Monday, August 17, 2009

Letter from Ed Cafasso

Hello everyone,

I hope you are having an enjoyable summer and are staying cool during August’s dog days. With the start of the 2009-10 school year just two weeks away, I am writing to offer an update on several key issues, including the FY10 school budget and the exciting innovations occurring at Franklin High School.

FY10 School Budget: As many of you know, this year’s budget deliberations were among the most difficult in recent memory. The net result was the loss of a dozen positions – mostly coming from the ranks of our school librarians and physical education/health instructors. Compared to where the budget debate began six months ago, when our budget gap was $3.5 million and as many as 60 teaching positions were at risk, this outcome is incredibly positive. But it still represents another year in which our collective educational offering is shrinking.

We were able to stave off massive classroom cuts by reducing expenditures by more than $2.3 million, including wage freezes from all union and non-union staff, and by securing additional revenue of roughly $1.1 million, including a substantial amount of state and federal stimulus money.

Thankfully, class sizes should remain stable in the coming school year. Full-day kindergarten also was spared, but it will be at risk for 2010-11 school year. The late bus was not so lucky and will not be offered this year, which will have detrimental impact on the ability of many students to participate in after-school activities.

You can learn more details about how the FY10 school budget was balanced by visiting the School Committee blog at:

One note of caution: Because this year’s budget was balanced through the extensive use of millions of dollars in one-time funds and temporary savings, it is virtually guaranteed that a Proposition 2½ override will be required to offset the significant budget shortfall expected for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010. The size of the proposed override will not be clear until early next year.

Franklin High School: I will send out an email in a few weeks regarding very positive developments regarding potential state funding for significant proposed renovations to the FHS building. In the meantime, however, FHS Principal Peter Light and his leadership team have wasted no time in thinking outside the box to execute a number of stunning improvements to the school’s educational atmosphere.

Among the key changes on tap when classes begin on September 1 are:
  • Reduced class sizes in English, Math, Science and Social Studies
  • Increased instructional time
  • More rigorous graduation requirements
  • A new GPA methodology that will make our graduates more competitive as they seek college admission
  • Expanded use of and access to technology
  • Longer lunch periods, and
  • Online access to student grades for parents

Principal Light describes these improvements and many others in great detail in a letter to parents that is available online at and for download at

I encourage all Franklin parents, even those whose child is not yet in FHS, to read Peter’s impressive report.

Other News of Note: Parents now have three ways to pre-pay for their child’s school lunches. You can learn more about this program at your child’s school or online at

This year is a town election year. Positions are open on the Town Council, School Committee and several other important boards.

The town’s election calendar can be accessed at (Word doc).

Now more than ever, your community needs the help of volunteers who are willing to dedicate some of their free time to public service. Our quality of life depends on having thoughtful elected officials who are willing to work together to navigate through the very challenging times our community faces. I hope many of you will consider running for office to serve your friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.

I intend to run again for my seat on the School Committee, and may ask for your signature on my nomination papers.

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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