Saturday, May 2, 2009

Message to FEA membership


Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:


via Franklin School Committee by Jeffrey Roy on 5/2/09

Several weeks ago, the School Committee requested an opportunity to speak directly with the Franklin Education Association (FEA) membership at its meeting on April 28. We did not get that opportunity. Through the two video segments below, the Franklin School Committee reaches out directly to the rank and file membership of the education union in [...]


Things you can do from here:


Parmenter PCC seeking volunteers, sponsors for 5K event

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 5/2/09

The Parmenter Run for All Ages 5K Run/Walk and Kids Panda Dash will be held on Sunday, May 31.

The 5K looped course will begin and end at Parmenter Elementary School, 235 Wachusett St. Franklin. Race start time is 10 a.m.; registration begins at 8 a.m.

A free Kids Panda Dash is set for 9 a.m.

The road race will be professionally timed by Spitler Race Systems. This event includes tee-shirts to the first 150 registered participants, awards to the top three to finish in each male/female age division, time splits and water stops. All proceeds will benefit the Parmenter PCC, which funds school-based student activities.

Organizers are seeking volunteers and local businesses/sponsors to support this community family fitness event.

For additional information go to:; contact Karen Mahon @; call 508-528-1286.

Things you can do from here:

Cafe Dolce - Kai Olsson

Enjoy some music at Cafe Dolce with Kai Olsson

Saturday 5/2/09 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Click through to listen to some samples on Kai's MySpace page

Friday, May 1, 2009

"a community treasure"


The Franklin public school system is one of the best in the nation. It has always stood high in national and state testing. All of this has not been an accident. It is the solid result of some damned good teaching over the last five decades.

I joined the Franklin school system as a teacher some 43 years ago when I graduated from college. For the next 34 years, I observed some truly dynamic growth both intellectually and in the physical school environment.

The students of Franklin have always been special. They have always had a wonderful sense of community and have always, in my experience, responded to any problem with kindness and understanding. As time passed, I saw each new generation growing in toleration and understanding. It is my considered opinion that the young people of Franklin are very special.

I have seen hundreds of gifted and dedicated people serving as faculty over the past five decades giving of themselves and to their students unselfishly.

Read the remainder of James Johnston's essay here

Monument Mosaic

In addition to the World War I monument on the Town Common, the other war monuments also have a place.

Monument Mosaic

A new monument to honor the veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict will be unveiled on Memorial Day, 2009.

Monument: World War I

The WW I "doughboy" has been cleaned up. The bronze looks brand new.

Monuments: World War I

Actually since this photo was taken, the small trees directly behind the monument have already been removed as the preparation for the new monument to be unveiled on Memorial Day continue.

If you haven't visited the monuments on the Town Common, please consider doing so.

"car crash in Bellingham"

Jenna L. Pasquino, 20, of Franklin died early this morning when the car she was driving crashed into a telephone pole, police said.

Pasquino was traveling south on North Main Street at about 2:19 a.m. when her 1998 Toyota Avalon crossed the double line, hit a telephone pole on the opposite side of the road, and flipped over, police said.

Read the remainder of the article in the Franklin Gazette here

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"it is the library's slowest day"

Posted Apr 30, 2009 @ 12:23 AM


This year's budget crunch will mean the public library will be closed on Fridays beginning the first week of July, but no staff members will lose their jobs, Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting told the Finance Committee last night.

Following the hearing, Library Director Felicia Oti left with a big smile - most likely, Nutting said, due to the fact that the library got a better deal than anyone had expected.

Initially, he and Oti feared the library would have to lay off staff and reduce hours even further - possibly leaving the library open only three or four days a week.

Friday was chosen because it is the library's slowest day, Oti said. Monday, then Saturday, are the busiest days, she said.

The library avoided layoffs because the union volunteered to defer salary increases, one employee asked to reduce her hours from 35 to 18 per week, the assistant director's hours were cut from 35 to 15, and because two people retired, Nutting said. Those positions will not be filled.

Read the full article on the Library budget in the Milford Daily News here

Slidecast: Strategic Plan Overview (audio)

The Strategic Planning Overview is now available as a slide cast. The slide show has been synchronized with audio to create a complete listening and viewing experience.

This was the presentation to the Town Council on Wednesday, April 15th.

The slidecast without audio is available here

If you have any questions, you can contact me via email (see link on right column) or via a comment.

Updated the survey is available here

FY 2010 Budget schedule

The Town website has not been updated with agendas or meeting minutes for the current series of the Finance Committee FY 2010 budget hearings. During the meeting Wednesday 4/29/09, I was able to confirm that:

There was a budget hearing on Tuesday 4/28/09 that covered the Police, Fire, Planning and Recreation budgets.

The meeting currently scheduled for next Tuesday 5/5/09 will review the School Dept, Tri-County, and IT budgets to complete the FY 2010 hearings.

The committee has their regular meeting scheduled for the first Tuesday in June at which, depending upon the State revenue numbers, they may be able to vote on the final FY 2010 budget.

If that happens, the Town Council is scheduled to do their budget hearings on June 10th and 11th. Worse case, the Town Council may need to meet on June 24th to finalize a balanced budget before June 30th.

This schedule is subject to change. The State revenue numbers are still very fluid.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finance Committee 04/29/09

The collection of live reports for the Finance Committee meeting of Wednesday 4/29/09 are located here:

Live reporting - Enterprise Funds


157 miles of water pipe
the business is heavily regulated, EPA, etc.

Water rate had not increased in years. It did increase due to our conservation success, we are selling less but the infrastructure has not decreased and still needs to be maintained.

Chemical cost have been increasing, part of the treatment we do is pH.

$155,000 to 500,000 in the last year, due to the cost of the fluoride chemical

Roche - storm water regulations, how may that bite us?
Cantorregi - storm water monitoring for the whole system and what you can do with it. The Charles River basin catches the run off, into the Charles, then into the ocean. Ideally the water should go into the ground to replenish our aquifer. we have to do a lot more mapping, a lot more testing. Franklin, Bellingham, Milford are targeted for special planning for commercial buildings where they would be required for anything at two acres. The rest of the state is at five acres.

motion for solid waste - approved
motion for sewer - approved
motion for water - approved

Live reporting - DPW Street lights

DPW Street Lights - Acct 424

Nutting have made great savings to own and maintain our street lights, it used to be about 200,000 and this year we are only 140,000.

Roche - this is electricity?
Nutting - this is all, electricity, repair, and maintenance. We added the school parking lot and wall unit lights. We anticipate additional savings there.

Nutting - this budget should stay relatively stable. The only unknown is in some subdivisions, the street lights were not put in underground with the proper conduit, so a backhoe is sometimes needed.

Nutting - we have a committee that reviews street light criteria so we have a lot less than some other places. Not having to turn off the lights would require paying the electric company. If we wanted to shut them off, we can do so. We have about 1600 street lights.

Cantoreggi - We have a contract with the Police to survey the lights and report which ones are out. They are already out and about around the town.

Live reporting - DPW Highway

DPW Highway - Acct 440

Robert A. Cantoreggi

The DPW budget does reflect a personnel wage freeze for FY 2010.
We did not replace a person from last year.
We do supplement our force with part timers as needed
Storm water is big, we are working on that constantly.

We have been working on increasing the Snow and Ice budget to get it more realistic. This year is still low (600,000) and less than what we actually spent (1.2 million).

Road overlays come from Chapter 90 and not from the town
Stimulus money has not come down to us yet, we do have shovel ready projects.

Roche - what does it cost to pave a mile of road?
Cantoreggi - It is hard to say, it depends upon what we do with the road, to rebuild it up, or to just repave it.

Union St - mile estimated (fill in amount later)
Nutting - we have no drainage money, no sidewalk money, we want to put in 2 million and we would still be short. This is our highest need to maintain the roads. we don't have any money in the budget to maintain our roads.

Cantoreggi - There will be a huge bubble of roads over the next 15 years as they roads age and fall apart. We are doing band-aid patching and that is not going to help us.

Cantoreggi - Chapter 90 put some money in that, that is shovel ready, none of the money has come through.
Nutting - 2 Billion came to the State and there were 29 Billion requests for that money. The State has a huge list of projects and I don't know how they are going to decide.

Roche - Down $233,000 from last year
Nutting - we are going to centralize the inventory of the school furniture. Right now it is each building. A principal may be asking for something that is down the road at another school.

Motion to approve - passed

Live reporting - Facilities

Continuing the FY 2010 budget hearing

Public Facilities Acct 192

Mike D'Angelo

Jeff provides background on the Facilities arrangement since Mike started doing it on behalf of the schools.

6,300 students, all the public buildings, added hundreds of thousands of square feet to maintain, we are always looking for ways to do it better and cheaper.

Custodians did have 42 now have 32, but the buildings haven't shrunk, they have done a very good job.

You may hear people complain about the condition of the high school, the state came out and was impressed with the shape that it is in. Yes, it needs some fixing but it is working.

Consumables and parts, all prices went up, gas has come down but the prices have not
Hopefully some of the costs will maintain and not increase further
It has been a long time since I have been able to say that energy has gone down

Goldsmith -
D'Angelo - we clean FHS with 6 people, if someone is out we need to backfill

Goldsmith -
D'Angelo - I have been doing that with energy for 9 years. We bid that separately. We went to them in January and extended contracts at reduced rates. Next year electricity will be 10% less.

Cataldo - The building and rental lease is that the modulars?
D'Angelo - Yes, there is need for them in some of the buildings. These are really rental payments not lease. We should have these for a few more years.

Nutting - we are applying for a new grant to do an energy audit. If we get it, we'll do the analysis and see what we get.

Nutting - we are replacing fixtures with low water use facilities to cut down on water use. We'll relocate the facilities department to the DPW to free space for the schools and put the groups together for efficiencies. We are always looking to do things better, faster, cheaper.

Feldman - where is the grant from?
D'Angelo - From the state. NationalGrid has stepped up their programs.

Nutting - we are looking at the requirements in becoming a green community. There are zoning issues, building issues, it will be a team effort.
Feldman - there is also some Federal stimulus money there.

Roche - What was the increase at the high school?
Nutting - 30% water rate increase was part of it.
D'Angelo - in a lot of the water increase, we actually spend on irrigation of school and town fields, not on the use of the buildings itself.

Roche - HVAC contracts went up significantly
D'Angelo - we were significantly under budgeted going into this year. Remington/Jefferson is now 12 years old and that is driving my costs. The high school is driving cost due to the parts that are required.

Powderly - The HVAC increase at Horace Mann, Oak, ECDC
D'Angelo - when the budget came over from the Schools, it was broken out by school per DOE. It really is better to look at the complex rather than the schools individually. For example; Oak, Horace Mann, ECDC. I can look at 166 monitor points at the Horace Mann complex. That is good but it also means that you have 166 parts to potentially repare/replace as they go.

D'Angelo - a lot of our budget is routine maintenance. Right now we are going to make the jump into cooling, so a lot of the money is routine maintenance that pays off in the long run.

Nutting - we have purchased a work order system that will go online in JUly or thereabouts. We'll have better data to come back with an analysis on what is breaking where, and get to inventory control to keep track of what is being used

1,200,000 square feet of this one million is the schools

D'Angelo - cameras in all the new buildings, we do video recording. The town side didn't do much of that. We just implemented a buzz at the substation so if someone is not there, they get directly to the main station so a dispatcher there can view them and help them.

Roche - increases are significant, I need to take a hard look at. If we can't put food on the table, why paint the door?

D'Angelo - we take better care of our buildings by watching who goes into our buildings. we have a capital list to add a school that didn't have anything at the time it came on line. Some camera change outs have driven costs. The high school is heavily used, checking on locker access, etc. I don't see the costs sky rocketing, I do see replacements but generally what I replace cost less than what it was originally.

When I did my budget a year and a half ago, items cost far less than what they do now. We are just trying to keep up with the trash bags, toilet paper, etc.

Powderly - I am struggling with this being the only budget that was not level funded.
D'Angelo - it is actually much simpler. I pay for anything in all the buildings. No one else has that item in their budget. I don't get the choice to make a decision to tell the Library you are not getting air conditioning until July. We are doing what everbody else is doing, taking the car to the repair shops to keep it running.

Motion to approve budget (in excess of $6 million) passed

Live reporting - Finance Committee 04/29/09

Brett S. Feldman
Juan Rivera
Patricia Goldsmith
Phyllis Messere
Rebecca Cameron
Mark Cataldo
James Roche
Tina Powderly

Craig Maire
Robert Teixeira

Library Acct 610

Felicia Oti

Police budget request cut 200,000, Fire request cut 600,000

Library will be closed on Friday's, hours cut to 52
will apply for a waiver to maintain certification from Library Board
Jeff hopeful that the waiver won't be an issue given what is going on

Discussions with Medway still ongoing, Town Meeting required for approval

Rivera - commendation to the Library for all the work and services you provide. Question on cost of office supply increase? Just cost related?
Oti - yes,
Nutting - focus on keeping open as much as possible, keeping 52 hours (80% level) so cutting the book budget is one way to come and balance the budget
Oti - meet minimum in hours (50.5) will only need to apply for waiver for the overall budget dollars

Powderly - What was the change in subscriptions?
Oti - We drop the access to some databases but maintains the access to the Minutemen inter-library loan. There are other sources to access the info provided via the databases.

Roche - What was the total Library staffing in 1999?
Oti - 19

Roche - big budget, easy target, what kind of services do we really want?
Cameron - How is morale? Foot traffic is increasing.

Nutting - To say morale is good or bad, they have a job. You show up and do the best you can. In any place, I have ever worked, no one has ever said morale is great.
Oti - It is low.

Feldman - Is there any utilization of volunteers?
Oti - we do use the tax workout volunteers

Rivera - How is the inter-library

Cindy Dobrinski - Library Board Director, library use has increased considerably, especially over the last several months. Even in support of the school system. She references the library video (I have the link) where the student compares the librarian to the teacher and the librarian allows him to think. She urges consideration when they make their final deliberation.

Refreshing post from Franklin teacher

Click through to read this on the School Committee blog...

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Franklin School Committee by Jeffrey Roy on 4/29/09
I saw this post on this morning and thought it was worth repeating here. It is said to be from a Franklin teacher. To me, it exemplifies the typical Franklin teacher: hard-working, dedicated, and caring. It also captures empathy for the residents in Franklin, other teachers, the School Committee, and administration. [...]

Things you can do from here:

Back story and request for clarifications

As in most issues there are two sides to the story. Here are my notes from the first School Committee meeting on Tuesday 4/28/09 where they gathered information from the principals in preparation for the teacher unions response to the School Committee counter offer.

If there are any corrections to be made, let's get them out so we all start with the same information.

Note: feedback from the School Committee is marked in GREEN and there is a bold highlight in BLUE to indicate the sentence(s) changed.

On the 27 versus 32 meetings
The teachers are required to attend 27 meetings during the school year plus they "may be required" to attend five meetings for a total of 32 meetings.
The 27 meetings are generally scheduled as three meetings per month (except December and June).
These meetings are generally scheduled on Wednesday's.
The meetings are used differently amongst the elementary, middle, and high school buildings.
One consistently is the principal's meeting for the building.
One generally is a department (i.e. subject) meeting.
One generally is a grade level/team meeting.

The five meetings are generally scheduled other than on Wednesday's.

Due to scheduling mistakes and calendar nuances, not all buildings have 32 meetings scheduled this year although the principals claim to need them to conduct their business appropriately.
For example, the high school had scheduled a meeting that resulted in a conflict with a district wide meeting.
The five meetings originated in the 2001 contract although the need for additional meetings was acknowledged in negotiations prior to this contract.

In the 2001 contract, the elementary school teachers increased from 150 minutes of preparation to 220 minutes in return for the five meetings.

In the 2004 contract, to keep the five meetings, there was an agreement to give up two professional development days.

Contrary to the teacher's claim that there is "no cost" associated with this request, there is. In order to provide the additional prep time, activity monitors were hired by the district to cover for recess, lunch, and other non-instructional periods to provide the teachers the prep time.

While the 2004 contract was agreed to, the parties also agreed to work on a "side letter" to address the time associated with the meetings.

The teachers claim that there has been no progress on the side letter.
The School Committee/District did have at least five meetings with teacher union representatives participating on this matter.
Clearly, the issue has not been resolved, but there was an agreement to schedule the five meetings in advance of the school year to provide the teachers additional time to plan to attend them.

On scheduling meetings before report cards
The teachers are requesting not to have to attend a meeting in the two weeks prior to a report card so that their time can be focused on preparing the accurate and detailed report cards required.
The School Committee proposed that teachers would not be required to attend a meeting in the two weeks prior issuing report cards for the 2009 - 2010 school year (FY10) updated 4/29/09 per School Committee feedback

My two cents:
The real issue tying these two items together is teacher time. There is an instructional time requirement from the state. There are work hours per the contract. Neither of these reflect the actual hours required for teachers to prepare for instructional time and to review and correct student class work/home work.

There is a common misconception that teachers are only "working" during school, that when the school bell rings, the students leave and the teachers are free to do as they please.

This is far from the case. Teachers can spend more hours outside the classroom preparing for instruction (i.e. elementary level) or correcting class work/home work (i.e. middle/high school) than the actual classroom time.

The nature of the instructional time varies from elementary through middle school to high school. Let's get some agreement on the real hours of teacher classroom time, classroom preparation, and classroom post work (i.e correction of papers, preparation of report cards, etc.).

Superintendent Ogden has stated that the 6.5 hour school day is obsolete as well as the current school calendar overall. I agree. Those two items were based in our farming heritage and should be brought to the modern world. Learning should be a life long experience, it has pretty much become that. If you as an adult are not keeping up with changes in your area, you will fall behind and find yourself obsolete.

Based upon what is actually done, let's get an agreement on what is required and should be subject to compensation and what can be considered "over and above" the requirements.

On providing reasons for the "personal" day
Two paid "personal" days are provided to the teachers per the contract.
The days used to be "use it or lose it".
The contract language changed in 2004 to require a reason to be provided for personal days.
The days can be denied if they are for
  • leisure or recreational purposes
  • extending a holiday or vacation period
The Superintendent can make the decision. In order to make the decision, the reason needs to be provided. It is not meant to be a "control" item, it is meant to enable a rational decision.

The teachers have asked for a "permanent" removal of the requirement to provide the reason. The School Committee proposal to the FEA was to remove the requirement to provide a reason for personal days for the 2009 - 2010 school year (FY10)
It should also be noted that as part of the 2004 negotiation any unused personal days are converted to sick days. updated 4/29/09 per School Committee feedback

My two cents:
One possible solution would be to reword the contract such that if the day being requested fell on the calendar before or after a holiday or vacation, to require the reason be provided. If the day requested was not before or after the holiday/vacation day, then allow it to be granted without requiring a reason. Then the request for a "personal" day remains a "personal" day.


The notes from the first meeting can be found here
The notes from the second meeting can be found here

My disclosure statement can be found here

"that meeting never happened"


After a 20-minute executive session, School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy announced the board and teachers union have not yet come to an agreement on wage concessions.

At the behest of Superintendent Wayne Ogden and the School Committee, the Franklin Education Association had agreed to a one-year wage deferment to save jobs on April 13, but attached three conditions. The union also offered to forgo course reimbursements to save the district another $200,000.

The School Committee then made a counter offer, which would give the union some of what it sought.

The union rejected the counter proposal yesterday afternoon and again put forward its original offer, which had three stipulations: The removal of five floating after-school meetings, permanent removal of the need to give a reason for personal days, and the permanent requirement that no meetings be scheduled two weeks prior to the issuing of report cards, according to a copy of the proposal.

Read the full article on the School Committee/teachers dispute in the Milford Daily News here

"The sky is the limit"


The Fourth of July Coalition is gearing up for its second five-day Independence Day celebration, and is excited to report it will feature a parade, said group secretary Warren Revell.

The coalition didn't have time or funds to hold a parade or fireworks last year, he said, but there is a slim possibility for both this time around.

"This is a town (where) you can't just put something in front of the people - you gotta put out a quality product," Revell said.

"I'm excited, because the town needs a parade. It draws people into the town; fireworks don't. Hopefully, it'll get businesses to be in the parade," he said.

Most likely, there will not be fireworks, he said, because of the cost.

Read the full article on the 4th of July plans in the Milford Daily News here

Treesavers: Paul Barcelo

Paul Barcelo, author of The Sweet War Man

Paul Barcelo completed Army Infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, then rotary wing training at Fort Wolters, Texas and Fort Rucker, Alabama. He flew one tour as a UH-1 pilot in Republic of Vietnam. He resides in Franklin, Massachusetts with his wife and four children. This is his first novel.
Will be appearing at Treesavers Books to sign his new book, The Sweet War Man.

May 16, 2009 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM

Cafe Dolce - Kai Olsson

Enjoy some music at Cafe Dolce with Kai Olsson

Saturday 5/2/09 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Click through to listen to some samples on Kai's MySpace page

Financial Planning - Town Forum

This is the collection of posts covering the discussion of the draft report by the Financial Planning Committee taking a long term view of the financial situation we face.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

School Committee Mtg 04/28/09

The collection of live reports from the two school committee meetings held on Tuesday 4/28/09

Updated to include the "Back story" posting in the appropriate time sequence of events

Live reporting - Subcommittee reports

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
Trahan - thanks to Maureen and Wayne for their help in preparing the Financial Planning Report.
Cafasso - thanks, it was a good report.

School Committee Liaison Reports

New business - need to discuss the state inspection report from the High School

Budget hearing is scheduled for the second meeting in May
Athletic fees to be taken up next meeting

Live reproting - Superintendent

Superintendent’s Report
a. Using Data to Monitor Student Achievement
b. Best Buddies Prom -Saturday at Adirondeck 5:30 to 9:00 PM
c. Bicycle Racks - installed in next 2 weeks at schools that don't have them
d. FHS Modular Classroom - taking it down, rather than leaving it empty was going to be safer
e. Implementation of Point of Sale Technology / Food Service

DOE is now Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Swine Flue - DPH guidelines already posted on school web site
hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent this, really pushing it in a more religious way

Live reporting - Action items

4. Action Items:
a. I recommend budget transfers as detailed. Motion to Approve; Passed 7-0
b. I recommend acceptance of a check for $2,500.00 from the Oak Street PCC for nurses and bus fees for upcoming field trips. Motion to Approve; Passed 7-0
c. I recommend approval of the ASMS 8th grade trip to Conn. River Valley and Eastern NY on May 1, 2009. Motion to Approve; Passed 6-0, 1 - Abstain
d. I recommend acceptance of the donation of 12 cases of copy paper for the Franklin Public Schools from Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Johnson. Motion to Approve; Passed 7-0
e. I recommend acceptance of the donation of $4,200.00 from the ASMS PCC to pay for two 8th grade field trip coach buses. Motion to Approve; Passed 7-0
f. I recommend declaring the graphic arts classroom modular at FHS as surplus. Motion to Approve; Passed 7-0

Live reporting - New lunch process


c. Cafeteria – Point of Sale Implementation – Miriam Goodman

The school serve about 2400 lunches daily for an annual amount of about $1.6 million dollars.
Students would use their pin number. For the younger students, they would use an ID card.
In future to incorporate an online payment system to allow parents to update their students accounts.

The system is anticipated to move faster once the staff and students are comfortable with the new process.

The big win is the automated reporting that comes from this.

Armenio - This has been a long time coming. The anonymity of the low income students in the process will help.

Goodman - the parents can view the purchases of the student and review them with the student to ensure proper diet.

Cafasso - how are you communicating to parents about this?
Goodman - Central office update coming out. Word coming at each school, word through the cafes.

Cafasso - Consider getting the info out through to the PCC's

Kelly - How is the balance handled at the end of the year?
Goodman - The balance carries forward. The student maintains the same ID through their time at Franklin.

Trahan - Can the parent arrange something like EasyPass?
Goodman - It may have that capability, we can look at that down the road.

Slight - cash or check in the line, how is that handled?
Goodman - Just bring it in the line, it can be entered in by the cashier.

Live reporting - School Committee resumes

The meeting resumes in public session

Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly - motion, passed 7-0
Payroll Ms. Armenio
FHS Student Representatives
Correspondence: none

Announcement of what was discussed in Executive Session
Non-union all agreed without conditions
FEA would not take any action until the School Committee publicly requested
FEA would not discuss budget reductions

FEA requested to get together ASAP to review the proposal (as announced previously).

Offered via phone call
not have to provide the reason, did want to keep all 32 meetings (including the 5), did want to keep the reimbursement, did want to convey these directly to the teachers

Response back was to schedule a meeting on Thursday 4/16/09 at 7:30 AM
Creedon, Schlefke, McGovern
Clear from that meeting there would be no middle ground without consultation with each party.

Proposed joint meeting with FEA and School Committee (rejected by FEA)
Invited FEA to School Committee meeting

Final proposal to convene at 3:30 PM 4/28/09
School Committee met separately from FEA in same building

Reporting today that the FEA rejected the counter proposal, nor would they change their original proposal, nor would they meet with the School Committee.

The School Committe is not inclined to address the FEA proposal.

Town Administrator agrees with the School Committee stance.

There was no opporutnity for public comment at this time!

Live reporting - Executive session

The School Committee is still in Executive Session. It is passed their 15 minutes estimate. The longer it goes, the more interesting it becomes.

Stay tuned for a resume sometime

Live reporting - Teacher's proposal

The teacher's proposal previously reported was rejected by the School Committee.

As reported earlier, there were two meetings being simultaneously this afternoon. The teachers met and voted to reject the School Committee counter proposal and resubmitted their proposal unchanged.

So a stalemate is currently underway.

The School Committee received the teacher's update and are now in Executive Session likely preparing their public comment.

Stay tuned.

PS - I still have part of the School Committee meeting detailing some of the history behind the 5 meetings to write up when I get a chance.

Live reporting - School Committee 2nd Mtg

Attending: Armenio, Kelly, Roy, Rohrbach, Trahan, Mullen, Cafasso

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments - none
Review of Agenda - move guests and presentations up, going into executive session shortly


a. Dan Telhada – All Scholastic Award
b. Coach Carmen Colace – Coach of the Year

Motion to enter executive session with potential to return to open session
Motion approved

Live reporting - School Committee Mtg 1st

Attending: Armenio, Cafasso, Kelly, Mullen, Roy, Rohrbach, Trahan
Also participating: Jeff Nutting, all the school principals, Ogden, Sabolinski, Goodman, and others from the School Administration office

The meeting opened with a recap by Jeff Roy of the events leading to this particular meeting. Briefly, after the Executive Session at the 4/14/09 meeting, Jeff notified the FEA of the School Committee's reluctance to accept the full proposal. They would accept the deferral of the 2.5% cost of living increase. They would waive the requirement on requiring a reason required for personal days for the remainder of the year. They wanted to keep the 32 meetings. They wanted to continue to provide the teacher reimbursements.

A subsequent conversation between Roy and Creedon set up a meeting for 4/16/09 7:30 AM to further review. At that meeting it was discussed setting up the 4/28/09 meetings. FEA separate from School Committee with an agreement that when something was ready for the School Committee designated intermediaries would "knock on the door".

Those two meetings are still in session.
  • The FEA meeting is closed to all but union members.
  • The School Committee meeting after conducting some fact finding with the principals on the history of the 5 extra meetings has now gone into Executive Session.

At their request, the principals have remained in the session with them.

The School Committee meeting will return to open session at some time.

Help avoid a train wreck?

There is an interesting confluence of meetings scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 PM at Horace Mann.
  • The Teachers have scheduled to hold a union meeting. This is a closed session, open only to union members. The union will be updated on the response by the School Committee to the teachers offer of the million dollar contract concession.
  • The School Committee have scheduled to hold an open meeting intending to participate in a discussion with the teachers.
Who remembers their chemistry lesson on oil and water? They don't mix do they?

Bottom line: These two groups have not been communicating with each other.

There are quite a few points of disagreement but the major one for me is:
  • Contrary to what the School Committee has stated and published, the teachers union meeting of 4/13/09 did have a vote of all teachers present on a deferment of the 2.5% cost of living increase for FY 2010 without any conditions. It failed miserably.
  • The vote that passed (80% for, 20% against) for was for the 2.5% cost of living deferment attached to three conditions. The three conditions have been reported in the Milford Daily News and here.
The union hired a parliamentarian to assist them with handling the protocol (i.e Robert's Rules) for the meeting.

The teachers feel that since the School Committee did send a letter to them asking for the salary concession, they have, in effect, opened the contract for negotiation. The three items tied by the teachers to their salary deferment were supposed to have been addressed in a side-letter after passing the current contract two years ago. For a few reasons, the most current of which is beyond the control of the individual assigned to lead the side-letter effort, resolution on these three issues has gone nowhere. As a result, these three issues were brought to the table with the salary concession and linked together.

So there seems to be a stalemate brewing.

For some reason the School Committee is hung on keeping the three items.
To the extent that they keep the three items, they will lose the million dollar concession.

Who wins?

No one, not the School Committee, not the teachers, not the children of Franklin.

In my unique position, I can not stand by and watch this train wreck occur.

Note: I am deliberately using the terms 2.5% cost of living increase deferment because that is really what it is. There are still salary increases possible for some on both the Town and School side due to "steps and lane" changes per the union contracts. In this case, the talked of "salary freeze" is a misuse of the term.

FPC - Information Session 04/27/09

The live reporting posts for the Informational Forum held to review the Financial Planning Committee report can be found here:

Rain Barrel discount for Franklin through 5/6/09

Consider purchasing a rain barrel and help reduce storm water runoff while gaining water to use to water your plants. The rain barrels are on sale for Franklin residents through May 6th and can be picked up May 13th.

Additional info on rain barrels:

Residential irrigation can account for 40% of domestic water consumption in a given municipality. Rain barrels not only store water, they help decrease demand during the sweltering summer months.

Only ¼ inch of rainfall runoff from the average roof will completely fill the typical barrel. A good formula to remember: 1 inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof yields 623 gallons of water. Calculate the yield of your roof by multiplying the square footage of your roof by 623 and divide by 1000.

Collection of water from rooftop runoff can provide an ample supply of this free “soft water” containing no chlorine, lime or calcium. Because it tends to have fewer sediments and dissolved salts than municipal water, rain water is ideal for planter beds for a multitude of applications, including biodynamic and organic vegetable gardens, planter beds for botanicals, indoor tropicals like ferns and orchids, automobile washing and cleaning household windows. Saving water in this manner will reduce your demand of treated tap water and save money by lowering your monthly bill.

Rain water diversion also helps decrease the burden on water treatment

Info found on the NE Rain Barrel web site.

Franklin residents can order their rain barrels here. All others can select their community to order here.

"The committee made several recommendations"

Posted Apr 28, 2009 @ 12:26 AM


Using the parable of the boiled frog to describe the possible trajectory of Franklin services and finances, Doug Hardesty told an audience of about 100 residents the town needs to immediately tackle its recurring fiscal deficit before the damage is irreparable.

When a frog is thrown into a pot of boiling water, it'll immediately jump out, Hardesty said. When it's put in a pot of room temperature water, and the heat is slowly turned up, the change is so slow the frog doesn't notice. The frog dies before it reacts.

"That's very much the kind of thing we're worried about in Franklin," said Hardesty as he began his presentation on the long-term financial committee's plan last night at Horace Mann Middle School.

"Because we're facing this slow structural problem, it creeps up on us. The question is, what and when do we jump," said Hardesty, an auditor and one of two residents-at-large on the committee.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Book Signing - LeeRoy U Bailey, Jr - 5/2/09

LeeRoy U Bailey, Jr will be at Treesavers Book Outlet on Saturday May 2, to sign his book; A Different Perspective on How to Reach Heaven: You Must Be Born Again.

LeeRoy will be on site at Treesavers from noon to 4:00 PM. For more information you can email LeeRoy at or visit his website here.

"teachers don't have time to get it all done"

Posted Apr 27, 2009 @ 11:52 PM


The School Committee intends to hammer out an agreement on wage concessions with the teachers union to save teachers' jobs today, said Chairman Jeffrey Roy.

The Franklin Education Association had proposed deferring its negotiated 2.5 percent salary increase and course reimbursements until June 30, 2010 - which would save the district $1 million - but with three conditions.

In exchange for the concessions, the union asked for the removal of five floating after-school meetings, permanent removal of the need to give a reason for personal days, and the permanent requirement that no meetings be scheduled two weeks prior to the issuing of report cards, according to a copy of the proposal.

The Franklin Education Association and School Committee are considering counter proposals for wage concessions, and will deliberate in concurrent meetings at 3:30 this afternoon at Horace Mann Middle School, said Roy.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Monday, April 27, 2009

live reporting - Q&A #2

Q - the fear that I have is that my taxes are increasing 20% but the services my kids are getting in school is going down. I am okay with paying more taxes but I need to know what that number is. Relive peoples fear. I don't know if you can do what I just asked. I know it is hard but that is what I need. These numbers are scary but with the taxes increase and the schools services being cut that doesn't help.
A - Zollo - in terms of wage earners, most people are not spending the same each year, due to a variety of reasons. Cost of gov't does not go down. Inflation doesn't go down. Costs will go up. There is a built in subsidy. Three children. Avg citizen pays 4500 taxes, per student cost is 9200. The Zollo subsidy covers police, fire, etc. I will have received in the aggregate 250,000. I could stay here forever but I'll never pay it back. What is the reason for bringing it up? If I would educate my children on my own, it would still cost me more. The demand for the twon and housing in the town. The housing thirty years ago will be sold for more now.

If we were closer to the median, we would be in a better position with the adiditonal funds.

A - Whalen - you did a great job describing the difficulty and the challenges we have here. We are a pretty efficient shop. I am a research analsyst and that is what the numbers tell me. It really all comes down to, what kind of town do we want live in?

A - Bartlett - if you look at Page 14, there is the range of the 8.5M and 12.1M.

Q - Have you factored in the assessed values going down?
A - The 2.5% doesn't apply to each individual taxe rate. It applies to the overall town rate.
A - Bartlett the 8.5M would equate to a 22% increase

Q - financial forecasts are not actional, translate to something we can relate to; i.e police or fire, etc. Don't go back and re-do it. Clarification on the health care cost savings of 1M?
A - Roche - the 1M came from the difference in the original projected cost and the recent bid. That is one time savings.

Q - Has the town investigated farming out the tax collection? Hotels, meals tax, how much will it generate? In Florida, they have an impact fee.
A - We get 100% of our taxes, even if they are late we get 14% interest on the amount late. Against the law for an impact fee, it was through out by the courts. We have proposals for the hotel/meals tax but they have not been enacted yet. It would help but not solve our problem. It will diversify our tax receipts.

Q - On the health care side, how does the Town do it?
A - We pay about 7M for all our health care. We have been very successful working with the unions. With an increase of co-pay and a decrease in premium, it makes sense. They have worked well with us.

Q - The state has more people, they must have more bargaining power.
A - Nutting, actually our plan is better than the State plan. We look at it every year.

Q - With teachers at about 60K, can you bring in somebody for less
A - working and wages are subject to bargaining conditions

Q - with the health care, is there an opportunity to work with surrounding towns if we are the lowest, that would be something to gain
A - teacher pensions are not paid for by the town. There are 106 pension systems in the Commonwealth when there should be one. No one would design a system where there are 351 communities in the state. It will be hard to change. We do things like this every year. It is not just a public thing. It takes a lot of momentum to get things done.

Q - For me, a good school is not the thing. The curriculum is the key
A - Nutting - the school committee would agree with you.

Reminder - our meetings are open meetings

Q - split tax?
A - Roche - If we do decide a split tax rate, it doesn't allow us to raise any more money.
A - Whalen - there is a decided majority on the Finance Committee and Town Council not to do so in order to encourage business to relocate here.
A - Zollo - it is worth noting that the residential versus business is 80% to 20%. We would need a more diversified tax base. The time to make your feelings known is in November at the Town Council tax hearings.

Q - page 12 - net school spending, we are descending, based upon what we know today, what are we doing to prepare?
A - This is one of the reasons we have prepared this report.

Q - We need to be more frequent. These are general statements, we need to be more specific.

Q - Why did you get to the 31? You used some in some reports but others in some reports.
A - We picked the towns were the most comparable. We also wanted to use data that anyone could check on. We chose the DOE numbers because they are available. Norfolk was excluded only because they had not submitted their numbers to the state.

Q - My point earlier was the numbers are all good,
A - You're crossing over into a very subjective area. If you're across the board lower, there must be something there.

Q - You're only getting efficiency when there is a comparison on the same services?
A - I can't tell you how we could measure our schools with Walpoles. I see them as facing eminent decline.

A - Zollo - I don't disagree at a statisical level but at a general level it is fair to say, you know reputationally how they are doing. They are not out on the curve one way or the other.

Q - Should you include the grow projections for the school for the next five years? I know it would be beneficial.
A - The numbers are available. The total at the high school is projected to be about 1700

Q - Important to have our local reps (Spilka, Brown, Vallee) look at the legislation in process.
A - thank you!

Live reporting - Q&A

Q - commendation on report, job well done. concerning peer data, if we raise our taxes, is there a guarantee that the state won't reduce and we are back where we started
A - Whalen, put the numbers together, don't think the state looks at that statistic. we should be a below average tax burden with an above average benefit

A - Zollo - if the state minimum is hit, the state will help us determine how the money will be spent. Federal stats say we should have more police/fire but that doesn't matter to the state. It does to the school side of the budget.

Q - should include the school building issues into the 5 year plan otherwise, it wouldn't be a complete report. should update this quarterly
A -those items aren't quantified but they are addressed
Q - those items need to be there.
A - from the committee standpoint, those items are being looked at, there are no firm estimates for those factors to incorporate
A - Cameron - also look at the full report, there are additional details there. We focused on how the funding works for this executive report. We recognize how important this is.
A - Hardesty - information needs to get out, the details should be available when those decisions need to be made.

A - Zollo - the committee debated internally, we will come up with some alternatives, the relaity is what it is. The Town needs to be aware of other capital expenses. The funds for those could come from two sources, (1) Debt exclusion (expires when debt is paid off) (2) override (raises tax permanently). Differences between town fical funding options. But not out of the operational budget.
A - Whalen - in comparison with our peers, we are below the peers in debt service
A - Roche - transparency, dashboard on the website, but once the budget is set, the budget numbers don't really change. In most cases, the state number once given is set, unless there is unique circumstances, the state doesn't take away the money.

- side note - provided advice to the committee that some of the comments are coming across as defensive of the report when they should be soliciting feedback from the community

Q - when is the decision coming on the high school
A - Nutting - the building is not in that bad shape compared to other schools they have been into. We don't know when they will committee. They will not commit at this point. In six-nine months, maybe they'll give us an answer. We don't have it and we are continuing to pursue it.

live reporting - Doug continues

example of state unfunded mandate - wind instruments are now required to be professionally cleaned before reuse.

How has Franklin responded?
  • reduce head count and cut employee benefits
  • streamlined operations
  • enhanced revenues
  • spent cash reserves ($7.5 million)

Impact of current problem
forecasted deficits are structural, not directly due to the recession

FY 2010 forecast was for a deficit of 4.5 million
With other one time items, the deficit currently is $750,000

Where does this leave us?
  • We depend more upon state aid than other towns
  • Our property tax burden is less than other towns
  • Our cash reserves are stable and at the right level
Where are we now?
Town expenses
  • Franklin ranks 27th out of 31 comparable peer towns in per capita municipal spending
  • Recent capital projects have minimal effect on operating budget
School expenses
  • spending per pupil 22% less than state average
  • net school spending rapidly approaching state minimum
  • teacher compensation remains "middle of the pack"
  • Schools have cut non-teacher costs sharply
Town spending
slide of comparison to the other 31 towns

School spending
slide of numbers directly from the State Dept of Education web site

Net school spending slide
the long curve is going the wrong way

Impact of capital projects on Town Budget
  • Capital dollars can not be used for operational expenses
  • Capital debt burden is about 2% of the total Town budget
Where we are headed
state aid grow of 3% - 8.5 million deficit
state aid flat - 12.1 million deficit
state aid declines 3% - 15.3 million deficit

What can we do about this?
  • Agree on the problem
  • Develop a comprehensive multi-year plan
  • Improve transparency and accessibility if information
Continue to improve operational efficiency
  • explore regionalization in addition to Library, recreation
Influence the legislative process
  • preserve state aid
  • address unfunded mandates
  • pension reform
Ensure salaries remain competitive

explanation of steps and lanes on teacher side of the compensation

Increase tax revenue
  • find revenue from non-Franklin resources
  • assess need for override and debt exclusion - 5 year horizon
  • look to soften impact for low or fixed income households
Improve transparency and accessibility of information
  • assign ownership for improving the flow of info
  • communicate more effectively with citizens
  • preserve credibility
final thoughts
recap of previous topics

stay tuned for Q&A

Live reporting - Doug Hardesty

Committee addresses the problem, trying to boil it down to simple facts on where we have been, and where we are going.

free of bias, free of clutter

- be sure to follow along the presentation -

Boiled frog analogy - water in pan, turn heat on, put frog in pan, he'll jump out. Another pan, same amount of water, same frog, turn heat on gradually, the water will heat up and the frog will boil. The slow change was not noticeable and couldn't be avoided.

Similar to the Franklin finances, the problems have been here for years.

Franklin at a glance slide

Franklin at a glance - General Fund Revenues

clarification on this presentation is the executive summary with a couple of extra slides
the full report is available on the town web site

- rechecked the head count quickly, approx 150 people in the auditorium

Live reporting - Info Forum - Part 1

Financial Planning Committee members: Bartlett, Trahan, Cameron, Zollo, Whalen, Hardesty, Roche, Wilschek (Kelly missing)

Jim Roche, Committee Chair opens with remarks and introductions

About 100 in audience as we get underway

Doug Hardesty starts doing the full presentation

Live reporting - Informational Forum 4/27/09

Preparations underway, folks are gathering

At Horace Mann/Thomas Mercer Auditorium for the presentation and discussion of the Financial Planning Committee report

Click through to the Franklin Town website to view and download the draft report of the Financial Planning Committee here

Questions for the Forum

If you don't have questions for the discussion this evening on the long term plan, here are a few to help get you started:

  1. Page 12, the color bars are not labeled, what do they represent?
  2. How does a salary "freeze" still allow for increases due to step and lane changes?
  3. Which regionalization effort will bring the best dollar savings? Library and recreation efforts are small dollars.
  4. What unfunded mandates should be challenged to improve our expenses?
  5. If overrides are in our future, how many? when? and how big do they need to be? to get us out of this mess?
  6. Is the Town Council committed to keep this long range plan up to date (since previous efforts apparently failed)?
  7. Will the Town develop a "capital budget" as the auditors recently recommended?

Click through to the Franklin Town website to view and download the draft report of the Financial Planning Committee here

Concerned about Franklin's finances?

Concerned about Franklin's Finances?


Long-Range Financial Planning Committee

Monday, April 27th

7 PM

Mann School

(Mercer Auditorium)


You can view the report here

"overrides are going to become part of Franklin's future"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 26, 2009 @ 10:00 PM


Town councilors say they're not surprised at Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting's recent projection of a $5 to $6 million deficit in 2011, but for the most part, are too focused on getting through this budget cycle to start strategizing.

"It's so far off at this point. In my opinion, it shouldn't even be a topic of conversation. We need to get through this budget and see where we are," said Town Council Chairman Christopher Feeley.

There are many variables - like the possibility of getting revenue from utility pole taxes and local hotels and meals taxes - that could dramatically change Nutting's projection between now and next budget season, Feeley said.

"We need to be concerned about it, but too many things could change," he said.

Councilors Stephen Whalen and Scott Mason both said Nutting's projections are always "extremely accurate."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

School Committee Agenda - 4/28/09

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: Maureen Barker is on vacation – the 4-14-09 minutes will be approved at the next meeting (5-12-09).
Payment of Bills Mr. Kelly
Payroll Ms. Armenio
FHS Student Representatives
Correspondence: none

2. Guests/Presentations
a. Dan Telhada – All Scholastic Award
b. Coach Carmen Colace – Coach of the Year
c. Cafeteria – Point of Sale Implementation – Miriam Goodman

3. Discussion Only Items
Budget to Actual
FY10 Budget

4. Action Items:
a. I recommend budget transfers as detailed.
b. I recommend acceptance of a check for $2,500.00 from the Oak Street PCC for nurses and bus fees for upcoming field trips.
c. I recommend approval of the ASMS 8th grade trip to Conn. River Valley and Eastern NY on May 1, 2009.
d. I recommend acceptance of the donation of 12 cases of copy paper for the Franklin Public Schools from Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Johnson.
e. I recommend acceptance of the donation of $4,200.00 from the ASMS PCC to pay for two 8th grade field trip coach buses.
f. I recommend declaring the graphic arts classroom modular at FHS as surplus.

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
a. Using Data to Monitor Student Achievement
b. Best Buddies Prom
c. Bicycle Racks
d. FHS Modular Classroom
e. Implementation of Point of Sale Technology / Food Service

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

Contractual Negotiations

8. Adjourn

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Franklin kindergarten information nights schedule

This updated the schedule previously published here:

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 4/26/09

Parents of children who will be attending kindergarten in the fall are invited to attend the Kindergarten Information Night at their particular school.

Following are dates and times for sessions (parents only) revised from earlier publications:

J.F.Kennedy Elementary School, Thursday, April 30, 6:30 p.m.

Parmenter Elementary, Thursday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.

Jefferson Elementary, Wednesday, May 20, 6 p.m.

Helen Keller Elementary, Wednesday, May 13, 6:30 p.m.

Davis Thayer Elementary, Thursday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.

Oak Street Elementary , Wednesday, May 27, 6:30 p.m.

Things you can do from here:

When a Community Loses

this article discusses the impact of high school sports fees

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Boston Globe -- Globe Magazine by Brion O'Connor on 4/25/09
Eight years ago, when my daughters were in diapers, I took an assistant coaching post with the Hamilton-Wenham High School hockey team. It was one of those rare moments when life allows you to repay a debt. I lost my dad before eighth grade. Sports kept me heading in the right direction despite the upheaval of puberty. I had a ...

Things you can do from here:

"She gets the job done without fanfare"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 25, 2009 @ 11:35 PM


Paula Mullen, a Franklin resident and vice chairwoman of the School Committee, was one of 100 women in the state named a 2009 Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

She will be recognized by the commission for outstanding contributions to her community in a ceremony on May 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the State House in Boston.

School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy nominated Mullen.

Roy thought she was "a perfect fit," especially because she hates the limelight, but deserves the recognition for all the volunteer work she does.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

five hours is worth more than $1 million

According to a copy of the proposal, the union demanded the following conditions: the permanent removal of five floating after-school meetings, permanent removal of the need to provide a reason for personal days, and the permanent requirement that no after-school meetings be scheduled two weeks prior to the issuing of report cards.
From the Milford Daily News article on the School Committee meeting 4/14/09.

The citizens of Franklin will find out, hopefully soon, what the cost of 5 hours of meetings are. Is it worth 1 million dollars? Or is it worth more?

The teachers union in a vote to accept the 2.5 percent wage freeze for the 2009-2010 school year attached three minor conditions to the proposal.

To remove from their contract, five floating after school meetings. There already are three mandatory meetings each month for the teachers at each school. Is there really a need for these five floating meetings? I hope not.

To remove the requirement for providing a reason for taking two "personal" days. There are only two, you use them or loose them. They are already defined "personal". Does the School Dept really need to know the personal reason? I think that is too much of a controlling issue.

To add a requirement not to schedule after-school meetings in the two weeks prior to report cards. This seems reasonable. The time before report cards should be focused on preparing the accurate information for students and parents/guardians on the progress made during the marking period.

Why this was not discussed during the meeting, I can understand given the nature of the conversation that did take place between Chandler Creedon and the School Committee. They were talking about the same topic, using different words, not really answering each others questions. For me, there is a communication issue there.

This was originally posted here on Wednesday April 15, 2009.

Letter from Ed Cafasso

Hello Everyone!

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: (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:

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

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.

Thank you!

Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee

edcafasso @