Saturday, January 30, 2021

Davis Thayer Facility Analysis Subcommittee to recommend closure of building to full School Committee

Quick Recap:

  • Review of the 5 options as discussed at the meeting last week. Committee should have had time since then to review and prepare, final questions, clarifications asked of each option as they went through each one
  • The three members got to outline their background and approach to decision and what the factors were for them; Superintendent and Business Administrator also asked for their views
  • Consensus across the group for recommending to close in September, acting now to start planning for a good transition. Recognizing not an easy decision to close, or even in the pandemic period, but it is the best for the students across the district
  • Next meeting to work on the proposal and outline of decision factors for the full committee to decide at a future meeting (time TBD, could be as early as the Feb 9 meeting - stay tuned.)

Photos captured during the meeting can be found in one folder

The audio recording of this meeting will be available soon


As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.

The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #DTFA0128 

Davis Thayer Facilities Analysis = DTFA

  • Davis Thayer Facilities Analysis SubCommittee Meeting - Jan 28, 2021 about to begin at 6:00 PM Full agenda (including connection info) 
  • #dtfa0128 getting ready for real time reporting of this meeting (what is the difference between ‘real time’ vs. live reporting’? Glad you asked - I did prepare an answer "Live" reporting is used when I am in the room. "Real time" is when I report via the live cable or internet feed.
  • Meeting opens, minutes from prior meeting approved 3-0 via roll call. #dtfa0128
  • Protocol and process for meeting reviewed, status of where they are in the process grounds the start #dtfa0128
  • Recap of the 5 options under consideration, three shown here #dtfa0128
  • #dtfa0128 graduation of about 150 more students than are entering the district that year, hence the enrollment decline. Study of 2013 had touted renovation costs of $23m and build new at $28m, clearly dated numbers but for reference. BTW approx. 60+ participate via zoom
  • #dtfa0128 decision needed sooner than later for budget planning as well as planning for the transition to Keller. Moving boxes, changing bus routes, 'easy'; the soft and fuzzy stuff also done regularly, getting ahead of it can better ensure success of the transition
  • #dtfa0128 schools are buildings but there is much more to the building too! Keller built with 5 classes/grade, plans show use of 4 per with some exception but middle school population declines and rooms from Annie Sullivan would be used to assist.
  • Concern of new housing project to tax school population, not really, it is a phased project if it comes to fruition. (Numbers should already have been included in overall forecast). Capacity is not the issue at Keller. (Over capacity is what we are trying to solve) #dtfa0128
  • #dtfa0128 there is a policy on attendance area, a request form is also available, serious consideration is done in case of an exception. Traffic issue? Keller used to have more students several years ago, so it has been seen before (as did Sullivan)
  • #dtfa0128 could be a potential issue with staffing if kept open another year, not to say the existing staff is not dedicated, it is. But the longer the decision, the more uncertainty, the more likely a problem with staffing.
  • #dtfa0128 if keeping open next year could some students/families now rather than later to avoid multiple transitions (K, VLA, etc. )? Would already cover this scenario in Option 4, hard to do for efficiency and cost perspectives esp if for a small #of students
  • #dtfa0128 by staggering the transition, could also make the cultural adjustments more of a challenge; bus routes could get complicated with routes going to a street and students going two ways.
  • K registration is ongoing, it usually is from Feb to May but do get movins over the summer, and after September starts. This year had increase in two schools in K and added staff accordingly. Q on siblings during staggering xfer, transportation would be a factor
  • #dtfa0128 there are many options when you consider the permutations, need to reduce change and simply not increase complexity and increase expense. Option 5 close DT  and redistrict. Summary was to look at the stand alone schools (Parmenter and Kennedy).
  • SchComm needs to look at developing a master facilities plan, and down the road possibly look at redistrict. #dtfa0128 the master plan would likely begin after the DTFA work is done (at least decided).
  • #dtfa0128 Judy for closure in Sep, provides brief history of Franklin roots including graduation from DT earlier in her life. MJ only in Franklin 31 years. SchComm 97-2007, and then re-elected 6 years ago, involved with youth soccer. "Compensated so well for it" (actually $0)
  • #dtfa0128 the benefits are not financial. Making a good decision for the community. We simply can't afford it. Or fix it. 1st to close DT in Sep, 2nd to close and consider redistricting. Can't wait longer? Chair asked Superintendent and Business director for their (views) before her…
  • #dtfa0128 other member objected, so Chair provides her analysis, get ready it will be long (her words) thru lens evaluated the options (will need to listen to the recording, not going to do justice to this)
  • #dtfa0128 so bottom line, chair is on closing train for Sep. 
  • Superintendent, some facts are hard to overlook, decisions do need to be made, facts align support closure of DT, same footprint with 20% less students, an opportunity to invest in the kids of the district
  • #dtfa0128 if decision made soon, we could make a thoughtful transition. We have a structural deficit to address and hard to avoid. Not an easy decision, difficult time in pandemic, but not any easier later.
  • #dtfa0128 Goodman; accessibility, budgeting, facts are what others have referenced and I agree to close sooner than later to be most helpful for everyone. Chair to put together draft recommendations for review next meeting (Feb 3).
  • #dtfa0128 reminder 7 people with 7 votes. Opening up for citizen comments. 1 optics on bullets and negativity apparent and from parent point of view most depressing. 2 question on staffing (raised from someone who hasn't heard the answer in prior meeting) oh and yes, staff …
  • Would move as much as possible to support the students in the combined building. #dtfa0128 3 - kids haven't been in school for a normal day for a year. (Also answered in prior meeting; recordings available) 4 - to ask to close and pack up a building at this time?
  • #dtfa0128 5 - so conflicted right now, agree with decision but things to be explored in depth to make this happen. Support may need to be increased to help the kids. 6 - a Keller parent says the community is welcoming 7 - we have little bandwidth, so how can it be a …
  • Thoughtful transition? #dtfa0128 8 - could you consider keeping DT kids in their own classrooms to help the transition? 9 - came in from another school, not easy but it has moved on, interesting to see that none of the options kept DT open. Email to subcommittee an option
  • #dtfa0128 motion to adjourn, second, passes via roll call 3-0,
  • That's all for tonight, catch you next time!

Davis Thayer Facility Analysis SubCommittee

Jan 20, 2021 recap =  (audio)  = 

Jan 14, 2021 recap =  (audio) =

My meeting notes for sessions during 2020 can be found here

The Davis Thayer Subcommittee page also has the link to send a question to the subcommittee

Davis Thayer Facility Analysis Subcommittee to recommend closure of building to full School Committee
DTFA Subcommittee to recommend closure of building to full School Committee

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