Saturday, February 27, 2010

Temple Grandin - "visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers"

We get our first view into the Schools budget during the School Committee meeting on 3/9/10. Apparently, the budget will initially focus on "level service" (based upon the update from the meeting 2/23/10).

Going from "level service" to "level funded" or less will be a challenge. This TED Talk by Temple Grandin is good at showing the different kinds of thinking we are capable of. The different kinds of thinking require different approaches.

Are we preparing a sufficiently challenging environment for all types of thinkers?

Are we prepared to fund it appropriately?

In the News - Cole's, state budget updates

Franklin police hope photo helps catch robber

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 


In one article meeting with librarians, Sen Richard Moore comments on the state budget:

The governor's budget includes revenue from his proposed soda and candy tax, which, Moore said, is not likely to pass, and Medicaid money from the federal government that Congress has not yet signed off on.

"So we already have to start making up for some money," said Moore. "It's not going to be a pretty picture ... This will be the worst fiscal year since I've been in office."

Read the full article here

Support for libraries urged

Moore says aid cut may be less than 5 percent


Friday, February 26, 2010

Four Changes to Law

Phillip K Howard spoke recently at the TED Conference and it was captured in this TED Talk.
The land of the free has become a legal minefield, says Philip K. Howard -- especially for teachers and doctors, whose work has been paralyzed by fear of suits. What's the answer? A lawyer himself, Howard has four propositions for simplifying US law.
What are the four propositions?

1 - Judge law mainly by its effect on society, not individual situations.
2 - Trust in law is an essential condition of freedom. Distrust skews behavior towards failure.
3 - Law must set boundaries protecting an open field of freedom, not intercede in all disputes.
4 - To rebuild boundaries of freedom, two changes are essential:
  • simplify the law
  • restore authority to judges and officials to apply law
I do encourage you to view the video (approx. 20 minutes) as the arguments Phillip makes are quite compelling. 

What do you think? Do we stand a chance of getting somewhere with these proposals?

In the News: Closing the gap, winter carnival

Rep. Vallee votes to close obscene messaging gap

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Franklin High's Winter Carnival set for Sunday

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Maguro House - Grand Opening Party

The Grand Opening Party is scheduled for Sunday, February 28th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Harlem Wizards return to Franklin!

The Harlem Wizards, one of the greatest basketball show-team organizations to ever “lace it up and let’em fly”, will play our own Sullivan Rockets. This will be an entertaining night for kids of all ages (and adults too)!

From Franklin Matters

Did you miss their visit last year?

Don't miss it this year!

Date:  Friday, March 19th, 2010, 7:00 PM
Doors Open 6:00, Game Time 7:00

Location: Tri-County Regional High School
147 Pond St, Franklin MA

Tickets: Click here to print ticket order form

Contacts: or

Sponsored By: Annie Sullivan Middle School PCC

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

live reporting - Superintendent report, closing

5. Information Matters
Superintendent’s Report
a. Ethics Laws
b. 2011-2012 School Calendar – 2 drafts
one drafted with a start before Labor Day, one drafted with a start after Labor Day
looking for review from School Committee, will be reviewed with principals Wednesday
will also be posted to the schools website for review
with a post-Labor Day start, the senior graduation day would have to be pushed back from the normal first Friday in June

• School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
Building Committee - Mar 1 is meeting to vote and approve the selection of the OPM, which will trigger the effort on designers (architects) to get one hired by fall

Space Needs - will be reporting out at next meeting

Budget subcommittee - FY 11 budget tweaked, revised to be reviewed with the full committee on March 9th to review the level service needs

• School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business
To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

Trahan - FEF Trivia Bee on Apr 29th

Glynn - with the current events around cyberbullying, are we planning to do anything
Mullen - yes, the subcommittee is working on it, the Superintendent has been keeping us informed

Roy - providing feedback from the Univ of Hartford on theater students coming from Franklin who have been doing very well there.

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

motion to enter executive session with no intention to return to open session
passed 7-0

Live reporting - Action items

4. Action Items

a. I recommend acceptance of the gift of an Electronic Snap Circuits educational kit by Elenco for the students at Oak Street. Value $65.00 kit that has over 60 pieces which allows the students to build over 300 electronic projects/experiments.
motion to accept, passed 7-0
b. I recommend approval of budget transfers as detailed.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

Note: the original item B was postponed for a future meeting per the agenda review at the beginning of this meeting

live reporting - policy changes

3. Discussion Only Items

Policy – First Readings (note follow the links to view the proposed policy documents)

1. EB – Safety Program
 motion to move policy EB to second reading - passed 7-0
2. EEA – Student Transportation Policy Services and Eligibility
 motion to move policy EEA to second reading, passed 7-0
3. EEB – Student Transportation Policy Services and Eligibility
 motion to move policy EEB to second reading, passed 7-0

Budget to Actual
 no questions

Live reporting - presentations

2. Guests/Presentations

a. Summary of Ethics Laws – Maureen Sabolinski
Ethics laws required for every municipal employee, online training required, approx. 20 minutes
signature page to be printed and kept in a file with the Town Clerk
working to do the online training during staff meeting time
elected officials are required to sign off on receipt of the update packet

b. Update Strategic Plan and District Improvement Plan – Maureen Sabolinski
This is the first of the scheduled updates on the Strategic Plan (disclosure, I worked on the team to develop the Strategic Plan Vision, Mission Statement and Core Values in a collaborative manner)

developing a systemic learning community based upon feedback
implemented the writing center at the high school, an assessment and report to NEASC is required
coordinated program review, received preliminary report, received many commendations, need to focus on English language learners (no surprise based upon self evaluation)
exploring the use of Google translator to help with translations of documents

utilization of data, part of growth model pilot program
Franklin is far and above other districts in use of data
data team, teacher driven, is moving forward
this group will develop the next district improvement plan based upon the data analysis
using MCAS and the growth model data
principals using the data to modify the instructional program as required
a week of intensive training in Natick sponsored by a collaborative

reading specialists and math CETs are working on developing enhancements for teachers in the classrooms to address the needs of low income and disabled students

building a local base of assessment data to add to the MCAS data

Student success team, kids that are at risk to drop out.
develop a protocol to look at their records, for similarities
developing strategies to get ahead of the curve to address these students

The Ropes Course at the high school is being looked at to get it licensed for use as an instructional tool for leadership training, also to be used in FHS Summer program

MassInsight training, a shift in instructional program, added rigor, getting students to be ready to take advanced placements courses at the high school

Teenangels, getting to the point where the teenangels will take their information and training on the road within the district.

handbook updates scheduled for May School Committee meetings
work to begin with principals to prepare the drafts to be ready

lockdown training to include the pool of substitute teachers

school community relationships
Hockomock Y - nutition detectives
did walk a through with all the cafeterias
supplements the loss of health in the overall program

Community Health Council (meeting Thursday, March 4th)

Dean partnership, exploring ways to partner with Dean on how to work better together

transparency on budget items
MSBA, just submitted another update on enrollment projections
on agenda to approve the hiriing of the OPM which would then get to hiring the architect
should all be done by March 1

Q - How is open circle going?
A - All the elementary schools are using it, building based training currently in place

Q - the acceptable use policy is in the handbooks in the personnel section, should it be moved?
A - yes, we can address that as we get into the acceptable use for the adults, using the Town acceptable use policy

Q - what are we doing on those at risk for dropout, are we bringing in the parents?
A - we have done some work at the high school due to some data and have made some changes there, we need to extend that work throughout the system

Q - We there any ah-ha moments?
A - Yes, there were several, one of them at the high shcool was the detention and punishment policy. The kids were amazing, we did focus groups and they provided the feedback on who was engaged and interesting. The feeling of being connected to the school community. How do they get involved so that they can build the emotional connection and remain.

Live reporting - School Committee

Present:  Douglas, Cafasso, Rohrbach, Mullen, Roy, Trahan, Glynn
Absent:  none

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments  none

Review of Agenda  Add an action item for budget transfers, remove original action item B for discussion at a future meeting

Minutes: I recommend approval of the Executive and Open Session minutes from the February 9, 2010 School Committee Meeting. - motion to approve, passed 7-0 

Payment of Bills                    Mr. Glynn
motion to pay warrants - passed 7-0

Payroll                            Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives
Correspondence:  none

Rail Commuter Lauds "Real-Time" Information

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation by Klark Jessen on 2/23/10

MBCR Train Real-time arrival information now available along the MBTA commuter rail network is making a positive difference for commuters.
After taking the Fitchburg Line home earlier this month, customer Selena Tan told the T, "the new GPS notification of train arrival at the platform is excellent!  It makes all the difference to know whether to scramble to catch a connecting bus around the corner or just wait patiently because the train is a little late.  Thanks!"
The installation of Global Positioning Satellite equipment on the Commuter Rail network allows the MBTA to provide customers waiting on the platform with a six-minute countdown displayed on electronic message boards.

Real-time arrival information became available on the Fitchburg line on February 11 and is now available on all MBTA commuter rail lines with two exceptions.  The Newburyport & Rockport line will receive the service next week, and the Providence/Stoughton line on March 9. 
Visit MBTA on the web and learn more.


Things you can do from here:

"What I hear is, protect education at all costs"

Selectman Richard Dunne asked the lawmakers if a 5 percent cut is realistic, or if the town should consider a 10 or 15 percent cut to local aid instead.
"Wait even just a few weeks," said Spilka. "If we don't hear anything by then ... it could be 10 percent."
Vallee said he is optimistic that Chapter 70 education money will be level funded.
"What I hear is, protect education at all costs," said Vallee.
While these comments are from a meeting with Medway, the State picture likely would apply to Franklin as well. The Governor's budget was already announced, The House and then the Senate versions are forthcoming before we get to the final numbers.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here:

Legislators say 5 percent cut in aid likely

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Monday, February 22, 2010

Revere recycling

Thanks to a loyal reader, I got pointed to this video and article on



It all sounds so good but there are no specifics on what the dollars would be.

You have heard of TANSTAAFL of course. No, then you should check it out.

School Committee - Agenda - 2/23/10

Vision Statement
The Franklin Public Schools will foster within its students the knowledge and skills to find and achieve satisfaction in life as productive global citizens.

Mission Statement
The Franklin Public Schools, in collaboration with the community, will cultivate each student's intellectual, social, emotional and physical potential through rigorous academic inquiry and informed problem solving skills within a safe, nurturing and respectful environment.

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the Executive and Open Session minutes from the February 9, 2010 School Committee Meeting.
Payment of Bills                    Mr. Glynn
Payroll                            Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives
Correspondence:  none

2. Guests/Presentations
a. Summary of Ethics Laws – Maureen Sabolinski
b. Update Strategic Plan and District Improvement Plan – Maureen Sabolinski

3. Discussion Only Items

Policy – First Readings (note follow the links to view the proposed policy documents)
1. EB – Safety Program
2. EEA – Student Transportation Policy Services and Eligibility
3. EEB – Student Transportation Policy Services and Eligibility
Budget to Actual

4. Action Items
a. I recommend acceptance of the gift of an Electronic Snap Circuits educational kit by Elenco for the students at Oak Street. Value $65.00 kit that has over 60 pieces which allows the students to build over 300 electronic projects/experiments.
b. I recommend approval to establish the Franklin Arts Academy (FAA) using the small learning community model, at FHS for the 2010-2011 school year.

5. Information Matters
Superintendent’s Report
a. Ethics Laws
b. 2011-2012 School Calendar – 2 drafts

• 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, February 21, 2010

FM #58 - Week ending 2/21/10

The winter school break is ending, the Olympics are underway, let's just take about ten minutes to keep current with what matters here in Franklin, MA as the week ends February 21, 2010

In this session I’ll go back to cover the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb 10. In particular, their decision to reduce the annual curbside solid waste and recycling fee and implement minor increase to fees for Beaver St and to handle specific large items.

Time: 12 minutes, 48 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 58 in the series for Franklin Matters.

The winter school break is ending, the Olympics are underway, let's just take about ten minutes to keep current with what matters here in Franklin, MA as the week ends February 21, 2010

In this session I’ll go back to cover the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb 10. In particular, their decision to reduce the annual curbside solid waste and recycling fee and implement minor increase to fees for Beaver St and to handle specific large items.

Who would have guessed that reducing the fee to implement a new automated trash and recycling system would generate so much interest?

More than 20 citizens turned out on a snowy evening to participate in the Town Council meeting raising a variety of questions. None of the questions ended up swaying the Council. They voted 5 for – 2 against – 1 abstained (the ninth councilor was absent) to reduce the annual curbside fee from 244 to 233. There is still a proposed action to reduce the fee further to 220 by using some of the solid waste enterprise fund surplus. Per Jeff Nutting, this will come before the Council as part of the regular annual budget discussions.
Franklin Matters contains a number of links around this topic.

The original slide waste presentation of January 20th can be found here:

the questions and answers from the meeting of Feb 10th here:

I summarized my analysis of the pros and cons here:

As I got questions from a couple of Franklin Matters readers, I updated the pros/cons posting to answer those questions (catching a math error of my own in the process):

I also spent time finding information on all the communities referenced in the original DPW presentation on Jan 20th and summarized those links here:

What I'd like to do with the remainder of this update is to walk through the changes that I see my household making when this new system is scheduled to come into effect in July. My household already recycles a good amount. What will need to change is some of the processes around how we currently do our daily activities.

Today's recycling process:

We have a pile for the daily Boston Globe and the weekly Gazette in the family room for ready reference. Sometimes Dolores will see an article that I miss, or I will see one that she'll miss. Having the pile at hand makes it easy to flip back through to keep current. When Saturday morning rolls around, I tie up the bundle with twine and bring it to the garage in preparation for the trash/recycle pick up normally scheduled for Wednesdays.

Dolores also has a box near her desk in her home office for recycling individual sheet paper. I'll add to it with items from the post office delivered mail. A lot of the junk mail and catalogs end up getting recycled. When the box fills, I'll take it to the garage and bundle the papers tying them with some twine.

Cooking tends to generate recyclables. Cereal boxes, 100 Calorie snack boxes, pasta boxes and other cardboard boxes get flattened to go into one of our two recycling containers in the garage. We have the two containers positioned along side the landing for the steps coming from the garage into the house. It has been easy to walk onto the landing, reach over the railing and then drop the boxes into the container below. Yes, you learn to be accurate, otherwise, it is a walk to pick them up.

The same process is used for the yogurt containers, catsup containers, milk jugs, and other plastic or canned goods. For the glass jars and bottles, sometimes I am daring and will attempt a drop (knowing there is something sufficient below to cushion the fall) but most times I do walk down the stairs to deposit them into the container to ensure that the glass does not break.

The kitchen has a trash basket with a plastic bag liner for the remaining trash items. As it fills, the bag is removed, tied up and then deposited into one of two trash barrels in the garage. The barrels are also positioned near the landing. And yes, many times, it is a simple toss of the bag into the barrel with no additional harm or damage done to the contents (or the barrel).

There is an “extra” barrel that we have used for large family parties that currently holds a large black trash bag. It collects the plastic soda bottles that can be refunded for cash. As these bags fill (much less frequently these days as many of us have cut out soda from our diet), they get bound and stacked in the garage waiting for either a bottle drive to contribute to or if the stack gets too large before we find a drive, then one of us will spend some time feeding the bottle refund machines. As the girls were growing up, this was a good thing for them to do and to 'earn' some spending money. Alas, those days are just treasured memories now.

On Wednesday morning, the task of moving the two recycle bins, the bundled newspaper and the trash barrel usually takes at least two trips, sometimes three.

How will the process change with the new automated system?

Not a whole lot fortunately. We'll still pile the papers but I won't have to tie them. Once a week to ensure a good fit into the totter, I'll put the papers in with the other recyclables. Likewise with the box of papers from the home office, we'll save on twine and just add the paper to the totter.

Assuming the totters themselves fit along side the landing in the garage, I'll likely position them there. With the lids up and open (inside the garage there is not much of a risk for wayward animals as the items are already either cleaned or bagged). This will allow for a continuation of the drop over the side process we have for much of the items today. The glass items may still get a walk down to ensure good non-breakable placement.

Come Wednesday morning, it will be two trips, one each with a totter to the edge of the driveway to position them properly. Oh, I”ll also likely need to move one car out of the garage to move the totters themselves. I won't know for sure until I get the real items but given the constraints of the garage as it is, this is likely.

So the Sherlock household will save on some twine purchases (no longer needing to tie the papers together) and will likely have two trips to the roadside instead of three to move the totters down weekly.

I can image those Franklin residents without a garage will need to figure out if the totters will fit in the space their existing trash barrels occupy, or will they require more room?

A recent email also raised the question on how animal proof the totter lids are for those who would be storing them outside, and hence prone to visits from raccoons and other visitors. Maybe the DPW or Recycling Committee has a ready answer for that question.

I think there is still some work to be done to fine tune a “welcome kit” with explanations of each step in the process, there are several good examples from the survey I did of the other the communities.

  • Frequently asked questions,

  • the procedure for requesting a different size (either smaller for the potential situation of lower usage) or an additional totter for the larger families.

  • The local merchants or locations where the additional trash tickers can be purchased will need to be defined and stocked.
There is plenty of time before the new system is implemented in July. Send your suggestions on how to make this change better directly to the Recycling Committee or to me.

Change can be difficult but with proper planning, change can be managed to provide a good experience.

Looking ahead
The School Committee meets on Tuesday
The agenda has presentations scheduled on the ethics laws, and then the Strategic Plan and district improvement plan update on the school year thus far.
The School Committee also continues it review and update standard policy documents with three more scheduled. The details of each policy to be considered are contained in links on Franklin Matters that will be posted Monday morning with the full SchCom agenda.

As I close this session this week, let me remind you that
If you like what I am doing here, please tell your friends and neighbors
If you don’t like something, please tell me
Thank you for listening!

For additional information, please visit
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com
I hope you enjoy!

Trash Research - What the other communities do

In the DPW presentation on Jan 20th introducing the new trash and recycling system, several towns were reflected as implementing a similar system. For your reading pleasure, here are links to each town's information:

Billerica (automated trash, dual stream recycling)

Tyngsborough (no mention of automation in process today)

Holden (blue for trash, green for recycling; two options 1 - 65 gallon containers, 2 - 35 gallon containers)

Mansfield (seems to be the same process and vendor as proposed for Franklin)

Burlington (implemented their new system in July 2009)

Tewksbury (unfortunately, the link to the Statistics is broken on their website)
Results from automated collection show a significant reduction in trash generated and an increase in recycling!  Great job!
Lowell has a well done Bin-Dependence Day "Frequently asked questions" page outlining their entire process including the smaller bin for Senior Citizens. There celebrate a one year anniversary this March 2010 with the new system.

Norwood implemented their system in October of 2008.
Norwood recycling page

Dedham implemented their system November, 2009

North Attleboro implemented the new system with 64 gallon trash and 96 gallon recycling totters. (PDF)

Fall River is piloting the program with found neighborhoods and plans to expand to the full city during 2010. They are also using the 64 gallon trash and 96 gallon recycling totters for the pilot.

Newburyport is getting their recycle totters in June but already started their ew system in January.
The City of Newburyport began its new trash and recycling collection contract on
January 2. Overall, the transition has been smooth and we appreciate everyone’s understanding and compliance during this transition.

Newton advertises that it "takes 2, green and blue" referring to the color of the totters used, green for recycling, blue for trash.

Amesbury uses 35 gallon trash containers, 3 per household. They do use a 65 gallon container for recycling. The Amesbury Trash page is here:
The recycling page is here:

Easton posted their 2009 Welcome Kit and 2010 Welcome Kit on their website

Attleboro posted their recycling "Frequently Asked Questions" on their website

Boston has three brief videos introducing their "Big Blue" carts, 64 gallon bins, the same as proposed for here

Woonsocket, RI has a good bit of information on their Trash & Recycling page

Warwick, RI instituted their automated system in 2003

Middletown, RI also publishes a Welcome kit covering trash and recycling

Prior posts on Franklin Matters

Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity

What is adversity? What is disabled? What happens with the words we use?

"Come, dance with me!"


Additional TED Talks by Aimee can be found here

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the video.

In the News - Junior Miss, Cole's, agent orange

Beyond beauty: Local American Junior Miss contestants compete for scholarships

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 


Franklin bar robbed at gunpoint


More local veterans reporting possible poisoning from Gagetown training