Saturday, August 28, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Hello Franklin! Did you recognize last week's mystery native, perhaps because it grows in the cracks of your driveway, or between the mulch and the curb of the grocery store parking lot?

This plant is called spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata) and if you grow anything at all out-of-doors in New England, then you have likely plucked out this plant as a weed.

This is what it looks like when spotted spurge is left to its own devices for a few months. It grows absolutely flat against the ground, and has a lovely tinge of purple to its stems and leaves. Spurge is an annual plant that flourishes in hot, dry conditions that kill everything else.

I am a bit baffled as to why every source considers this plant to be just a weed, worthy only of killing, and I am currently leaving it to grow in parts of my garden to see how it does as a groundcover. So far it has been great! It was one of the only plants that didn't seem to suffer during the drought.

Just for fun, here is a closer look. This plant is in bloom. There they are: each flower is barely a millimeter across.

And here is next week's flower. Do you know what it is?

Feel free to post your guesses in the comments section here. Cheers!

Michelle Clay writes about gardening here in Franklin at the Clueless Gardeners Blog.

Franklin, MA

In the News - house fire, Tom Rush

Families lose homes in Franklin fire

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

FRANKLIN BRIEF: Circle of Friends presents an evening with Tom Rush

Franklin, MA

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farmers Market - today - noon to 6:00 PM

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day."

The Farmers Market will be open on the Town Common today from noon - 6:00 PM.

Franklin, MA

In the News - attempted murder, house fire

Franklin teen charged with attempted murder

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

House catches fire in Franklin

Franklin, MA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Attn: Business Owners - Training Grant Money Available!

                                            The United Regional Chamber of Commerce logo 

The Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Program is now accepting applications from organizations with 50 or fewer employees in Massachusetts - including all plants and branches. All applicants must contribute to the Workforce Training Fund via DUA/UI investments.

The mission of the Workforce Training Fund Express Program is to provide organizations with the resources to invest in the Massachusetts workforce and businesses, to improve employee skills, and to maintain the economic strength and viability of the fund.

Training funded by this program should address the priorities of the fund which include projects that will result in job retention, job growth or increased wages and for projects where training would make a difference in the company's productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts.

For more information, attend a Workforce Training Grant Information Seminar on Thurs., Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Chamber's Attleboro office. Please call 508-222-0801 to register.

How to Stop Eating Crap to Stop Feeling Like Crap

This "Howcast" is one of a series on healthy eating.

What do you need?

You Will Need

Portion-size guide
Vegetables and fruit
Whole grains
Healthy drinks
Grass-fed beef (optional)

The Franklin Food Pantry website can be found here:

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

EPA Storm water proposal information

Reminder that the last informational meeting for the proposed storm water permit process will be held today in Milford.
Thursday, August 26, at 10:00 AM at the Physician's Conference Room (First Floor) in the Milford Regional Medical Center, located at 14 Prospect Street, Milford. Free parking is available at the Cancer Center, directly across the street from the Hospital, on Prospect Street

A summary of the storm water permit process can be viewed here:

2010 08 18 Summary of RDA Storm Water General Permit

The presentation used for the Aug 18, 2010 information meeting can be found here:

EPA Information Meeting – August 18, 2010_HANDOUTS

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

Franklin, MA

In the News - open positions, trail grants, adult ed

Franklin looks to fill open committee posts

Trails grant workshop offered

Franklin, MA

$3 Million in Additional Education Funds for MetroWest

Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) announced today that six MetroWest towns in her district will receive $3,111,517 in additional education funding thanks to the federal Education Jobs Fund signed into law by President Obama on August 10, 2010.

Under the allocation of funding, which is designed to preserve teaching jobs, Ashland will receive $253,982, Franklin will receive $1,295,418, Holliston will receive $343,005, Hopkinton will receive $315,671, Medway will receive $484,561 and Natick will receive $418,880.

“This additional federal money allows Chapter 70 education aid to be fully funded in every community in the state,” state Senator Spilka. “This announcement, coming on the heels of $250 million in Race to the Top funds, demonstrates how, by working together, we can translate the Commonwealth’s single-minded commitment to education into results.”

The $204 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund to school districts across the Commonwealth brings state support for public schools to its highest level in history. A combination of state and federal dollars totaling $4.07 billion will ensure all school districts receive more state aid - at least $25 per student - than they did last year. The new funding will support an estimated 2,700 teaching positions across the state.

The Education Jobs Fund provides $26 billion nationwide to preserve jobs for teachers and other school-based employees. The Commonwealth's $204 million appropriation will be directly distributed to school districts through the state's education funding formula and combined with state and federal funds to ensure that every school district across the state meets its foundation level budget for the 2010-2011 school year. With this new infusion of federal funding, Chapter 70 will be fully funded without using nearly $60 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds available for general government purposes.

This year the state will commit nearly $3.85 billion in Chapter 70 education funds to cities and towns. By combining these state dollars with $204 million in Education Jobs Funds and $20.7 million in existing ARRA funds, the state will meet its commitment to helping every school district reach foundation level spending targets in Fiscal Year 2011.

Yesterday, Massachusetts received $250 million from the federal Race to the Top program. These funds will be used to implement landmark education reforms, including providing new and more immediate opportunities to turn around underperforming schools and close achievement gaps, expand access to successful charter schools and authorize new Innovation Schools to provide greater choice for students and their families.

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Disclosure Announcement

Keeping my promise to let you know when things change, I do have an announcement to make. I am honored to have been offered a role on the Board of Directors for the Franklin Food Pantry.

I have accepted this role and look to help the Food Pantry in a couple of ways. One, they have expanded the membership of the Board and are embarking on a strategic plan initiative. I believe my project management skills and my work creating a good customer experience can help in this effort. Two, I will work to help the Food Pantry in their communication efforts. Drawing upon the experiences I have had using and implementing social media tools, I will help to spread the word about the work of the Food Pantry.

What won’t change?
My priorities won’t change with this new role. My number one priority remains my focus on finding appropriate full-time employment. (I forgot this reference to my job search was still here.) My second priority remains contributing to the well being of my immediate and extended family.

My third priority has been giving back to my community via the work I do for Franklin Matters. I see the Food Pantry time requirements fitting within the time I have available. The Food Pantry will allow me to explore what matters in Franklin in an important way. I see this as a natural extension of the outreach efforts I have already made through the Franklin Downtown Partnership and the United Regional Chamber of Commerce.

What may change?
The Food Pantry Board is currently scheduled to meet on the last Tuesday of the month. Depending upon how the calendar works out, this poses a potential conflict with the School Committee meetings. As a result of this conflict, I may be reporting on the second School Committee meeting more from the video archive than the in person/live reporting I have been able to do.

I should note that my role with the Food Pantry Board has changed. In addition to my original responsibilities, I have taken on the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. (updated 5/2011)
I also serve as Chairman of the Board Development Committee. This last one is temporary (I hope) as we work to expand the Board with folks who share the passion for helping our Franklin neighbors. (updated 10/2011)

My disclosure statement can be found here

and here

The bus is coming. The bus is coming!

Yes, it is that time of the year where the school bus schedule is reviewed. Getting up and out in the morning for school begins next week.

You can view the bus schedule here:

Franklin Public Schools 2010-11 Busroutes

You can also go to the Franklin Public Schools Transportation page to find this info and more:

A quick summary of the changes to the schedule was covered in the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 24th.

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

Attention: business property owners

Do you own business property in Bellingham, Franklin or Milford?
Do it have at least two acres of impervious surface?

What is impervious surface? 
Impervious means that the water can not penetrate to seep through the surface. Concrete or asphalt are common impervious surfaces. Building roof tops also count in the calculation.

If you have not yet attended one of the information sessions on the new regulations the EPA is proposing for pilot in these three communities, you should.

There is one more Thursday, August 26 at 10 AM in the Physician's Conference Room at the Milford Regional Medical Center, located at 14 Prospect St., Milford.

Free parking is available at the Cancer Center, directly across the street from the Hospital, on Prospect Street.

The presentation used at a prior information session can be viewed here:

Additional information on the proposed EPA regulations can be found here:

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

Franklin, MA

In the News - Y expansion, class size

Franklin YMCA hopes to expand

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin administrators bemoan large class sizes

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA Public Schools: Handbooks

The parent/student/family handbooks for each school in the Franklin Public Schools were approved by the School Committee during the meeting on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010. You can cruise amongst the individual school webpage to find the handbooks or all of them can be found in one place here:

ECDC FY 11 final Family Handbook 3 (PDF)

Jefferson Parent Handbook 10-11 Final August 2010 (PDF)

Keller Parent and Student Handbook 2010-2011-FINAL (PDF)

JF Kennedy FINAL Handbook 10-11 (PDF)

Oak Street FINAL Family Handbook 2010-2011 (PDF)

Parmenter Family Handbook 2010-2011.FINAL (PDF)

Davis Thayer FINAL Family Handbook 2010-2011 (PDF)

Horace Mann MS FINAL (PDF)

Remington MS_Handbook_FINAL_10-11 (PDF)

Annie Sullivan MS Student Handbook FINAL 2010-2011 (PDF)


FHS Bullying Appendix A FINAL 2010-2011 (PDF)

Note: These handbooks were the 'official' ones approved at the meeting, if an individual handbook is changed after this time, THE official one should be found on the respective Franklin Schools page.

Franklin, MA

School Committee - 08/24/10

The collection of posts from the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010 can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Live reporting - Closing

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
a. Parmenter – Wachusett Street Construction
The front access loop is currently impassible, meeting with DPW and Town Administrator on Wednesday

There are 153 new students in the district, there was a line down the hall at the high school today, students who had been at the private high schools are returning

The bus routes are being posted, 
there were three buses eliminated per the budget discussion to save $120,000
Stops were added other bus routes
Some routes will be longer than last year due to the additional stops

  • Remington, bus 29 eliminated, stops added to buses 1, 10, 11, 14
  • Horace Mann, bus 30 eliminated, stops added to buses 15 and 22
  • Parmenter, bus 5 eliminated, stops added to bus 22 and 23
  • Keller, bus 24 eliminated, stops to bus 2 
  • Jefferson, bus 21, stops added to buses 15 and 26

middle school buses are at about 95% capacity
elementary buses are at 75% capacity
bus counts will be taken the third week in Sep
bus counts will be taken more frequently
Late bus will be up and running for the middle and high school students

Pay to ride, currently just about where they were last year about 1591, expecting an increase but only where capacity exists.

Cafasso - can we utilize the existing media to communicate to the PCC's? We need to keep the parents aware. I would like to see in Oct.

Ridership mostly middle/high school for the pay-to-ride

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports 
budget subcommittee met to start discussing FY 2012
if there is any input, like to see things different from last year, let Sue know

policy subcommittee continuing to work through the manual
will be bringing forward

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

Roy - received a book from C Geromini "The Death and Life of the Great American School System"
Trahan - wishing a safe new beginning to the new year to all the students, faculty, etc.

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

moving to executive session, passed 7-0

8. Adjourn

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Action items

4. Action Items
a. I recommend acceptance of the Franklin High School’s Handbook as presented at the last meeting.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

b. I recommend acceptance of the District Improvement Plan as presented at the last meeting.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

c. I recommend acceptance of the Horace Mann, Remington and Annie Sullivan Middle School’s School Improvement Plans as presented.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

d. I recommend approval of the Budget Transfers as detailed.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

e. I recommend acceptance of the Middle Schools Handbooks as presented at the last meeting.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

f. I recommend acceptance of the Elementary Schools Handbooks as presented at the last meeting.
motion to accept, passed 7-0

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Discussion only items

Added charge to the Space Needs subcommittee

Have the district changes in population shift the district has seen sufficient to re-district
are the changes sufficient to consider going to a half-day kindergarten

We are talking about a possible re-districting for the next school year 2011-2012

Sabolinksi - The kindergarten committee will be prepared for input to the Space Needs Subcommittee

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Middle School Improvement Plans

2. Guests/Presentations
a. Middle School’s School Improvement Plans

Annie Sullivan - Principal, Beth Wycoff
a continuation and update of items from prior years, continuing what is going well
adding and adjusting to areas that need to be to continue to make progress
Made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with hard work, continuing to devote effort to maintain that progress
added the bullying policy to the handbooks and to the objectives

Horace Mann - Interim Principal, Michael Levine
Speaking to the effort although not from direct and detailed exposure due to his new role
Gave thanks to those who helped prepare him for this

Remington - Principal, Paul Peri
Did meet AYP in math subgroups but did not meet AYP in the English areas
There are six performance ratings, all the schools in Franklin are in the highest category
Due to this high category a drop of a few points is not doom and gloom, there is work to be done and efforts are underway to provide the progress to meet AYP

Cafasso - looking at the enrollment for the middle schools, enrollment overall is down at all three schools but there are spikes in specific grades. Can you talk to us about class sizes and where you have concerns? Where are the pain points?

Wycoff- I am concerned about by 6th Grade class sizes. We lost a position so the class sizes are going up to 28-29. That is a deep concern for us. Took every class list and even out the classes manually. I think the other grades are managable but not what we had when I came here. I'd like to get back to the class sizes where we could have 18-22.

Peri - You can get in to the low 30's in the Unified arts classes. We are looking for additional furniture from one room to move to another where needed. We are relying on everyone in the building to come together.

Levine - 32% have class sizes over 25, the bulk in the 6th grade; 26, 27 ... The teachers change their strategies to accommodate the individualized instruction. As this gets to the heart of our success, this is an issue.

Glynn - With the changes in class size, how does this affect the performance?

Peri - there is a correlation between class size and goal performance. The goal is to hit 100% in 2014.
Wycoff - something gives at some point. We have all of these other factors, students in warning but not making progress, are we moving the advanced up as much as we are capable of. At some point, when you have these numbers in the classroom, something gives. We have done quite well here in Franklin. The dam will break but not because there is a valiant effort. To accommodate three extra bodies, you can't understand unless you are in the room with them.
Levine - I'll just add that when I started teaching, this was the discussion. I won't say when I started. There was evidence to suggest that smaller class sizes do create better performance. We need to do as much as we can to decrease class size.

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - School Committee

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

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments - none
Review of Agenda - added Space Needs Subcommittee report to Discussion Only Items
Minutes: I recommend approval of the Open and Executive Session minutes from the August 10, 2010 School Committee Meeting. Motion to accept, passed 7-0
Payment of Bills Mr. Glynn Motion to accept, passed 7-0
Payroll Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives-  none this meeting, next time
Correspondence - none

Franklin, MA

the opportunity is now

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana 

Why am I on this kick about the School Committee/Administration and the District Improvement Plan?

And if by chance, you missed that, I talked about it here

and here

I worked with wonderful folks on the Steering Committee to develop the Strategic Plan for the Franklin Public Schools. That overall strategy plan is now being further detailed with specific actions and follow up items to bring us toward the vision of what the schools should be.

The history of Franklin voters funding education is terrible. One operational override has passed of the seven offered. The one that passed was clearly a town-wide effort to save operations across the board (fire, police, Library and schools). Each one that failed was essentially for the schools. Although there were other departmental effects, the bulk of the funding for the six failures was for the schools.

Hence, one could argue that Franklin doesn't fund the schools.

Hence, given the opportunity to put together the details for the strategic plan, one would expect a considerable focus on communications, outreach, etc.

As I have outlined already, the bulk of the work on the District Improvement Plan is there. The issue is relatively minor in that the parents, the PCC organizations were left out of the District Improvement Plan in the key section to increase awareness of the school funding priorities. The community is included in the high school renovation project. It had better be. The community is excluded from the budget process and that is where I raise the issue.

Given the history of Franklin funding education, given the methods the School Committee and Administration have used to communicate, something needs to be changed.

Hence the George Santayana quote.

The time for change is now.

Franklin, MA

We'll take the money, thank you

As a follow up to the School Committee's action item on the District Improvement Plan, I went back through the agendas for the calendar year 2010. (Yes, the calendar year as opposed to the school year.) The PCC donations to the School Committee resulted in 22 separate actions for a total of $49,549.85.

The full listing of the 22 donations according to the published agendas for the period from Jan 1, 2010 through Aug 24, 2010 can be found here:

Will the School Committee/Administration modify the District Improvement Plan to include the parents, especially the PCC organizations? Come to the meeting, or at least tune in to see what happens.

The School Committee meets Tuesday, Aug 24th at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Bldg, East Central St.

You can tune into either Comcast or Verizon to see the cable broadcast or from your PC follow this link to view the broadcast.

Franklin, MA

In the News - Brendan Rigby, water ban lifted

No summer off for Franklin grad

Franklin water ban lifted

Franklin, MA

Survey reminder

Friendly reminder that the current survey or poll question is still open for your input until Friday August

You can find the survey question on the top of Franklin Matters and in the center column above the calendar.

Franklin, MA

Monday, August 23, 2010

Real time reporting - Planning Board - 8/23/10

Hockomock Y addition
The Hockomock YMCA at Forge Park is looking for a limited site plan and approval for an addition of approx. 1300 sq ft on the first floor and another 2500 sq ft on the second floor. The additions are meant to expand the teen and wellness programs. The Y has already made four or five "limited site plans" over the years so there is an issue as to whether they should come forward with a full site plan. There is also an issue and discussion on the parking available. There are only 202 parking spaces available and parking for some periods finds space along both access roads creating a safety hazard.

Me: if they have lost membership (a decline from 12,000 to approx 10,500 since 2007) part of the reason could be the economy but part of the reason could be the hassle getting to the facility (i.e. parking). Getting a competitive program should address parking as much as it should the programs offered.

The Board did approve that the Y could proceed with a "limited site plan" and the Y will return in two weeks with additional information.

Item D/E
D'Addario Hardware - Board approved moving forward with a limited site plan for adding a temporary storage container.
Ryan Development - related to D'Addario as they own the property, this limited site plan is for the paving of the land to accommodate the container for D'Addario. Both limited site plans were approved.

Item F
Franklin Place Senior Village - permit extension approved

(to be continued)

Note: headline (title) was adjusted to reflect my own policy of using "live" to reflect when I am in the room and "real time" when I am reporting while it happens but via the cable feed. My reporting got interrupted so I'll catch the remainder when the video replay is available.

Franklin, MA

In the News - school food

Keeping up with tastes of Franklin students

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

School Committee - say it isn't so!

The School Committee reviewed the District Improvement Plan at their last meeting on August 10. As one of the contributors to the Steering Committee that developed the Strategic Plan, it was good to see the mission, vision, and values fleshed out with detailed action steps and follow up status points.

There is one significant omission. It was also noticed by one of the eagle eye readers here as well so I wasn't the only one to catch it.

The District Improvement Plan: The last goal statement was built on the core value that the community provides resources for learning. Resources in this case is not just funding and the Strategic Value was worded carefully:
We partner with all members of the community to exchange ideas, solve problems and build a comprehensive educational experience.
From this value, the goal statement is worded as:
GOAL STATEMENT: The community will collaborate to provide the financial resources to support the educational program.
This gets to the heart of the matter. For whatever reason (economic times, lack of trust, or just 'no more', etc.) the Franklin voters have spoken to deny the schools the funding the School Committee/Administration claims is required for the education of our children. One would expect that this issue, how to better engage the community, would receive a high priority and fortunately it does with the Value and Goal Statement as shown.

For this goal statement, the plan lists two learning objectives:
  • Administrators will collaborate with School Committee to develop and implement a budget
  • The FPS Administration will collaborate with town and community to address FHS facility needs
What is the omission?
Where are the parents? Where is the Parent Communication Council (PCC)?

Don't you think that the parents should be involved in the process? Shouldn't the parents (especially in their role as voters) be involved in the planning and communications around the educational priorities?

Shouldn't there be an objective to reach out to the parents (and other groups in the community) to improve the information and awareness of the school budget and priorities?

Is it just me or is the School Committee/Administration missing the boat?

Why is this an issue?
The School Committee agenda for Tuesday, August 24 has an action item:
  • I recommend acceptance of the District Improvement Plan as presented at the last meeting.
The operative wording is "as presented" and not "as modified based upon feedback from the presentation and discussion". And if the action item was just written incorrectly but the document had actually changed, that could be considered a typo or oversight. But the document as distributed with the School Committee packet did not change.

Say it isn't so!

The action item and District Improvement Plan can be found here:


The 'final' Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan Steering Committee

Strategic Plan presentation to Town Council

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Planning Board - 08/23/10 - Agenda

The current agenda for the Planning Board meeting scheduled for Aug 23, 2010.

Franklin, MA: Planning Board Agenda 08-23-10

Franklin, MA

Woodrow L. Abbott Field House

Let's reach out and draw from your memory banks on this one:

Apparently, the high school field house was once named the "Woodrow L. Abbott Field House" and then about 10 years ago (or so) the sign was removed and hence referred to as the Franklin High School Field House.

Who was Woodrow L Abbott?

Why was the change made?

You can send me an email or respond in the comments.


Franklin, MA