Sunday, September 8, 2019

Retirement of Facilities: Recommendation for Further Analysis of Davis Thayer

To: Franklin School Committee Members
From: Sara E. Ahern, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
Re: Retirement of Facilities: Recommendation for Further Analysis 
Date: September 4, 2019

Franklin School Committee Policy FCB -- Retirement of Facilities describes the process by which the Committee will examine school buildings which may be inadequate and can not be reasonably brought up to current education standards. In these circumstances, the facility should be considered for a comprehensive closing study. According to this policy, the Superintendent is directed to recommend to the School Committee which facilities appear to require further analysis.

Given the age and design of the school building combined with the decreased enrollment of students in the Franklin Public Schools, pursuant to policy FCB, I recommend that the Franklin School Committee authorize further analysis of the Davis Thayer Elementary School building through a comprehensive closing study. I believe this school warrants further analysis for the following reasons:

1. The age and design of the building. As an older building, there are security and safety concerns as the building is not constructed in a way consistent with security and safety features and construction found in more modern buildings. Additionally, due to its age, the facility is not universally accessible for those with mobility concerns/disabilities.

2. Reduced student population. The student population of the Franklin Public Schools has decreased by about 1200 students since an enrollment high of 6255 in 2009-2010. This elementary school is the smallest, with a 2019-2020 enrollment of 225. At this time, it appears that the current elementary population could be served within 5 school buildings. A study would further be able to determine the feasibility of this in both the short and long term, considering future enrollment projections.

3. Economic efficiency. It is my responsibility to manage facilities in a way that is both educationally and fiscally responsible. The costs of operating and maintaining the school warrant further examination.

According to Policy FCB, further analysis includes the examination of the age and current physical condition of the facility, adequacy of the site and location, reassignment of students, transportation factors, alternative uses of the building, costs and potential savings, as well as the continuity of instructional and community programs.

I anticipate the study to be a deliberate and thoughtful one, which will take time, likely to span multiple years. In order to accomplish the study, I advise that the school committee establish a subcommittee for the purpose of monitoring the work. Additionally, I propose that the work be assisted by an outside consultant to lend expertise in this area.

For your reference, Policy FCB is attached.


File: FCB

When a school building becomes inadequate by virtue of age, condition, size of site, lack of need, or other overriding limitations, and cannot reasonably and economically be brought up to the current educational standards, the building should be considered for a comprehensive closing study. The Superintendent will recommend to the Franklin School Committee which facilities appear to justify further analysis.

The School Committee may seek both professional advice and the advice of the community in making its recommendations as to the retirement of any school facility. This will permit the public, which originally acquired the property, to benefit from its recycling or retirement.

A closing study will include direct involvement by those neighborhoods considered in the study and will be concerned with all or some of the following factors:

1. Age and current physical condition of the facilities, its operating systems, and program facilities.

2. Adequacy of site, location, access, surrounding development, traffic patterns, and other environmental conditions.

3. Reassignment of children, including alternative plans according to Committee policy.

4. Transportation factors, including numbers of children bussed, time, distance, and safety.

5. Alternative uses of the building.

6. Cost/Savings
a. Personnel
b. Plant Operation
c. Transportation
d. Capital Investment
e. Alternative Use

7. Continuity of instructional and community programs.

Reviewed; No Revisions: 5-19-09

Retirement of Facilities: Recommendation for Further Analysis of Davis Thayer
Retirement of Facilities: Recommendation for Further Analysis of Davis Thayer

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