I hope you enjoyed school vacation week, this fabulous weekend weather and, of course, the Red Sox-Yankees series… Here’s an update on Franklin’s school issues.
Long-Range Financial Planning Committee: I hope all of you will do your best to attend Monday night’s town meeting regarding the findings of a year-long effort to perform an in-depth analysis of Franklin’s financial outlook for the next five years.
The findings of this group of volunteers offer you a comprehensive look at the challenges that will have a direct impact on your property value, your tax rate, the quality of your schools, and your access to municipal services.
The public forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Mercer Auditorium in the Horace Mann Middle School is a unique opportunity for you to gain better insight into the various forces driving the town’s finances and, more importantly, to ask questions of your elected officials about what the findings mean for you, your family and your fellow citizens.
I hope to see you there and encourage you to read a preview of the Committee’s draft report at: http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/Pages/FranklinMA_News/01496EEB-000F8513. (The meeting also will be televised on live local government access channel 11 for Comcast subscribers only.)
FY 2010 Franklin School Budget: As you may have heard, the Franklin teachers union recently voted to accept a wage freeze for Fiscal Year 2010 but attached a series of conditions – essentially re-opening contract issues that the union had previously voted to abandon.
This saga began in December when the School Committee asked Chandler Creedon, president of the Franklin Education Association (FEA), to discuss a potential freeze with his membership. At various points during the winter, we were assured that the union was considering the idea. Finally, three months later, Mr. Creedon asked the Committee for a letter officially requesting that they consider a freeze. Our letter acknowledged the stellar work of our teaching staff, as reflected in our student’s college acceptances and academic performance. It also noted that, for most of this decade, the School Committee has worked hard to avoid reductions in teaching staff by steadily reduced spending on other services and imposing new and higher fees for busing, athletics, and student activities, to name a few. The savings generated from these decisions have been poured directly into the classroom, to recruit and retain top quality teachers, to support a strong curriculum and to maintain appropriate class sizes. Parents and community groups, like the Franklin Education Foundation, also have worked hard to contribute more to classrooms through personal generosity and the fundraising efforts of the PCCs.
On April 13, Mr. Creedon led a meeting of FEA members who were not allowed to vote on a wage freeze alone – only on a motion intentionally written to tie the freeze to new demands regarding personal days, meeting time and other issues. It is worth noting that all other major town unions have agreed to a wage a freeze. None have used Franklin’s budget problems to re-open contract negotiations.
The School Committee remains committed to work with FEA members to come up with a solution acceptable to both sides. We have repeatedly asked Mr. Creedon to make public his alleged plan for budget efficiencies. We also have asked to meet with directly with union members. To date, Mr. Creedon has refused to meet with our negotiating committee or to let us talk to his membership. The Committee will continue these good faith efforts at our meeting this Tuesday in the hopes of reaching an agreement that would avoid massive teacher lay-offs in the months ahead and help close the deficit projected for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
You can read the latest news coverage regarding this issue at: http://www.milforddailynews.com/archive/x1774896641/No-decision-on-Franklin-teachers-unions-conditions?view=print
2010-11 School Calendar: School administrators have presented two options for the academic year that begins late in the summer of next year. In one option, classes would begin Sept. 7, 2010 – the day after Labor Day – and reach the 180-day marked required by the state on June 22. In the second option, classes would begin Sept. 1 – five days before Labor Day – and reach the 180-day mark on June 17th.
As you recall, hundreds of parents surveyed last year overwhelmingly asked for the school year to begin after Labor Day, while teachers voted overwhelmingly in opposition. Parents are encouraged to examine both options and to express their views. The fact that Labor Day occurs exceptionally late in 2010 is a complicating factor. It’s also important to keep in mind that the last day of school could be pushed further into June by snow days.
You can view both options at http://www.franklin.ma.us/auto/schools/FPS/calendar/default.htm
As our community heads into the thick of important financial hearings and budget decisions, it is critically important for elected officials to hear citizen ideas and feedback. I hope you will attend Monday’s public forum and share your thoughts. I also urge everyone to stay close to the budget process this year by paying attention to School Committee, Town Council and Finance Committee meetings. It is also important for parents and guardians to pursue a frank discussion of budget issues with your principals and your school PCCs.
These e-mails are provided as a constituent service. I try to distribute at least one e-mail update each month during the school year, as issues warrant. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you are receiving duplicate e-mails or if you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list. If you know of someone you would like to add to the list, please send along their e-mail address.
Ed Cafasso, Member
Franklin School Committee
edcafasso @ comcast.net
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