Friday, December 18, 2020

Franklin Garden Club: Virtual Gift Basket Sale through December 19

The Franklin Garden Club is holding a virtual gift basket auction from December 17 -  December 19 through its Facebook and Instagram sites where there are full descriptions of each basket.  

The gift basket themes include: projects for quilters;  food and other goodies to enjoy around a campfire; holiday ornaments, candles and candy; kitchen accessories;  women’s accessories; and creative nature projects for children. They may be purchased through the garden club Facebook page and Instagram account.  

The Facebook page is called Franklin Garden Club – Massachusetts @franklinmagardenclub  (or direct link = 

The Garden Club Instagram handle is @franklingardenclubma  (or direct link =

Online payment options will be available. 


Franklin Garden Club:   Virtual Gift Basket Sale through December 19
Franklin Garden Club:   Virtual Gift Basket Sale through December 19

Finance Committee - Recap of Dec 15, 2020 meeting

Quick Recap:
  • The promised 'deep dive' into the school budget almost happened. "almost" in that if one viewing the meeting had fully read all the pre-released documents, they could sorta follow the questions and answers. Unfortunately, a key question answer was interrupted. I think (yes, my observation) the Central Office (Sara and Miriam) missed a couple of opportunities to make a better case for the budget details and what the district has done.
  • That said - the new monthly format for the FinCom meetings is a work in process and holds great promise. As an adjunct for the Town Council, the opportunity for detailed discussions on particular departments has only really occurred in these meetings. The Council used to get full presentations from each department as part of the budget hearings before more recently switching to their shorted 'hold' and question process.
  • The transfer from the water enterprise 'emergency fund' to make the payment for the water treatment plant was authorized. This was the payment that ended up mis-directed as part of the spear phishing incident.
  • Preliminary discussion on topics for the next few meetings and a review of the current stabilization fund balances was covered before the meeting closed.
Photos captured during the meeting and shared via Twitter can be found in one folder:
As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #fincom1215

Meeting agenda and related files

Meeting opens, prior minutes approved
  • #fincom1215 begins with roll call for quorum (2 missing - to be checked later) (actually only ONE member missing - vote was 8-0 officially)
  • #fincom1215 vote on minutes for prior meeting approved via roll call vote 7-0-2 (7 for, 0 no, 2 absent)
School budget
  • Getting right into the school updates; in and out of district students approx 80 students for special ed needs handled out of district (excludes transportation) #fincom1215 the q on 450+ students coming in, answer not really. Those Franklin students in schools other than FPS
  • Q no contract negotiations currently with teachers, in middle of 2 year deal. What are steps and lanes as described in contract. Compensation grid termed as steps and lanes; steps equal to years, avg 4-4.5% per step; lanes are compensation for additional degrees #fincom1215
  • Not a uniform amount across the lanes, also varies by step. Bachelor step 6 is max until they get a degree, and then move over a lane #fincom1215 there is some compensation for tuition reimbursement, doesn't cover entire degree cost
  • Q fire and police have benefited from redoing portions of the structure. Schools have a collaborative process with items on table and bargaining with a common interest. #fincom1215 principals not in union, pay scale separate, individual contracts, considerations are factors
  • Do benchmark and comparison for principals to ensure some level of equity. #fincom1215 asst principal in most buildings. Q on unfunded mandates. Estimate on what they are and how much they cost us. Had some assumptions to try and quantify - not complete, an attempt
  • Challenge to put a total dollar on all of it, doc currently have over $4M. 504 may have a physical accommodation, hard to define how much in those cases. MCAS has an admin cost, teacher salaries for rest admin, curriculum to support the testing, the tech to support #fincom1215
  • Q on revolving accounts, assumptions is that they run to zero? No, policy of Committee is to keep a year's worth in the fund. All are fee based accounts. We'll use what we need and apply the remainder for the next year. #fincom1215 balances are set aside for use when invoices
  • For the costs incurred during the year, catch up occurs mostly during the end of the year. FinCom member thinks it is unfair, Central Office did not fully address the issue. #fincom1215 next Q getting to student teacher ratio. At what point would an increase affect education
  • Info provided doesn't properly address the real question. I.e. special programs in house to save on sped costs; most elem classes 17-18-20 and a couple of deviations; process of counting teacher staff per DESE complicates issue #fincom1215
  • Accreditation report recommended adding staff at FHS to address class size; middle school teaching model (i.e. team approach) has benefit but class size can disrupt that. #fincom1215 demographics forecast provides good info 'Sister Anna Catherine's ruler helped'
  • 16-17% special ed in district is about average. The elephant in the room is the Davis Thayer study. Neighborhood school, I understand the concept. What would the effect on the budget be if we pulled the plug on those three schools? #fincom1215
  • "I am not saying there is a request to do so". What would be the effect? It has to be looked at. There is some end to that rise (1200 to 1700/quarter) How long can it be out off? We have a police station in a swamp that we need to address, etc... #fincom1215
  • Chair interjects before central office gets to answer the question. #fincom1215 request to do a better job to address the unfunded mandates, this is the hand your dealt and we're doing the best
  • Q what is the big pain point as you go through this year? It is in my memo but thinking off the cuff here funding post COVID for pandemic related items, could be hitting a funding cliff soon. CDC says $442/person to open in person. Another $2m #fincom1215 I think about
  • All the other things SEL, reliance on tech, more tech support, it goes on... That is a big weight to make sure we have enough for the kids. #fincom1215 Q on the medical services reimbursed thru to the general fund of the Town
  • Discussion on reimbursement, where included, did include Chris Sandini to get answer to help with the various budget items #fincom1215. Q - thanks for coming, we haven't had this opportunity. Midyear review, $2.3m in items are not yet encumbered due to salary set
  • Insurance, mostly health insurance. Best guess it will be likely level, encumbrance might be high at one point and there are offsets from other places to be assumed so it adjust over time #fincom1215 plan switches, and time in calendar year
  • Out of district tuition, don't have the expenses 2 add to the reporting, timing. Revolving account, going back 2. Did dip into some of the revolving funds 2 provide balance to budget. Lifelong learning is a concern, usually self sustaining but given shutdown, no rev #fincom1215
  • Don't anticipate using additional revolving funds to balance. #fincom1215 the # of teachers has been declining but it is hard to find the accounting of that over time. There are steps taken to control what can be controlled. The schools have been effective.
  • Level service budget would be about $3.5m, a level funded budget would be a reduction in services. #fincom1215 the medical billing is common among districts, some have walked away from it, we try to provide the services the students need.
Water treatment plant transfer
  • That closes out the school portion. Moving on to the water treatment plant transfer, dovetails off the cyber attack/spear phishing incident. #fincom1215 can lose track of the pump station construction completion. 40% of the funds recovered, will use emergency balance
  • The transaction authorization of the emergency funds, if additional are recovered, they will replace the emergency fund (not a slush fund by any means) #fincom1215 vendor has not charged any interest on missing payment (misdirected payment)
  • How did the emergency fund get to the $1m balance? Fund developed through surplus revenue, additional revenue over what was forecast. #fincom1215 the liability policy did yield $100k. Can not believe auditor missed that transaction, in other areas, that transfer is double
  • Authorization. I like how it was handled. I agree how it was handled. I stayed up late watching that. I want my boss to support me like that. The Town was a victim and she was too. The room went silent. I hope people understand she is as good as you get #fincom1215
  • Motion made, seconded, passes via roll call, 8-0-1 (nicole absent, no zero) #fincom1215 Update on trust fund and stabilization funds. Last page of packet as of Sept 30. General stabilization is "dust bowl" account, keeps our low interest rate and rating
Stabilization account updates
  • #fincom1215 OPEB trust fund at $7m, liability is $64m, we are still in too ten Communities for ability to pay off that liability. Free cash, $2.73m will go quick. Discussion on use of stab funds for fire trucks, fields; used when fund built
  • 10 years is a good policy but it is also true that you can get a couple of years out of them, CPA maybe another revenue source. #fincom1215 will open space fund get combined with CPA funds? Has to stay separate. Some earmarked for a project
  • It can co-mingle but can not be combined. #fincom1215 approval of meeting schedule for 2021. Motion to approve, second, passes 8-0-1 via roll call (1 absent) Storm water could be a good topic, will affect the operating budget FY 2021 is done, FY 2022 consensus hearing today
  • When the Governor puts house 1 out in January, it sets the table for discussion. #fincom1215 looking good now, hoping to hang in there to get to the spring. Likely a guess by Jamie in the Feb meeting. Revenue and budget stabilization topics for Feb.
  • #fincom1215 MECC and safety for March. Motion to adjourn, second, passes 8-0-1 via roll call. That's all for tonight, catch you all next time


Panther News, December 18, 2020 (video)

Panther News, December 18, 2020
Direct video link =

Memory Cafe virtually at the Shrewsbury Public Library - Friday Dec. 18 at 2 PM

Shrewsbury Public Library is inviting you to a virtual memory cafe concert on Friday Dec. 18 at 2 PM.  

Please email for the link to attend.

virtual memory cafe concert
virtual memory cafe concert

Franklin moves to COVID-19 "red" status

From CommonWealth Magazine 

"MORE THAN HALF of the state’s 351 cities and towns are now considered high risk for COVID-19, as the situation continues to deteriorate across Massachusetts.

The state’s weekly report indicates 187 communities, up from 158 last week, are high-risk because they have more than 10 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks and a positive test rate (positive tests divided by total tests) of 4 or 5 percent depending on the size of the municipality.

Those thresholds, revised in early November to make it harder to be designated high-risk, are being overwhelmed. Of the 187 high-risk communities, 17 have more than 100 cases per 100,000 people – 10 times the state’s threshold."

Continue reading the article online
The DPH  report
This is a warning status. If we are in 'red' for three weeks, then the restrictions according to our level would roll back a step.

CommonWealth Magazine: "Ruling permits citizen recordings of police"

"While Beacon Hill legislators haven’t moved yet to address Gov. Charlie Baker’s amendments to policing reform legislation, other efforts to improve law enforcement accountability are moving forward locally and in the courts this week.

Earlier this week, the First Circuit Court of Appeals said people can’t be prosecuted under the state’s 1968 wiretapping statute for secretly recording police in a ruling that upheld part of a lower court order that countermanded a statewide ban on such recordings.

The court heard arguments back in January about whether private citizens can audio and video record police in public spaces."

Consumer Alerts: Santa doesn’t need your Social Security number

Consumer Alerts from the Federal Trade Commission

by Jim Kreidler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

This year, during the pandemic, your holidays might be moving a bit online. On the 10th day of Consumer Protection, maybe you're planning to send e-cards to family and friends.


This is a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

Town Council approves creation of Community Preservation Committee

It's official! 
The Franklin Town Council unanimously passed the by-law to create the 9-member Community Preservation Committee (CPC) on Wednesday, Dec 16!

Town Administrator Jamie Hellen said last night he expects to announce applications for the four at-large seats will be available in January. The 5 boards which have standing representatives will also begin work to consider which of each committee's current members wishes to serve on the initial CPC. 

If you are considering applying for either an at-large seat or a board rep seat, please know that training will be available through the Town and our friends at the state coalition!

Two of the initial at-large seats will have one year terms, and two will have two year terms to stagger the terms. 
Applications will be reviewed by the Town Administrator and final appointments will be made by the Town Council. 
Town Council approves creation of Community Preservation Committee
Town Council approves creation of Community Preservation Committee

Library of Congress: Completes Digitization of 23 Early Presidential Collections

Library of Congress Completes Digitization of 23 Early Presidential Collections

Portraits of George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt

The Library of Congress has completed a more than two decade-long initiative to digitize the papers of nearly two dozen early presidents. The Library holds the papers of 23 presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge, all of which have been digitized and are now available online (

Click here for more information (

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Franklin Residents: Winter Storm Update

Winter Storm Update
Hello Franklin,
Please make note of the following alerts and information: 
  • A full parking ban is in effect until noon today
  • No Trash/Recycling Collection today, Thursday, Dec 17th. Trash/Recycling will be delayed by one day for 12/17 and 12/18 pick-ups only.
  • The Municipal Building and all town buildings (Recreation, Museum, Senior Center, Library, and DPW Administration) will remain closed today, Thursday, December 17th. All staff will be working remotely today and are available via email and phone during regular business hours. Please do not hesitate to reach out! 
  • Town offices and buildings will reopen tomorrow, Friday, Dec 18th at 8:00 for normal business hours. 
  • Based on this morning's report from the state MEMA office and Governor Baker's directives, it's in the best interest of the community to stay off the roads and allow our incredible local DPW workers and state highway officials the chance to clear snow from all roads, sidewalks and parking lots. 
  • Visit our website for information and links.
Stay safe! 

Town of Franklin | 355 East Central Street, Franklin, MA 02038
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FM #415 Franklin Senior Center Nurse P-Collatos - 12/09/20 (audio)

FM #415 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 415 in the series.
This session of the radio show shares my conversation with Patricia (Trish) Collatos, the nurse at the Franklin Senior Center. The conversation was conducted via conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

The recording runs almost about 23 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Trish. Audio link = 

The Town of Franklin Senior Center page

Senior Center updates during this pandemic
Prior sessions with Trish
We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit

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

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

FM #415 Franklin Senior Center Nurse P-Collatos - 12/09/20 (audio)
FM #415 Franklin Senior Center Nurse P-Collatos - 12/09/20 (audio)

MMA: "New video highlights link between taxes and essential services"

From the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA)

"The leaders of Lawrence and Arlington share their views on the property tax and local services in a new video from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that highlights the connection between taxes and the ability of communities to control their own destinies.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera and Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine are interviewed in the nine-minute video, “Property Tax 101: Why the Property Tax,” which explains the importance of the property tax and the value of local government.

“I think about local government as the most important form of government,” Rivera says in the video. “It’s the closest to people. Let me tell you something: if one mayor falls down on the job, if one city council falls down on the job, you feel it immediately. And so local government and the way we fund local government is very, very important.”
Continue reading the article online
Visit the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy online

Direct link to video "Property Tax 101: Why the Property Tax" on YouTube =>

FPS Digital Learning: "Maintaining Connections during Hybrid and Remote Learning"

The FPS Digital Learning Integrationists have a new web page to help share information on what they do to support the teachers and students in the classroom environment with technology.

"In a typical school year, 8th grade ELA teacher Lauren Berolini can be found meeting one-on-one with students for writers' conferences. Ms. Berolini uses this format to provide specific, authentic feedback in a private and personal setting and values the opportunity it provides to make personal connections with students. 

In an effort to maintain these personal connections as students develop their writing skills in this hybrid and remote setting, Ms. Berolini requested help from the Digital Learning Integrationists to identify digital tools for providing feedback to students. Together they explored Mote, a google extension that enables voice note feedback within Google Classroom, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides."

Continue reading the article

Direct video link = 

FHS Boys Basketball helping Franklin Police Dept with toy drive, and you can too!

The Franklin Boys Basketball team will be collecting unwrapped toys to for the Franklin Police Department Toy Drive. If you'd like to donate, you can drive up to the FHS gym entrance on Sat, Dec 19th, from 11:30-12:00, & the players can retrieve the toy(s) from your vehicle.
FHS Boys Basketball helping Franklin Police Dept with toy drive, and you can too!
FHS Boys Basketball helping Franklin Police Dept with toy drive, and you can too!


St. Mary's Women's Faith Formation - Jan 2, 2021

The St. Mary's Women's Faith Formation Group invites all interested women to attend our monthly Zoom meeting, held the first Saturday of each month. The next meeting will take place on January 2nd from 9:30-10:15 AM. 

We will be viewing a short video by Bishop Barron concerning New Year's ResolutionsThere will be time at the end of the program for attendees to share your thoughts and ideas. 

If you are interested in attending, please email Deacon Guy ( to receive the link to the Zoom meeting.

St. Mary's Women's Faith Formation - Jan 2, 2021
St. Mary's Women's Faith Formation - Jan 2, 2021