Gretchen Donohue submitted this via email after the Tuesday meeting:
"Teachers, by their very nature, will not allow things to fall through the cracks. I work in another district, but I don’t need to work in Franklin to know - the Franklin teachers cover that extra duty, attend that unexpected meeting, work with students through their lunch and after school, make that extra phone call to a family, and somehow get the supplies they need. That’s just what teachers do.
The dark side of our inherent desire to do what is best for students is that our efforts often hide serious deficits; teachers’ inability to let students’ needs fall through the cracks often masks just how close to the edge they are operating.
In this case, appearances are deceiving; as they are often praised for doing, the FPS teachers are doing so much, with so little. I personally don’t consider this a point of praise; I consider this an indictment of our inability to fully support our schools.
I believe we need to reconsider our town tax structure to fully fund our schools. A budget is a moral document, and we fund what we value. I ask everyone to consider- what do we value?
Thank you for your time. "
My comments delivered later during citizens comments:
I am here to ask for a Facilities Master Plan and to urge caution in redistricting, especially of former DT families.
To start, we needed a Facilities Master Plan when we closed DT two years ago, and we still need one now. How can we be operating in a fiscally responsible way when every decision is made to get the district two or three years down the road? If option 2 moves forward, and about 20% of our students are redistricted, then what happens a few years down the road when the current facilities are either too small or too old to continue to operate? All three options mention a Master Facilities Plan, and, up until yesterday’s Space Needs meeting, we had been led to believe that this was part of the Town’s Master Plan and thus an 18-24 month process. At yesterday’s meeting we heard that a Master Facilities Plan is a 6+ year process. It is unclear to me not only WHERE this time frame came from, but also, more concerning is WHEN this time frame is being shared. If a Master Facilities Plan would not be available until 2030, then why was this detail not included in the language of all of the survey options?
Beyond the need for a Master Plan, we have the immediate issue of Keller overcrowding. As a public school educator and a Keller mom, if teachers say a school is “bursting at the seams,” then I take them at their word. Keller is at 109% utilization, and I know the teachers and staff have been dealing with the innumerable issues that are created when a building is over capacity. We must do something, and we must do it now.
Hence Option 3- in the absence of a much needed Masters Plan, option 3 offers an immediate short-term solution by using Sullivan space, while concurrently honoring the social emotional health of the DT students AND is in keeping with the words of Dr. Ahern about avoiding re-redistricting DT students.
Of course it’s not just about emotions, geography, using space creatively and honoring the words of former superintendents, bottom line- the schools need to be concerned with costs. Even though one of the guiding principles of the story maps was fiscal responsibility, the summary for each of the options does not mention any cost savings. This is deja vu for me vis-a-vis the promised by never realized cost savings from closing DT.
In closing, I hate to be such a downer, but in a world where so much trauma is unexpected, unwelcomed and inflicted upon our children, why would we choose to inflict potential distress on the former DT students? Any impact on a group of students has the potential to impact any classroom, regardless of location. I am asking that you please reconsider Option 3, or at least consider making some exceptions for DT families under Option 2.
And for the district as a whole, please do not make the mistake of choosing another short-term solution that does not have data to support its efficacy or its cost savings.
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