Saturday, March 17, 2012

Voices of Franklin: David Brennan - Vote No

This was posted earlier on Saturday as a comment on the Comment Policy posting posted in Dec 2007 and hence buried in the archives. I have re-posted it here rather than leave it buried.

David Brennan - Mar 17, 2012 11:06 AM
My son will be attending Franklin High School in the fall and I will be voting no to a new building.

I recently toured the High School at an open house and found it to be perfectly fine. In fact it is much nicer than the Franklin Charter School my son has attended for 8 years which was built in 1955.

The Parmenter School was built in 1951,Davis Thayer was built in 1924, Kennedy and Horace Mann in the sixties, Tri County was built in the 70's.

All these schools are still going strong and there is no reason the High School which is only forty years old can't do the same for decades to come.

The tax payers of Franklin have been very generous over the past few years - approving monies for both reasonable updates to existing schools and building new ones.

Franklin High may need some sprucing up but everything I have read about and seen in person is cosmetic and can be done at a far lower cost than tearing down the school and building a completely new one.

Of course you would have to want to keep spending down in order to do that. Instead town officials have chosen to take the bait from the state where the incentive is to make the project as expensive as possible.

Nobody knows what the final cost will be. The Ballot question gives no definite amount of money that we are being asked to approve. It does not say a debt exclussion of $47 Million - it is completley open ended.

It would be foolish for tax payers to give a blank check to town officials who along with the state have thus far demonstrated every proclivity to spend as much money as possible.

We have only been presented with one choice and it is by far the most extravagant and expensive one and it could in the end be even more extravagant and expensive than we now know.

If we give them open ended approval does anyone doubt that they will not go for broke with a once in a lifetime opportunity to throw in as many expensive extras and pet projects as they can possibly tag on. They could throw in an Olympic Pool and Ice Arena if they like.

I'll be voting no because:

Spending $100 Million + on a new school to address cosmetic issues with the existing one is extravagant and wasteful.

The ballot is worded in such a way that it is simply a blank check and gives free reign for even more money to be spent.

Finally there is the common good to consider. These days many working families and especially our senior citizens are in no position to have taxes increased even more than they already go each year. They simply can't afford to build a fancy new school just because some folks find the existing one to be a little drab.

Editorial Note: There are two factual errors in the above that are corrected here

Two Additional Points for David Brennan

Editorial Note:  David Brennan took time to post a comment but it ended up buried. I have brought it forward here. There are two factual points that should be made about David's post.

David wrote
Nobody knows what the final cost will be. The Ballot question gives no definite amount of money that we are being asked to approve. It does not say a debt exclussion of $47 Million - it is completely open ended.
1 - The final cost is very well known. The details are available here

2 - The ballot question wording is the product of a state mandate. This was discussed in the Town Council meeting on February 1 when the ballot question was discussed and approved. You can find the notes from the Town Council meeting here

While the ballot question is open ended, the actual binding resolution is very explicit:

Resolution 12-05
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED that the Town Council of the Town of Franklin: appropriates the sum of one hundred four million, six hundred forty-nine thousand, eight hundred seventy-six dollars ($104,649,876) for the construction of a new Franklin High School to be located at 218 Oak Street, and for the payment of all other costs incidental and related thereto which school facility shall have an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children for at least 50 years, said sum to be expended under the direction of the School Building Committee, and to meet said appropriation the Town Treasurer with the approval of the Town Administrator is authorized to borrow said sum under M.G.L. Chapter 44, or any other enabling authority; that the Town of Franklin acknowledges that the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s (“MSBA”) grant program is a non-entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any project costs the Town of Franklin incurs in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA shall be the sole responsibility of the Town of Franklin; provided further that any grant that the Town of Franklin may receive from the MSBA for the Project shall not exceed the lesser of (1) fifty-nine point fifty-two hundredths percent ( 59.52%) of eligible, approved project costs, as determined by the MSBA, or (2) the total maximum grant amount determined by the MSBA; provided that any appropriation hereunder shall be subject to and contingent upon an affirmative vote of the Town to exempt the amounts required for the payment of interest and principal on said borrowing from the limitations on taxes imposed by M.G.L. 59, Section 21C (Proposition 2½); and that the amount of borrowing authorized pursuant to this vote shall be reduced by any grant amount set forth in the Project Funding Agreement that may be executed between the Town of Franklin and the MSBA.

The text of the Ballot Question:

Resolution 12 - 07
Shall the Town of Franklin be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition two-and-one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to construct a new high school, to be located at 218 Oak Street, and for the payment of all other costs incidental and related thereto?

Voices of Franklin: Jonathan Herndon - Vote Yes

Steve – I see that you have posted a comment posted by someone against the new high school. As it appears that your website is dedicated to all things that matter to Franklin, it is important that you have both points of view for people to read. The problem I see with Ms. Breenan’s comments are that they do not even contain any facts. She described scenarios that are meant to over exaggerate what is being proposed and will only mislead your readers. This is the first time since I have lived in Franklin (10 years) that I have seen a vote to increase my taxes as important as this one.

To be honest, in the past I have voted against some of the overrides because I felt that the town did not give me enough information of how the funds will be spent to make the right decision. The proponents of the new high school have put together a very clear, concise, and to the point presentation that outlines all the important facts and allows the voter to make sure they are making an informed choice. Even the comparisons for those that feel it would be much cheaper to just refurbish the current school. I want to highlight some of the key numbers:

The three original options had an estimated cost as follows (all
numbers rounded to nearest million):
Renovation #1 $86,000,000
Renovation #2 $96,000,000
New Custom School $98,000,000

The great news about the school project is that the MSBA will pay a large share of the cost depending on which option the Town chooses. The final cost of the school and the exact
reimbursement amount cannot be determined until the proposed school is approved by the MSBA and the town has received bids. However for planning purposes the following estimates were used based on assumed reimbursement from the MSBA for eligible costs.

If we look at the same three options after the estimated MSBA reimbursement amount the cost to the town would be approximately as follows:
Renovation #1 $38,000,000
Renovation #2 $43,000,000
New Custom School $47,000,000

Here is the link to their report and website:

In my opinion, it is very simple math. We can either have a state of the art school that will continue to allow Franklin to thrive, and for those that need to hear it, increase our property values, then this is an opportunity that we cannot waste. If this does not pass, you can guarantee that we will face continued budget overrides, lower property values and lower government services.

The high school is in dire need of repair. If the concern is that the new high school is not affordable, I would think that only paying 50% of the costs is much more affordable then paying 100%.

Jonathan Herndon
41 Mary Jane Road


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Voices of Franklin: Sean Donahue - Vote Yes

On March 27th, I encourage everyone in Franklin to vote YES for the new Franklin High School. It’s the right decision for Franklin, its taxpayers and most importantly, its students.

As a graduate from Franklin High School in 2007, I’ll be the first to tell you we have an excellent school system. I strongly believe I received a great education in Franklin and thank my parents for moving here shortly before I was born to make that possible.

The accolades Franklin frequently receives as one of the best places to raise a family are well deserved. For some reason, some people point to our high performing – and efficient – school system as a reason to vote against the new school. While I agree great teachers are the most important aspect to a good education – and Franklin has them – we also can’t ignore the learning environment.

The current Franklin High School’s accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has been on warning status since 2005 for numerous reasons related to the building. Lack of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, outdated science labs, inadequate facilities such as the nurse’s area, minimum recommended size classrooms, lack of a full sprinkler system and field house structure and roof being in poor condition are among the reasons cited by NEASC and an existing conditions report done by Kaestle Boos Associate. It is vital we correct these issues both for our students and to remove our high school from warning status.

After six years of work and exploring all possibilities, both the Franklin School Building Committee and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) agreed building a new model school made the most sense for the students and for the taxpayers in the long run. The costs of a model school are much more easily predicted since it has been built before, while an expensive renovation often runs into unforeseen costs along the way and problems related to an aging 40 year-old building will continue to appear after a renovation is done. The model school also comes with a much better reimbursement rate from the state, 59.52% of reimbursable costs, than a renovation would have, leaving Franklin taxpayers to pay $47 million on a $104 million school.

I’ve heard some “no voters” talk about the school as extravagant – that we’d be better off saving a few bucks to build a school that more closely resembles a prison than a place of education. I strongly disagree with the classification of new high school as extravagant. Thanks in part to the extravagance of Newton North – which among other things included a pool and cost two times as much as the proposed FHS for just a 12% bigger student population – the state won’t reimburse a town if they wish to build an extravagant high school. The proposed Franklin High School’s cost is comparable to the other high schools that have recently been built across the state and on a per pupil basis actually is more cost effective than many of them.

The exterior of the new Franklin High School facing the woods or otherwise not easily visible is just as drab as some of the “no voters” would like the entire building to be. The front, or exposed parts of the building, has a few design elements to draw attention to the main entrance – I’d hardly call that extravagant. I see the new Franklin High School as a place where students would be excited to go to learn in every day, I don’t think we should underestimate that value.

Another complaint brought forth from some “no voters” has been the false claim that everything inside the current building will be thrown away. That is simply untrue. While part of the cost of the new high school is much needed new technology, the technology and any useful furniture in the current high school such as smart boards, computers and anything else that would be helpful will be transferred to the middle and elementary schools providing them with a needed upgrade in technology as well. In that sense, building a new high school will benefit all the schools.

I’ve also heard plenty of questions about maintenance of the high school. We can’t change the past, but I can tell you changes have been made and having recently toured all the Franklin schools, our maintenance staff is currently doing a great job of keeping our combined middle/elementary schools looking like new and our older elementary schools are being kept in good shape. That leaves me confident a new high school would be well maintained.

I have no children of my own or family members that will directly benefit by attending the new high school, but I’ll be voting YES, along with my family, on March 27th because it’s the right thing to do for Franklin and its students. I hope you’ll join me – one vote could make the difference.

Sean Donahue
Franklin, MA.


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"good or bad schools factor into their buying decisions"

The state has offered to reimburse Franklin nearly 60 percent of certain costs for the $104.5 million school, leaving Franklin residents to foot a $47 million bill. 
“These are the people that hear what other people say about Franklin, day in and day out,” Michael Doherty, chairman of Citizens for a New Franklin High School, said of the agents. “They know the quality of our schools is the foremost thought on a buyer’s mind.” 
The real estate agents join town boards, such as the School Committee, Town Council, the Finance Committee and the Long-Range Financial Planning Committee, as well as the Franklin Republican and Democratic town committees, in expressing public support for the new school.

Read more:

Five Guys Supports the New FHS

Support a local business while supporting the proposal for a new FHS. Five Guys will donate 10% of their sales on March 20th to the Citizens for a New FHS.

Tuesday, March 20th
5 pm – 10 pm
Franklin Village Plaza
Franklin, MA

Five Guys - Make your dinner count

Real Consequenc​es of a Failed Debt Exclusion on March 27th

Dear Franklin Friend:

Supporters of the new Franklin High School share a common saying: "It's a no-brainer." With the state providing a reimbursement rate of nearly 60 percent for the construction of new, fully furnished and equipped high school, a YES vote on the town-wide debt exclusion vote on March 27 seems like the obvious choice.

During our time spent sign-holding at the polls recently on Primary Day, it was clear that some residents believe there are better options. We respectfully disagree. Here's why.

·    The funding earmarked for the new FHS by the Massachusetts School Building Authority depends entirely on the passage of the debt exclusion. The MSBA's policy on this point is very clear, "Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA's limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support." You can read the MSBA's complete policy on failed debt exclusion votes here.

·    There is no guarantee that future efforts to obtain financial support from the state will be successful, or that they will receive the same rate of reimbursement or any reimbursement at all. An evaluation of a failed vote would need to occur and the Building Committee, along with the Town Council and School Committee, would need to determine whether to pursue a new building in the future or whether to pursue a renovation project; in what timeframes those options could be pursued; whether to seek state funding, etc. The process would begin again. In the meantime, taxpayers will pay 100 percent of the cost for any stop-gap repairs or improvements at the current building.

·    The reimbursement rate for a model school is higher than for a renovated school because new construction carries less risk. Our model school has been built before, meets or exceeds all standards, and is highly unlikely to encounter cost over-runs or surprises during construction. The current state reimbursement rate of 59.52% is unique to the model school design that voters are being asked to approve March 27. It is not the rate that would apply to a renovation proposal. Plus, we know borrowing or construction costs are at historic lows right now. We don't know what they will be down the road.

·    Even a basic renovation – to replace the building's failed HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, to make access compliant with state and federal law and to address other issues – will cost taxpayers nearly as much, take longer and cause more disruption to students, parents and teachers than the construction of a new model school. At the end of a renovation project, the result will not be the modern, smartly designed facility you have seen during this campaign.

The model school approach means we can deliver a 21st century facility on time with no costly surprises and without disrupting classes or endangering students – that's a big reason why such a broad cross-section of your friends and neighbors are working so hard to win a YES vote on March 27.

If voters approve, the new FHS will be ready for use by fall 2014 while classes continue uninterrupted at the current building. And the full tax impact, 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, will not come into play until July 2016 -- almost two years after the facility opens.

It is obvious why supporters are calling this a "no-brainer," but it is not a done deal. Do NOT take this vote for granted. Voting YES is important. Do NOT assume the debt exclusion will win approval without YOUR VOTE on March 27. For more information on voting hours, absentee voting, lawn signs and other opportunities to help in the homestretch, please visit our website at You can also "Like" and visit our Facebook page often for updates: http://www./facebook/newfhs.

Please share this email with your friends, neighbors and social networks so that everyone understands the consequences if the debt exclusion vote is not approved. Encourage your friends to vote YES on March 27. Make no mistake: There is a Real Need and this is the Right Time!

Thank you for your support. Have a great weekend!

Citizens for a New Franklin High School

Vote Yes for FHS on March 27! A Real Need. The Right Time.

In the News - Circle of Friends, civic character

Circle of Friends to host Peter Mulvey in Franklin

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trivia Bee - partial recap

I went to the Trivia Bee to take some pictures of the early rounds. As I arrived, Glenn Jones recruited me as a substitute for one of the members of the Town Council team. I hope someone got a picture of Bob Bissanti, Glenn and I on stage. As 'apolitical' as I am and need to be as an information source, that is as close as you'll see me get to a "Town Council seat".

I was able to help with some of the questions but none of us knew the two ingredients for "an Arnold Palmer drink". We went with a wild guess at 'Scotch and water' and lost. Now we know it is half ice tea and half lemon aid. After we dropped out in the 5th Round, I got called away to pick up my daughter at the train station. Maybe someone can fill us in on who won?

The "Miracles", sponsored by Tom Powderly, were the Round 2 winner by answering this question correctly: What river does the Brooklyn Bridge cross? (answer below)

The Dean College Team won Round 3 by answering the question: How many years are celebrated in a sesquicentennial? (answer below)

The Franklin School Committee won Round 4 with the answer to the question: What do you call a group of monkeys? (answer below)

The "Munibees" participated in Round 2

The Rockland Trust Team participated in Round 4

Round 2 - East River
Round 3 - 150
Round 4 - troop

The 15th Annual Trivia Bee is a fund raising event for the Franklin Education Foundation.

Voices of Franklin: Mary Brennan - Vote No

Hi Steve,

I saw on your Franklin Matters site that you invite people who have something of importance to say about Franklin to submit their ideas to you.

I believe the taxpayers of Franklin deserve to hear more than one opinion on the proposed school building. I'm attaching something I wrote regarding the vote, and would appreciate it if you would allow readers of your site to read it.

Thank you, and please contact me with any questions,

Mary Brennan
127 Summer Street, Franklin



As parents of school age children we urge you to Vote No for the proposed new Franklin High School because the plan is:

With its turrets, towers, walls of glass and sloping roof lines, this looks like something out of television’s Beverly Hills 90210! Boasting a suspended walking track, Olympic size gymnasium, professional auditorium and a blank check for all new furnishings, this proposal is not reflective of the way most citizens of Franklin live, and is not necessary for good education.

Tearing down a forty year young high school and field house, ripping up playing fields just paid for, throwing everything inside the building away, this proposal mocks the Franklin taxpayer by saying, “give us millions to build a high school, more millions to maintain it, more millions to install sports fields, and we’ll rip it all down and ask you for a hundred million more!”

Wise consumers know that to get the best value for their money they should choose from the mid-range. Not the cheapest (you’ll be sorry), or the most expensive (you’ll pay lots for things you don’t need), but the mid-range. In this case that would be maintaining and renovating the current high school.


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In the News - Ristaino, wine tasting, for FHS

Ristaino, 77, remembered for service to Franklin

Town clerks head to Boston for seminars Monday

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Staff reports on 3/15/12

The Town Clerk's office in Franklin will be closed Monday, as Town Clerk's across the Commonwealth head to a day-long workshop in Boston.

Things you can do from here:

Franklin Police: Crash Reports Online

The Franklin Police Department is pleased to announce that we have partnered with Police Reports.US to provide a service that allows our crash reports to be purchased on line.  PoliceReports.US is now the industry leader in Massachusetts for on line accident report distribution.

All parties benefit when a police department puts their crash reports online with Police Reports.US:
  • It reduces the cost to the insurance company who wants to process the claim faster
  • Citizens have the convenience of access to reports 24/7 and no longer need to drive to the Police Department for a copy of the report
Citizens can purchase reports using a credit card at: 

Reports are available for crashes from January 1, 2012 to present date.  Any reports older than January 1, 2012 must be requested at the police station.

Additional information can be found on the Franklin Police page

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vote - March 27

No matter what your position is on the debt exclusion for the proposed New High School, whether you are against:

Franklin, MA: No

or whether you are for the proposal, your vote counts!

Franklin, MA: Yes

Mark the calendar to get out an vote Tuesday, March 27th. The polls open at 6:00 AM and close at 8:00 PM. All voting will take place at Franklin High School.

Absentee ballots are available at the Town Clerks office if you will be out of town on that day, you can still vote.

Bill would help communities create quiet zones downtown

A nice idea but not very practical. The money could be better used elsewhere.

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by Laura Krantz/Daily News staff on 3/14/12

You sit down to eat at a downtown restaurant, a local band begins to play, then ... HOOOOONK! The blaring horn of a train barreling through downtown disrupts your evening.

Things you can do from here:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Last few days to Win 2 FREE Southwest Airlines Tickets!

"Thank you" for your past participation in our annual fundraising event! We cordially invite you to join us at... 
Sunday, May 20, 2012 
EMC2, Franklin, MA

Sign In/Registration at 10:00AM — Event steps off at 11:00AM
Pre-registration fee: $10 for walkers / $20 for runners
  • REGISTER online at:
  • ***NEW THIS YEAR*** when you register online you will have an opportunity to create your very own personal or team tee shirt(s)...
  • Register ONLINE before March 17, 2012, RAISE a minimum of $100 and YOU will be entered to win 2 FREE Southwest Airline tickets!
(The winner will be announced at the event! No need to be present to receive the prize)
DON'T DELAY...Register and design your own fundraising page TODAY!
See you on May 20th!


Address postal inquiries to:
Doug MacPherson
8 Forge Park East
Franklin, MA 02038
Powered By

Informational Meeting on the Proposed New Franklin High School

Open to the Public!

Informational Meeting on the Proposed New Franklin High School

Wednesday, March 14th

7:15 pm

Franklin YMCA Community Room

Guest speakers include Maureen Sabolinski , Superintendent of Schools and Jeff Nutting, Town Administrator

15th Annual Trivia Bee - March 15th

Yes, you read that correctly.

The 15th Annual Trivia Bee will be held on March 15th! How cool is that?

FEF Trivia Bee Flyer 2012

Hold the date on your calendar!

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

Franklin Panthers 5th grade boys win Metro West Tournament

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 3/13/12

Metro West 5th grade boys champs
The Franklin Panthers Metro West 5th Grade Boys Basketball team won the D4 Metro West Tournament this year on Sunday, March 11, in double overtime against Sudbury.

Things you can do from here:

MassDOT, MBTA Letter to Customers

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation by Klark Jessen on 3/13/12

Over the last nine weeks we have engaged in a public process to allow our riders to weigh in on recommendations for closing a $159 million budget gap next year. As we conclude that process this week, we want to take a minute to thank you for the unprecedented level of engagement you demonstrated over this period.

Since January, nearly 6,000 of you attended our 31 public meetings, with nearly 2,000 individuals offering public comment. In addition, we received 5,850 emails from you about the importance of the MBTA in your lives. By comparison, the last time the MBTA raised fares in 2007 just 800 people attended a public hearing.

The choices before us are difficult, to be sure. Hearing your individual stories only makes them more so. We know that a quality, reliable public transit system is essential to getting our customers to work, school, doctor's appointments and other activities. We know a public transit option makes our air cleaner and roads less congested. And we know that it is a lifeline for many of you.

We have been honest about our financial problems and we thank you for your willingness to listen. Massive debt costs, coupled with increased operating expenses for things like energy and health care are overburdening our system. The system we have today we cannot afford and the system we want is well beyond reach.

Before our April 4th Board Meeting, we will lay out our final recommendation for closing the Fiscal Year 2013 gap. We continue to work on identifying prudent one-time revenues that will allow us to stave off some of the proposed service cuts for one year. Our final proposal will include both cuts and a fare increase, however.

Unfortunately, without a new dedicated revenue source, we know we will be back in this very place next year. Many legislators attended our public hearings, acknowledging the need for a new solution. The Governor also heard your voices at the hearing he attended in Revere.  Our hope is that we may continue these discussions in the coming weeks and months so that we can collectively figure out a way to continue to provide a world-class public transit system to you.

This is your system. Long after we're gone, customers will still have a need and desire for a public transit option. The decisions we make today will have a lasting impact on this system, and we thank you for remaining engaged in this process.

Richard A. Davey, Secretary and CEO

Jonathan Davis, Acting General Manager

Things you can do from here:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Franklin played the defense

“It really hit me about halfway through the trial that no matter the outcome, we proved we belonged,” the team’s coach and high school teacher Michael Walsh wrote in an email yesterday. “When (Franklin student) John Wiech succeeded in blocking admission of the Plaintiff’s key piece of evidence, it was some of the finest argumentation I have seen in 14 years of mock trial.”

Read more:

Related posts:

Lori McKenna

The Boston Globe Magazine on Sunday featured singer/song writer Lori McKenna on the cover. Lori appears regularly at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin
For McKenna, 43, self-deprecation has long been her nature. The I’m-no-good shtick, though, gets crazier every day. Fifteen years after she broke into the Boston folk scene with her raw, honest lyrics and unique vocal style, her songs keep getting better and keep blowing people away. Even longtime collaborators, family members, and fans can’t make it through certain ones without choking up, if not weeping. 
The power of McKenna’s music lies in her artful pairing of intimacy and universality. With her own experience as a template, she explores and dignifies the many corners of domestic life, the hopes of small-town dreamers, and the emotional voids that aren’t easily filled. McKenna, whose mother died young, is especially moving when she’s wrestling with that wounding loss.
Read the full article online