Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Live reporting - FY 2010 update

53 million was needed as level service, that number never changed.
The other number that never changed was the number we could expect from the Town Council. 50 million never changed.

Approx 3.5 million dollar gap. How we were bridging that gap? What savings or revenues were coming in were changing.

We couldn't predict how many were retiring, etc.

Sabolinski - some of the ways we bridged the gap also did not change. The teachers taking the wage freeze helped to save 23 positions. Some prepayment of special education tuitions ($200,000). Stabilization was cut significantly by the Governor, we got our final number last week ($219,000). Circuit breaker extraordinary relief.

We were able to bring 29 on July 2
We can bring back 21 more now but have not determined the final positions until we meet with the principals.

10 teaching positions, (5 PE/health and 5 librarians) are the total lost this year.
We did lose the one data analyst and the asst principal were lost as well.

Live reporting - FHS update - part 5


I have tried to be open about why decisions are made. I have an online newsletter that people can access regularly. You can find it -> http://franklinhighschool.wordpress.com/

One of the things I am experimenting with next year with Twitter.The messages can be received via cell phones (i.e text messages). We need to experiment before we try to go full bore.

Next year our avg class sizes will be 20-25 for the core academics. This is about as good as your going to see. We have also increased the instructional time for the core courses. The teachers should be able to go deeper into a topic, cover enrichment items, etc. In terms of supporting individual students, we will support them at a significantly higher level than we have done in the last several years.

We are going to look at how we do Panther Pride night. When you have a public school where 93% of the students take SAT's (here at FHS) and compare favorably to the areas privates schools, we need to advertise that better.

The 8th Grade Open House we revised this year and received positive feedback. We paid some of our teachers come in on a Saturday. The parents got a better sense of what Freshman year work would be like.

We will study the parent conference format. There are some positive elements to it but it is hard to have an honest conversation when you are in such a public forum. One of the things to cover is scheduling. A parent may not want to get up from a teacher, it affects the overall scheduling.

Those are some of the activities that we have planned for next year. Success at FHS is tied to how much income the parents have. The graduation rate of the lower income students is only 78% and that is shocking. We have to look at that and address it.

They did try some special tutoring programs with requested attendance. It was well recieved, some students thought it was the best thing that they have done for them.

The detention threat (2.5 hours) is an effect for some of the population but not for all. We are structuring an alternative, this tutoring program. There is a connection between discipline and academic performance. We need to give them more time in an academic environment to ensure that they don't fall behind and drop out.

Armenio - The parent conferences were a little like speed dating. If this is the first time yur finding out you have a problem, there is a communication problem. Maybe with Edline there will be a chance to get the information before hand.
Light - we were expecting teacher to do a lot. Teachers went from having 100-110 student to a 140-150 students and expecting the same level of information is a problem. What can we reasonably expect teachers to do? The teachers couldn't do the job in the time alloted. We need to rethink the process and provide the support.

Mullen - up until last year, I really didn't mind too much. They weren't a place to have a real conversation and you knew that. The freshman collaborative with the additional lines it was really long to get through.

Rohrbach - Not to sound like a broken record, it is amazing what you ahve accomplished in a short period of time. Do you have a sense of the freshman class?
Light - we don't have a real good number just yet. It is significant shift, possibly about 100 heading from the 8th grade to private schools. The enrollment in the other classes are steady. We should still gain overall about 60 students. We do survey those we find out are going to private school. We find that the number one concern is class size.

Rohrbach - what about helping the parents with the technology changes?
Light - we have used email primarily. The world has fundamentaly changed in terms of the speed of communication. We can fight it, or find ways to utilize technology to improve out ways.

Rohrbach - it should save on supplies
Light - moving to the digital format, we are saving big bucks avoiding printing.

Cafasso - to respond on the shed rate from 8th grade to Freshman year. The average the last several years was 8-10%. The number Peter is talking about is probably triple. Your changing that tonight and a lot of that is perception. People have been concerned about the school budget.

Light - there are some folks returning back from private school who had been there. It will be interesting to see what the numbers in and out balance out to when we do the numbers in August.

Roy - thank you for addressing the issues on a point by point basis. You are addressing the circumstances without drowning in sorrow. You have some losses yes, but there are improvements. You are so inspiring, I am going to have to ask you to come more frequently.

Live reporting - FHS update - Part 4

The Senior Class gift along with some money from the Athletic Dept is to bring some flat screens into the building to have a rolling show of the announcements for the day.

One request from the student always was to open the bathrooms during the day. We did try an experiment with some open, one monitored and one not monitored. The monitored one did get some graffiti, the other did not. We will continue to monitor this situation and try to use the passing time to allow for visits to the bathroom. Once in class, they should stay in class.

The lunch period lengthened. The passing time lengthened.

Mullen - Not a school culture question but I thought of it. Community Service is that still going to be part of the school?
Light - That is one answer I don't have fully yet as that is one of the staffing items that I have open and will be resolving soon. We do excel in this area with the number of hours of community service that our students perform.

Live reporting - FHS update - Part 3

Guidance and administration

All guidance will be located together and actually switched into the space where the administration offices were to be more of a focal point. A computer lab will be set up for students to come in and do research on colleges. Guidance should be all about college and career planning. It should be structured over the four years and not just in the last couple.

The Administrative structure is changing at FHS. One of our Asst Principals will have an academic focus; with MCAS and the department heads, and teachers in the evaluation process.

Asst Principals for Student Services, they will work with adjustment councilors to ensure that there is a learning process associated with the punitive process.

Live reporting - FHS update - part 2

Technology center

many folks are coming in to re-order the books in the library, keeping the Dewey Decimal numbering but with a new layout.

There are a total of eight learning pods coming into the Technology Center. It will be opened extended hours with ESPs on staggered hours. Trying to create an atmosphere where student should be able to come in anytime of the day and feel comfortable.

There will be a writing center with a certified writing teacher. They can work with the classroom teachers to work on specific projects.

200 laptops will be available for students to check out during the day. Students will be encouraged to bring in their own laptop or netbook into school to work on in the classroom or the Technology Center.

The school is fully wireless enabled now. For security reasons, a student can not print directly to the school systems. They can save a file up to their folder on the school system and print it from their.

Implementing Edline (?) a parent focused portal for viewing the student grades later. It will be opened up early to enable some of the forms that the parents are required to fill out. Hoping to open Edline around October 1 for student grades. There will be a professional day used for training the teachers before Edline gets opened to the parents.

Mullen - the writing teacher will not be handling a course load.
Light - correct

Sabolinski - the laptops were purchased from the Town capital budget and not from the school operating budget.

Roy - I am loving hearing about the writing center, the technology center, the use of these tools.

Light - one initiative I did not mention is Moodle. Any teacher that wants to do an online portion for one of their courses can use it. I think we have about 30 teachers involved with it now.

Sabolinski - The Moddle thing will roll out more in the later part of the year. Tim can only do so much with the technology initiatives underway.

Live reporting - FHS update - part 1

Peter Light, Principal

A couple of staffing issues are still outstanding so not all the info can be provided tonight.

Carnegie unit = measure of instruction time, works up to the credit hour

Moving to 6 credit course, an increase of 25 instructional hours per course

Three options for meeting physical education credits
  1. in class at FHS
  2. in an interscholastic sport for FHS
  3. in a program of min 30 hours of dance, etc with an outside organization
Courses were re-entered into the system to provide new course numbers
Boston College provided advice that the scoring for GPA was disadvantageous for the FHS students, now moving to a 5 point scale that is more of a standard across the spectrum

Armenio - since January, I am amazed at the things that you have had to do. I understand the GPA for the first time now.

Light - It is the same process for calculating GPAs but now on a 5 point scale instead of the 17.5 point scale we did use.

Armenio - If I understand you, there are three ways to obtain credit for physical education.
Light - We are following almost exactly to the letter of the law the State guidelines.

Light - students determine the pathways that they would declare in the Fall (assigned to class, interscholastic sports, or outside). They select it early on and provide the certification at the end. If there are changes during, they are some restrictions but they would need to follow through.

Mullen - to clarify for the PE thing, it is 30 hours for the year, so they have to do only one season of a sport?
Light - yes, the interscholastic sports would put in far more than 30 hours as most would be doing a couple of hours a day. Only one sport season would be required.

Mullen - we've been talking about changes at the FHS for a long time. I don't think that when you made the first change, we all realized that the snowball effect was coming down the way it has.
Light - we have taken a huge hit with the PE changes, we'll see what that does with the MetroWest survey. We will be able to do so other things but it will be a change.

Trahan - You'll be telling the parents about the various options available to them
Light - I sent a draft to Maureen today a letter describing the changes. It is in the final stages of proofing. I have one or two staffing items to finalize so I am hoping to have it early next week.

Cafasso - Can you make sure we get copies of that?
Light - It was my intent. It is actualy addressed to the Franklin community not just the FHS parents.

Cafasso - Have you figured out all the re-jiggering with the schedule.
Light - I have a close version in the system running now. It was running as I left and it should be ready when I go in to school in the morning.

Cafasso - Are you going to take some time off?
Light - Yes, I am planning to. After this week and next, I plan on taking a couple fo weeks with the family.

Live reporting - School Committee 7/21/09

Attending: Armenio, Cafasso, Mullen, Roy, Rohrbach, Trahan
Missing: Kelly

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments - none
Review of Agenda - none
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the June 23, 2009 School Committee Meeting. Motion to approve - Passed 5-0, 1 Abstain (Mullen)
Payment of Bills - Mr. Kelly
Payroll - Ms. Armenio
FHS Student Representatives
1. Letter from Mrs. Kristin Redpath.
2. Response from FSC to Mrs. Redpath

FM #43 - This week in Franklin, 7/19/09

This is #43 in the series of podcasts for Franklin Matters. Give me about ten minutes and I'll let you know what matters in Franklin, MA for the week ending July 19, 2009

Time: 8 minutes, 59 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro My intro FM #43

This internet radio show or podcast for Franklin Matters is number 43 in the series.

You give me about ten minutes and I'll let you know what matters in Franklin, MA for the w/e 7/19.

We'll start with what happened this past week
  • Town Council meeting 7/15
  • Ribbon cutting at Shades IN Place
  • Third Thursday

Town Council approved a license transaction for a new operator for what had been recently Caso's bar & Grill.

Town Council had the most discussion on the vote to fund the renovations for the museum
The discussion centered around the use of the capital funds, they can't be used for operational purposes. Deb Bartlett's main objection was the amount at this time for the museum when there are other items on the capital wish list that are wanting. The vote was 7-1 Bartlett against, Doak was absent, all others voted for the museum.

Town Council also voted to take advantage of the local tax for hotel and meals, voting separately for each item by the same 7-1 vote. Vallee voted against both saying it was the wrong thing to do for the economy at this time, forgetting the more important item (in my opinion) that these are the first non-residential tax revenue sources to be allowed Franklin. Without them, the inevitable overrides in our future will be higher.

The DPW provided an update on the Water status.
The Planning and Community Development group provided an update on the economic development areas and priority development site progress made thus far.
Both presentation are posted and available on Franklin Matters

The Downtown Partnership had another good event on Third Thursday. I participated with other members of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon cutting for the new showroom for Shades IN Place. Pictures and other details from Thursday are found in the posting “From stained glass to blue grass”

What does this week hold for us? A couple of key meetings will occur.
School committee mtg 7/21
Financial Planning Committee 7/23

The School Committee meeting on Tuesday will explain how their budget got balanced. They had last met on June 23rd and were facing cuts of 40 plus teachers. Somehow the number got reduced.

“There will be no teachers laid off except four gym teachers, all the librarians, and a data analyst, Roy said. “
How the number was balanced was not successfully explained by the Milford Daily News article. I am looking for the meeting to provide the insights required to understand where the cuts did come from.

The Financial Planning Committee meets on Thursday this week. I will be unable to attend but I would be looking to find out when the final presentation is ready and when the update to the Town Council is going to be scheduled.

Given the TC will likely be handling the final FY 2010 budget adjustments in their first August meeting, I would guess that this might be a prime topic for the second August meeting.

We'll see how this plays out.

Please stay tuned in

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

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow citizens of Franklin, MA

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.blogspot.com/

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

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

King St and I495 Construction

From the MassHighway website, this is the project description for the I495 and King St intersection construction work underway.

This is a safety and traffic improvements project. It extends along King Street from Union Street to Upper Union Street and also includes Upper Union Street from King Street to Constitution Boulevard and all four I-495 ramps at King Street. It involves roadway improvements as well as intersection signalization improvements.

Project includes widening of King Street to provide two lanes in each direction with left and right turning lanes at appropriate locations; widening and realignment of Upper Union Street to make Constitution Boulevard the major traffic movement; upgrading the signals at the King and Upper Union Street intersection and providing two left turn lanes from King Street onto Upper Union Street.

New signals will be installed at the intersections of I-495 southbound and northbound ramps, and the signals at the King and Union Street intersection will be upgraded. The signals along King Street will be synchronized to provide better traffic flow along King Street.

Existing concrete pavement will be removed from all four I-495 ramps and ramps will be reconstructed with full depth asphalt pavement. In addition, project involves drainage improvements, curbing, new sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, pavement markings, signing, landscaping, a closed circuit television camera for traffic monitoring on I-495, and other incidental work. This project will require temporary and permanent easements for its implementation.
You can find this on the MassHighway web site here. Select Franklin to see the current project status. Project 602962. By the way, it also shows completed projects.

Note: Like most State websites, the performance is better with IE than Firefox.

Concerts on the Common - Christie Leigh

Christie Leigh will be appearing Wednesday, July 22 for Concerts on the Common 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM.

Mike Rutkowski will perform for the Children's Concert from 6:00 Pm to 6:30 PM.

One committee vacancy could be your opportunity

They say: "many hands make for light work."

There are a dozen open committee vacancies across the Town's organization.

For a complete listing, check out the Town website here. The Town web page includes a link to obtain the proper form to apply for the vacancy that you would be interested in.

Not sure if it would be good for you?
Contact one of the existing committee members to find out more information. The Town website has a listing of the Boards and Committees here.

Why not consider volunteering for one of the positions?
This could be just the opportunity you were looking for!

Monday, July 20, 2009

What kind of society would it be?

"An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth – scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, the comics and many books – might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get it. What kind of society would it be if, instead, we drummed into them science and a sense of hope?"

– Carl Sagan, Describing the World as It Is, Not as It Would Be, written for The Washington Post, January 9, 1994

This random quote came from the Wizard of Ads

School Committee - Agenda - 7/21/09

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the June 23, 2009 School Committee Meeting.
Payment of Bills - Mr. Kelly
Payroll - Ms. Armenio
FHS Student Representatives
1. Letter from Mrs. Kristin Redpath.
2. Response from FSC to Mrs. Redpath

2. Guests/Presentations

Teacher Retirements:
1. Sylvia Bacca - FHS 34
2. Joseph Lynch - FHS 22
3. Debra Murphy - FHS 29
4. Fran Bositis - HMMS 38
5. Rebecca Miller - Keller 13
6. Elizabeth Martucci - Oak St 36
7. Faith Wadleigh - Oak St 8
8. Theresa D’Amato - Parmenter 24
9. Walter Feldman – FHS 38

FHS Update – Peter Light

3. Discussion Only Items
a. Budget
b. FHS Facilities Project

4. Action Items
a. I recommend acceptance of a check for $102.88 from the Franklin Music Boosters for a nurse for a field trip for the Middle Schools.
b. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000.00 from the Franklin Country Club for the FHS Hall of Fame Award Scholarship.
c. I recommend acceptance of a flowering magnolia tree, valued at $300.00 raised from donations, planted in the bus loop at the Oak Street Elementary School.
d. I recommend acceptance of a check for $3,000.00 from the Horace Mann PCC for In-House Enrichment at HMMS.
e. I recommend acceptance of a check for $90.33 from the Remington PCC for a nurse for their 8th grade celebration.
f. I recommend acceptance of a check for $2,800.00 from the Parmenter PCC for supplies.

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
a. Facilities Update
b. Summer Program Update
c. Pay-to-Ride Update

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports

School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business
To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations
Confidential Legal Update

8. Adjourn

Wachusett St - Under Construction

The DPW has published a listing of road projects underway on the Town website. It is not a complete listing as Wachusett St doesn't appear to be on it and there definitely is work being done.

From time to time, the work requires the road to be closed and there are detour routes posted on utility poles.

If you are driving in the area of the Parmenter School, be aware of the Wachusett St construction until further notice.