Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Live reporting - Town Council - 10/05/11

Present: Kelly, Jones, Vallee, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Zollo (late), Powderly

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – July 13, 2011 and August 10, 2011
motion to approve, passed 8-0



Graydon Smith from Long Range Financial Planning Committee. The Committee will be posting a document to help the candidates for the Town Council understand some of the financial issues that Franklin is facing. The doc will be on the Franklin website in the Long Range Planning committee section


  • Chief of Police - Stephan H Semerjian appointed as new chief
motion to approve appointment, passed 9-0

  • Cultural Council
Ann  Knapp
Denise Jandreski

motion to approve appointments, passed 9-0

Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite!

Do you have a pencil and paper handy?

Get ready for some worthy insights From Sunni Brown on doodling! (6 minute video)

Now go doodle!

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view this video

In the News - Rohrbach, auditions

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Susan Rohrbach, School Committee

Franklin arts company holding auditions for 'Humbug!'

Mass. schools eye $250M in bonds to finance projects

You can click through to read the full story.

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

More than a dozen Bay State communities are preparing to issue nearly $250 million in debt in the months ahead to finance a slew of school building and renovation projects. The planned projects involve everything from the construction of new $128 million high school in Duxbury to a $1.3 million window-replacement program at the Atkinson Elementary School in Andover.

Six of the 25 project proposals involve the construction of new schools, according to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The project and bond-financing pipelines were detailed during the MSBA's Sept...

Things you can do from here:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In the News - Mullen, walking

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Paula Mullen, School Committee

Franklin High offers free indoor walking program

Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club - Oct 12

The Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club invites you to their monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 12th at 7:30 pm upstairs at “3” Restaurant, 461 West Central St, Franklin.

This month, Town Administrator Jeff Nutting will visit to talk about local news, the upcoming town elections, the pending High School project, new businesses coming to town, and much more. He’ll also answer any questions you have, so bring your hot topics!

Complimentary appetizers and soft drinks will be provided. Cash bar available.

The Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club is a social club for residents of all ages and situations–not just those new to town. For more info, visit

Reminder: Walk to School, Weds Oct 5

Hockomock Area YMCA and local schools celebrate
International Walk to School Day on October 5

(Franklin, MA)  Hockomock Area YMCA staff and school leaders and volunteers will join local elementary school children in celebrating the annual International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 5. Participating schools include Oak Street Elementary, Helen Keller Elementary, Davis Thayer Elementary, and Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public Schools all in Franklin as well as Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham.

Franklin's Bernon Family Branch of The Hockomock Area YMCA will join the students as well as parents, teachers, and community leaders on the walk from the designed meeting spaces to their schools, ensuring that they have a safe path to school. As part of a strong commitment to the YMCA's Healthy Future's initiative which was developed as a collective community response to the childhood obesity epidemic, YMCA staff will encourage kids to learn about fitness by walking to school with friends.

Walk to School events work to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment, and building connections between families, schools, and the broader community.

In the U.S., International Walk to School Day is expected to be celebrated at over 3,500 events at participating schools. Walkers from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world.

For additional information, please contact the Y's Community and Youth Wellness Director Lauren Marciszyn at 774.235.2737 or

For additional information, please visit these Web sites:
International Walk to School in the USA                                   
National Center for Safe Routes to School         
International Walk to School                              

In the News - watershed award, music boosters, Ad book

Watershed association wins $250,000 for river management

Eat at Five Guys, support Franklin Music Boosters

Franklin Music Boosters plan ad book

In the News - wine tasting, book sale, live strong

Temple Etz Chaim to host wine-tasting

Volunteers needed for Franklin book sale

Livestrong at YMCA

Monday, October 3, 2011

"if we had plenty of resources and teachers had time"

The front page of the Boston Globe on Sunday caught my eye with the headline "State aims to test kindergartners"
Paul Reville, the state’s education secretary, emphasized that the kindergarten readiness assessments, which are in the conceptual phase, “shouldn’t be mistaken for an early MCAS’’ and will not be used to determine who should enter kindergarten. 
“It will be a more subtle and nuanced approach to assessing students,’’ Reville said. “The goal is to get a better sense of how students are doing, particularly in literacy.’’ 
The assessments ‘shouldn’t be mistaken for an early MCAS.’ 
The labor-intensive data collection, however, could be a tough sell to local districts and teachers, especially as budget cuts have pushed up class sizes, said Jason Sachs, director of early childhood education for Boston public schools. Boston, he said, already uses 14 assessments in kindergarten.
There are already plenty of assessments available or being conducted. Let's focus on providing some time and resources to actually using those assessments to improve the educational experience for the kindergartners.

The article fortunately admits:
For generations, state education officials have known that it is critical for children to start kindergarten ready to learn, and they have been keenly aware of a wide skills gap among students on the first day, even without a testing system in place. 
The gap exists for a variety of reasons, such as uneven quality of preschool programs, the frequency of parents reading to their children at home, or simply because children by nature can grow and develop at widely different rates in the early years.
So even with generations of knowledge and experience, the State is pursuing this to obtain some Federal funding.
“Each type produces helpful data for teachers and policymakers,’’ Scott-Little said. “In an ideal world, if we had plenty of resources and teachers had time, a combination would provide the best picture of where children are.’’ 
Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing - a Jamaica Plain organization critical of standardized testing - said he is encouraged that the state is pursuing observation-based assessments for kindergartners. But he said he is concerned the state, because of shortages of money and time, could ultimately create a system , that collects data based on one observation instead of several over a period of time. 
“The results could likely be more damaging than helpful,’’ Neill said. “The public ought to pay very careful attention to this.’’
Yes, I agree. We all should pay attention to what testing or assessments are being looked at and why? We should also be looking to ensure that this doesn't become an unfunded mandate, meaning that the State says we must do this but does not provide the funding for the "labor intensive" activity.

Franklin's voters have consistently voted down operational overrides to properly fund the schools. The high school project will be coming up early next year. Will the Town Council also give us an option for another override? Who knows. You should ask questions of the potential Town Council candidates and of the School Committee candidates. The opportunity is now through Nov 8th to decide who we want to lead our discussion.

You can (and should) read the full article in the Boston Globe here (subscription registration may be required)

Note: yes, my disclosure statement includes the fact that my wife happens to be a kindergarten teacher here in the Franklin Schools. Some would dismiss these comments offhand just because of that connection. So be it. I choose to do this information sharing because the education that is available to our 6,000 students today is NOT what available to my daughters. Both of them have successfully graduated from FHS (2004 and 2006). Both have successfully graduated from college and both are gainfully employed today.

Slideshow: Harvest Festival 2011

The rain did hold off on Sunday. The crowds did appear in downtown Franklin.

From what I could see, a good time was had by all!

Thanks to the Franklin Downtown Partnership and all its volunteers for making this so successful!

Note: Email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the slideshow photos.

In the News: Harvest Festival, gridiron grit, Donahue

Photos by the Milford Daily News:

Franklin's Harvest Festival

Franklin kid shows gridiron grit

Pumpkin Fest at British Beer Company, Franklin

What: Pumpkin Fest
Where: British Beer Company in Franklin
When: Saturday October 8th
Why: Pumpkin beer tap takeover
What else: Pumpkin cocktails, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin menu specials, pumpkin painting

*Not to be confused with Pumpkin Fest in Pembroke this Saturday October 1st

Pumpkin beer: it just might be the hottest trend in the beverage industry right now. 2011 saw the release of literally dozens of new pumpkin beers enter the market – people are actually hording this stuff! From Imperials to Ales and Porters, pumpkin is the darling of the brewing world this season. So…Pumpkin Fest!  The British Beer Company in Frankin will be hosting the first ever Pumpkin Fest, anchored by a tap takeover featuring seven different pumpkin beer styles. Each of the following brewers will be represented and have put a different twist on this new fall favorite: Harpoon, Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, Smuttynose, Shipyard, Brooklyn and Saranac. 

But there's more to Pumpkin Fest than beer, the BBC will also be offering some very unique pumpkin cocktails, one day only pumpkin menu specials (including pumpkin bisque in baby pumpkins w/ toasted pumpkin bread), hot crispy pumpkin seeds for all and pumpkin painting for the kiddies. If you've got the carving skills, bring in a jack-o-lantern from home and enter a contest with the chance to win a sweet prize.

All this pumpkin goodness will start to flow as soon as the doors open at noon on Saturday October 8th. The festivities will be taking place all day, but these beers are limited so come early to try them all. 12oz and 16oz pours will be available. For those who show up later the band Chyldz Play will be performing at 10pm – never a cover charge at the BBC. 


British Beer Company
280 Franklin Village Drive. Franklin, MA

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Key Video Segments

1 - Did you miss the key section of the School Committee meeting where they announced approval of the teacher contract? The video of the meeting is now available.

You can go directly to this section here:

The discussion on the contract begins about 3 minutes into this segment at the end of the action items. Members of the School Committee did acknowledge that some members of the community and Town Council may not like the terms of the deal.

2 - Did you miss the Town Council meeting where the School Committee got invited to come and explain the teacher contract agreement? The video of the meeting is now available.

You can go directly to this section here:

In the News - Trahan

Meet the Franklin Candidates: Roberta Trahan, School Committee