Monday, June 30, 2008

"needs to fix critical problems"

Posted Jun 27, 2008 @ 10:29 PM


After months of a stressful budget season and failed tax override attempt, the School Department finally received good news last week.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Maureen Sabolinski announced the Massachusetts School Building Authority has invited the town to submit a letter of interest for a building project at Franklin High School.

The department had applied and was rejected two years ago, she said, and this is the first opportunity to reapply. The state did not give feedback explaining why it rejected the application, she said.

"We are very fortunate to get a second chance on potential state funding," said School Committee member Ed Cafasso.

"We need to come together as a community to seize this chance as quickly as possible. We are at a crossroads in terms of shaping the future of the high school. It's decision time. We owe it to the community to act decisively," said Cafasso.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Franklin Matters: Sch Com Mtg 6/24/08

Another in a series of podcasts on what matters in Franklin (MA). This one features three segments from the School Committee meeting of 6/24/08 reviewing the depatures from the district due to the budget cuts, the reallocation of some funds to add back 3 teachers, and the closure of the Brick classroom.

Time: 16 minutes, 39 seconds

MP3 File

My notes preparing to record this session:

Features three segments from The School Committee meeting of 6/24/08

In this first segment Asst Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski
Reviews the totals for the teacher layoffs done in May
Lists the categories of layoffs and other departures from the district
There will be some hiring to replace some people whose positions were not cut
Ed Cafasso reiterates a few key points on the numbers

---- ---- ----

In this second segment, Jeff Roy starts the discussion on the 180,000 unallocated funds in the budget
You may recall that this amount was in the hardcopy of the budget but didn’t calculate properly leaving the total unallocated
Sue Rohrbach reports from the budget subcommittee their recommendation
Maureen Sabolinski outlines the proposal to add three teachers in the elementary schools
Consensus was reached by the elementary principals on this decision
Reduces the districts net loss to 42 teachers

---- --- ---

In the final segment, Jeff Roy confirms that as the school and fiscal year come to a close that the district will complete the year at budget, with no surprises
Paula Mullen opens the discussion on the Brick classroom status
Maureen Sabolinski provides Details on the Davis Thayer situation with 2 kindergarten classes in one building
Cafasso closes expressing the committee hard choice in tough budget times

----- --- ---

The state has re-opened applications for school building projects, so the FHS renovation or building discussion will move to the forefront in the next couple of months to meet the state application date in Sept.
The July 9th Town Council meeting school audit/budget update to be presented
Next school committee meeting on July 15th

Stay tuned, stay involved

The holiday week ahead should be quiet, very few meetings, fireworks at the high school, and carnival rides and music on the common, but no parade, enjoy the 4th

---- --- ---

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow Franklin citizens and voters by Steve Sherlock

For additional textual information, please visit

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

The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

"the traffic from Interstate 495 will be louder"

Posted Jun 28, 2008 @ 10:46 PM


The sisters of Mt. St. Mary's Abbey lead a simple life, and they plan to use the latest green technology to keep it that way.

The Cistercian community of 52 women grow most of their own food, adopting a vegetarian diet out of a philosophy of frugality and austerity. They use a solar-powered electric fence to hold their sheep and alpaca, and sustain their physical needs by making and selling candy.

In 2006, Sister Mariann Garrity replaced all of the incandescent bulbs at the abbey (about 200 light fixtures) with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights.

This summer, the Cistercians of the Strict Observance at Mt. St. Mary's Abbey are getting further swept up in their efforts to conserve, putting a 40-meter-tall wind turbine in the field beside the sheep pasture, in the middle of their 580-acre property, which is split between Franklin and Wrentham.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"nothing beats the flavor"

By Krista Perry/Daily News correspondent
Posted Jun 27, 2008 @ 10:52 PM

Local farmers and artisans lined the paths of Town Common yesterday for the third Friday in a row to sell their fresh produce and crafts to zealous customers.

The variety of the produce and the ability of local farmers to concentrate on specialty crops makes this farmers' market unique, many vendors said.

"This farmers' market is great for building the community," said Catherine LaValle, of Grateful Farm, an organic farm in Franklin. "People know our produce is fresh and that we do not use harsh chemicals."

LaValle said the presence of the farmers' market every Friday gives local farmers an opportunity to succeed during a terrible economy. Competition with larger farms is very high, she said.

Despite the hard times, LaValle said that Grateful Farm takes pride in the way they treat the earth.

"Many large farms do not rotate their crops and the soil loses its nutrients," she said. "We grow all kinds of different vegetables in all kinds of colors. You can't get that at a grocery store."
Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

Friday, June 27, 2008

"as you learn more, you evolve "

Posted Jun 27, 2008 @ 12:10 AM


The Conservation Commission last night took a step forward in its plan to cut select trees from about 25 acres of the Franklin State Forest bordering Summer Street to keep the forest healthy and thriving.

The commission voted to allow Conservation Agent Nick Alfieri to prepare an request for a proposal to hire a consultant who will draw up a forest management plan.

Two commission members, Pearce Murphy and Jon Fournier, voted against the plan. "I feel ... for 10,000 years, forests have survived" without human intervention, Pearce said.

Commenting that he is not speaking for or against the plan, Alfieri advised the commission that it will have complete control over which trees it wants chopped, and they can change their minds even after consultants create a plan.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"it just means other things won't get done"

Posted Jun 26, 2008 @ 12:26 AM


Taking a break from packing boxes, wrapping up "small issues" and moving out of Town Hall yesterday, Lisa Piana reflected on her 3 1/2 years as downtown manager, saying she is most proud of the work she's done in bringing people together.

Her role as the town's downtown manager ended yesterday, due to Town Council's recent decision to stop funding the position.

She had two separate roles, splitting her duties between working for the town nine hours a week and working for the Downtown Partnership 12 hours a week. She will remain the executive director of the Downtown Partnership.

"The downtown manager was the point-person to bring the community together with the town to make projects happen" - like attracting $30 million worth of development from Canton developer John Marini, she said.

"It's going to make a big difference for downtown retail," said Piana.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"It's not a shell game"

Posted Jun 25, 2008 @ 10:01 AM


At the recommendation of Assistant Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski, the School Committee last night agreed to use $180,000 of unspent money found in the athletic revolving account this year to put three teachers back in the classroom.

Former acting Finance Director for schools Paul Funk notified the committee of the accounting oversight this spring, but the committee opted to wait for the results of the Proposition 2 1/2 tax override on June 10 to decide how to use the money.

"In the past, the superintendent (Wayne Ogden) recommended using it for bringing back three teachers. We said right up front, teachers, teachers, teachers," which will reduce class sizes, Sabolinski said.

The School Committee agreed to allow principals to hire a Grade 4 teacher at Helen Keller Elementary School, a Grade 3 teacher at Oak Street Elementary, and a Grade 2 teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, as class sizes there were slated to be 28 to 30 students, Sabolinski said.

"There was consensus among all elementary school (principals). A lot of thought went into making those recommendations. They looked at the needs of students in those classrooms," Sabolinski said.

School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy noted the district is still losing the vast majority of teachers they expected to this spring.

"It's only three teachers out of 45, so it's a net loss of 42 teachers," Roy said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

School Committee Meeting 6/24/08

live reporting - Superintendent's report, subcommi...

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

Franklin Town Common sign

Franklin Town Common sign, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The Town Common sign that took the Town Council two meetings to decide where to place it, is up and under utilized as of this picture last Saturday.

It is placed along Main St, near the sideway (just to the left in this photo) that leads to the gazebo (just to right rear in this photo). It is away from the other monuments along that side of the street so the intentions of the Council were met in this placement.

The sign will hold the historic walking trail map. The map apprently wasn't not ready at the time the picture was taken.

The prior Town Council discussions can be found here and here

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

live reporting - Superintendent's report, subcommittee reports

Superintendent’s Report - Maureen Sabolinski
a. Projected Enrollment - numbers in School Committee packet
b. School Choice - discussed previously
c. Ed Nets
becoming involved, contract still up in air, breaches of staff and student information still need to be reviewed

d. Bus Accident Update
one of the outcomes of the accident as previously reported was who was going to be in charge to avoid the situation where some students were not examined after the incident. Protocols being set up with a very productive meeting, will be updated into the crisis manual. Will come back with an update.

e. Traffic Study at High School/Horace Mann
The Town is initiating a traffic study in the area and engage a traffic engineer to study and report back.

MSBA opening a window to accept new statements of interest for building projects, need to submit by Sep 15

technically according to the statute don't need a building committee until the State says you are getting money for construction. Should not re-submit what we did previously, should get together to decide what should be re-submitted

Jeff Roy requesting that the audit copies be sent directly to the school committee as an internal control, should not have to go through either the Town or the Central Office. He has made the request before and will make it again

Subcommittee reports

Matt Kelly will be meeting with Miriam Goodman on a weekly basis to review and approve the bills on a timely basis

live reporting - Action items

Action Items:
1. I recommend acceptance of $13.50 from Kaitlyn Simmons & Corinne Lewis, raised from their lemonade stand for the Oak Street Elementary School Gift Account.
approved 7-0

2. I recommend acceptance of a check for $285.00 from Lifetouch Pictures for the Future Enrichment Programs at ECDC.
approved 7-0

3. I recommend approval of the request of FHS teachers Jackie Eckhardt and Debbie Murphy for the annual trip to Spain for the summer of 2009.
approved 7-0

4. I recommend adoption of the revised 2009-2010 School Calendar
approved 6-1

5. I recommend adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Jeff Roy - school department lawyers were not required to work out the issues on the MOU, this covers most of the items raised in the previous meeting, not perfect but a good ways along, can still be modified as it goes

Cafasso questioned to make sure the heating utilities were being covered by the town given the discussion about the Brick school

hopes that the principals are vigilant and report back to us if things do not go smoothly

Jeff Roy - did get the clause to state that the principals will retain level of control over personnel in their buildings

Rohrbach - hope this goes smoothly, hopes that this does generate some cost savings

approved: 7-0

6. I recommend adoption of the Consolidation Plan.
approved: 7-0

7. I recommend the increase to $325.00 per year for the Pay-to-Ride Program.
approved: 7-0

live reporting - FY 08, Brick closes

Miriam will be bringing the school year to a close with the budget coming in where it needs to be, no surprises

Brick school was not in the budget

needing to put students with disabilities in two places instead of just one
principal agrees with the placement in this way
makes it more efficient to have the two classrooms in Davis Thayer

no one on the committee is happy about not having the Brick school in the budget
in difficult budget times extremely hard to continue that operation
building use subcommittee needs to look at and make a good use of

Allocation of $180,000 - 3 teachers come back

With the additional funds from the athletic funds that were in the budget and not currently encumbered, the budget subcommittee decided to use it to return three teachers from the 45 layoffs, likely at the elementary level

biggest impact of cuts were at the elementary level
school principals got together to come up with a recommendation

Proposed to add back at
Keller - one grade 4
Oak - one grade 3
Kennedy - one grade 2
class sizes were slated to be 28-30

would now reduce the overall teacher layoffs from 45 to 42

Cora Armenio -
The reduction at the high school of 17 teachers, already on warning for that situation
Would 3 make a difference for this status?

Sabolinski -
Maybe, but with the positions already cut and courses already reduced
there is still the facility issue

the importance of the elementary levels is where it all starts
literacy is important
high schoolers will get into larger class sizes in college

Jeff Roy -
Miriam Goodman has currently allocated a budget of 49,760,242
She adds the 180,000 and comes back with the new budget of 49,940,242
with a full line by line accounting so we can vote that budget in July

Ed Cafasso -
can you enunciate a little better about how these three are being re-allocated so we can create a better understanding of what these decisions are and why we are making them

tried to get a close to the school committee guidelines as possible, we would need more teachers to make a better decision

Maureen Sabolinski -
So to clarify the principals can move forward and start to fill those positions

Jeff Roy

the final FY09 budget will be ready for vote in July

live reporting - late bus

Sabolinski -
Exploring options, will have another update in late July
GATRA is one alternative being looked at
current bus service from Holmes is also being looked at

If GATRA is willing to be a partner, there are needs to be fulfilled particularly for the kids, especially from the high school based upon the survey results

Jeff Roy - "happy to hear that you are committed to find a way to have some way to get the kids home"

GATRA is only $.50 versus the late bus at $1.00, could be better for the families involved

looking at Holmes for a "pay for use"
kids who opted for "pay to ride" rode the late bus free
pay to ride does cover a two-way fee, this would then be a third charge

Live reporting - school choice, Pay-to-ride

School choice
previous decision to continue to with school choice
early applicants were notified of not guaranteeing slots
40 overall - 23 in K, the remainder is sprinkled amongst the other grades
76 enrolled in school choice last year, 61 returning, 5 graduated, 10 others left for other reasons, bulk not going to Grade 1 (they came here for K).

have 23 applications for K, would have to do a lottery to chose possibly 10-12
have not publicly held the lottery but could do that to generate some publicity

decision from budget subcommittee to keep any extra funds in the School Choice amount (approx $120K) for a contingency
there are a number of items that it could be used for, instead of a recurring cost (i.e. text books, school supplies, etc.)

anticipating a reduction in revenues for next year as only 61 students are returning which would provide about $300,000 in revenue

Ed Cafasso "one quarter of one percent, a good idea to keep that money unencumbered"

Jeff Roy
"school choice is only offered on a space available basis "

Pay to Ride
616 applications as of Friday, 860 as of this morning
920 applications as of end of day today, last year about 1800 total
on target to where we were last year at this time

seat guaranteed to those with application submitted by June 27th; after that, no guarantee
people moving in do get some slots held for them, others will go to the wait list

Ed Cafasso - would be good to do a survey of the Pay-to-Ride to find out why they use the service
get an idea of routes and schedules in August, before school opens, to try an head off some issues like what occurred last year

Maureen Sabolinski - some parents disagreed with the Franklin Police assessment, that is not a decision the Central Office makes (on bus turn points)