Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Local and state policy dominate discussions

I'll add additional summary comments to this later but for now here is the collection of posts reported from the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Feb 10.

Quick bites to summarize

  • legislative delegates visited and provided updates on State House actions regarding the budget and unfunded mandates.
  • the draft calendar for 2015-2016 is being redone as the initial version violated the current teacher contract regarding the start date for school. 
  • the policy on the memorials and gifts which was redone by the policy subcommittee and brought forward to the full school committee drew some sharp distinctions. The process of review showed openness but some members are concerned about future implementation issues this policy enables. The policy was moved to second reading by a 4-1 vote. Two members of the School Committee were absent from the meeting.
  • current snow days, 2 are left within the claendar, if we need more than that, the decision to make up on Saturdays and or take from the April vacation is open and no decision has been made at this time.
  • there is a parent meeting on PARCC at Horace Mann Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM

Parmenter Elementary school in the snow Tuesday morning, Feb 10
Parmenter Elementary school in the snow Tuesday morning, Feb 10

Franklin Library: Adult Coffee and Craft - Fri, Feb 13th

The next adult coffee and craft is scheduled for Friday, February 13 at 1:30 PM. Get out from behind the snow to make a fabric covered memo board. Bring your own material or use what is available.

adult coffee and craft - Friday, Feb 13th
adult coffee and craft - Friday, Feb 13th
This was shared from the Library page here

"Towns will be lucky to see the assistance by the end of the fiscal year"

In the category of "nothing ventured, nothing gained" Franklin has joined other MA communities in filing for Federal assistance for dealing with the snow.

Cities and towns across the region are filing for federal assistance to help ease budgetary pains as a wave of consecutive snowstorms now stretches into its third week. 
“Every town in Worcester County and east is applying right now,” said Peter Judge, a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesperson. They're submitting for the initial storm costs, like plowing and extra police staff. Milford and Medway filed for roughly $160,000. Franklin filed for a little more than $350,000. 
The applications were due Tuesday. After MEMA receives a statewide total, they’ll appeal for federal assistance in the next several weeks, said Judge.

Continue reading the article here:

On the Town Council agenda scheduled for Wednesday, the one action item is to authorize expenses in excess of what is budgeted. This is a 'normal' action in years where there is a lot of snow. Without such an authorization, Franklin would be forced to stop plowing and salting (which is not really an option in the middle of winter). 

Franklin will end up balancing the snow and ice budget with funds from 'free cash' which means the captial requirements of the town's departments will take a hit. How much remains to be determined.

sunset through the trees over a pile of snow
sunset through the trees over a pile of snow

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Live reporting: Closing items

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
school wellness award (School Wellness Advisory Council - SWAC) 

more SWAC news
funding for middle school students
to promote healthy options

recognition of the DPW to keep roads cleared and safe
glad to hear Sen Ross's comments on the roads in Franklin

we are in a snowy pattern, yesterday was out 5th snow day
we are looking at possible Saturday's possible April vacation
no decision yet
we have two days left, we do need 180, Fri Jun 26th
Annie Sullivan Jun 29th
will be talking with the FEA about this, we are not alone
I do not know if the DESE will consider any options

Can we have a discussion item in the future? yes.

PARCC parent night 6:30 - 8:30 at HMMS

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports

School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business

To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.
Trivia bee, Apr 8th Wednesday night to support the Franklin Educational Foundation

8. Adjourn

motion to adjourn, seconded, passed 5-0

Live reporting: Action items

4. Action Items

a. I recommend adoption of the 2015-2016 School Calendar as discussed.  (Note the draft calendar can be found here )

b. I recommend approval of the budget transfers as detailed.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

c. I recommend elimination of Policy GCBA – Professional Staff Salary Schedule as discussed.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

d. I recommend moving the following policies to a second reading:
1. KCDA – Memorial Commemorations 
2. KCD-E1 – Non-Budgeted Funds Donation Form 
3. KCD-E2 – Guidelines for Donations of Gifts/Memorials Non-Budgeted Funds to the Franklin Public Schools
motion to move to second reading, seconded, passed 4-1

e. I recommend approval of the request of Anthony Joseph to take Keller 5th graders to Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI on May 1, 2015 as detailed.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

f. I recommend approval of student activities as detailed.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

g. I recommend acceptance of the donation of pottery glaze from EMC (valued at $68.30) for the Empty Bowls program at Oak Street Elementary School.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

h. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,394.00 from the Keller PCC for field trips.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

i. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000.00 from the Davis Thayer PCC for Library books.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

j. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000.00 from the Franklin Music Boosters for Extra Curricular Music.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

k. I recommend acceptance of a check for $305.50 from All American Publishing for the Athletic Department.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

l. I recommend acceptance of a check for $3,725.00 from the Gen Youth Foundation for Remington Middle School.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

m. I recommend approval of the request of Dawn Lacerda to take 5th grade JF Kennedy students to the Marine Biology Center in North Kingstown, RI on March 10, 2015 as detailed.
motion to approve, seconded, passed 5-0

live reporting: Discussion only items

3. Discussion Only Items

Calendar revisions

Winslow - talking to calendar adjustments (need to get new copy of draft)
would need to bring back for the next meeting

Rohrbach - school year ending on Monday? without snow days
Winslow - if we have any snow days, it would go beyond Monday

O'Malley - I would suggest to have the Friday before as off, last fling of the summer
why do we have Election day

Winslow - no students, but it is a professional day and we do need two, so that gets also into the Election day which is the second day for professional day

motion to make the Sep 4th as a no school day, seconded
discussion around the lack of full weeks in Sep

Chandler-  what you have makes sense
vote 1 for, 4 against, motion fails


Policy – Second Reading – For Elimination
o GCBA – Professional Staff Salary Schedule
Policy – First Readings
o KCDA – Memorial Commemorations 
o KCD-E1 – Non-Budgeted Funds Donation Form 
o KCD-E2 – Guidelines for Donations of Gifts/Memorials Non-Budgeted Funds to the Franklin Public Schools
The policy documents can be found here

discussion around the Graci family gift and revisions to the policy

should it say "supplemental supply" rather than supply?

Clement - I was on the policy committee and will be voting against the change. They did work with several good experts on grief. The policy was unanimously approved twice. A total of four people came to the meetings, there may have been online participation but it did not result in seats in the chairs. In making the accomodations according to the experts, we have have gutted the policy. The policy is the same as having no policy by leaving it up to the principals. The first time the principal says no, they will be before us. The school is for the students who are there. 

In the sense of community, the Franklin student representaives talk about what is happening with their sports, their scholarships, etc. what they are doing. As far as the Graci memorial is welcomed at the sculpture park. The girls softball team wears a ribbon in their hair to remember. She was in college at the time she passed. 

We would create an arms race, we are opening up a pandoras box. We need to close this box.

Rohrbach - I think of our committee as open minded, maybe we should look at this again and decide how we shold proceed. I am not sure how I feel about this specifically. i know you have strong feelings about this. i give the committee credit for re-looking at this.

Trahan - We were very open, we did take into consideration the items that the four people brought before us. A policy that we have vetted out with the experts, should be standing for the. I am in conflict with myself. I share your concern that at any other intervention we could be opening the doors again.

O'Malley - I suppose I should say something but perhaps you should say something first.

Mullen - I think the numbers are wrong when there seem to be only the four, these seems to be a Franklin thing. I disagree that we had experts when we had one and I did not always agree with everything which she said. I opened the policy up because it was a process issue, not motivated by fear. I think it is important to listen to what people have to say. I can't say I am going to do something without the support of the rest of the committee. 

O'Malley - first I appreciate the intelligence and thoughtfulness of Trevor's presentation. Roberta spoke it well. To capture grief in a policy is not possible. My leaning here is to the committee as an open committee, not withstanding the heartfelt feelings to the contrary

Live reporting: Middle School blended learning

b. Middle School Blended Learning – MS Principals

Paul Peri, Sean Fortin

halfway through the third year across the three schools

blended learning = online, classroom and combination of the two

The Blended Learning presentation document can be found here

"It is not about technology. It is about teaching and learning."

Google Drive and real time feedback is available

"It is about how are students are learning and how our parents learn about what we do"

Aspen - grades
Virtual Town - websites
BBConnectedEd - 
newsletters, blogs, twitter feeds

teachers teaching teachers how to early in the morning before school

O'Malley - blended is the way to go, technology needs to be the ingredient of
couple of questions, majority of students? how many are in the blended learning?

Principals - Every student in middle school has some exposure to it, some teachers are more adept at it than other; need to make sure the human interaction remains at well

O'Malley - if the teachers are coming in at 6:30, you cant trumpet it enough
how about the parents? how are they doing?

Fortin - we are working on the education piece, we are doing a lot of work for the high school, and that is not meant to be negative. There is a tech learning curve. Where we are struggling with two way communications, we are sending out communications, but getting engagement back, getting involved with what is going on in school is a challenge. 

Peri - need to make it user friendly

O'Malley - what do we need to do here to help this initiative? What else do you need to make this more viable?

Rohrbach - I have experienced my own blended learning at the college level, how long has it been in middle school?

Fortin - 8-10, it is evolutionary, it can enhance education. Some things we do that don't exist anywhere else

Peri - exponential growth, 

Rohrbach - it can evlove in a variety of ways? Is there research?

Fortin - there is, part of my thesis. part of it looks at motivation, motivated by the tech or by the teaching? inside and outside of school. There is lots of research but it is all new. Overwhelming positive. Transforming education which was not possible before

Clement - how far are we from mitigating unproductive snow days?

Peri - on the cusp, there is a live component of that, how much really remains to come

Mullen - how are the teachers dealing with it? yu had a bunch of papers to read, now they are being looked at to provide immediate feedback

Peri - together are navigating those types of things, 

Fortin - it does require an approach, it can not be doing more, it has to be doing better, by the time you are getting it, you are seeing the final peice; it used to be writing for the teacher, now you are writing for the world with a blog post.

Peri - there are paradigm shifts. My grade book when I started was mine, what I did with it was mine alone. Now teachers are posting the grades on line

Failure needs to be part of learning, I heard a new term of a snow plow parent, clearing out the way

O'Malley - as this evolves, maybe there is a concept of office hours. Maybe we don't put the student work out in the big wide world, maybe it is more shielded.

Winslow - where this started several years ago, Sabolinski wanted to see this, Sean has been the guineau pig so to speak, it is fascinating to watch and see how you have grown this

Live reporting: School Committee - Feb 10, 2015

Present: O'Malley, Rohrbach, Clement, Mullen, Trahan, 
Absent: Douglas, Jewell

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments

Review of Agenda
conflict with calendar and FEA contract so it is being removed from the agenda

Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the January 13, 2015 School Committee Meeting.
motion to approve, seconded, pass 5-0

Payment of Bills Mr. Clement
motion to approve, seconded, pass 5-0

Payroll Mrs. Douglas

FHS Student Representatives
input from 860 students, choice of blue or white robes decided by majority
students making best of the parking situation
willing to work with administration and school to keep on going

murmuring about April vacation in jeopardy yet

School calendar being looked at, no decision yet
so much and in short a period of time, it may be discussed soon

Correspondence: Budget to Actual – Miriam Goodman

2. Guests/Presentations
a. Senator Karen Spilka, Senator Richard Ross and Representative Jeffrey Roy

Sen Spilka, thanks for inviting us here
has been a little quiet with all the snow
House in session Weds, Senate in session on Thursday

budget gap being discussed, action this week to let the agencies deal with the cuts and get on with the planning and implementation

Gov Patrick did 198M in Section 9C cuts
had asked for other items to be acted upon; waited for the new Governor to come in before acting

Gov Baker updated to add 1488M in Sec 9C cuts

have protected local and and Chapter 70; don't want to cut local aid now with so little time left in the year

Mass Health benefits being looked to cut, Sen Spilka says they are not going to do that
they want to get the actions approved this week and get on with the next fiscal year budget

The ore you get into the estimates, it is really a best guess estimate
forecasting a growth of 4.8%
income tax could go down again, possible trigger for next year as well

money from operations to fund the stabilization fund is needed
it is down significantly from where it peaked but it helped the State weather the recession

Senator Ross - congratulations to Sen Spilka on Chairing the Ways And Means committee
4.8% is not much to work with, not much new revenue coming down the pike
storms stressing the 'free cash' that could be used

Franklin has done a tremendous job, compared to where he has traveled, it is a pleasure to be moving through Franklin.

Feel free to call us if you have any concerns

Rep Roy - congratulations to Sen Spilka on Chairing the Ways and Means Committee
it is good to be here, it is little odd sitting on this side

the good news I would like to share, MA continues to be #1 in the US for education
MA is not complacent with being #1
Associated Industries of MA (AIM)
number one issue is education, need it to keep pace with what is going on in the world

legislation coming up for Common Core and PARCC
discussion coming, it is important for us to know
53% of MA has chosen to go with PARCC
the DESE will not be making their decision until Nov/Dec
participate in the dialog, share your experiences

appointed a foundation budget review commission
Sen Spilka sits at the commission
can submit written testimony, committee slated to submit report in June

unfunded mandates will be addressed by the Legislation
button = "I don't teach anymore I am too busy complying with mandates"

legislation coming on regulations around student data privacy

manufacturing round table at Tri-County
attempting to reintroduce manufacturing there

coordinate the budget with Spilka and Ross

reference to snow globe gift

ready willing and able to answer any questions you may have

O'Malley - I am proud to have you represent us
I do have a problem with the legislature
mandates - let's go to one for example
the circuit breaker was going to help the budget
yet everyone has been looking at it to cut
it is so important for us to know where funding is coming from

Ross - one thing that tends to get ignored is the special education cost
parents will travel to those towns to get those services
those towns get crippled by the real costs

Spilka - I was the Senator to file the item to fully fund the circuit breaker
I actually re-filed a bill to increase the amount that the state reimburses
we will do the very best we can; even fully funded,it doesn't go as far as it should

I am hoping we can increase it, the recognition that school districts are supporting more of this cost, the Federal government can't get off the hook either; need to ask them to fulfill their obligations

Roy - there is universal support for the circuit breaker; but then there is a budget deficit and how do you find the money among the competing wishes, needs and demands?

We will need to fund the transportation infrastructure, you have seen how it failed us

O'Malley - our group has done well but the State has not done as well
There should have been a clearly chartered educational plan, why are the school committees asked to vote at a late date on PARCC vs. MCAS; 53% have chosen one way and that is not good. Where are we? Can we not come together and head in one directions?

Roy - I think you will see that a lot of folks sitting down to talk about going to common core in 2010, the plan has been a number of years in the making, times have changed, technology has changed, we are looking at improvement. it was the decision of the Education commissioner to let the school committee decide for themselves. The decision will be made in Nov/Dec

Ross - MA was the model upon which others have been basing their plan. It frustrating to see the plan dumbing down what we have done

Roy - in 1994, when standards and frameworks were being introduced, it was called common core. MA got away from the name but it has come back around. We are not competing with kids down the street for jobs we are competing with kids from other countries

O'Malley - when we marched out the gate with PARCC as our banner, we had 48 states and we have 11 now, this is not progress. We can't go forward with the numbers like this.

Spilka - we don't have the final say in that decision, we can share our experiences, we don't know what their thoughts are; we have some control via the budget and these are issues we fight for every day. If there are specific problems that Franklin is having, let us know so we can try to help.

Rohrbach - thank you, we appreciate it. we do appreciate the amount of state aid that we do receive. 2 questions on unfunded mandates.  Those mandates take away from the financial resources that allow us to deliver to our students. On the foundation budget, you are trying to protect that; do you know how it will change?

Ross - it is pleasing to see that the commission has been set up to do the work we need this year. 

Spilka - I don't think the results will be in for the FY 16 budget, there may be pieces that we can build upon. Just because it is not finished doesn;t mean we can't do anything with it, we'll see. I ran for this seat to change the education formula and make it more fair. It is simpler but adequacy is still something to be worked on. We realize we need to invest in our education. This is our natural resource. We do have competing interests, we have higher ed, mental health, seniors, veterans, etc.  If you could give us a list of the issues you have with unfunded mandates

Roy - we had a discussion recently about the bill to sterilize mouth pieces of musical instruments. Any cost is borne by the parent currently, and that was the cost avoided. I am confident that the three of us are going to be leading the charge to manage unfunded mandates

Clement - we have hedged our bets with PARCC and computer based testing, I shouldn't have to use gambling terms to talk about this item. All of the speakers were talking about special education. Some of the costs of IEPs are fully education budget yet some of them are really health issues. The implication is that the real item is the person happens to be of school age.

Roy - that is recognized.

Ross - some of the diagnosis is perhaps a transfer or educational issue; for example language based issues, example of two children identified, one was off the program by 6th grade, one caught earlier was off by 3rd grade. That is what special education needs to do. 351 communities is not the way to design a delivery system of equitable delivery. Not everyone will be happy. 

Clement - tweeking it is fine in theory, a child is in 4th grade once, if they don't pick it up then, we have lost the opportunity. You have said 4.8% growth is not easy to work with, you shoudl try working with 2.5%.

Winslow - thanks for working with us, strong advocates for Best Buddies, 

Spilka- it would make Franklin the first district in the state that would have a program across the educational spans. We are also working with Dean and that would be wonderful to see.

MBTA Update: Boat, Commuter Rail, Subway service resumes Wednesday

All MBTA rail and boat services will remain suspended on Tuesday, Feb 10.

On Wednesday, February 11, MBTA rail service will resume on Commuter Rail, trolley, and subway lines.

Last updated: Feb 10 2015 03:30 PM

Click here for more information:
Sent by the MBTA.

The train platform will be busy on Wednesday as service resumes
The train platform will be busy on Wednesday as service resumes

Reporting by walking around - road conditions by Parmenter School

The walk this morning was short as there are no walkable sidewalks yet. The roads are mostly clear, some down to the blacktop but some also narrower than normal.

Here are several photos from the walk between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM:

Lawrence Dr - snow covered but passable
Lawrence Dr - snow covered but passable

Parmenter School
Parmenter School

spring fever anyone?
spring fever anyone?

Peck St - narrower than normal
Peck St - narrower than normal

King St coming up the hill from Peck St
King St coming up the hill from Peck St

Be safe getting around if you do get out today!

Speakers Forum: Franklin Fire Department - March 11

Franklin Odd Fellows
Franklin Odd Fellows

Our 5th in a series of public talks 
at the Franklin Library, we present to you:

Franklin Fire Dept
Franklin Fire Dept

Fire Chief, Gary McCarraher and Firefighter Paramedic, Keith Darling

Wednesday, March 11, 2015. 7:00 pm

Franklin Public Library, Community Room (Downstairs)

1. Chief McCarraher will give an introduction to Franklin Fire and an Overview of the Department history 
2. FF Darling will give statistics on the “Calls for Service” 
3. FF Darling will go over Staffing 
4. FF Darling will review our Operations Section – Fire, EMS, Hospital Point of Entry and “All Hazards” Response 
5. FF Darling will review our Fire Prevention and Arson Investigation Sections 
6. FF Darling will review our SAFE Program. Keith is our Student Awareness of Fire Education Coordinator as well as our Senior Citizen Student Awareness of Fire Education Coordinator. Keith will also discuss the Department’s Home Visit Program 
7. A Power Point Presentation will be given during the talk

For more about the Franklin Odd Fellows visit their webpage

Update: Small Business Marketing Co-Op meeting rescheduled to Feb 18th

Updated 2/9/15

A message from Tracie Turinese, co-owner of The Cake Bar in downtown Franklin:

Forming a Franklin small business marketing Co-Op was agreed to in yesterday's Franklin Downtown Partnership meeting, and many folks indicated they would participate in a brainstorming working session next week on TUESDAY, February 10th from 7:00PM to 8:30PM at The Cake Bar. 
Rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb 18th from 7:00 to 8:30 PM 
For those members that are interested in attending, we'd welcome as many attendees as we can get! 
I've attached a flyer that you can feel free to circulate to anybody and everybody that may be interested. The more the merrier!

print out and share this flyer to spread the word
print out and share this flyer to spread the word

This was shared from the Franklin Downtown Partnership page

"what makes MSSNG more impressive ... absolutely massive scale"

From Pantherbook, we find this article on the MSSNG project share worthy:
In the past few weeks, Autism Speaks has launched a massive, new campaign in order to raise awareness of and study the genomic information behind Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Called the MSSNG Project, it is already catching the attention of large-scale communications organizations such as Fox Business and Bloomberg TV. 
According to the project’s website, “Autism Speaks is collaborating with Google to store sequenced data from MSSNG on the Google Cloud Platform, providing an open resource for scientists worldwide to access and share autism research.” (
Continue reading the article at pantherbook:

screen grab of pantherbook webpage
screen grab of pantherbook webpage

Franklin Public Schools: Two Hour Delay to the opening of schools today


Good Morning, 
Due to cold and icy conditions there will be a two hour delay for all schools on Tuesday February 10th.  
There will be no morning Pre-School.   
Central Office and School Offices will open at the regular time.  
The DPW and Facilities have worked tirelessly to ensure that roads and school parking lots are cleared and sanded.   
Remember that emergency busing will be available for walkers.  I urge all drivers to take it slowly and be vigilant. 
Stay safe!

This e-mail has been sent to you by FRANKLIN PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. 

schools will open today (2/10/15) on a 2 hour delay
schools will open today (2/10/15) on a 2 hour delay

Monday, February 9, 2015

Franklin Public Schools: Update - there is school Tuesday, Feb 10th


Dear Franklin Families and School Staff,
After consulting with the DPW and Facilities Department I anticipate that schools will be open and in session as scheduled on Tuesday February 10th.  
Roads and parking lots have been plowed and treated and are in as good shape as can be expected given the record-breaking snowfall we have experienced in the past couple of weeks. 
Should anything change with this crazy New England weather that requires a cancellation or a delay, I will send something out by 5:00 AM tomorrow morning.
We will continue to make emergency transportation available for students who typically walk to school.  Please contact your child's school to discuss your child's arrival/dismissal plan.  
Please remember that we need to obtain written permission from a parent or guardian in order to let children ride the bus who ordinarily do not do so. As sidewalks are not plowed, this service will be in place for the remainder of the week.
As always, parents are in the best position to make decisions about how your child will get to school.  With this unprecedented additional snow piled onto the already existing snow, the snow banks are quite high and roads are slippery so please take extra precautions.  
For FHS students who may be driving to school, please allow extra time as roads are narrow and speed should be reduced.  Please be vigilant for pedestrians and other cars.  Parking at the high school continues to be limited based on the amount of snow, and carpooling is recommended. 
Many thanks to the DPW and Facilities staff and administration who continue to work tirelessly to maintain our roads and school campuses to ensure the safety of the Franklin community.
Thank you for your continued patience and support during this unprecedented winter.
Sally Winslow
This e-mail has been sent to you by FRANKLIN PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. 

the buses will roll on Tuesday, Feb 10th
the buses will roll on Tuesday, Feb 10th