Saturday, March 24, 2012

Turn the New FHS into a Reality

Dear Franklin Friend,

Happy Friday! In just four days, Franklin voters will have the power to turn the vision of a new Franklin High School into a reality. On Tuesday, March 27, we have an historic opportunity to vote YES in the town-wide debt exclusion vote to build a $104.5 million high school facility costing taxpayers only $47 million.

Mark your calendars now and set reminders on your phones to go to the polls at Franklin High School to place your YES vote. Every Single YES vote is important. Do NOT assume the debt exclusion will win approval without YOUR VOTE on March 27. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. School is in session and some parking spaces will be reserved for voters, but patience will be required. The best time to vote will be before 7 a.m. or after 3 p.m. If you are not able to get to the polls Tuesday, you can vote in person at the Town Clerk's Office until noon, Monday, March 26 by absentee ballot.

Your YES vote is vital to bringing our town a brand new, fully equipped and furnished high school that will open in the fall of 2014. The new FHS will remove the high school off accreditation warning status and deliver a modern and safe academic environment dedicated to preparing students to compete in a technologically advanced, global economy. Students and teachers will have the chance to thrive in a school built for the 21stcentury that will feature enhanced academic, technological and extra-curricular offerings, including:

·The best possible learning environment with 20 percent more core academic space.The new FHS will have 82,770 square feet of classroom space – 13,700 square feet more than the current school. But, thanks to the model school design, the building's total footprint will be 6,000 square feet smaller, resulting in less travel time and more classroom time for students.

·21st century classrooms and science labs with integrated technology.The modern science labs in the new model FHS will be 1,440 square feet each and designed for maximum flexibility and safety. Each science lab space can be adjusted to meet any instructional style and any subject, including Environmental, Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

·Project Team Rooms adjacent to the Science Labs to facilitate learning.This dedicated space for students will allow them to engage in long-term science and research projects. The flexible design is conducive to general classroom instruction, as well as intensive teacher instruction.

·An 830-seat auditorium/theater with state-of-the-art acoustic and lighting capabilities. The theater will feature stadium-style seating, LED stage lights and a dedicated control room. The auditorium will also be a revenue-generator since it will be made available to outside groups. And, it will prolong the life of the auditorium at Horace Mann.

·A 17,700-square-foot gym and 6,000-square-foot indoor walking track. The Physical Education area will have direct access to the football stadium and multipurpose athletic field. Locker rooms will be overhauled and there will be bleacher seating for 1,192 fans. The overall size of the gym and walking track will be equivalent to the useable space in the existing Field House. Restrooms will be adjacent to ball fields for after-hours/weekend use.

·Dedicated, expanded space for our award-winning performing arts program. The allocated space will increase from 3,885 to 6,830 square feet and will feature three additional practice rooms, expanded ensemble and choral space, and new areas for the Drama Program and band and choral storage.

·Equal access for all special education students. The new FHS will include two elevators, handicapped accessible bathrooms, classroom audio amplification systems, counseling and therapy space, substantially separate and inclusion classrooms and resource rooms on each floor, and accessible lab benches.

For more information on the new design and specific program highlights, please see the New FHS Presentation to School Committee from February 28 here:

Franklin High has served our students, teachers and the community well for 40 years. In fact, the MSBA gave Franklin a higher reimbursement rate because of town's facility maintenance program. But the building is now suffering from four decades of heavy use, outdated systems buried in concrete, and antiquated educational spaces and furnishings.

There is a real need for a new facility and this is the right time to take advantage of a generous state reimbursement, and low borrowing and construction costs. Our model school has been built many times before and the construction budget has been professionally reviewed in detail. The total cost of the project and the cost to taxpayers are both capped.

You have the power to impact the educational opportunities and future success of the children in our community by voting YES on March 27.A YES vote means the project goes out to bid later this summer – and industry professionals expect those bids to reduce the taxpayer cost even further. A YES vote means construction begins this fall so the new FHS can open to students in the fall of 2014.

We are counting on your vote, and we will need every single vote to win! If you have last-minute questions, please visit our website at email us at Please also "Like" and visit our Facebook page often for updates: http://www./facebook/newfhs.

Please forward this email to your friends, neighbors and social networks so that everyone can helpmake the new FHS vision a reality. Please urge 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. We'll see you at the polls on March 27!

Citizens for a New Franklin High School
Vote Yes for FHS on March 27! A Real Need. The Right Time.

Voices of Franklin: David Brennan - Buyer Beware

On March 27 Franklin taxpayers should Vote No to the proposed extravagant, wasteful, and expensive 104.5 million dollar high school.

Proponents say Franklin residents will only have to pay half of that — but the fact is the project hasn’t even been put out to bid yet.

The ballot question does not give any specific dollar amount it is asking voters to agree to. Here is how it reads:

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?

Proponents deny the meaning of the plain English of the ballot and say it doesn’t matter because it is only the binding resolution with specific numbers that is important.

Trouble is that the binding resolution also says in plain English:

…any project costs the Town of Franklin incurs in excess…shall be the sole responsibility of the Town of Franklin.

That is to say, the sole responsibility of the Franklin taxpayer who will pay the bill. The bottom line is that the state has wisely limited its exposure to cost overruns in this transaction while there is no similar protection for the Franklin taxpayer.

Some don’t care what the cost is and by their way of thinking the more it costs the better because (I take them at their word), they think it will raise their property values. It is these same big spending people who will be in charge of overseeing the project.

So “Buyer Beware” on this one. Personally I’m voting No. I won’t be giving a blank check to big spenders.

In the News - Grease, hoops, DARE, letters to editor

Franklin High Drama to present Grease

Exciting Changes coming to Foxboro, Franklin, & North Attleboro

0_5650020_logo_purple_rgb_jpg                             2_5649972_logo_areaoffocus_allboldpurple_rgb_jpg photo 3




Invensys Foxboro Branch   photo 3 2

Thanks to the early success of the Campaign to build the Spier Family Outdoor Aquatic Center, we have broken ground!  

A committed group of Y volunteers led by Jeff Dufficy, Greg Spier, Danielle Fish and Jay Barrows have raised $647,000 toward the project cost of $913,000, leaving a balance of $266,000 to raise in the next six weeks.

Included in this amount is a $250,000 Challenge Grant from Alex and Sonja Spier.  For information on how you can help us meet the Spier Family Challenge, please contact Peter Waisgerber at

Positive changes are also coming to Franklin and North Attleboro this April!

Bernon Family and North Attleboro Branches

Exciting changes are in store at our Bernon Family and North Attleboro Branches!

This April we have new state of the art equipment coming to both branches.  This dynamic cardio and strength training equipment will be a tremendous enhancement to our health and wellness areas.  A complete listing along with photos and videos of the equipment will be shared next week and leading up to installation.

YMCA - FRANKLIN 3D IVInstallation will take place during school vacation week. 
We ask for your patience and understanding as our installation occurs. 

The Bernon Family Branch Health and Wellness Center will be closed for 2 days starting April 16th, 8:00am - April 18th, 5:15am.  

In addition to new equipment, the North Attleboro Branch will also be receiving a brand new wellness floor and HVAC system. The North Attleboro Health and Wellness Center  will be closed starting April 16th, 8:00am - Sunday April 22nd.

Group Exercise classes and Family Events will continue at each branch during this time.  In addition, please feel free to visit our Invensys Foxboro Branch Health and Wellness Center during your branch's construction. 

I know you will be as excited as we are when all of these changes are complete and we are able to improve your Y experience. For
additional information, please call Kimberly Cohen, Sr. Director of Health and Wellness at 508.772.1310.
Thank you for being part of our Y Family!

Your Friends at the Hockomock Area YMCA


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Hockomock Area YMCA
300 Elmwood St
North Attleboro, 02760

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Friday, March 23, 2012

New MassBudget Video Discusses Education Funding in Massachusetts

MassBudget has re-done their website and introduced a new report. The report is summarized with an 8 minute video. What has this got to do with Franklin?

Our school budget is half the overall Franklin budget. Over the past several years, the per pupil spending across the categories that the State watches has dropped below the state average. With the proposal for the new high school taking front and center stage for conversation in the last couple of weeks, how Franklin will budget for the schools next year has not been discussed. The "No" voters are worried about the maintenance budget when they probably should be more worried about the overall budget.

The new high school (if approved) may come with 6 more class rooms but if the budget continues to get cut, will there be enough teachers to fill those class rooms?

The point of this video and report from MassBudget is to highlight that the state funding formula that doesn't fully cover the increased costs in health and special ed. Franklin's school budget is directly affected by those factors. You can go back to any of the last several years of budgets and the cost drivers are exactly that.

What does this do to the 'average' student? It reduces their educational opportunity. Those under special education plans are covered with services that by law, Franklin must provide. So when the budget gets tight, the average student and the advanced students will suffer.

MASSBudget Facebook
"Cutting Class" Video  
The new website of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center is more vibrant, easier to navigate, and more multimedia-friendly--in short, a better platform for sharing materials like our new "Cutting Class" video.

In this video, education policy analyst Luc Schuster explains why districts across the state are hiring fewer teachers, providing less professional development, and spending less on materials & technology than the state funding formula considers appropriate for a quality education.

The video also describes the effects of property wealth on school funding. In the highest-wealth districts, funding shortfalls are often made up with additional local revenues. But in many communities, raising local revenue is extremely difficult. On average, the lowest-wealth districts spend 32 percent less on regular education teachers than is specified in the foundation budget formula.

MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies--with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people.

This email was sent to by |  

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center | 15 Court Square | Suite 700 | Boston | MA | 02108

“This is fitting for his retirement”

The Milford Daily News reports on the retirement party of former Chief of Police Stephen Williams which was held Thursday night.
Williams retired in December after nearly 40 years with the Franklin Police Department, and eight of those years as chief. 
The chief grew up in Franklin — he went through the public school system, got his associate’s degree at Dean College, and worked his way through the ranks in the Police Department, earning him the respect of law enforcement personnel in surrounding towns, in addition to his own. 
“I worked with Steve a long time,” Bellingham Police Chief Gerard Daigle said. “He’s a great guy, and I wish him a great retirement.”

Read more:

In the News - marathon, scholarships, Juno, high school

Franklin woman runs for Dana-Farber

DOR mobile app now available from Apple and Google

An app from the DOR? At least it is available for both Apple and Google but really did we need this?

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Revenue by Robert Bliss on 3/22/12

The Department of Revenue has produced, in-house, a new mobile smartphone app that allows taxpayers to check the status of their refund, file for an extension and make an estimated payment, take corrective action should a refund be held up, and keep up with DOR alerts and video.

In a press release issued today, DOR Commissioner Amy Pitter said that "DOR wants to engage and communicate with taxpayers in the easiest and most direct manner possible, and for many taxpayers, that means their smartphones which are already a center for commerce and personal business."

The release includes links to Apple and Google where the app can be downloaded at no cost. No other state revenue department offers a similar app with the same level of functionality.
Pitter said she was "proud of the development work for this app that was done by DOR's Information Services Organization Web and Mobile Team," and noted that the groundwork had been laid for more apps in the future.

DOR's homepage features a story complete with screenshots of the new app.

Things you can do from here:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Voices of Franklin: Town Council - Yes

As elected and appointed officials charged with developing prudent fiscal policies and strategic planning decisions for the town of Franklin, the Town Council, School Committee and Finance Committee unanimously support the March 27th Debt Exclusion ballot question for a new Franklin High School (FHS).

While the Town continually reviews its capital needs, a 2005 report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) caused us to prioritize the high school facility. At that time, FHS was placed on warning status for 19 facility-related issues. Franklin spent the next three years identifying and addressing those issues that could be fixed outside of a major renovation.

In 2008, NEASC continued FHS’s warning status and asked Franklin to “resolve all facility issues.” As documented in an independent architectural study, the structural issues of FHS are indisputable and can only be addressed with a comprehensive renovation or new building and include:

  • lack of accessibility for handicapped and/or injured (e.g., sprained ankles) students
  • lack of facility-wide emergency sprinkler system
  • poor condition of field house structure and roof
  • classrooms below the minimum square feet required by MSBA
  • poorly equipped and outdated science labs and classrooms
  • poor ventilation and lighting
  • inadequate parking and access to the building
  • inadequate oversight of the entry due to the current location of administration offices

We highlight these points to demonstrate that the issues facing Franklin are not a matter of aesthetics, or maintenance, or easily addressed with simple wiring and new ceiling tiles. In fact, the State added over $1.5 million dollars to Franklin’s original reimbursement level after it positively assessed the historical maintenance of our town and school facilities.

A joint committee was formed to determine the most cost-effective way to address the problem. After four years of extensive study and detailed oversight from the State, the recommendation before the voters on March 27th is to build a new school under the State’s Model School Program.

A variety of diligent and independent analyses assure us and State officials that the particular masonry framework of FHS (versus an adaptable steel frame), 19 roof levels and the sprawling H-wing design of the high school makes the renovations necessary for compliance about as expensive to taxpayers as a new school, with a significantly increased chance of cost overruns, extensive disruption to students and a shortened return on investment.

The invitation-only Model School Program has many benefits that make it the most judicious cost-efficient use of taxpayer’s dollars, including:

  • increased reimbursement from the state
  • shorter construction time versus a newly designed school
  • previous duplication in other towns limits change orders and unknown costs
  • maximizes student safety and minimizes disruption to educational environment

Specifically, the new FHS proposal would result in:

  • State reimbursement rate of 59.52 percent of eligible costs
  • fully furnished and equipped high school, including athletic fields
  • 6 additional classrooms, with all classrooms meeting minimum size guidelines
  • 21st century classrooms and science labs with integrated technology
  • an 830-seat auditorium/theater
  • a 17,700-square-foot gym and 6,000-square-feet-indoor walking track
  • full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for access and special education
  • remove Franklin High from accreditation warning status

The Model School proposal resolves undeniable facility issues that we must address. It also limits the opportunity for unknown costs and limits the cost for taxpayers to about 40 cents per every dollar spent, whereas an unapproved renovation is ineligible for the state reimbursement and would be borne 100 percent by the taxpayer. Furthermore, the new design maximizes the educational opportunities available to our students, preparing them for our current professional world, with an emphasis on group learning and technology. There are many ancillary benefits as well, including protection of property values and enhanced community pride.

Franklin has a proud tradition of investing in its town for the betterment of all our citizens. We urge you to continue this support for your community and vote yes on March 27th for a new Franklin High School.

The text of this letter was published in the meeting agenda for the 3/21/12 Town Council meeting

11th Annual HMEA 5K - May 20

Hold the day for the HMEA 11th Annual Independence Day event that will be held May 20.

HMEA 5K sign

To register or find more information, please visit

Grease is the word!

FHS production of Grease. March 23 & 24, 2012 at the Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin starting at 7pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Sign bylaws passed

In other news, the council held a somewhat heated discussion before accepting a trio of zoning bylaws meant to revamp bylaws on signs. 
“I don’t like to see these things become too restrictive,” Councilor Andrew Bissanti said, a sentiment four other councilors echoed. “I’m just saying, signage is a language, it’s a form of communication for business.” 
The new sign rules are meant to upgrade the previous laws. Currently, there are several violations of the bylaw used prior to tonight’s acceptance within the town, from banner signs to signs that are too large, to political signs. Political signs are now legal under the adopted rules, if regulated. 
“We have outdated definitions, we have inadequate definitions,” town attorney Mark Cerel said. “This is ... a significant improvement over what is in place now.” 
The bylaws delineate four districts in Franklin: residential, downtown, industrial, and commercial and business. That part of the bylaw was initially not accepted when a majority, rather than the necessary two-thirds of councilors voted for it.

Read more:

The full set of documents used in the Town Council meeting can be found here

In the News: marathon, voting no

Road Runners: Franklin mom on the run

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

News Flash from The Garden Front!

Hello Gardeners, Friends, and Supporters!

Just found out this morning that tomorrow our new garden shed (paid for by an awesome grant from the Franklin Rotary Club!) will be constructed on site at the King Street Memorial Garden.  The students at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School will be there setting it up.

When: Thursday, March 22
Time:  In the morning, around 9 am

If you are able to join us and lend a hand (or a round of applause!) we'd love to have you.

Bring something cool to drink, it will be quite warm out.

If you would like to donate any gardening tools we now have a place for them to live! 

Many thanks to the students and staff at Tri-County RVTHS, the Franklin DPW, the Franklin Rotary Club, Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, and all of our gardeners and volunteers!

Hope you can join us at the Garden!

Many Hands make light work!

Deepest Thanks,

Your Friends from the Franklin Community Garden

FY2013 Budget Issues and Procedures

For those really into the details of the local budget and accounting this has some good information on the proper procedures for handling specific circumstances.

DLS Releases FY2013 Budget Issues and Procedures Bulletin 

The Division of Local Services has posted on its website a new Bulletin addressing several issues that cities, towns, regional school and other districts should consider for FY2013 revenue and expenditure budgeting and other related matters.

Bulletin 2012-02B can be found by clicking here.

Parmenter 5K - June 10th

This year's 4th Annual Parmenter Fun Run for All Ages will be held on Sunday, June 10th at 10am. More details will follow soon, including registration. For specific questions, one can email

In the News - high school, art, 5K, Dean College

DaCosta: Franklin can afford a new high school

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Franklin Votes - March 27th (video)

A video to summarize the pros and cons of the vote on the debt exclusion for the new Franklin High School is now available. The video features appearances by School Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski, Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, and Town Councilors Jeff Roy and Bob Vallee. Town Clerk Debbie Pellegri provides some insights to help the voting process on March 27th.

Get out to vote on March 27th!

495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan

Local, state and regional priorities for development and preservation are identified. 
Prime sites to develop include Milford’s Bear Hill area, Northborough Crossing, the Golden Triangle in Framingham and Draper Mill in Hopedale, which would all have strong regional significance. 
The state also wants to see companies move to the Forge Industrial Park and North Grove Street in Franklin, Framingham’s downtown and Tech Park and 9/90 crossing, Legacy Farm and South Street in Hopkinton and Tower Street Mill in Hudson.

Read more:

The full plan can be found here (PDF)

In the News - suburban poor, town clerks, train fights

Wellesley panel focuses on suburban poor

Monday, March 19, 2012

Congratulations to the Hockey Team

It is an accomplishment to have made it to the State Finals two years in a row!

For Franklin, it was March redux. Last year at this time the Panthers came within a goal of winning the state title. Yesterday, the differential — and the outcome — was the same at TD Garden. 
Wilmington’s 3-2 victory left the Panthers a goal shy of their goal. Again. 
“It’s tough, two years in a row,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane, who was on Franklin’s last championship team, in 1983.

Read more:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Community Garden: A grey day for green thumbs!

It may have been a grey day for green thumbs but about 30 folks gathered to "Give Peas a Chance" at the Franklin Community Garden on Saturday. Some had plots in the garden some gardened in their own space. All came together to hear Chris Clay share some tips on peas and other things to plant early.

There was a line briefly to get peas

Community Garden: early line up for peas

One plot has been stringed off in grid fashion to help with their planting this year

Community Garden: new grid for this year

Amy Acevedo watched as Leo O'Brien planted his peas in a starter cup

Community Garden: Amy watches Leo plant his peas

Jack Barry observes as Chris sinks his round of green wire mesh as a support for the peas

Community Garden: the metal round support for peas

As Chris explains, his son Gabe plants the peas around the wire mesh

Community Garden: Gabe planting peas

Jack lends a hand as Chris ties off the bamboo sticks in a teepee shape which is another way to support your peas

Community Garden: tying off the teepee

This was the first of a series of sessions to talk about gardening and share gardening tips

Franklin Community Garden

Where is the Community Garden?
Located in the King St Memorial Park

View Larger Map

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - 3/21/12

December 7, 2011

B. ANNOUNCEMENTS – This meeting is being recorded by Verizon, Comcast, and Franklin Matters



Franklin Disabilities Commission - Anthony J. Molinaro



Letter to the Editor
Bryan Taberner – Director, Community Planning & Development


1. Resolution 12-20: Adoption of Amendment to Town Council Procedures Manual
2. Resolution 12-21: Amendment to Creation of A Citizen Committee
3. Bylaw Amendment 12-674: Amendment to Chapter 48, Tobacco Products – 1st Reading
4. Bylaw Amendment 12-675: Amendment to Chapter 63, Numbering of Buildings – 1st Reading
5. Bylaw Amendment 12-676: Amendment to Chapter 84, Fire Alarms - 1st Reading
6. Bylaw Amendment 12-677: Amendment to Chapter 86, Fire Lanes – 1st Reading
7. Bylaw Amendment 12-678: Amendment to Chapter 95, Garbage, Rubbish and Refuse – 1st Reading
8. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 12-669:Amendment to Chapter 185-45. Administration and Enforcement – 2nd Reading
9. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 12-670: Amendment to Chapter 185-3. Definitions – 2nd Reading
10. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 12-671: Amendment to Chapter 185-4. Districts Enumerated – 2nd Reading
11. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 12-672: Amendment to Chapter 185-20. Signs- 2nd Reading





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


The documents for this agenda can be found on the Franklin website

Weight Watchers: Schedule of hours

In January, I found that Weight Watchers would be opening an office in the Horace Mann Plaza. I stopped by on Saturday to confirm that they were open (yes) and picked up a copy of their schedule (see below).

Weight Watchers Franklin

Franklin, MA: Weight Watchers

Grease is the word!

FHS production of Grease. March 23 & 24, 2012 at the Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin starting at 7pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.

In the News - hockey, children's shows, reasons for new FHS

Medway, Franklin and Hudson go for hockey championships