Showing posts with label citizens comment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label citizens comment. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Citizens Comment: Gretchen Donohue

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. "
Gretchen Donohue


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. 

Gretchen Donohue

Citizens Comment: Gretchen Donohue
Citizens Comment: Gretchen Donohue

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Citizens Comment: Dave Rittenhouse on the climate crisis to Town Council Mtg 04/13/22

Good Evening. Thank you for the opportunity to make a citizen comment. I’m David Rittenhouse on Hunters Run and I’m a climate activist and member of 350 Mass. Our meetings are open to the public and are announced via the Franklin Matters Newsletter.

The climate crisis has become increasingly difficult to ignore in the last few years:

Smoke from western wildfires for months last year blew across the whole continent to Massachusetts contributing to our local air pollution so that people with respiratory illnesses and parents had to look at air quality indexes to know whether it was safe to go outside.

Just last week torrential downpours created flash floods in dry Australia, of all places, with flash floods in Sydney and thousands ordered to evacuate. Faraway places are harder to feel a connection to so I’ll focus on closer to home.

One place I pay attention to is the American Southeast as I have friends and relatives who live there. Tornadoes are happening with increasing frequency, numbers and severity all over the South, often with whole clusters as part of a strong weather front that passes through. Every time I worry about their safety.

It used to be that it was helpful to know if you needed an umbrella or not, but now with climate change making the weather more severe, it’s not a casual thing anymore.

It will only get worse unless we take bold action. Yes, it’s a big problem and yes, Franklin is only one town, but everyone needs to do their part, from individual action to town wide initiatives to coordinating on the regional and state levels. Franklin can take bold action.

I’m pleased with the progress Franklin has made with town electric vehicles and LED street lighting and being a Green Community. Franklin schools & town buildings get 95% of their electrical power from local solar panels. That’s fantastic! Currently, 80% of Massachusetts Towns & Cities are designated Green Communities and I’m glad we’re a part of that effort.

But we can do more. I would like to see these additional actions:

1. Make efforts to move new construction away from oil & gas heat to electric heat pumps.
2. Change by-laws for new construction to require 240v EV outlets in garages.
3. Give preference to multi unit housing projects that use geothermal heating and cooling grid systems.
4. Join the 17 cities & towns of MassEnergize, a non-profit building community involvement in climate friendly individual actions. By joining MassEnergize, we would become part of the 5% of Mass communities committed to doing more and building community involvement.

Thank you for hearing my comments encouraging Franklin to take additional steps in climate action. Please consider joining our next 350 Mass Meeting

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Franklin, MA: School Committee - Meeting Agenda - Mar 8, 2022 - 7 PM

Franklin, MA: School Committee Meeting

Municipal Building - Council Chambers (Virtual Link in Agenda)

Call to Order Ms. Spencer
Pledge of Allegiance
Moment of Silence
I. Routine Business
A. Review of Agenda
B. Citizen’s Comments
In the spirit of open communication, “the Committee will hold a public participation segment (also called Citizen’s Comments) about matters not related to an agenda item at the beginning of each regular School Committee meeting. The Committee will listen to, but not respond to any comment made…. A Committee member may add an agenda item to a future meeting as a result of a citizen comment…. The Committee will hear public comments related to an agenda item when the Chair deems appropriate during the Committee meeting. Topics for discussion during the meeting must be limited to those items listed on the Committee meeting agenda for that evening…. ” - from Policy BEDH
C. FHS Student Representative Comments
D. Superintendent’s Report
II. Guests/Presentations
III. Discussion/Action Items
A. Policy 2nd Reading-Adoption
I recommend Adoption of Policy GDQD - Suspension and Dismissal of Support Staff Members as discussed.
B. Policy 1st Readings
I recommend moving the following policies to a second reading as discussed:
  • EBCFA - Face Coverings
  • JICFB - Bullying Prevention & Intervention
  • BEDB – Order of Business
  • BEDH - Public Participation at School Committee Meetings
IV. Discussion Only Items
V. Information Matters
A. School Committee Sub-Committee Reports (e.g. Supt. Evaluation, Budget, Community Relations/Public Schools Advocacy, Policy and Space Needs & Facilities Analysis Sub Committee)
B. School Committee Liaison Reports (e.g. Joint PCC, (SATF) Substance Abuse Task Force, (SWAC) School Wellness Advisory Council, SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council), DEI Committee (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion).
VI. New Business
A. To discuss any future agenda items
VII. Consent Agenda
  • A. Approval of Minutes - I recommend approval of the minutes from the February 8, 2022 School Committee meeting and February 16, 2022 Special School Committee Meeting as detailed.
  • B. FEF Gift - I recommend acceptance of a check for $12,000.00 from the Franklin Education Foundation as discussed.
VIII. Payment of Bills Ms. Spencer
IX. Payroll Ms. Stokes
X. Executive Session
a. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §21(a)(3) to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining with the FEA/RN unit as an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the School Committee and the chair so declares.
b. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §21(a)(3) to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining with non-union personnel. 
c. Executive session pursuant to M.G.L. c.30A, §21(a)(1) to consider an Open Meeting Law complaint against public officers, namely the members of the School Committee, filed with the Committee by Kyle Thompson and dated February 3, 2022.
XI. Adjournment
FY23 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget
FY23 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget

Thursday, February 10, 2022

School Committee hears of the diversity, equity and inclusion work underway

Quick recap:
  • School Committee hears multiple citizen comments on their masking options and about their endorsement of Senator Becca Rausch's re-election campaign; some positive encouragement comments also came from the audience (many of these remained for the full meeting while most of the negative commentors left)
  • The key portion of the meeting was the update on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work the district has had underway. "We don't pretend to have all the answers we are working together with humility to strive to be open"

Neither the Superintendent's Report, nor the DEI presentation were available on the FPS page as this was prepared for publication Wednesday evening. When they are, the links will be shared.

Audio recording should be available in a couple of days

Photos taken during the meeting and shared via Twitter can be found in one album ->

Thread Reader produces a PDF of my notes shared via Twitter including the photos inline with the thread. You can read the thread here or in the embedded doc below


School Committee hears of the diversity, equity and inclusion work underway
School Committee hears of the diversity, equity and inclusion work underway

Friday, December 17, 2021

Recap: School Committee hears Lifelong Learning update, plans for FHS masking; approved FHS business trips

Quick Recap:
  • Citizen commenters returned after a brief hiatus; one told of a sad story of her student being punished for something the IEP was supposed to be addressing; another advocated for inclusion of Diwali on the list of recognized religious holidays
  • Superintendent's report covered scenario if cases continued to rise, how they would revert to the face required process; communications late Wednesday did revert policy on masks back to being required as case counts rose about 4% positivity
  • Recognition of former SchComm member MJ Scofield; she had not been recognized earlier as she was running again and was not successful. She has long been an advocate and volunteer for schools and sports with a long list of accomplishments
  • Lifelong Learning presented an overview on their programs which are almost back to normal. They had been significantly affected by the pandemic. Even the summer programs had been adjusted for COVID precautions as opposed to the summer of 2020 when they were simply not held
  • two trips were approved for FHS DECA students and National Business Honors students
As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter while I attended the meeting in the Council Chamber. 

The Twitter hashtag #schcom1214  can be found online. The thread begins with 


Citizen Comments
  • citizen comment; request for sex ed documentation but hadn't received response; request left with Chair; parent with student issue (speaking rapidly and hard to understand) #schcom1214 KP Sompally requests to have consideration to celebrate Diwali within the district
  • citizen comment; M Benson speaking on mask policy at FHS; claiming contradiction among DESE and DPH statements; #schcom1214
FHS student updates
  • FHS student update from R Chaudhury, provides multiple items - spirit week, theater auditions, middle sch auditions too; raffle calendar fund raiser; online open through Dec 31; sports news - FHS did beat KP on Thanksgiving; Unified Basketball going to FL; cheerleaders won D1;
  • action today on basketball courts; masks so far going well; looking forward to break; #schcom1214
Superintendents Report
  • superintendents report; PD last week (12/10) at building level; prof learning communities; elementary focused on assessment; middle multi-tier system of support; FHS worked on curriculum development; congrats to Unified Basketball team; traveling in Jun '22 #schcom1214
  • Congrats to Paula Lupien, named MIAA D1 gymnastics coach of the year; #schcom1214; shifting to FHS mask policy implementation - 75% of students/40% of faculty were choosing to unmask; case numbers are climbing and keep watching; masks will busing (Federal mandate)
  • changing definition of close contact to 6' (from 3'); no change to test/stay; can't test vaccinated students per DESE; #schcom1214 positivity 3.27% in Franklin (less than the 4 at benchmark); numbers updated Thursday; if over 4, would have a decision for the following Monday
  • apprehensive around cases and numbers; chart shared with the updated numbers (weekly from DPH); 129 students in quarantine (largest in while); published on Monday; to be included in District newsletter on Weds #schcom1214
  • if over 4 on Thursday, encouraged to mask on Fri but req'd for Monday; suggestion to reverse order of the info to put the newest on top; shoutout to music boosters, etc. in person concerts this month, nice way to celebrate the season; #schcom1214
Recognition of MJ Scofield
  • recognition of MJ Scofield former member of #SchCom1214 multiple policy updated under her leadership of Policy subcom; Keller/Sullivan building project in prior period of terms; MJ speaking, acknowledges being awkward; appreciates the free time; overtime 5 superintendents …
  • worked toward a common goal, could tell stories, but won't; negotiation sessions; pre-interest based bargaining did go long; #schcom1214 "kids always come first", keep advised of what Town Council and other board do; you're responsible for quality of ed for all students
  • Chair Spencer acknowledges the hard work and making a world of difference; an amazing mentor; a well of historical knowledge #schcom1214
Lifelong Learning Presentation
  • Lifelong Learning Presentation – Pattie Gay, Interim Director of Lifelong Learning Institute presentation #schcom1214 off rhythm due to the pandemic; stabilizing the dept and building back
  • presentation copy to follow along as req'd -> #schcom1214
  • Solutions - for K through 5th grade, at each elementary school; Lifelong Community Learning - resource/programs for all ages; Kid's Corner - students K-8; music academy for all ages #schcom1214
  • Summer programs were offered in limited capacity for 2021; high school experience offered in one day versions for incoming 9th and those in 10th who missed prior year; #schcom1214 anticipating return to full programing in summer of 2022; summer registration opens Feb 1, 2022
  • programs aligned with district improvement plans; #schcom1214 thanks to all who helped support our program around the District/Town. Shout out to the Solutions ladies who helped raise my kids; there are great offerings in the brochure, check it out; you can meet other folks
  • STEM and Math academy are complimentary to what is taught in school, particular during the summer, where usually regular teachers are the instructors; the college essay course is popular and helps to jump start the seniors; #schcom1214
  • Lifelong Learning has been able to develop programs (i.e. essay and common app) to help address identified needs of the students and community #schcom1214
  • great to be able to be back in person, enables real time opportunities to get feedback; courses do have an evaluation sheet at the end of each course; info reviewed and incorporated as needed; #schcom1214
Discussion Action Items
Discussion only item
  • Discussion only item -  draft SchCom meeting calendar for planning/review #schcom1214 most normal 2 mtgs/month with minor exceptions
  • Info matters - Budget meeting Thu - 12/16 at 7:30; community relations TBD; Joint PCC meeting today; COVID concerns discussed; pilot of Remington with Unlikely Story for book fair, next meeting Jan 10; SWAC next meeting Jan 4; #schcom1214 plng 4 another …
  • critical conversations event in the Spring - informing parents on how to recognize drug packaging, etc. #schCom1214 DEI cmte met 12/08, visit FPS page (link to be added later) - appointing Elise to SEPAC as rep
  • new business, Jan 11 - Special Ed update; action items related to the budget; re: $93,000 reduction for decision; FY 2022 capital request for SchCom to then go to the Town; #schcom1214
Consent agenda


Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days

Citizen comment updates:

School Committee meeting packet folder for Dec 14, 2021 includes the full Superintendent's report   packet folder ->

School Committee hears Lifelong Learning update
School Committee hears Lifelong Learning update

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Request to add Diwali as an observed holiday

Copy of KP Sompally's statement made during Citizens Comment at the Franklin School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec 14, 2021:
"Request to add Diwali as an observed holiday to the list of no-school days.

I am a community member, volunteer, and parent (my child attends Franklin High School.) I would like to request that the School Committee discuss at a future meeting about DIWALI as an observed holiday 
The Town of Franklin observes numerous holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and many more.

We connected to each other through our different cultures with respective values. We have people from different ethnicities, religions and nationalities. We’re a growing town with good representation from several communities. Adopting an inclusive approach allows diversity to flourish

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by people of multiple faiths, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists

Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival celebrates over 5 days, culminating on Diwali Day which is new moon day 
About 800 Franklin families celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights and could celebrate well by being together, if it is a holiday 
Every year, I am one of 5 million Americans who celebrate Diwali across our nation. I think it’s all more important to educate people about other backgrounds so that we can all live more in harmony, tolerance and inclusion. A holiday for Diwali will be a great inspiration for students who are trying to fulfill Franklin public school’s mission of being a global citizen
Making it a school holiday would help people of the town better understand its cultural significance, it would definitely give a message to the world that Franklin is flourishing by giving significant importance to diversity. 
I appreciate the time and effort the school committee puts into our school wellness ultimately protecting our town's future and values. I look forward to hearing from you on this matter. If you would like to discuss this request further, 
Thank you for your time, service and consideration. 
KP Sompally"
For more about Diwali ->

Congressman Jake Auchincloss joined to celebrate Diwali at the Franklin Library in November, 2021

Congressman Auchincloss poses with some of the gathering
Congressman Auchincloss poses with some of the gathering

Citizen Comment - about "punitive exclusionary consequences on disabled student"

If you listened/watched the School Committee meeting Tuesday (12/14/21), one of the parent comments was hard for me to follow but could be summarized as:

"Parent with policy issue, allowing schools to use punitive exclusionary consequences on disabled student for having symptom of a disability that they knowingly failed to support while claiming to be instituting restorative practices"

Did get a handout from the parent to share here:


Citizen Comment - about "punitive exclusionary consequences on disabled student"
Citizen Comment - about "punitive exclusionary consequences on disabled student"

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Citizen Comment - Maxwell Morrongiello

"I’m here today, because at the next meeting the Council will have an opportunity…an opportunity to lower the property tax burden faced by middle- and low-income families. According to the Massachusetts Budget Policy Center, property taxes are a regressive tax. They explain on their website that households with the highest 1 percent of incomes pay less than 3 percent of their income in property taxes on average, while those with the lowest incomes tend to pay over 5 percent. This simply isn’t fair and is a burden on those who can least afford it. 

Towns like Brookline, however, have found a solution! They have a blanket residential exemption, that exempts a fixed amount of the property values of all single-family homes. If Franklin were to do the same thing, say, exempt the first $100,000 dollars of property value, and then raise the total tax rate, they can make the tax code more progressive while keeping a balanced budget. Under such a plan, modest homeowners will see a tax cut, while wealthier households will contribute a more equitable share. 

My understanding is that this is allowed by Prop 2 ½ which affects the only amount of total revenue a town can raise, not the tax rate itself. In addition, Franklin already does this with the community preservation act, and more narrow exemptions.

I ask not that the council adopt such a tax rate at the tax hearing next month. It is simply too soon and needs buy-in from the community. In addition, it would need to be assessed how this would affect people in apartment buildings who rent, as well as businesses who would be ineligible for an exemption. 

I ask instead that the council adds a motion to the agenda of the tax hearing to assign a committee to study this proposal, with the intention of it being implemented the following year. I urge the council to act to foster a community discussion around this issue, promote equity and fairness, and most importantly support a tax cut to Franklin Residents who need it."

Maxwell Morrongiello
Franklin Resident

Spoken at the Town Council meeting of Nov 17, 2021. Copy of text received via email

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Recap: newly elected School Committee organizes; gets started with light agenda and Executive Session

Quick Recap:
  • The new School Committee organized itself by voting in Denise Spencer as Chair and Elise Stokes as Vice-Chair
  • Multiple Citizen Comments, a variety this time; Rev Juncker and Rabbi Alpert spoke representing the Interfaith Council; parent for challenging text like "Bluest Eye"; parent speaking against vaccination; J Maciel questions equity of comment time between School Committee and Town Council meetings, vs. student representative comments who get to speak more than residents
  • minor business conducted in this first session, approving policy with minor wording changes for consistency of text 
  • moved to Executive Session, via roll call vote, not to return to public session
  • Note - confirmed post meeting that the committee members were all sworn in before the meeting commenced

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting live from the Council Chambers


The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #schcom1109 


  • getting ready for the #schcom1109 meeting to begin shortly. Live tweeting from the Council Chambers this evening
  • Meeting agenda ->   Meeting packet folder ->   #schcom1109
  • Working out some tech difficulty to get the meeting broadcast going. As you may be aware, there were three simultaneous broadcasts of FHS playoff games, 2 are underway, the 3rd did end in time for this to assume its channel spot #schcom1109
  • nomination of Spencer for Chair, seconded; passes 7-0 #schcom1109
  • Zoom appears to have sound, cable may not, motion for Stokes for Vice Chair, second, passes 7-0 #schcom1109
  • pause to check on audio status, Zoom can hear, Cable cannot; meeting starts on Zoom then goes to the Studio for broadcast via Verizon/Comcast... confirmed as working now  #schcom1109
  • open soon for Citizen Comments, Chair reading statement and guidelines on comment policy; #schcom1109
  • expectation of conduct set for Council Chambers; slide to be added #schcom1109
  • Franklin Interfaith Council - Rev Juncker and Rabbi Alpert stand to talk for their statement in support for #LoveFranklin 
  • parent speaking for challenging books, like the Bluest Eye, as good for education in understanding the situation  #schcom1109 challenge and empower the students, invest in the amazing staff so they can continue this work
  • parent speaking against the vaccine for kids quoting FDA statements #schcom1109 challenging Supt to speak to answer the science on this matter
  • J Maciel requests a podium, requesting change in meeting order agenda; @schcom1109 where is the equity with Sch comments of 3 mins; Town Council mtg allows 5; runs out of time
  • FHS student comments; sports team deep in a playoff run; Mamma Mia this weekend, Fri/Sat; auditions for Central District submitted; #schcom1109; already time to order caps/gown by 11/19
  • Field hockey won today, Volleyball also won today; girls soccer playing now, still 0-0 at last report; #schcom1109 winter sports start after Thanksgiving; conference Fri/Mon, off Thu due to Veterans Day; pep rally shirts on sale (until 8 PM tonight)
  • FHS student acknowledges work to do to ensure a safe environment for all students, not just most; the Peace display was heartening; #schcom1109 admonish SchCom to live up to the awesome role they have, with a positive attitude
  • Supt Report - doc to be posted to schools page on Weds; updates/reminders on policy and meeting process; appreciation week for school psychologists; #schcom1109 Parmenter mural work (pix to be included) ; also to be part of a More Perfect Union show on Portrait of a Graduate
  • Moving to Discussion/Action - tutoring for pay, largely from conflict of interest law; i.e. tutoring by teachers of students;  #schcom1109
  • comment on consistency of language within the text; discussion on use of 'school resources' - possible clarification on district social media accounts vs. personal account; motion amended, seconded, passes 7-0  #schcom1109
  • discussion only items; approval received yesterday to get waiver on masks; discussion on how to proceed among other districts; #schcom1109 ? on how to monitor the unvaccinated individuals; FHS welcomes option; working on plan for next couple of weeks on metrics to determine
  • plan once approved by #schCom1109 would be effective, time TBD right now; logistics and details to be worked
  • next to Information Matters; School Wellness met today, next mtg on Dec 7; MASC resolutions passed; requesting ideas on what subcommittees are desired; Nov 18, at FHS critical conversations also to be live streamed; panel discussion on substance use, and mental health #schcom1109
  • from panel to break out sessions; "hidden in plain site" room available for review/Q&A; discussion cards on how to have the difficult conversation; flyer to be shared tomorrow via multiple channels #schCom1109
  • next meeting; workshop at 6, handbook for introduction to Committee; meeting begins at 7; MCAS results and updates; #schcom1109 job description for Director of Diversity, Equity and inclusion
  • consent agenda - split for returning members and new members - both accepted; one 2-0, other 7-0 #schcom1109 to enter executive session, not to return to public meeting, vote to enter passes 7-0
  • vote via roll call, passes  #schcom1109


Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days

expectation of conduct set for Council Chambers
expectation of conduct set for Council Chambers

newly elected School Committee
newly elected School Committee