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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
School Committee meeting - live update
motion to accept the FY09 budget in total for $49,940,242
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
School Committee Meeting 6/24/08
live reporting - Action items
live reporting - FY 08, Brick closes
Allocation of $180,000 - 3 teachers come back
live reporting - late bus
Live reporting - school choice, Pay-to-ride
Live reporting - budget effects
School Committee meeting - live reporting
School Committee Meeting - Agenda - 6/24/08
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Live reporting - budget effects
• Budget to Actualreally 2.8 less as another $300,000 will be coming to the schools from the Medicaid reimbursement
• Override Ramifications
Current Budget Number
Level funded $54,626,000
plus Additional Rev 830,000
less Facilities Consolidation $5,515,758
equals the FY 09 Budget $49,948,242
$3.1 Million less than the level service budget of FY 08
- Personnel Changes
teachers were notified for non-renewal during May
in total 74 teachers leaving the district for a variety of reasons, 28 positions will be filled
the others were cut due to the budget changes
there are turnovers in other positions that are funded and need to be filled
45 teachers were notified, there is no shell game
FHS over reduced their number of teachers to add an additional counselor
all teacher notices given in May, two reasons
1 - give an advantage to find jobs where they could
2 - to the extent that they can find jobs, that would be a reduction in the unemployment costs the Town would face
The district will look different in the fall
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
"diminished levels of student performance"
Unfortunately, I have failed the students and teachers of the Franklin Public Schools by not securing sufficient support for the override. I am very sorry not to be able to deliver to you the financial support that you rightly deserve. I take full responsibility for this failure.
Despite this regrettable defeat, we will enthusiastically reopen doors next fall. We will welcome the children of Franklin back to school and our teachers and administrators will work tirelessly to make the 2008-2009 school year a success for every one of our 6,254 students. However, the voters of Franklin should be aware that the potential consequences of continuing below average spending on our schools children will include diminished levels of student performance and increased rates of students leaving our schools without graduating. When this occurs, it will have a negative impact on home values and the quality of life in Franklin.
Superintendent Wayne Ogden
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Franklin Override Tally - June 10, 2008
|Franklin Override June 10, 2008|
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Overide at a Glance
This is not the last override, if not one next year, there will be others in the near future. This was foretold and captured here,
The Override Information Forum was recorded. All questions and answers you can listen to here.
The town is not mismanaged, if it was, we wouldn't be on the bottom of the per capita spending list.
The school department does not have too many administrators. If it did, it would not be well below the state average for administration.
The School Department has been cutting their budget since 2002. 83 positions have already been lost. If another 47 go out the door, the ranking of Top 10 as best place to raise of family, the ranking of Top 100 places to retire, and of Top 100 places to start and run a business are in jeopardy.
The Commonwealth of MA has been generous to Franklin taxpayers. Our percentage contribution to running this town has decreased over the years. Now the time has come for Franklin to pay its own way.
If is your choice Franklin. What will you choose to do?
Check out the factual information. Don't listen to the hear say and unsubstantiated rumors.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
School by School class size if the override fails
This is what the $2.8 Million budget reduction would look like at each school in Franklin.
Friday, May 30, 2008
What You Need to Know to Make an Informed Vote on June 10th
1. The Vote is Soon!
Voting will take place on June 10th at the Franklin High School Field House from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
2. The Proposed Override Will Average Only $243 per Household.
The override translates to an increased tax bill of only $243 per household. Since the tax payments are tax deductible, the after-tax cost is approximately $168 or about 50 cents a day.
3. Without the Override, You May End Up Spending More
You could be spending more per year by voting down the override because of cost increases for items such as pay-to-ride and athletic participation fees. If the override fails, there will be a $100 increase per student in the pay-to-ride bus, and cancellation of late bus service for students who need to stay after school for academic, clubs and extracurricular programs.
4. Franklin's Educational Spending is efficient.
Currently, Franklin is spending $2,200 less per pupil in 10 of the 11 State Department Education categories than the average in the state. We would have to add $13 million to the education budget just to be average spenders in the state.
5. Pink Slips Were Not Delivered for Dramatic Effect.
Teachers and administrators who received Pink Slips last week will indeed be gone if the override doesn't pass. This translates to a loss of approximately 43.5 teaching positions – 16 at Franklin high, 12.5 at the middle school level, and 15 at the elementary level.
6. It Will Be a Step Back for Franklin if Layoffs Occur.
The number of classroom teachers in Franklin is as follows:
# of classroom teachers
During that same time period, enrollment in the Franklin schools has increased by approximately 500 students and the Keller-Sullivan schools were opened. If the override is unsuccessful, the number of classroom teachers is expected to dip below 400 for the 2008-2009 school year, which means we will have less teachers than we had in 2003, but 500 more students and a new school facility.
7. Class Size Will Significantly Increase Without the Override.
The range for elementary school class sizes will increase to between 19 to 30 students per class. The middle school and high school will average roughly 25 to 30 students per class.
8. The Charter School Will be Impacted.
The Town of Franklin per pupil cost directly drives state re-imbursement for the Charter School. If we spend less, the Charter School will get less.
9. Unemployment Costs the Town.
If the town rejects the override, it is liable for up to $675,000 in unemployment for the laid-off teachers and administrators.
10. Families With Young Kids Are the Lowest Voting Population in Franklin
Regardless of how you vote, make your voice heard about this issue. Absentee ballots are one solution for busy families who want to be heard. Absentee ballots can be submitted at the Town Clerk's Office, 355 East Central Street, between 9am and 4pm. The deadline for absentee ballots is noon on June 9th.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Steve Whalen (audio)
Time: 17 minutes, 41 seconds
Note: you may need to tune up the voume to hear Steve due to the quality of the recording.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Override Information Forum 5/28/08 - Summary
- Q & A - Music teacher from Kennedy; Trahan (Audio)...
- Q & A - get involved, Roy, Sherlock (audio)
- Q & A - Whalen final comment (audio)
- Q & A 10 - How do parents get a say on FHS cuts? O...
- Q & A 9 - Arlington plan? Feeley responds (audio)
- Q & A 8 - Ogden, Whalen also respond (audio)
- Q & A 8 - Will there be continuous overrides? Nutt...
- Q & A - Student comment on cutting Chorus (audio)...
- Q & A 7 - How does the facility consolidation effe...
- Q & A 6 - "emergency repair and replacement fund" ...
- Q & A 5 - replace older teachers with younger ones...
- Q & A 4 - Other revenue sources? Closing Davis Tha...
- Q & A 3 - responses continued by Doak, Cafasso (au...
- Q&A 3 - Zollo adds his response, tackling 2 myths ...
- Q & A 3 - Are we looking at all expenses; Ogden re...
- Q & A 2 - Question on next year, Roy, Nutting resp...
- Q & A 1 - School Foundation budget, Ogden, Nutting...
- Steve Whalen (audio) - Steve walks through his comparative analysis of the tax rates
- Jeff Roy explains the yellow handout (audio)
- Override Forum: W Ogden (audio) Wayne walks through the Fiscal Year 2009 school budget
- Live reporting - Q&A
- Live reporting - Override info session
The Milford Daily News coverage for this meeting can be found here.The audio segments were completed on June 1, 2008
Jeff Roy explains the yellow handout (audio)
Time: 1 minute, 57 seconds
Live reporting - Q&A
Q - Franklin is about 10-15% above the state recommended or 'foundation' budget. Can you explain the number?
A - Ogden, the foundation amount is the minimum amount that the town can contribute to the schools. If the town doesn't contribute the state minimum, there are penalties assessed by the state.
A - Nutting, if a town strives to meet the minimum, the education will be suffering, you won't be getting a quality education. Over the last 15 years the state has picked up a greater portion of the school expense, so the town tax payers have benefited from the state funding.
Q - Brett Feldman, Finance Committee member but speaking on his own behalf. Can you explain what next year will look like after the override if it passes?
A - Jeff Roy, we have settled contracts and will probably be in the 3-4 million increase range which is what we were looking for this year.
A - Nutting, suggesting that this is the bottom of this fiscal scenario we should be in a better position next year. Excise tax and other revenue sources declined.
Q - Been here for 4 years, 3 kids in school, came here because of the schools. If we have the override, I can afford to pay it because I have 3 kids. But are we looking at all the other expenses. Are we in line? Are we looking to increase revenues?
A - Ogden, speaking to the cost control measures mentions the teacher contract with a 3-year settlement for 6% in a time when other contracts were coming at 9-11%. They negotiate long term energy contracts. They are looking at other kinds of expenses like that to leverage and reduce costs.
A - Zollo, there are certain myths about town government. There is an unrealistic expectation that costs will not go up over time under normal circumstances. The town is the same situation as the schools. The Police, Fire and DPW are underfunded. We are getting a great deal. If we didn't build the Senior Center and the Fire Station we would not be in this situation. That is incorrect. Those are capital expenses and can't be used to cover the operational expenses. There are many myths that are getting perpetuated and we need to correct them.
A - Doak, picking up on another comment to increase the revenues. We get get a good deal from the industrial and retail establishments. We have tried to foster commercial and industrial growth with smart policies. Council has encourage good growth over the years and looking to continue that so the residential taxpayers don't take the whole burden.
A - Cafasso, the school department has made cuts over the years to protect the classroom and to be as efficient as possible.
Q - What about other revenue sources. Mother of 3 children, one a junior at the high school and facing significant cuts. She has heard of the 4 Corners Building,how will that help? She has also heard about the possible closure of Davis Thayer?
A - Nutting explaining that the 4 Corners Building is a capital revenue and to be used for other capital not for operational expenses. In MA, all tax authority is vested at the state level. Our industrial parks are pretty full. The Council has re-zoned some land and that is still in the process of development.
A - Ogden, referencing the space needs committee whose work is underway. There are the portable classrooms coming to an end of life that will need to either be absorbed or replaced. The school district wants to move cautiously due to problems with re-districting. There are 800 empty residences in town, there are a number of open permits for buildings to come online, there is potential for growth in the school population so closing schools prematurely could create greater problems.
Q - Teacher rates have a greater disparity, any chance of getting some of the older teachers to leave and replaced with younger less experienced teachers?
A - Nutting, no, that kind of program is authorized at the state level. It has been done twice in the last twenty years.
A - Ogden, new teachers are cheaper overall early on but year to year are more expensive
Q - What about the "emergency repair and replacement fund"? Can we dip into that?
A - Nutting, there is a minimal cost to the interest. The overall factor is that 4M on an annual budget of 100M is not a lot of cushion. It is not a lot of money in a savings account for a good business. it is similar to our debt. Our debt is going down next year to less than 3%. we are looking to continually reinvest an appropriate amount over time.
A - Doak, over the years from the power plant settlement we have benefited that we did not need to use the money for which it had been set aside to mitigate the power plant.
A - Zollo, to address another myth, 4500-5000 per year in taxes, three children in school, the Zollos are receiving a subsidy for the school education. K-12, would amount to a 275,000 subsidy. You never pay the town back to pay for your children to go through the school system. The value that the average citizen receives is great.
Q - Like to ask the Council to address the consolidation of facilities? In a time when the schools are in need, taking the money away from the schools.
A - Council took the corresponding dollars and responsibility (associated expenses) were taken away at the same time.
Comment from a high school student regarding cut of chorus at the high school.
Q - Father comes back appreciating the comment on the chorus. If there is a scale, where are we on the scale? Will there be continuous overrides? And we haven't even talked about the high school problem.
A - Nutting, Franklin gives a high quality service for a low cost. By any standard, we provide more or better service for less dollars. Overrides will not go away. Until the state and the citizens decide that there needs to be another way, it won't go away but it will not be every year. Most of the requirements are out of our control. Regionalization is an option but it will take a lot of pain.
A - Ogden, we are looking for other sources. The parent groups provide funding each year. The Franklin Education Foundation contributes approx. $20,000 per year. Working with a lawyer to set up an endowment. Looking at advertising revenue.
A - Whalen, he is a financial analyst by trade, it is impossible to continue to delivery high quality services at the low tax rate. Goal would be more near the median and not near the bottom.
Q - What about something like the Arlington plan? Do you think it would be wise to do that?
A - Committee being formed now that would look at that process.
Q - Would students or parents have a chance to dialog with whomever on what cuts would be made?
A - The parents can always come to the School Committee meeting and voice their concerns. The students are unknowingly participating with the student cost selection data. There are 17 teachers with 85 classes to be cut, there is not much room for wiggle. The music cut is bad for the music students but there are also English teachers, Math teachers, Science teachers, physical education, etc. These are bad choices. There are no good choices with the override. Parents need to express their choices.
A - Cafasso, to re-inforce that participation is open and looked for, if you have ideas we are looking for them. The meetings are open. Citizen comments are always on the agenda. Our email addresses are available.
A - Roy, in the short run, the way to save the chorus is through the override.
A - Whalen, it would be depressing if the turnout were less than 25% and the override lost. There is a popoulation that won't vote for an override under any circumstances.
Q - I commented about the recent cuts amounting the 83 positions since 2002.
Link to the numbers
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
School Committee - override reductions
Will not know until evening of the 10th what will happen but the high school is preparing two schedules; one with the override passing and one if the override fails.
Listing provided of the specific positions (to be posted soon)
high school class size will run 28-30
elementary schools some classes can go as high as 28-30 in specific grades
Ogden - FHS accreditation will be looked on "unkindly" with 17 positions being removed from the school. You can't predict what they will do. However it is likely there will be some adverse action.
Gould - transition to high school is the most important thing to protect, a "sacred cow"
class size discussion, most classes are going to be exceeding the range, not just on the high end of the ranges (if the override fails)
Gould - Franklin has done well at protecting the school instructional side, there is nothing else to cut. The FHS supplies budget is less than it was in 2001 and this is with an increase in students since 2001.
Mullen - would cutting French V affect the college placement for the seniors?
Gould - possibly. Students have to go somewhere, the electives can go higher. "Under Ed Reform, you can not have study halls. You have time to learn measurements."
Cafasso - could you get some others to assist with some of the journalism or public speaking?
Gould - they would need to be certified according to the state
School Committee - live reporting
reason for delayed start due to last week's Tuesday mishap with the scheduling
Matt Kelly absent
minutes approved for May 13th, one abstention
Seniors graduate this Friday, Juniors now rule the school with more room in the halls
Horace Mann Rube Goldberg competition
3 hours to build machine, came in 11 of 27 teams
certificates for each student who participated
bubble needed to float 5 seconds in the air
15 transfers required
first team from Horace Mann to participate
Oak Street stock market essay winner
funded through FEF grant
1st at Boston Globe, 7th in nation
- Austen Sholudko -
presentation on District Literacy Initiative
goal - develop a philosophical and instructional vision for literacy
1 - What do we want students to know and be able to do?
core expectations were identified as
- read widely
- read strategically
- think critically and creatively
- communicate effectively
not a small task
3 - What is exemplary literacy instruction?
need to expand the team, focus on K-8 and work up
amongst them, differences in instructional philosophy around the district
Literacy vision developed
assessment planning on-going
- wonderful approach, how is this going to be done with an increase in class size under the scenario with a failed override? - my two cents
Cafasso - can we bring this down to the household level? where do the reading lists and required texts fit in?
Michele - bed & breakfast analogy, what are the essentials? it is easy to by a program but it is a one size fits all. "Hopefully parents will see greater enthusiasm, a greater variety of materials"
Town Council - Budget hearing - after recess
raise was an average 2.1%
elected officials got 2%
Mason, "amounts to a token increase"
motion made to increase salary treasurer/collector , passed 7-2
motion mode to increase town clerk, passed 7-2
motion made on downtown planner, 5 yes 3 no 1 abstain
motion on adoption of town budget for FY 09
motion passed unanimously
Doak "budget time trying to choose between least bad options"
need to think seriously about what kind of town we want to live in
Pfeffer explains why she was driving in the parade
Bartlett outlook on budget has changed, impressed with effort on part of all in the town
"I can find no waste and believe me I have looked"
"need to tackle much harder redundancies due to state and local requirements"
motion to adjourn
Town Council - Public Hearing on FY 09 Budget
Clerk reading budget line items, anyone can put an item on hold for further discussion
Doak arrives at 6:06; Whalen and Zollo still not here
Instructions on motion or release of hold for the items that were held
Mason hold on Treasurer/Collectors Salary
opened a can of worms here, Jeff and Susan aren't in agreement on the timing of the 2 vs. 2.5 percent increase
Bartlett, willing to reconsider but would like the confusion resolved before she makes up her mind
Doak supports the 2.5 percent that was previously voted
- Zollo arrives -
Feeley explains that the elected officials are not entitled to merit or step increases
Doak clarifies his position to review the elected officials on an annual basis
moving on while the item is clarified
Bartlett motion to reduce planning and growth management salaries
effectively removing the downtown manager position
- Whalen arrives to complete council attendance -
McGann speaking against motion
Nutting clarifying that the position is going to be needed and used as the downtown planning progresses in response to Zollo question; can be reviewed next year
Zollo speaking for the position, does need to have the position justified but shouldn't be terminated prematurely
Doak concerned about the overall Planning Dept increase of 13%
Doak challenges McGann's reckless comment to save us all some time by identifying the "waste in this budget"
motion failed 4-4 with one abstention
second failed same vote
determined to come back to this item
Vallee speaking for the addition of 2 police officers
"not providing adequate safety for our citizens"
making motion to add 2 positions with commensurate salaries
Jeff makes technical amendment to make the salaries and expenses align properly
Vallee approves of the amendment
money to come from the stabilization fund
Doak agrees with the justification but not with the money coming from the stabilization fund
Whalen agrees also with Vallee's sentiment on safety
Whalen also takes on McGann's comment on "waste in the budget"
"as a community we have to come with a plan"
Nutting saying with 40 plus teachers going out the door, adding two here is not good
"tough thing to do at this point"
"3 years in a row the department waived raises"
McGann will back Vallee on this
Bartlett "can't support hiring unless we are falling apart at the seams"
Zollo "this conversation underscores the seriousness that the citizens need to understand"
"We are the least taxed, understaffed in every department, too late to repair after breaking at the seams"
"What type of community do I want to live in?"
"Commends chair for coming up with group to study and develop the multi-year plan"
Jim Roche, put forth increase to override to cover the increase for Fire and Police
should rename the stabilization fund as the "emergency repair and replacement fund"
Pfeffer thought she found a million dollars by using the revenue from the 4 Corners building but that would only free about 100,000 dollars of operating revenue
motion to add the police failed at 7-2 vote
Dept 300 - Town Schools
the budget item seems to include the transfer of the support staff yet there is no MOA, there is no hearing by the Town Council, there is no number crunching as requested by Councilor Zollo
the budget does not include the $5.4M for the facilities consolidation
Doak, without memorandum in place are we exposed if we proceed down the way
Nutting what has to happen, town has two actions, school committee has to approve
Nutting "have to meet the net school spending"
should make it now or next year, not practical to do in October
Vallee wants an answer
Pfeffer doesn't understand either
Rohrbach disagrees with the budget subcommittee statement that Feeley made about the budget dollars
Roy stating the case for the School Committee/Department maintaining
This proposal will not save the town money, this proposal will cost money
It is a good idea to explore, let the planning committee explore those opportunities
Why can't we wait until the memo is done?
Armenio budget subcommittee member, present at the meeting
MOU would be put together and then the budget would be discussed
Cafasso was put on hold previously to not confuse the override last year
under the state law, the school principals have authority over whoever works in the school
a transfer could take place mid-year
Feeley motion to accept town administrator's version of the budget (giving the town the building management)
Nutting restating the prior arguments
Nutting won't give an answer to Zollo's question
Vallee consolidate to save money
Is that item overspent or underspent? It makes him suspicious.
motion approved unanimously
TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET HEARING - 6:00 PM
FY 09 TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET HEARINGS
TUESDAY MAY 27, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Simple choice - maintain or cut
As demand for services rise our staff levels continue to fall. There are two unpleasant solutions to this problem. Continue to reduce services or increase taxes.From the FY 2005 Budget Statement (PDF) published by Jeff Nutting in April 2004. This quote can be found on the bottom of page 11. The override mentioned was held in November 2004 and it failed by a 1,148 votes.
An override will be requested for the FY 06 Budget. I estimate it will require approximately $4 million to maintain the level of services that currently exist. A successful override will allow us to balance the budget in the short term but in the long run the fundamental gap between revenues and expenses will arise creating the same problem in the future. The only long-term solution will depend upon changing the the tax laws to curtail the over reliance on the property tax as the primary source of funding local government.
The override is intended to address the current financial problems. It does not address the need to upgrade the high school, reconstruct roads and sidewalks, or fund a hugh unfunded health insurance obligation. These issues will have to be addressed over the next three years.
The future fiscal years beyond FY 07 will be difficult to deal without additional revenues. Please carefully review pages 4-6 titled FY 08 Budget Projections. You will note that with a very modest 2.5% increase in general costs along with increases in energy, health insurance, etc. the town will face a multi-million dollar shortfall. The 2.5% increase is not adequate to provide the same level of services that are currently provided and will lead to reductions in school/municipal services. realistically, the increase would need to be closer to 5% to maintain services. There is no way to avoid the eventual reality that our reserves are dwindling while our costs continue to rise faster than our revenues. I believe that FY 08 will be the year that difficult choices will have to be made in order to balance the budget.From the FISCAL 2007 Annual Report published April 20, 2006 (PDF) by Jeff Nutting. The quote can be found on the bottom of page 2. The difficult choices mentioned did occur in FY 08 and resulted in the first operational override to pass in Franklin by a margin of 1,306 votes.
Final Comment - What do you get for your property taxes?This is from the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Statement (PDF) as published by Jeff Nutting in March 2008. This quote can be found on the top of the last page, page 11.
Franklin's property taxes are very reasonable. Unlike other taxes we pay, all of your property tax dollars remain in Franklin. The average tax bill in Franklin is $3,872. That amount provides high quality education, saves property and lives, plows your streets, provides library and recreational opportunities, and assists our senior citizens and veterans. When you need a paramedic, police officer, or other public service, they are a phone call away. Your tax dollars are used to improve your quality of life, and in the case of property owners, maintain and increase the value of your investment. In good times or bad, we strive to be prudent with your tax dollars and be responsive to your needs.
As these quotes from the budget information provided during the past several years indicate, an override this year is not a surprise. We have a systemic issue that is not being addressed. We have avoided the painful choices by drawing down the stabilization fund. It is no longer a smart fiscal choice to make. The choice remaining is to cut services (in this case educational services for our children) or raise taxes.
Put all the other arguments aside: Do you want to maintain our quality educational services or do we start cutting deeper than we have before?
Learn all you can by visiting here frequently.
Visit the School Committee override page for the schedule of information sessions
You can find override related information here
Friday, May 9, 2008
Election date - June 10th
Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Time: 6:00am - 8:00pm
Place: Franklin High School Fieldhouse
Question #1: Shall the Town of Franklin be allowed to assess an additional $2,800,000.00 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of the operating budget for which monies from this assessment will be used for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008? Yes No
Learn as much as you can by visiting here frequently.
Visit the School Committee override page for the schedule of information sessions
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Town Council Meeting Summary 5/7/08
This is the summary of the live blogging posts and the audio recordings for the Town Council meeting held on May 7, 2008. The posts are listed in reverse chronological order.
- Feeley responds to McGann (audio)
- New Committee to develop 5 Yr Projections (audio)
- DPW Open House 5/31/08 (audio)
- Water/Sewer Rate Changes (audio)
- Town Common sign placement (audio)
- Other action items (audio)
- Ladder Truck paydown plan (audio)
- 4th of July (audio)
- Four Corners Potential Sale to Walgreens (audio)
- Councilor McGann during Citizens Comment (audio)
- 5 Year Plan committee to be formed (text)
- Town Administrator Report (text)
- Water conservation starting (text)
- Action items (text)
- Four Corners Building (text)
- Election Info - McGann uses Citizens Comment (text)