Saturday, April 4, 2009

big day Monday, Cafe Dolce opens in downtown Franklin

Yes, I can't wait.

I plan on being there for the opening to take pictures and seek reactions. If you stop down, please say hi.

Note: unless things change, it should be opening about 9:00 - 9:30 AM.

A rose is a rose is a wage increase

Gertrude Stein would roll over if she heard that a wage freeze is not really a wage freeze. Yes, Gertrude is the one who wrote the oft quoted lines:
"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose"
There are at least four key terms that we should all be aware of and agree on how they are to be used; freeze, increase, step, lane.

Freeze as I want to use it is defined as "a halt of a regular operation"

Step is the increase associated with moving from one salary step to another, usually associated with years of service.

Lane is the increase associated with moving from one classification on a step to another.

Increase is an amount more in one period than in the comparable period.

For example, the salary table may look like this for one year.

Step Bachelor B +15 B+36/M
1 38,010 39,501 41,759
2 39,935 41,813 44,071
3 42,688 44,130 46,387

Someone would get hired with a bachelors degree and start on Step 1 for their first year.

In year 2, they would move to Step 2. (Step as defined above results in an increase from 38,010 to 39,935.)

If they completed 15 credits towards their next degree, in Year 3 they could make a Lane change and move to the B+15 column. So instead of earning 42,688 with a Step change, they would earn 44,130 with a Lane change.

The entire salary table would change from one year to the next based upon contract negotiation. If the union was successful in negotiating a 2.5% increase, then each number in the table would be increased by 2.5% for the next year. The second year table would look like this:

Step Bachelor B +15 B+36/M
1 38,960 40,489 42,803
2 40,933 42,858 45,173
3 43,755 45,233 47,547

Calculate the difference between Bachelor Step 1 in the first table (38,010) and the second table (38,960) the difference is 950 or 2.499% which rounds to 2.5%.

Why do this?
Well according to the information I have received, the wage freezes announced by the town only include the increase from year to year, they do not include the step or lane changes.

So if this is true, don't be too surprised when the budget comes out and the total salary lines are actually higher than last year.

Where did the wage freeze go?

No wonder Shakespeare said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

"exploring all options"

Posted Apr 03, 2009 @ 08:56 PM


Superintendent of Schools Wayne Ogden was one of two finalists for a superintendent job in Windsor, Vt., but turned down the opportunity earlier this week.

Ogden, whose resignation from Franklin schools goes into effect June 30, had lived there years ago, he said, and was recruited to apply for superintendent of Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union by an old friend who works for the district.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

"roads that need reconstruction"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 03, 2009 @ 08:57 PM

Rep. James E. Vallee, D-Franklin, ended the week with some good news for Franklin and Medway: both towns will get a nice chunk of money for road repairs, despite the massive state deficit.

Franklin will receive just under $700,000 in Chapter 90 road repair grants, and Medway is slated to receive $307,000, Vallee said.

Though Franklin's allotment is about the same as last year, Vallee said, "the real silver lining is (just) that, because last year was a good year."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Friday, April 3, 2009

Plan and revise

Long range planning efforts
Don’t do much good if you
Don’t keep the plan up to date

What is a sherku?

Note: I learned from the focus group meeting to review the current long range plan that there have been similar efforts before but by the third year of the five year plan, they were out dated and dropped, hence no confidence in the plan. Of course, a plan needs to be revisited regularly!

This was originally posted at quiet poet as part of my effort to celebrate National Poetry Month by creating a daily sherku.

5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Free Technology for Teachers by (Mr. Byrne) on 4/2/09
This is now the fifth day of posting my five favorite Twitter finds of the day and I've now decided on a format these posts. In each post in the "5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter" series I will try to share a tip for improving and building your Twitter network.

A simple thing that can help you build your Twitter network is to occasionally retweet something that you find interesting or useful. In your retweet include the original tweeter's name. The person who's tweet you retweet will appreciate it, it helps that person get noticed, and in turn that person may reciprocate down the road. Even if the other person doesn't reciprocate, it's still a good thing to do as it shows others that you're willing to contibute to a learning network.

Here are 5 fun, interesting, and educational things I found on Twitter today.
1. Internet Safety Videos for Teens from @nycrican2
2. Find Your Teachmate from @angelamaiers
3. What 4th Graders Know About Money from @HaydenTompkins
4. Global Best Practices in Financial Education from @chollingsworth
5. Connectivism Education Ning from @Darcy1968

Things you can do from here:

"the stings would be forthcoming"

GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 03, 2009 @ 12:23 AM


With the Franklin Mobil owner taking full responsibility for one of his clerks selling to a minor in a police sting, he accepted a license suspension today.

A clerk at the store at 660 West Central St. (Rte. 140) sold a six-pack of Bud Lite to a 20-year-old without asking for identification during an undercover compliance check on March 13, said Lt. Thomas Lynch.

George Julakis, of Ouzo Corp., said he watched a videotape of the transaction, and there was nothing to appeal.

He reprimanded the clerk by suspending him for a day without pay, which helped demonstrate to other employees the seriousness of selling to minors, Julakis told the council.

"It never should have happened, and it will never happen again," he said.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Read all that occurred during the Town Council meeting on Wednesday here

"people are really hungry for information and facts"

Posted Apr 03, 2009 @ 12:36 AM


A focus group of 10 residents last night called a report on municipal finances produced by the long-range fiscal planning unbiased, "scary," and an "eye-opener."

Fiscal Planning Committee members invited a cross-section of the public to give feedback on their report to ensure it is accessible, relevant, and provided all the elements residents want examined. The group included several seniors, a teacher, a small-business owner, and parents.

They all said they found the report informative, and told committee Vice Chairman Doug Hardesty, who ran the meeting, that the report made them want to go out and clear up some misconceptions among friends and others who believe the town is spending its money unwisely.

People need to read the report to get a true picture, the group told Hardesty.

"It's very eye-opening," said Eric Polito, who owns EcoSystems Pest Management in Franklin and Hanover.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Focus Group Collection

Part 1- Financial Planning Committee - Focus group - Part ...

Part 2 - Financial Planning Committee - Focus Group - Part ...

Insights -Inside the Focus Groups

Financial Planning Committee 4/2/09

FYI - Tonight's meeting will not be covered by my "live reporting". This session is specifically for a focus group to provide some feedback on the report. I have been asked by the committee to take notes and record the conversation. Not all the committee members will be present. My notes and the recording will enable them to review what transpired during the session.

I will publish my notes when I send them to the committee so that you will all be able to review what happened. The publishing will be delayed and not "live reported" so that I can concentrate on taking good notes. I don't want to be distracted by publishing at the same time.

"community that comes together with the fundamental objective of agreeing with itself"

.. As you may know, there is a conductor of staggering talent who has been hailed as the next Leonard Bernstein. His name is Gustavo Dudamel and he has toured the United States and Europe with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra to ecstatic reviews. He joins the Los Angeles Philharmonic as their Music Director in the fall. Here’s what matters to us today: this young conductor has a passion for music education because he knows its true power to alter the course of young lives. He was brought up in Venezuela in the extraordinary music education system that I mentioned earlier called El Sistema.

Imagine what can be accomplished if we support the arts, engage ‘at risk’ youth and help them succeed in school and in their lives. For ‘underserved’ families, indeed for all families, participation in music and the arts can help people reclaim and achieve the American Dream.

From the TED Blog

And the performance:


"the committee has raised more than half"

Posted Apr 01, 2009 @ 10:16 PM


For the past six weeks, three Franklin High School seniors have spent their lunchtime walking from table to table with a poster board showing Franklin's fallen soldiers, and a big bucket to collect cash to build a monument to honor them.

Thanks to their efforts, and a whole bunch of quarters and dollar bills from their peers, the trio has collected $700 to put toward a new veterans monument honoring fallen heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Veterans Agent Robert Fahey, who is chairman of the Monument Committee.

"It restores your faith in the American youth. The spirit of patriotism at Franklin High is alive and well - it absolutely is," said Fahey, a World War II veteran.

Read the article in the Milford Daily News here

"We are doing the best we can"

Posted Apr 01, 2009 @ 11:42 PM


With two members absent, Town Council postponed a decision on spending $1 million in free cash on capital projects, though councilors expressed support for the plan.

Council Vice Chairwoman Deborah Bartlett asked Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting whether the council could use the money on something else, and what would happen if it did so.

Nutting said departments would fall behind in repairing or replacing old and unsafe equipment, and the backlog of needed items would grow.

For example, he said, emergency workers need reliable defibrillators - one of the items on the capital plan - to save lives, and the School Department needs to replace two 9-year-old vans to safely transport students with special needs.

Read the article in the Milford Daily News here

Town Council Mtg Smry 04/01/09

The summary of the posts live reported from the Town Council meeting on April 1 are as follows:

350 on October 24th!

This is an invitation to help build a movement--to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis.

On October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we'll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety.

This movement has just begun, and it needs your help.

Here's the plan: we're asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in your community on October 24.

There are no limits here--imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up.

If we can pull it off, we'll send a powerful message on October 24: the world needs the climate solutions that science and justice demand.

It's often said that the only thing preventing us from tackling the climate crisis quickly and equitably is a lack of political will. Well, the only thing that can create that political will is a unified global movement--and no one is going to build that movement for us. It's up to regular people all over the world. That's you.

So register an event in your community for October 24, and then enlist the help of your friends. Get together with your co-workers or your local environmental group or human rights campaign, your church or synagogue or mosque or temple; enlist bike riders and local farmers and young people. All over the planet we'll start to organize ourselves.

With your help, there will be an event at every iconic place on the planet on October 24-from America's Great Lakes to Australia's Great Barrier Reef--and also in all the places that matter to you in your daily lives: a beach or park or village green or town hall.

If there was ever a time for you to get involved, it's right now.

There are two reasons this year is so crucial.

The first reason is that the science of climate change is getting darker by the day. The Arctic is melting away with astonishing speed, decades ahead of schedule. Everything on the planet seems to be melting or burning, rising or parched.

And we now now have a number to express our peril: 350.

NASA's James Hansen and a team of other scientists recently published a series of papers showing that we need to cut the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from its current 387 parts per million to below 350 if we wish to "maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed."

No one knew that number a year ago-but now it's clear that 350 might well be the most important number for the future of the planet, a north star to guide our efforts as we remake the world. If we can swiftly get the planet on track to get back below 350, we can still avert the worst effects of climate change.

The second reason 2009 is so important is that the political opportunity to influence our governments has never been greater. The world's leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to craft a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions.

If that meeting were held now, it would produce a treaty would be woefully inadequate. In fact, it would lock us into a future where we'd never get back to 350 parts per million-where the rise of the sea would accelerate, where rainfall patterns would start to shift and deserts to grow. A future where first the poorest people, and then all of us, and then all the people that come after us, would find the only planet we have damaged and degraded.

October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. If we all do our job, every nation will know the question they'll be asked when they put forth a plan: will this get the planet back on the path below 350?

This will only work with the help of a global movement-and it's starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It's clear and direct, cutting through the static and it lays down a firm scientific line.

On October 24, we'll all stand behind 350--a universal symbol of climate safety and of the world we need to create. And at the end of the day, we'll all upload photos from our events to the website and send these pictures around the world. This cascade of images will drive climate change into the public debate--and hold our leaders accountable to a unified global citizenry.

We need your help-the world is a big place and our team is small. Our crew at will do everything we can to support you, providing templates for banners and press releases, resources to spread the word, and tools to help you build a strong local climate action group. And our core team is always just a phone call or e-mail away if you need some support.

This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it's too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it's possible.

Please join us and register your local event today.


Bill McKibben - Author and Activist- USA
Vandana Shiva - Physicist, Activist, Author - India
David Suzuki - Scientist, Author, Activist - Canada
Bianca Jagger - Chair of the World Future Council - UK
Tim Flannery - Scientist, Author, Explorer -Australia
Bittu Sahgal - Co-convener, Climate Challenge India - India
Andrew Simmons - Environmental Advocate, St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Christine Loh - Environmental Advocate and Legislator - Hong Kong

This is the full text of the letter received via email from Bill McKibben.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Live reporting - Town Admin report, and closing

Be alert on new law, Jackies Law, permit required for any trench deeper than 3 feet.

Trail head can be down with a grant of $12,000

Councilor Comments

Zollo - Head's up on the Financial Planning Committee report, coming to the Town Council on April 15th. Horace Mann open forum for the town on April 27th. We will look for your input and interaction on the report.

Bartlett - to add to Zollo's comment, watch on the 15th, then come on the 27th armed with any questions.

Feeley - thanks to the unions who have voted to take a wage freeze

Live reporting - Action items

  1. Resolution 09-06: Appropriation – 2009 Capital Plan (see note below)
  2. Resolution 09-19: Franklin Village Mall, 1000 Franklin Village Drive Acceptance of Covenant with Property Owner Approved 7-0 (the property was originally one parcel, it has technically been split into two, this is to ensure that they still maintain the access road and drainage)
  3. Resolution 09-20: Authorization for Grant of Access Easement over Town-Owned Land Located off Cross Street Approved 7-0 (cleans up the title and access to the property so that Jeff could sign an easement at the closing of the property sale to Walgreens)
  4. Bylaw Amendment 09-630:Amendment to Chapter 37, Town Properties- 2nd Reading (allows Town Administrator to set rules and regulations for the use of Town Buildings) Approved 7-0 (by roll call)

Capital discussion

Motion to move #1 Capital Plan to the April 15th meeting
Approved 7-0

Q - Bartlett - if we didn't spend this money what would happen?
A - Nutting - if we did not buy these vehicles now, we would need to buy more later. The problems don't go away. We spend between a million and 1.5 million to maintain the town operations. If we don't do it, we will get further behind. It would be a major mistake to not spend this capital budget.

Q - Batlett - what was the total request?
A - Nutting - The Fire Dept had more, the schools had more, some were left aside because of decisions by the Building Committee
A - Sabolinksi - Text books are a priority, some history books go back, other books we need additional copies of, the wifi at the high school would enable to students to bring their own systems in for instructional technology

Q - Vallee - is this for the lawnmower?
A - Nutting - this is for a used bucket truck, the used price is considerably less than the new bucket truck would cost.

Live reporting - budget update


Chris Feeley - Budget Subcommittee

Budget update:
  • Revenue estimated to be $225,000 less than current year
  • lots of items in flux
  • hotel/meals tax at State undecided
  • Federal stimulus money to arrive but not sure about any restrictions on it
Started with a 4.9 million dollar hole to file with additional items happening, we are getting closer, may not be as bad as when we started

The projected deficit is now between $500,000 and $3 Million depending upon what happens

Live reporting - Fire Dept Update

  • Update – Gary McCarraher, Fire Department
Dual purpose (1) to provide an update of how they operate with technology
Street listing updated and synchronized with Town Clerk and Town surveys, maps

(2) Community outreach is starting, if anyone has information that the Fire Dept should know about, please contact them so the database can be updated.

Q - Why do trucks go out on all calls?
A - 44% of the second calls occur before the first one is complete, instead of coming back to the fire station to get the vehicle, they already have it with them.

As a call comes to the dispatch, the information is printed and grabbed by a fireman on the way to ride out with the truck

Lnger term, they want to install laptops in the trucks so additional information can be accessed on the way to the call or at the call

Drill down details available in the dispatch system. For example, the Hazardous material info provides all the details that used to be contained in large books that were hard to flip through in a hurry.

They are mapping in the flow systems on the hydrants from the DPW.
They have access to site plans for commercial and industrial properties.

Anecdote of a woman who lives on one side of Town, her father lives on the other side. If he has a problem, Lifeline is called, she gets called, the Fire Dept is also on the call list. The information of where the key is located in the system so the Fire Dept can assist her father as soon as they arrive.

The dispatch system is about to be wired into the Enhanced 911 system so the call information will be able to pre-populate the information when the call arrives.

Live reporting - License transactions

  • Request for Modification of Hours – 3
No objections to moving the time to serve alcohol beginning at 11:00 AM on Sunday to accommodate Sunday Brunch

Approved 7-0

Live reporting - Hearing

Ouzo Corporation(Franklin Mobil)
for Failure to Pass Compliance Check -7:10 PM

Chief Williams describes the compliance check of the 31 establishments on Friday evening, March 13th. Requesting to handle as a first time offense. Proposed a three day penalty, to serve one day with two days held in abeyance (for 2 years).

The one day was agreed to be served on April 3rd.

Motion approved 7-0

Live reporting - Town Council 4/1/09

Attending: Whalen, Vallee, Bartlett, Feeley, Pfeffer, Doak, Zollo
Missing: Mason, McGann






"nothing in here is frivolous"

Town Council will consider spending just over $1 million from free cash on capital items at tonight's meeting.

The 2009 capital plan came before the council a month ago, but councilors delayed making a decision until the winter and its costly snowstorms were finished.

Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting and Councilor Judith Pond Pfeffer, who is on the Capital Planning Improvement Subcommittee, say now is the time to approve the $1,074,600 plan.

"The Capital Improvement Subcommittee blessed it, the Finance Committee blessed it...At this point, I think we should approve the capital items and focus on the 2010 budget," Nutting said.

Read the full article about the decision on the agenda tonight to approve the capital plan in the Milford Daily News here.

Note: The capital dollars can not be used for operational expenses. Using these dollars for these items is in the Town's best interest to continue their sound fiscal management practices.

"isn't it time we came out of the basement and into the light"

Posted Apr 01, 2009 @ 01:08 AM


In the past month, Franklin Food Pantry directors have been flooded with offers of help from the public to keep the pantry in town, pantry Executive Linda Pouliot said yesterday.

After learning the food pantry, located in the basement of the new town museum, will be displaced to make way for museum storage, private residents and business owners have offered space in their properties, two realty companies are searching among their vacant properties, and others said they're on the lookout for a home, Pouliot said, a big smile on her face.

Nothing is solid at the moment, Pouliot said, but she said she is optimistic about getting a new home in town because she is confident in people's generosity.

Read the full article about the Franklin Food Pantry in the Milford Daily News here

State Education Mandates - Part 11

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 11 and the final entry in the series.

Unexpended Education Funds

Massachusetts local school districts are required, unlike as in many other states, to return, at the termination of each fiscal year, unexpended/unencumbered funds to the municipality’s general fund. This requirement is counter to stimulating incentives for school districts to find creative ways to generate savings throughout the fiscal year. Municipalities often conclude that funds, which are returned at the end of the fiscal year, is misinterpreted as evidence that the school district did not really need said funds. School districts are not permitted to establish rainy day funds.


Each year, the district must have a technology plan. An annual report must be sent to the state indicating how the district is using technology to teach, how much is being spent and what the district plans to spend in the future. There are technology benchmarks that must be met by students at each grade and all students must meet state-defined technology proficiency by the end of grade 8. The development of technology plans (incorporating professional, administrative, and community personnel), the recommended student to technology (computer) ratio, and the ratio of technology personnel recommended for districts, directly affect school budget development.

Building Maintenance

Districts have a requirement to spend a minimum amount to maintain buildings and are required to pay “union scale” otherwise know as “prevailing wage,” on projects for repairs and maintenance when done by an outside contractor. This mandate results in higher costs for many skilled trade services.

The following is a list of annual inspections and tests required by the state for maintenance of buildings:

• boiler inspections;
• air tank inspections;
• fire alarm tests;
• fire suppression tests (kitchens);
• fire extinguisher tests;
• elevator & chair lift inspections;
• under-ground tank inspections/replacements,
• drainage back-flow controls,
• stage rigging inspections;
• Integrated Pest Management Plans (use of pesticides) including community notifications;
• fire sprinkler tests; and
• Asbestos inspections.
The full listing is available here (DOC)

Franklin's Earth Day Celebration

Franklin's Earth Day Celebration
Saturday April 18th, 2009
Beaver Pond
Starts at 9:00 AM

Volunteer to clean up targeted areas and assist with planting flowers and shrubs around Franklin.

- Please bring your own water bottle.

- Please bring your own gloves and rakes.

- Community service certificates will be issued.

- T-shirts to the first 200 volunteers.

- Clean up goes to 1:00 PM

Get some Eco-Info at Beaver Pond:

- Water conservation kits and rain barrel display.

- Mercury thermometer exchange for digital thermometers.

- Recycling tips and composting information.

- Energy conservation tips.

- Much more ! ! !

You can register on the Town website here

"the potential of these tools is pretty visionary"

What’s most compelling to me here is not necessarily the tool set, however, as much as the vision that brought this to fruition. While most all of this work is done locally on an internal network, the concepts are preparing kids at Concord for the very global network they’ll inhabit once they leave the system. And here is the best part: Concord is a special needs school, a place where kids with all sorts of disabilities attend. The work that these kids do in these contexts is very rewarding on a number of levels.

The larger point here is that this isn’t too far out of the reach of most schools provided they have the courage and the leadership to make it happen. Aside from the photo-sharing tool, the rest is freely available. There’s nothing really too difficult about it aside, perhaps, from creating good teaching around the tools. Makes you wonder what so many other schools are waiting for.

Read the full article by Wil Richardson and find out more about Concord, a school in Australia.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

remember the Harlem Wizards?

Do you remember the Harlem Wizards?
They did come to Franklin a couple of weeks ago.

Want to review some video highlights?
Click to play to enjoy!

The photo slide show of the visit can be found here

Town Council - 04/01/09 - Agenda






Ouzo Corporation(Franklin Mobil)
for Failure to Pass Compliance Check -7:10 PM

  • Request for Modification of Hours – 3

  • Update – Gary McCarraher, Fire Department


  1. Resolution 09-06: Appropriation – 2009 Capital Plan
  2. Resolution 09-19: Franklin Village Mall, 1000 Franklin Village Drive Acceptance of Covenant with Property Owner
  3. Resolution 09-20: Authorization for Grant of Access Easement over Town-Owned Land Located off Cross Street
  4. Bylaw Amendment 09-630:Amendment to Chapter 37, Town Properties- 2nd Reading





O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


"teachers are dedicated professionals"

Posted Mar 31, 2009 @ 12:47 AM


Despite comments to the contrary from the Franklin Education Association president, school and town officials say they remain optimistic the teachers union will forgo their negotiated raises to save jobs.

Chandler Creedon, president of the association, which represents about 600 teachers, educational aides, nurses and van drivers, has said the union is unlikely to go along with the School Committee's call for a salary freeze.

Moreover, he said, not all alternatives to the unprecedented cost-saving measure have been explored - such as the $1.2 million in savings he and the union have identified, for instance.

School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy, members Susan Rohrbach, Ed Cafasso, and Town Councilor Stephen Whalen questioned whether Creedon's remarks represent the union majority, and hope members will meet soon and express their feelings on the freeze.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

State Education Mandates - Part 10

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is part 10 of the series:

According to the MA DOE website an explanation of SIMS and EPIMS can be found here:


The state requires that each district have software in place that will allow districts to report data on all students and staff in a format that is compatible with the state databases. This process has been very time-consuming and costly to districts for training and updates.

With EPIMS, the labor and technology costs of providing the information to DESE are significant. Many hours are required to collect and verify information, upload it to DESE, and continually review to ensure accuracy. Administrative costs are incurred to complete the Teacher Quality Improvement Plan (TQIP) and update information. In addition, significant time is consumed by communicating with teachers and administrators to ensure validity of reporting.

With respect to SIMS, it must be recognized the reporting requirements consume significant secretarial hours and require extensive technology fund investment in terms of hardware (administrative computers) and reporting systems (student software programs). There are multiple reports required during the course of the school year.

Reporting & Auditing

The school district must provide timely reports to the state throughout the year. There is a financial end-of-year report that takes a great deal of time to prepare. An outside auditing firm must audit this report each year.

Student Activity Accounts

In a town it is required that these funds be kept in accounts under control of the Town Treasurer. The funds are deposited in an agency fund. Each school has a checkbook that allows the school to keep a small amount of cash to pay bills as needed. The checking accounts are reimbursed through a system that requires them to complete a form for reimbursement and attach the documentation. This is sent to the Business Office for verification and then sent to the Treasurer’s Office. These accounts must have a minimum of an internal audit yearly and an audit from an outside firm every three years. The town auditors perform a yearly audit on these accounts. Although this allows for more accountability, it adds a great deal of time to the workload of existing staff to monitor and process the transactions.

The full listing is available here (DOC)

What the heck is Goomoodleikiog?

What the heck is Goomoodleikiog?

Click to watch this brief (less than 4 minutes) video about transforming teaching in plain english. The creators pay homage to Common Craft with their presentation on how to transform the old paper based teaching with Google, Moodle, Wikis and Blogs.


My thanks to WNY Education Associates for sharing this posting!

Monday, March 30, 2009

"there are not enough homes for sale for buyers"

From Kathy Stankard, a Franklin based ReMax realtor:

It means that homes are selling faster than previously expected, usually around 4 months, if they are priced right. The data also tells us some other interesting things:

  • homes priced under $450,000 are the most sought after price range
  • there are not enough homes for sale for buyers
  • homes are selling relatively close to their asking price
See the table of info that drove these conclusions here.

State Education Mandates - Part 9

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 9 of the series:


Professional Development - with the enactment of Education Reform, all teachers and other professional staff must be re-certified every five years. The district must provide professional development required for re-certification, with no cost to the individual employee.

Highly Qualified Staff – this requirement is a mandate that ensures employment of and reporting on highly qualified staff members and requires a substantial investment of time and money at all school levels. In many cases, there is insufficient guidance for districts that enables administrators to assist teachers and professional staff to meet the requirements established by DESE. (For example, appropriate licensure and completion of a designated number of courses is required for teaching assignments for which licensure may not exist at this time.)

Foster Care & State Wards

Districts are required to educate students who have been placed by the state in foster care and state ward settings. If a student has special needs, the town is responsible for that student’s education, even if the student is enrolled in a day or residential school that is not in town.

• Districts are also responsible for the transportation for the student. However, the local district is only responsible for regular day/vocational education of these pupils. When that student requires special education, which cost can be billed back to the district from which the student came.

Grant Percentages of Federal Grant Funds to Private Schools

School districts are required to give a percentage of grants funded under the No Child Left Behind Act to all private schools whether or not our students attend the schools. The percentage is based on total school and district populations. The district must provide reading services from its Title I grant to all schools within the state that our students attend if the schools meet certain criteria.
The full listing is available here (DOC)

Cafe Dolce - BJ and Dave are all smiles!

I stopped by to talk with BJ Carlucci and David Purpura, the owners and operators of the soon to open Cafe Dolce.

The new sign is up and shining. The interior space is ready for the furniture delivery. The inspections are due soon. Once that occurs, then the food can start being delivered. The staff, already hired, can begin training in preparation for the ribbon cutting currently targeted for Monday April 6th about 9:00 AM.

Their normal hours will start at 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM. They want to catch the early train traffic. Given the recent parking fare increase (now $4.00/day), I have noticed more folks walking or being dropped off to take the train. That walking traffic will now have the option of stopping at Cafe Dolce for something to eat/drank on the ride into Boston.

There are plenty of electrical outlets along the walls. BJ and Dave confirmed that they wanted at least one at each table to allow someone with a laptop to come and plug in. As I would be one of those visitors, I noticed that feature and will be making use of it.

They are the first business to have installed some special energy saving 17W lights from D'Daddario. The lighting is good and can be adjusted. The background music is a jazzy-Frank Sinatra mix that should be conducive to good conversations.

I can hardly wait until they open. I think they will do well. Franklin needs a good coffeehouse downtown. BJ and Dave are doing a lot of smiling as the opening approaches. They have the desire to make this work.

Attn: Franklin MBTA Commuters

There are two group efforts you should be aware of and might want to consider joining.

1 - Put the MBTA on Google Maps
People who live in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Moscow, Montreal, and some 250 other cities can log on to Google Maps not only for walking and driving directions but also for instructions on how to get to where they need to go via public transportation.

Bostonians do not have that option, but a 20-year-old college student from Cambridge is trying to do something about it.

Last month, Luke Bornheimer created a Facebook group - which he named "Put the MBTA on Google Transit!!!" - to petition the MBTA to list the city's buses and trains with Google Maps. The group's membership grew to 135 people in less than a month.

"It seems so simple, and frankly the Boston area as a whole looks a little silly for not having their transit authority's buses and trains listed on the website," Bornheimer wrote on the group's site. "So . . . invite all your friends, anyone who rides the T, or simply someone who feels that this is a logical and simple step to more accessibility for the MBTA and Boston."
Read the full article in the Boston Globe here

Join the Facebook group here

2 - Join Clever Commute

Clever Commute is a service that enables you to share with the other riders on your T route (i.e. the Franklin Line) what you see happening with service. Many a morning at the Franklin station, I could see the trains sitting in the yard not moving, the T Alert status board continuing to scroll "All trains are on or near schedule" and we could tell that was a lie.

You probably carry a cell phone that can send a text message. All you would need to do is enroll your phone for the Franklin Line and you can send status updates. By enrolling, you also will receive status updates by others in the group. This is a great tool to share information in a timely manner. Something you are well aware that the T can not do consistently.

Visit the Clever Commute website here.

Other articles published about Clever Commute can be found here

Join the Franklin Line with these steps
  1. On the Clever Commute home page, select "Find your line"
  2. From the drop down box, Select "Commurer Rail", then Select "Boston"
  3. The screen should refresh to provide the MBTA commuter rail lines, check off Franklin
  4. Complete the remaining information
  5. Watch for the confirmation email, reply to confirm enrollment
  6. Review the reporting tips and guidelines
  7. Provide and receive updates on the Franklin line status
(Note: when I used Internet Explore to test the setup process, the screen refreshed to provide the proper choice of lines to choose from within Boston. When using Firefox, the screen did not refresh. Hence, use Internet Explorer to enroll.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"It's very simple to use real time"

The Globe West section of today's paper has an article on local police departments use of Twitter featuring Franklin and Wellesey!

This immediacy drew Wellesley and Franklin police into the fold in 2007, ahead of many departments nationwide.

"We started it to keep the public up to date on traffic conditions, especially the morning and afternoon routes," said Wellesley Sergeant Scott Whittemore. "I was trying to figure out a way to put information out there in real time, and Twitter answered the call."

At the time, it was "kind of a radical idea," Whittemore said. "People didn't know what Twitter was. Now, we're hearing, 'You guys were really on the forefront.' "

"It's catching on like wildfire in the police and fire department communities," said Gary Premo, communications director for the Franklin Police Department. "It's a unique way of using a service not meant for police."

Read the full article on the police use of Twitter in the Boston Globe here

You can learn more about Twitter here.

You can sign up for Twitter here.

You can follow the Franklin Police here.

You can follow me here.

"make it with off-the-shelf, mature technology"

Posted Mar 28, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

Armed with an open-ended 55-gallon drum and a used boat propeller from eBay, Northborough inventor Richard Burton plans to bring hydroelectric power to the masses, no dam required.

"Anywhere you get flow you can throw it in," the 67-year-old said of his Hydrokinetic Cogenerator prototype. The device is designed for an alternative energy market he predicts will surge when fuel prices rocket back up. "People are going to be screaming for green power."

While the majority of hydroelectric power in the country comes from dams, critics contend that the structures harm rivers and wildlife, with new applications facing numerous regulatory hurdles.

In contrast, Burton said, his device is not only easily removed, but also low-impact: Simply toss the Cogenerator into an average river and plug it into the grid.

Read more about this interesting concept to create hydropower in the Milford Daily News here

State Education Mandates - Part 8

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 8 of the series.

School Choice

This program requires all school districts to admit students from other districts in the state unless the host school district takes action to restrict or prohibit accepting non-resident students from other Massachusetts school districts.

• Admitted choice students’ siblings are thereafter entitled to enrollment in the school also, even when there is little or no space for new local students to enroll. Districts losing students to choice have no control over the students who choose to leave and are charged for the cost of those students as assessments on the Cherry sheet.
• With declining enrollments and constraints on local funds, it is expected that this “free-market-choice” of school districts will expand causing a drain on resources from more vulnerable school districts. This will have an affect on the capacity to address issues for low-income school districts often having the neediest students.

Charter Schools

School districts have no control over students who wish to attend charter schools rather than the local district and local residents have no say in how these schools operate or how their tax dollars are used unless they happen to be selected by the charter school to serve on its board of trustees. In other words, charter schools operate outside the reach of city, town, and regional government.

• Many persuasive arguments have been made to demonstrate such counter-intuitive outcomes as lower numbers of special education students enrolled, the virtual absence of limited English proficient students, and the ability of charters to transfer students out of their school back to the public school district.
• We believe that the current charter school funding formula is unreasonable because it draws away from a city or town (or region) chapter 70 allocation

The full listing is available here (DOC)

maybe there is hope for relief on mandates!

... budget problems are a big part of what’s happening here. State legislators who were budgeting more and more for schools over the years were powerfully tempted to play school board on all kinds of minutiae. Now that they’re cutting education budgets, some of them apparently are finding it a little harder to ignore how much their mandates drive up local costs.

That’s not to say we’re necessarily embarking on a new era of school flexibility. We don’t yet know what the new federal role in education will end up looking like, and certainly on some issues we’re likely to see stronger accountability, not less.

But school boards can take some comfort if there’s at least some more careful thinking about the difference between accountability and micromanagement. After all, that’s a distinction effective school boards think about constantly.

Bold for my emphasis!

Read the full article on the National School Board Assoc's blog "BoardBuzz" here.

Letter from Ed Cafasso

Hello Everyone!

Here’s an update Franklin’s school budget issues based on the administration’s budget presentation to the School Committee this past Tuesday evening.

A “level service” budget for the schools for the next fiscal year would total $53.8 million. That amount would preserve current personnel and programs and cover cost increases for teacher salary hikes and step changes; healthcare, special education, and transportation services. However, due to a decline in state and local revenues, the schools are being asked to create a “level-funded” of approximately $50.3 million, roughly the same amount as the current Fiscal 2009 budget.

This means that $3.5 million in reductions must be achieved in order to present a balanced budget for the schools by July 1. So far, some $600,000 in savings has been identified in the form of health insurance changes; a wage freeze voluntarily agreed to by 51 non-union school employees; and, an increase in circuit breaker reimbursement from the state.

That leaves a gap of $2.9 million. State and federal stimulus funds for the schools could total $773,000, bringing the projected school budget deficit down to $2.2 million. However, the exact amounts of stimulus aid are still a question mark, and there are reports that state lawmakers may decrease the town’s local aid payments by the same amount.

On Tuesday night, the School Committee asked the teacher’s union to agree to a wage freeze for this year. If all unionized school employees agreed to forgo the 2.5% salary increase they are scheduled for this year, the savings would total around $800,000. A freeze on all “step” salary changes would save around $720,000. Combined, the two moves would reduce the budget gap by approximately $1.52 million.

The School Committee’s letter to Chandler Creedon, president of the Franklin Education Association (FEA), 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. “We have cut around the edges to protect our core,” the letter stated. 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.

In an interview with the Milford Daily News the following day, Mr. Creedon reportedly stated that it was “not likely” that the teachers union would agree to a wage freeze. You can read the story on his remarks at It is unclear whether Mr. Creedon’s comments reflect the views of the union’s rank-and-file or whether FEA members have even been polled or have met to discuss the possibility of a wage freeze.

You can read the School Committee’s letter to the FEA at

At last week’s School Committee meeting, the school administration presented a worst case scenario plan for accomplishing close to the $3 million in cuts. Administration proposals included:
  • $110,000 in reductions in Central Office staff and services
  • The elimination of 25 classroom and 5 support positions at the elementary school level
  • Elimination of full-day kindergarten in favor a half-day scheme that would trigger a complex series of staffing moves to help prevent severe overcrowding in many elementary grades
  • Elimination of all elementary-level library, the late bus, and instrumental music in Grade 5
  • Elimination of 10 teaching and 5 support positions in the middle schools
  • Creation of either a seven-period or eight-period (with study hall) schedule at Franklin High School, including the elimination of anywhere from 8 to 11 teaching positions and 6 to 9 support positions
  • A $150,000 reduction in the athletic budget along with increased athletic user fees

The administration’s proposal carries serious academic implications, including the loss of accreditation for our kindergarten program; the potential probation status with accreditation at the high school (which is now on warning status in several categories); the potential for a downward turn in test scores; and, class sizes that would exceed School Committee guidelines in the vast majority of elementary and middle school grads.

The administration’s presentation marks the start of an intense discussion about how to best navigate the difficult financial circumstances facing the Franklin schools in this economy. Given that 45 professional teaching positions were eliminated at the start of this school year (and 14 were cut the year prior), members of the school community are working together to explore and discuss every possible option in an effort to avert another dramatic teaching cutback and even larger class sizes.

As a reminder of the budget cuts your schools have sustained in the past six years, I encourage you to visit this web link:

It’s important to keep in mind that many of the budget-cutting maneuvers under consideration, including the potential for stimulus money and wage freezes, are only one-time fixes. How the cost of these measures would be recouped next year, when we are planning the fiscal 2011 school budget, remains to be seen.

Citizen ideas and feedback are critically important in the weeks ahead. I hope you will 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.

Thank you!

Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee