Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thriller Dance

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Lifelong Learning by Pandora Carlucci on 10/21/11

Thursday, October 27, is the night of the second annual Thriller Dance Workshop. Held at Franklin High School and taught by Denise Weaver, this iconic dance is certain to be fun. Register online at select lifelong select adult education and finally select Dance. Come and be part of the fun!!

Things you can do from here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

A "free cash" battle?

Ed Cafasso wrote a letter to the editor that was titled "Free cash is Franklin's best-kept secret" and opened with:
It's time for Franklin to become more transparent with its taxpayers about the annual financial windfall inappropriately known as "free cash." 
Free cash is the extra money left over after the city balances its budget every June 30. It's revenue that Franklin collected from taxpayers but didn't spend. The free cash amount for the fiscal year that just ended is rumored to be nearly $3 million, although whether the official figure will be disclosed and discussed before the Nov. 8 municipal election remains to be seen.

Read the full letter here:

The Town Council has responded with their letter titled "'Bewildered' by free cash concern in Franklin"
We are somewhat bewildered by Ed Cafasso's recent Letter to the Editor (Oct. 14) titled "Free cash: Franklin's best-kept secret." Let's start with the title of his letter and the use of the word "secret." Franklin's free cash policy is anything but secret. Anyone can go to, enter "free cash" in the search string and be delivered a trove of information about Franklin's free cash, including the policy itself, historical amounts, etc. Further, each and every Finance Committee meeting cites the current amount of free cash as part of its publicly posted agenda.
Read the rest of the Council's letter here:

Each of the past two years as part of the tax rate hearing, I have published my analysis of "free cash". You can view the slides and hear the audio from Dec 2010 here:

and from Dec 2009 here

I add my two cents on this matter over here:

In the News - Bissanti, couple reunites, workshops, cabaret

Meet the Franklin candidate: Andrew Bissanti, Town Council

Franklin couple reunites, makes good on childhood 'engagement'

SEPAC slates Halloween party, workshops

Dean to present dance cabaret

Jen Bal Fun Runs set

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 10/20/11

Random Smile Project will host the Jen Bal 5K and Mount Street Madness 5 Miler Halloween "Fun Runs" on Sunday Oct. 30,  at 10 a.m., at ElemenTree House, 838 Upper Union St.

Things you can do from here:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Insight on how Google brings you here

A good number of folks type "Franklin Matters" in Google (and other search engines) and end up coming here.

A screen shot of what I saw with "Franklin Matters" in Google today:

How does Google do this? Google engineer Matt Cutts explains in this brief video.

You can also use Google search to focus within Franklin Matters by using the search box on the top right corner of the this page.

I'll continue to create good content on what matters to me and you about Franklin so you can find what you need here.

PS - My thanks to Geoffrey Zub for giving Franklin Matters a Google+

PPS - Try typing in "school business administrator interview questions" and you also will likely end up on Franklin Matters. That was posted on March 12, 2008 and has been the #1 search term to bring folks here since. Folks from all around the English speaking world arrive here looking for those results. The interview questions were used by the School Committee when they did the interview process that resulted in bringing on Miriam Goodman to the Finance Director position.

In the News - Kelly, fun run, pantry donations, Metacomet, concert, Nutcracker

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Matt Kelly, Town Council

Franklin smile project hosting Fun Runs

Franklin Interfaith Council helping with pantry donations

Metacomet Land Trust slates meeting, presentation on bats

Franklin Houseconcerts show set

Box office open for Patti Eisenhauer Dance Center’s ‘Nutcracker’

Road Closure: Partridge St

An email alert arrived to confirm that the culvert on Partridge St is being repaired as planned.

Road Closure Alert ..... Partridge St, between Dover and Harborwood, will be closed to through traffic for construction from Monday October 24 through Thursday November 10.

The Town Council had voted approval of the funds to do the work at their meeting on October 5th. Notes from that part of the meeting were reported live and can be found here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Escape the Cold! Free Community Indoor Walking Program

For the second year, Franklin High School will open its doors to adult walkers in the community who wish to escape the impending cold and slippery sidewalks. Walkers will be able to accumulate mileage despite inclement weather or dark sidewalks.

The Community Walking Partners program is offered through Lifelong Learning and begins on Monday, November 7, 2011 and ends on Wednesday, April, 11, 2012. The program is free. 
Walking will be available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM, except when school is closed for holidays or snow events. 
For safety reasons, no bikes, skates, skateboards are allowed in the school. 
Interested walkers should enter the Franklin High School through the H-wing door and stop at the Lifelong Learning/Adult Education office, sign in, and receive a lanyard, which will identify the walker to school personnel. 
For more information, please contact the Franklin Adult Education office at 508-541-2100 x 3178 or email

Via the Life Long Learning Program. For additional offerings check out their schedule and register at the Life Long Learning website

In the News - Vallee, bottle drive, bake sale, Tri-County services

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Robert Vallee

Franklin wrestling boosters to hold bottle drive Oct. 29

St. Mary's Women's Club having harvest bake sale

Tri-County students offer services to the public

Franklin drummer to judge drum competition

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FHS Cabaret!!

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Pantherbook on 10/17/11

Get ready folks for a spectacular performance of song, dance, and most importantly, humor by our very own Franklin High students! Cabaret will be 7pm-9pm on both Tuesday the 18th and Thursday the 20th. Tickets will be $5 for students and $10 for adults. What is cabaret all about? Well there's going to be ridiculously fun [...]

Things you can do from here:

"It's not a philosophical difference. It's a funding issue"

The Milford Daily News article on Monday night's Joint Budget Subcommittee meeting reveals:

"I allocated the budget based on that answer," Powderly said. "If that answer was incorrect, I believe that if the chair of the School Committee is present for the question, he has the responsibility to fix the misperception." 
Roy, the chairman, said discussion about potential teacher raises began in January and that he had a presentation, with slides, prepared for the Town Council at that meeting in June, had they asked him that question. 
"I did not hear that question. No one on the School Committee answered that question," said Roy, who quoted the minutes and video of that meeting in saying he did not think the discussion was about the school budget. "No one asked a single question of anyone on the School Committee." 
Roy defended the raises, saying they were swapped for a promise from the union to negotiate without pre-conceived demands in the next contract, and to work on changing the salary table, which drives automatic teacher raises that he said the town can no longer afford.

Read more:

My live reporting from this meeting is summarized here and here

Monday, October 17, 2011

What will happen Oct 26th remains unknown

The short version of the Joint Budget Subcommittee meeting held on Monday, Oct 17 (yes, even shorter than what I just published) I'll summarize as

  • both sides shared info
  • both sides learned of stuff they had not known before
  • both sides remain apart, agreeing to disagree
  • both sides have some passion about this topic (the shorter version I already published is sufficient for the "he said/she said" type recap, there is no value add in continuing this)

No one side can win this argument. The sad part is that there is a whole lot of good work on both sides that is now being put aside to make room for this discussion.

Bringing both sides back together to have a regular, civil, and detailed conversation is a must.

Two key points of the meeting:

  • The Town Council approved a budget in June that they did not know contained money for an increase to cover the teachers contract
  • The School Committee at the time of the budget did not have an agreement with the teachers and did not feel likely to have one but did have money in the budget to cover their 'known and anticipated' increases

Several events occurred since June to resolve the teacher contract while little or no communication was formally made between the Town Council and School Committee on this topic. All of which lead to the events of the contract announcement and the Council uproar... and leaves us where we are. Frustrated!

What will happen Oct 26th remains unknown.

Back story: The next Town Council meeting is Oct 26th. In case you missed it, the Town Council has re-opened the Fiscal Year 2012 budget in order to get the School Committee back to the table to talk since they did not show up to the prior Council meeting. At the close of this meeting (Oct 17th) the School Committee did say they would participate in the Oct 26th meeting.

Live reporting - Joint Budget Subcommittee - 10/17/11

Present: S Whalen, J Roy, J Nutting, P Mullen, S Rohrbach, S Gagne, M Goodman, S Winslow, M Sabolinski, C Creedon, E Cafasso, T Powderly, S Mason, J Roche, P McIntyre, A McCall (Milford Daily News)

Absent: (Not completely clear who are the members and who are the other participants)

Scott Mason announced that the meeting is being recorded by the Franklin Matters website.

Jeff Roy opens with a goal to explain what the School Committee has done, folks here to answer questions in detail. To find out what is scheduled for the upcoming budget hearing.

Discussion on the unfair labor practice charge filed on Oct 9, 2009. The charge stemmed from the change made to the high school schedule without the teacher union participation in the agreement. Started negotiations Oct 14, 2009. Grievance filed, budget workshop held. In middle of negotiations with teachers union, full team effort. First time an attorney was used to conduct the negotiations. All conversations were conducted by and through counsel at the table.

Discussion on the most difficult and costly part of the school budget is the contract steps and lanes. 13 rows (years) down one side of the table and several lanes across from Bachelor degree up to Doctoral degree. The table itself is pretty universal across school districts. Until a couple of years ago, the tables were not published. DESE has posted them on line. It is an occasion to review the salary structure. The School Committee posed a table change with 8 levels and bonus criteria in Sep 2010. Negotiations continued and litigation continued. We were not getting anywhere. We were on a path that was not good for the district.

Discussion on negotiation tactics, what could be said, what was legally bound to be 'quiet'. The unfair labor practice was dropped due to the schedule being changed. Settled May 16th. Budget hearing on Feb 11, 2011. Budget hearing to FinCom on May 9, 2011. Jan 18, 2011 started discussion with teachers on increases. The SchCom was cognizant of the folks feeling uneasy about an increase. There was a number of iterations along the way and neither side could come to terms. On Jun 6, 2011 within a quarter of a percent but no movement on either side.

Discussion on the impact of the Jun 16 announcement on fire fighters getting their 7.5% increase to the negotiation status. The fire fighters matched what had already been done for the three prior years. Actually, it was less than others got for the time period. School Committee would have appreciated notice before the announcement. Communication among the boards recognized as room for improvement.

Discussion on the Budget hearing question about whether the increase was in the budget or not. Slides were prepared answering those very questions. Questions were not asked of the SchCom.

Jeff Roy: The fact of getting passed the unfair labor practice, getting the agreement on negotiations around the schedule should get some notice. These are historic. The next deal will be arrived at with interested based bargaining.

Q - If the 1% increase is not a COLA what is it?

Jeff Roy - It is an increase. It is recognition that will less teachers and more students, still performing at a high performance level. It is called "in good faith".

Steve Whalen - One of the themes for interest based bargaining is that there is interest in both sides. While I respect your decision, I can still disagree with it. I don't see how giving the increase for nothing other than an intent to bargain is in the interests of both sides.

Jeff Roy - It was the right thing to do at the right time.

Tina Powderly - To hear these things laid out was good. The policy is in your purview. No question about it. We still have a funding problem. The horse has left the barn and I don't really have a good answer.

Discussion around again on the Town Council budget hearing. Premise on what was being passed from SchCom to Town Council (which wasn't). Clarification about the question on COLA's was answered incorrectly by the Town Administrator and let be answered incorrectly by the SchCom. The School Committee is not coming back to the Budget or the Town Council looking for an increase in funding to cover the contract increase as the money was in the budget that was approved.

The Town Council had a policy and it was acknowledged by the School Committee as a disagreement.

Jim Roche - I'll have to take some blame for the budget. Budget vs. actual should be in the budget book.

Jeff Roy - our packet before each meeting is sent out to those who ask for it. The Milford Daily News gets a copy Franklin Matters gets a copy (and for the record, the packet has not been delivered for several months).

Cafasso - If there is an intent to cut the SchCom budget on Oct 26th, let's it get on the table.

Discussion goes around again. The process has been triggered. There are no 2 councilors who agree on what to do about this, so there is no decision on what will be done.

Jim Roche - questions on special revenue and how the money is used. What are the fund balances? What should be in there?

Jeff Roy - fund balances are part of the packet. The funds are out there and available anytime you want to know. It has taken me seven or eight years to understand the end of year report and I won't profess to be an expert on it.

Jim Roche - Clarification is what is looked for. There are many moving parts. It is a pretty confusing budget.

Jeff Nutting - it is part of every budget in the Commonwealth, it is not something everyone sees or votes on.

Jeff Roy - the reporting requirements are incredible. Getting Miriam Goodman on board has helped tremendously.

Jim Roche - I remember one year where there was one line item for the School budget and I voted 'no' on it cause I couldn't tell what was in it. Things have improved a great deal. We need questions to be raised and answered easily.

Scott Mason - I have asked each councilor to consider the issue and what questions they would have. I will not be getting their input collectively as it would violate open meeting law before the meeting.

Jeff Roy - What would you like to prepare for the meeting? would you like a presentation? SchCom members to answer questions?

Scott Mason - Yes, all of the above. The concern of the Council is "how the increase is going to be funded on a go forward basis?"

No other questions so the meeting has ended.

Weekly summary

There is a weekly summary available. If you want to stay up with the news in one weekly dose, instead of the daily dose, you have this option.

You can visit Franklin Matters Weekly and subscribe via email or RSS feed.

The summary for the past week is found here

In the News - Brunelli, hair salon, NCLB, local aid

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Philip Brunelli, Board of Health

Educators welcome No Child Left Behind reform plan

While no one from Franklin was mentioned in the No Child Left Behind article, we do find the following in an article on the increase in local aid coming from the Commonwealth that was just announced:

Franklin Town Council Vice Chairman Stephen Whalen said snow removal could be a good use for the money. Whalen cautioned that it should not be used for operating expenses or to pay salaries. 
"I kind of cringe when we get unexpected sources of funding from the state or any other entity," Whalen said. "I think it fuels the belief among some voters that whenever there's a shortfall in the operating budget, money will be quote-unquote found. It's very difficult to predict when the Legislature may throw a bone like this to the town."

 Read more: