More than 56% said they did not want to experiment with the private school model that eliminate the vacation weeks in February and April in exchange for a longer vacation in March.
  • Six out of 10 disagreed with the practice of scheduling two full teacher professional development days and three half days during the first half of the school year.
  • More than 57 percent favored the new practice of scheduling the day before Thanksgiving as a day off.
  • More than 63 percent said they prefer that there not be school on religious holidays.
  • And, better than 93 percent said they favor scheduling the two full day professional development days that occur during the school year on a Monday or Friday.

Thanks to those who took the time to respond to the survey. Your views will be front and center when the school calendar comes up for consideration and a vote this spring.

Franklin High School Leadership: As you likely heard, FHS Principal Pam Gould has chosen to move on and will be taking an Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources position in Plymouth later this month. Peter J. Light, who has held teaching and administrative posts at FHS since 1998, has been named interim principal. Even before Ms. Gould informed of us of her decision in late December, the School Committee had directed Superintendent Ogden to make the high school a top priority during his remaining months here, including improvements to the guidance department, the FHS administrative model, its health education programs, parent-teacher communication, summer reading and other steps that will strengthen the ability of our high school to maintain a high level of modern, academic performance. That analysis and planning process will continue in the months ahead. I hope current and incoming FHS parents will offer their support and feedback to this effort and to Mr. Light. Even though we are facing tough budget decisions again this spring, I think it safe to say that the high school will be at the center of Franklin’s educational vision.

Mr. Light, a Walpole resident, will discuss his priorities for FHS at this Tuesday’s School Committee meeting. He has been assistant principal at the high school since July 2005; served as FHS music director from 2001 to June 2005; and, began at the high school as a music teacher in 1998.

Franklin High School Building: A professional inspection team from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) toured the building in mid-December as part of Franklin’s application for state funding to address various issues at the facility. We hope to have an indication from state officials soon about the likelihood of state support for the renovation of the school or the construction of a new building. You can expect school and town officials to move quickly once we are able to secure some clarity from the MSBA.

Our Meetings Go Digital: Starting this year, citizens with sufficient Internet connections in Franklin – or anywhere in the world, for that matter -- can view Franklin School Committee meetings online, either live or in an archived format. To access this streaming capability, visit the town web site at:

The School Committee typically meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 7 p.m. Our next meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, January 13th.

These e-mails are provided as a constituent service. I try to distribute at least one e-mail update each month during the school year, as issues warrant. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you are receiving duplicate e-mails or if you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list. If you know of someone you would like to add to the list, please send along their e-mail address.

Thank you!

Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee

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