Showing posts with label summary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summary. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Recap: School Committee hears about (1) special education program, (2) daily challenges of pandemic, and approves trip to US Special Olympics

Quick Recap:
  • The major portion of the meeting was spent on special education and student services in support of the 17% of the district students needing such services. Always a cost factor for the budget, the costs are rising but the number of students receiving such services is holding steady.
  • Great background info for this new Committee (and for the public) on how services are provided, how the in district programs help to reduce costs. Specific details on exactly how much were not available at this session but will be for the up coming budget cycle.
  • The update on the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggle it is continuing to provide the schools and their operations was staggering.
  • The capital budget was approved and it now moves forward to a discussion with Finance Committee before going to the Town Council for approval.
  • The budget adjustment to the current year budget was approved.
  • FHS Unified basketball team trip to US Special Olympics was approved. This is the first MA team to represent the state at this event. No cost to district, supporters group prepared to cover any incidental expenses for the individuals if needed.
  • Entered Executive Session to address three items and (fortunately) while the agenda posted initially said they would return to open session, they did announce they wouldn't.
Audio recording to be available in a couple of days.

View the full Twitter thread in the embedded PDF file below or download to read from here ->

Note this Threadreader service makes it easier to share the Tweets including the photos within the 'stream.' For meetings where the thread has less photos, I'll copy the text but where there are photos, this is so much easier to keep it all together.

Recap: School Committee hears about (1) special education program, (2) daily challenges of pandemic, and approves trip to US Special Olympics
Recap: School Committee hears about (1) special education program, (2) daily challenges of pandemic, and approves trip to US Special Olympics

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Recap: School Committee meeting - 8/24/21

Quick Recap:
  • The School Committee voted to adjust the agenda removing the mask policy from discussion for now as the DESE decision on masks was made earlier during the day and takes precedence. Comment time was provided and extended to accommodate the antivaccine folks
  • In regular business, the handbooks modified for this school year were approved unanimously. Health and Safety was split into a separate section to acknowledge the COVID-19 protocols, With the approval, the handbooks will be distributed to the families in advance of school opening this year.
  • Chair Bergen took a couple of minutes to thank those who have taken out papers to run for School Committee, letting them know this is an apolitical position, separate from the Town in many ways, there is an 8 hour course required to provide insights on how to operate successfully and legally within the guidelines. A good thing to make folks aware of. At least one successful candidate last time was even aware of the two meeting a month commitment until after they were elected. It is better to be prepared.


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  #schcom0824 


Agenda doc (including connection info) ->


Agenda folder ->


  • Live reporting underway the School Committee meeting tonight. #schcom0824
  • Agenda item on masking for students taken off agenda given DESE action earlier today. #schcom0824
  • Citizen comment on the poor audio internal in the Chambers last week for the Policy subcommittee meeting was held #schcom0824
  • Superintendent's report, doc shared the day after the meeting; new faculty orientation this week, approx. 35 participating. Q prior on surplus text where to go? Places/orgs defined. #schcom0824
  • Thanks to the custodial and facility staff for their work to prep for opening, DPW for work on the grounds, Technology for their work preparing equipment for this year Motion and second to remove the policy items from agenda, passes 7-0 #schcom0824
  • Accept collaborative update, superintendent represents the district req to create a fund for capital accounts, students go out of district, about 10 students participate in accept training; Pfeffer has a host of questions; Q's answered motion passes 6-0-1 (stokes recuses)
  • Handbook updates provided by Giguere in coordination with the school vice principals (and legal review), health and safety in a separate section of handbooks, free lunch for all students this year. #schcom0824
  • Health and safety section: And presentation doc  #schcom0824
  • Highlights in the presentation cover changes from last year to this #schcom0824 Info from DESE expected on masks and social distancing - no minimum standard to go for this year. Lunch will be hard, K-8 easier than FHS
  • Testing options proposed #schcom0824 sub coverage for staff is a potential worry (as it was last year)
  • Visitors will be allowed this year and monitored carefully #schcom0824 clarification on a few points around the presentation and discussion Chair Bergen provides insights on background before the comment section (20 mins)
  • Parent comment on dissatisfaction with #schcom0824; parent of student with IEP and issues with mask and speech; parent says there is no room for mandate; parent upset with mask as incentive for vaccine and 80% as the requirement; parent (via zoom) (with poor connection)
  • #schcom0824 parent wants to get the info out on the testing are they authorized tests? Or emergency authorized?; Parent commending SchComm for their work; parent respectfully disagrees with other speakers who claimed they included her; difference between tests/ timing of exposure
  • Bridget Sweet, Board of Health Chair, acknowledges working with the School district to work with the guidelines from DESE. Asking to take heart that the BoH is doing what is best for everyone #schcom0824
  • Parent asking for school work for those who are out under quarantine; #schcom0824 parent says no evidence for folks with masks and learning effects, need real metrics for when it will end; Superintendent responds on 3 points, goal the same, measures may differ ...
  • 1 things are fluid, there will be updates, 2 binex now (?) is an antigen test and a nasal swab. The committee vote on the handbook as discussed, moved and second, passes 7-0 #schcom0824
  • Back to school report #schcom0824 Hockomock League still working on the sports protocol Still active in hiring, job fair had 15 candidates appeared last night, getting close to closing in on staff for this year
  • Info matters - Jumped back to new hiring list, clarification how and why, can they be supported by the budget! Yes, they are backfills for existing roles Policy to set meeting, with DESE guidance to be reviewed #schcom0824 thanks to those setting up to run for SchComm
  • 8 hour course required for SchComm, apolitical role, separate from town, #schcom0824 Next meeting, district improvement plan, etc. Motion on 8/10 minutes, second, passes 6-0-1 (Jen abstains) Consent agenda, motion to accept, seconded, passes 7-0
  • Motion to adjourn , passes 7-0 That's all for tonight, catch you next time! #schcom0824


Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days


Superintendent Ahern updating the SchComm without her mask at the request of one member who couldn't hear her with the mask
Superintendent Ahern updating the SchComm without her mask at the request of one member who couldn't hear her with the mask

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Recap: Town Council - on Maple Hill 'right of first refusal' recommendation is to purchase

Quick Summary:
  • Three options were outlined for the Maple Hill 'right of first refusal' Franklin has 120 days to make. The first option to use the proceeds from the Pond St sale (former sewer treatment plant) ($1.6M) and to use the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to finance the remaining $3M.
  • No decision was made at the Town Council meeting. The Town Council does have final approval but they can not make the unilateral decision. There are two more public hearings; the Finance Committee (6/16) and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) (6/17). The CPC needs to make the formal recommendation to use the CPA funds for the Town Council to approve. Assuming the CPC does make the recommendation, the measure would come back to the Town Council likely at their July meeting for approval.

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  #schcom0309
Photos captured during the meeting, shared via Twitter can be found in one album

The proposal summary and details on the 'right of first refusal' can be found in this document

  • Getting ready for the Town Council meeting at 7 PM agenda doc has connection information #tc0609
  • In person meeting participation opens June 15, Zoom will be available as well as the live stream and cable broadcasts #tc0609
  • Justin Bates speaks to PFAS report from recent water quality report. While # within guidelines, it is concerning and should be investigated for further mitigation. #tc0609
  • Electric Youth in the Chambers for their 'almost' annual performance before heading off to Europe for their 2 week tour. #tc0609 (almost as the pandemic cut the trip last year)
  • Performing a capella #tc0609
  • Motion to approve minutes for Apr 7, passes 9-0; motion on mins for Apr 14, passes 9-0; for May 5, passes 9-0; motion for May 19, passes 9-0 #tc0609
  • Proclamation in recognition of FHS donation for veterans walkway bricks along with the pedestals for each of the 45 #tc0609 Proclamation in recognition of Mr Wright for his action during the fire at Franklin Crossing
  • Shifting order of action items to address license transactions before the public hearing. #tc0609 La Cantina proposal to combine their licenses. Really just a paperwork item per ABCC motion to approve, seconded, passes 9-0
  • La Cantina second transaction for the 19h, (first was 19c). Motion to approve, passes 9-0. #tc0609 Table & Vine change of Manager, etc. Motion to approve, seconded passes 9-0
  • Chapter 61 right of first refusal public hearing opens. First of 3 hearings on this matter, #tc9609
  • Presentation copy to be shared Thursday on town website. Meeting of the 3 hearings #tc0609
  • Town land in green Metacomet in yellow on this map #tc0609
  • Purchase proposal options #tc0609
  • Additional details on the finances #tc0609
  • Debt exclusion could be an option (like a school building) #tc0609
  • If right is refused, the project would continue with development of housing overtime per schedule shown #tc0609
  • Final slide on recommendation #tc0609 councilors asking clarification questions before getting to the public side of questions/comments. With this proposal CPC recommendation would be required to get TC approval
  • Interested in finding the $1.5m from Pond St sale where it was in the financial reports? May not have been in report due to whatever accounting may have applied. #tc0609 councilors generally speaking for the proposal option 1
  • Attny Doherty speaking first as he had registered to do so; for the proposal, good planning and good timing to do so. #tc0609
  • Negative comment about the Planning Board reflects a misunderstanding of their role in the process. They are restricted to address a proposal to fit within the bylaws. The Council is in a good position as they have some money to say yes. Hasn't always been the case #tc0609
  • Unfortunately the Council seems to be passing the buck to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) which is by process; they (CPC) do need to make a recommendation for this proposal. The CPC is a new group but in my read of them are likely to recommend #tc0609
  • Residents all speaking for this proposal thus far; vernal pools a treasure, the open space has trails which has been used #tc0609 Public hearing closes EDC meets next week
  • Moving to legislation for action, capital plan second round #tc0609 FinCom voted to recommend, motion to approve, seconded, discussion on clarification of police station site analysis; passes 9-0
  • #tc0609 inter-municipal agreement to provide water supply for a single residence from Bellingham Motion to approve, second, passes 9-0
  • Gift for veterans services, for walkway bricks as noted by proclamation done earlier in meeting, motion, veterans officer D Kurtz provides details second, passes 9-0
  • PEG funds transfer from ToF to Franklin TV, as per quarterly procedure; motion to approve, second passes 9-0 Pellegri still wants lower rates for consumers (can't be done by local authorities)
  • Sewer bylaw for second reading #tc0609 motion to approve, second, passes 9-0 via roll call
  • Zoning bylaw definitions update for tasting room, motion to move to second reading, second, planning board recommends by a 4-1 vote; had been 25% per manufacturing alignment, passes 9-0
  • Saturday, 9-12 open house at water treatment plant, also will be a smaller version of a Touch the Truck expo at the same time. Tests for PFAS are mandated quarterly, does do required testing, not found an excess of levels. #tc0609
  • Req for SchComm to come and define the Davis Thayer timeline for town control per Pellegri. #tc0609 Kudos for farmers Market and new layout. EDC business listening sessions were good, thanks to Melanie for that. Exit #s now 41 and 43. EDC meeting 6/17 ArtWALK this weekend
  • Pellegri also adds historical museum is hosting musical performances on Saturday as well as part of ArtWALK. #tc0609 Jones will need to replace Anne Marie Tracey, DT hosting a gathering for the closing for families. Remember to block Church st for Memorial Day service
  • Motion to adjourn, passes 9-0 That's all for tonight, catch you next time!

Audio file to be available in couple of days 

Maple Hill 'right of first refusal' recommendation is to purchase
Maple Hill 'right of first refusal' recommendation is to purchase


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

FM #536 - Town Council Quarterbacking - 05/06/21 (audio)

FM #536 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 536 in the series. 

This shares my conversation with Town Council Chair Tom Mercer. This is one of a series of conversations meant to provide a recap of the prior Council meeting. Akin to one of the many sports post-game analysis broadcasts we are familiar with in New England,  this would be a discussion focused on the Franklin Town Council meeting: 

  • ok, what just happened? 

  • What does it mean for Franklin residents and taxpayers?

We cover the following key topics


Brutus Cantoreggi, Public Works Director - American Public Works Association, Public Works Director of the Year Award



La Cantina Winery/La Cantina Brewery, Change of Category on their Farmer Series Pouring Permit from Wines to Wine and Malt Beverages, 355 Union Street, Franklin, MA 02038



a. Melanson & Heath - FY20 Audit

b. Franklin TV - Pete Fasciano

c. Anne Marie Tracey - Town Communications and Civic Engagement Update


Maple hill – 120 days to react

The show notes include links to the meeting agenda and associated documents.

Our conversation runs about 33 minutes, so let’s listen in to my quarterbacking session with Tom Mercer. Audio file ->


Agenda document (and released supporting materials)

My notes from the Town Council meeting 


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.


How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors

  • If you don't like something here, please let me know

Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.


For additional information, please visit  or 

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!


You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"


FM #536 - Town Council Quarterbacking - 05/06/21 (audio)
FM #536 - Town Council Quarterbacking - 05/06/21 (audio)

Recap - Town Council Meeting - 05/05/21 - Cantoreggi recognized, LaCantina license changed, Franklin TV and communications updates

Quick Recap:
  • DPW Director Robert (Brutus) Cantoreggi was recognized as a Top 10 Director across USA
  • Public hearing on stormwater legislation language cleanup; Bissanti so against anything stormwater, he voted against closing the public hearing
  • Addition of brewing to LaCantina license (granted in Legislation for Action) Neighbor comments on noise, parking to be addressed by Town Administrator
  • Melanson Heath audit provides a real clean report with no management letter (best report in years)
  • Franklin TV presentation provides insights in to how it is funded via cable fees, provides services to the Town via contract and programing for TV and radio of great value
  • Marketing and Communications Specialist Anne Marie Tracey provided an enthusiastic overview of the progress made in sharing awareness on what is happening
  • Town receives notification on sale of Maple Hill property finally to start the 120 day close on right of first refusal. Stay tuned to this one
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  #tc0505 
Photos captured during the meeting and shared via Twitter can be found in one album:
Audio segments for the meeting will be available in a couple of days

  • Getting ready for the Town Council meeting, agenda page and connection info found here #tc0505
  • Meeting opens shortly after 7 PM  #tc0505
  • Citizen comments for up to 5 minutes for an item not on the agenda #tc0505 Colin Cass speaking for the dog park, a section for smaller dogs exists in Medway but it is not used. Shouldn't be subtracted from the existing space, should be added to.
  • DPW Director Cantoreggi recognized as a "Top 10" professional out of 30,000 across the industry. Clean water is one of his specialties. #tc0505
  • 2 minute recess for photo op #tc0505
Public Hearing
  • Back to order, hearing for bylaw amendment, chap 185, special regulations. #tc0505 this was also required to get approval by planning board. Motion to close hearing, roll call 8-1 to close hearing
License transaction
  • La Cantina change of permit from wine to wine and brewery, motion and second, pouring permit expands to include malt (beer). Clarification on Gov Baker for COVID emergency order on food requirements. Farmer series excludes food #tc0505
  • Back to normal on May 29, not relevant to point in order. #tc0505  neighbor expressing concerns with problems with loud music and parking overflow in the neighborhood. Town had not heard of these problems will be setting up time to address concerns
  • #tc0505 this is the right thing to do and look at the impact on the area. Additional parking now available through the Downtown Sports space. Finally get to the vote via roll call 9-0. Neighbor muted to get to the vote with reminder to contact the Town Administrator
Melanson Heath audit report
  • Melanson Heath with audit results current audit for FY 2020 #tc0505 audit went well, account balances were reconciled in timely basis. Prior audit reports available on ToF page  no exceptions found
  • Page 7 takes numbers to words, page 17 liability and fund balance section; net pension and OPEB, assumptions changed so results are shown here. #tc0505 page 19 general fund and stabilization funds unassigned fund balances of $11m what bond rating agencies look at
  • Right in target and a healthy position. Budget vs actual page 59  3.1m of free cash used 
  • Revenues over budget a decrease over prior year (motor vehicle and license permits) decent due to COVID. Expenses not as high within budget also due to pandemic albeit consistent #tc0505
  • No management letter this year, small side letter but no major items  #tc0505 page 12 of PDF  Next item is Franklin TV
Franklin TV presentation
  • Anticipating another percent reduction in cable fees as folks continue to cut the cord. (Slides to be added later) #tc0505 the Comcast and Verizon won't go away overnight as a way of generating revenues. i.e. working with TBB to generate programs
  • Next up Anne Marie Tracey, with a great lead from Pete!
Marketing and Communications
  • #tc0505 presentation doc 
  • Communications needs are as diverse as the communications required. #tc0505 the menu is available to meet all needs via the social media options audiences include current residents, employees as well as potential residents, business and employees
  • Top pages of the town #tc0505
  • Much done on the Town side is replicated on the Schools side as well #tc0505
  • Capital budget round two approved tonight, coming to council in future. #tc0505 EDC meeting next Weds talking about restaurant, downtown parking, etc.
Legislation for action
Town Administrator report
  • Town Administrator report, town back to green, plans to gradually reopening. Passport renewals Weds until July, hiring part time agent and photo booth services in July. Senior Ctr gradually opening too, newsletter updates, Common ground cafe possible after Memorial Day #tc0505
  • Full budget hearings May 26-27 
  • Went for bond rating, asking what will it take to get a AAA rating, EPA working again at 300 Fisher St
  • P&S received for Maple St property, clock starts today, legal review required before discussion on Maple hill ->
  • Purchase price $4.5m, have time to respond to this #tc0505 
Council comments, Closing
  • Kudos to acting clerk, got something in 10 minutes that it can take 10 days elsewhere. 
  • Pellegri - folks are following FinComm meetings via cable not Zoom. 
  • Thanks to the FinComm for the great job they did
  • Thanks to the Administration and to the audit team for a great audit. Pete is doing a great job, looking forward to many more. The enthusiasm of Anne Marie, a real pleasure and joy  #tc0505 Motion to adjourn, via roll call 9-0  That's all for tonight catch you next time


Recap - Town Council Meeting - 05/05/21
Recap - Town Council Meeting - 05/05/21

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The stormwater story summary for Franklin

One of the key items in all of the budget discussions is going to be the stormwater utility question. This has been a topic that has developed since 2007 when the initial storm water bylaw was passed. The EPA and Mass DEP have continued to add requirements to how storm water should be managed. The costs for such mitigations have grown over the years. The introduction of the storm water utility fee would allow the Town to better manage the impact on the Town budget.

Why must we manage storm water?

We are part of the area feeding into the Charles River and hence are under the provisions as outlined in the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit. We have an extensive outflow system to catch and manage storm water. Check out the map here -> 

Did the Town of Franklin sue the EPA?

Yes, and while we ultimately ‘lost’ the case, we did gain concessions on the implementation timeline that benefit all under the MS4 permit requirements.

When did the storm water bylaw pass?

The Storm water bylaw originally passed in 2007. Check out the bylaw language here ->

What is the storm water utility fee?

Article IV - storm water utility was added in Jan 2020. Bylaw #19-846 approved 9-0 vote. Check out the language here -> 

What is the MS4? 

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems or by the shorter name MS4. The current storm water mitigation plan - updated in 2020 ->  Stormwater Management Plan (revised 2020)

Can I find out what my impervious coverage is?
Check out the impervious coverage map for your property ->

Finance Committee budget hearing scheduled to continue this discussion

  • April 29 Agenda  = Dept of Public Works


How did we get here?

Soak it up Franklin site introduced in 2014 

Find the “Soak it up Franklin” page here ->

Storm water mitigated by rain gardens 

The storm water utility was mentioned in the EPA response in 2015

“Full compliance with the 2014 Draft MS4 Permit is an additional significant effort that cannot be currently supported with the Town' s existing resources and funding within the next permit cycle, as specified in the draft permit. The Town wishes to continue improving stormwater management and water quality, but this effort needs to take into consideration the progress made to date and be balanced with future infrastructure demands town-wide and economic conditions. Additionally, the town feels that the most cost-effective approach for stormwater improvements is integration with redevelopment and capital projects as infrastructure needs to be upgraded and/or replaced.


Similar to many other communities, Franklin has considered creating a stormwater utility to meet the current and proposed additional costs associated with the updated MS4 permit. Attached are working budget sheets that are based on current costs to meet the existing MS4 permit compared to estimated short-term EPA proposed MS4 stonn water activities. These worksheets clearly show that the additional tasks proposed by the new MS4 permit would go up over l00%!


Presently the Public Work's General Fund Operational Budget (GFOB) is $3,996,424.00. It is estimated that 14% or $559,499.00 of the GFOB is used for  only stormwater tasks.  lf the new MS4 permit becomes effective as proposed, it is estimated that the stormwater program effort in Franklin would require an increase to 26% or $1,039,070.00 of the GFOB”


Find the full doc with this quote here -> 

Storm water info mailer in 2018 

The bylaw was discussed in Nov 2019 TC meeting

Received first reading and approval to second reading 

Actions taken Dec 4 move to 2nd reading

Dec 2019 TC meeting

Stormwater Utility fee structure was approved by 9-0 in Jan 2020

Actions taken Jan 8 2020 - approval to set the process for the MUNIS adjustments required to bill for an actual fee (to be determined later).

Info session doc 3/11/20 

Town council goals midterm

You ask, we answer

MS4 info session summary

Finance Committee meeting in June 2020

Town Council Budget hearing June 2020

Storm water ad-hoc committee meeting Aug 2020 (audio)

Storm water ad-hoc committee meeting Sep 2020 (audio)

Finance Committee meeting Jan 13, 2021 (Audio)

Town council Jan 20, 2021 (audio)


The stormwater story summary for Franklin
The stormwater story summary for Franklin