Thursday, February 27, 2020

FM #212 - School Committee meeting - demographics study 2/25/20 (audio)

This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 212 in the series. We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (

The expected demographics study was presented during the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020. Expected? Yes, This is ONE key piece of the information that needs to be gathered and digested to enable the School Committee and community to make a decision on what needs to be done to prepare for enrollment and facilities.

The potential for closing the Davis Thayer school has been talked of off and on for several years. The work is now underway to look at that and what it would mean for the district and community as a whole.

The demographics study presented is ONE key piece of the information needed for such a decision. As outlined by Superintendent Sara Ahern at the end of the presentation segment, the SECOND key piece is expected in or around April as the facility analysis arrives from that consultant.

For our existing school facilities, what capacity do we have for students in each building based upon current or anticipated requirements? The capacity report should provide the answer to that question. One could go back to when each building was built and look at what it was designed for but the educational requirements have changed considerably since then. Davis Thayer for example, since it is the key item driving the question, was built as a high school and is now being used as an elementary school.

Along the course of the discussion you’ll hear James McKibben comment on space requirements. Note - this was not part of his charter, his was only to focus on the demographics - however, from his experience in working with other districts, he can say that due to special education requirements the space (that is, square foot requirements) per student will increase.

Pay attention to the assumptions, there are 19 of them. Mr McKibben counts a couple as more critical than others. The mortgage interest rate most would acknowledge as important. The lower it is, the more willing buyers will be. Of interest is the amount of existing home sales required to maintain our population. Per his calculations, 275 homes per year.

The presentation doc is linked in the show note so you can follow along.

Assumed to be supporting documentation for the presentation
(was not referenced during the meeting but was posted to the packet web page)

More analysis and insights will be discussed over time as we all digest the numbers. The discussion runs about an hour and 10 minutes so without further ado, let’s listen in.


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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


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James McKibben presenting the demographics study to the School Committee
James McKibben presenting the demographics study to the School Committee

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