Friday, October 8, 2021

Recap: Town Council hears about school budget and issues; approves Housing Production Plan

Quick Recap:

  • Superintendent Sarah Ahern and Business Manager Miriam Goodman presented an overview of the school's budget and answered questions to help clarify the issues around the school department.
  • The Housing Production Plan was approved by an 8-0 vote. The plan will be sent to the State for their review and acceptance. The work to make the objectives and recommendations happen (per the plan) remains to be done and will take time.
  • Four appointments were approved, all but one with a unanimous vote.
  • Town Administrator Jamie Hellen announced the receipt of a $2.2M grant from MassWorks for enhancements to the Washington and Grove Sts intersection including traffic control, bike lane, etc.


As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting live via from the Council Chambers.


The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #tc1006 

Town Council agenda: 


Photos captured during the meeting and shared via Twitter can be found in one album

  • Getting ready to live tweet from the Council Chambers with meeting beginning at 7 PM. Agenda and connection info ->   #tc1006
  • All eight councilors present tonight (easy to tell when in the room where it happens!) #tc1006 some times it takes a while via Zoom to figure who's there or not
  • Citizen comment touting fund raising effort this weekend #tc1006 14 mile walk this Sunday see photo for details
  • Citizen comment on new development coming to Washington and Taft St area - set for ConComm and Planning Board hearings #tc1006
  • APPROVAL OF MINUTES a. September 1, 2021  b. September 15, 2021 two separate motions to approve, seconded, and both passed 8-0 votes #tc1006
  • Cultural Council's Kaye Kelly recognized for work on the recent Cultural Festival, proclamation read/presented by Cobi Frongillo #tc1006
  • Theme of 'Community Unity' was received well at this time especially; one vendor said their profits were akin to that from Cape Cod venues (a good comparison). #tc1006
  • "How lucky we are that arts are so well supported here in Franklin" heard regularly from other Cultural contacts by K Kelly #tc1006
  • appointment of Susan Younis - Municipal Affordable Housing Trust - motion to ratify, second, passes 8-0  #tc1006
  • appointment of Candice Narsasian - Cultural District Committee - motion to ratify, seconded, passes 8-0  #tc1006
  • Appointment of Anne Bergen - Franklin TV Board of Directors - motion to ratify, second, passes 8-0  #tc1006
  • appointment - Ken Norman - Franklin TV Board of Directors - motion to ratify, second, passes 7-1 (Bissanti - no) #tc1006
Franklin School Department Update
  • Franklin School Department Update to Town Council: Dr. Sara Ahern, Superintendent of Schools, with Miriam Goodman, Business Manager. #tc1006 presentation doc available to follow along for reference ->    #tc1006
  • little enrollment changes, some variances from McKibben forecast school by school but overall close; Middle School less than forecast; FHS exactly at forecast #tc1006 ECDC has more this year than forecast 4848 total last year, 4771 this year, these are preliminary numbers
  • roles within staff changing to meet needs, interventionists, language learners, etc. overall headcount relatively stable - #tc1006
  • enrollment declines has resulted in less teachers, smaller class sizes and less numbers; avg size 20.6 in Elementary; chart with middle school enrollment/teachers, as well as a district wide chart #tc1006
  • Miriam Goodman provides insights into the Finances, beginning with Chap 70, foundation budget plus local contribution equals total with a backfill of state aid. We are getting circuit breaker and transportation at about 70%, increase in charter school #tc1006
  • we are a minimum aid community, getting only the $30/student from them until we raise the delta of $11M they overpay us for local aid. We are second only to Boston in this category #tc1006
  • foundation budget going down due to enrollment declines, state won't reduce our aid - if it did we'd go bankrupt, they keep us whole, we will need to pick up the tab ($11M) until we get more, of if our enrollment increases, we could get more (enroll still declines though) #tc1006
  • we are 13% below state avg per pupil spending #tc1006 78% of districts spend more per pupil than we do
  • trying to be very strategic in applying additional funds, COVID funds and state funding at expected levels help restore the staffing that had been laid off during June 2020. Most of them returned in Sept 2020 #tc1006
  • Superintendent thankful for collaboration with Town Administration, via Jamie. ESSER funding, from Federal gov't, strategically being applied to help now and extend through FY 2024 (gives us time to provide/find local funding to support this) to help the students #tc1006
  • instruction transformed with technology, facility support esp with ventilation has been very helpful for health in the buildings. #tc1006 increase of nursing staff to help staff in buildings - additional mental health support being requested via ESSER III funds
  • facility timeline - Davis Thayer transition in particular, anticipate clearing building during Fall 2021, materials to be declared surplus; SchComm vote at end of year to declare facility as surplus and turn over to Town ownership (Town already maintaining building) #tc1006
  • begin Master Facility analysis in Winter 2021 (after election). #tc1006 - pandemic has added complications to the analysis, re-looking at some of the unexpected fluctuations (i.e. assumption of 275/homes turning, actual 260 through 9/30/21)
  • space needs also changed due to the pandemic, need to re-evaluate as to what the post-pandemic world and needs would be #tc1006 Chandler - thanks to the SchCom for being here, thanks also to many of the candidates for being here too
  • Chandler - that we are second only to Boston in State aid is scary. Jones - thanks, from list of unfunded mandates - "without mandates we'd have more room to maneuver" previous quote had been prepared by MASC #tc1006
  • the mandate report was hard to quantify and a best effort - the budget report does include a professional development line up. #tc1006 generally the School dept. spends 99.9% of the funds allocated so very little goes back to the Town
  • Hamblen - thanks for presenting the info; McKibben report done before COVID, yes - student differences result of move ins to other school areas , not due to DT closing. #tc1006 not everyone moves during the summer; req'd contribution is up; what is early forecast? too early now
  • Pellegri - thanks for coming and providing the info, per pupil expenses include all income sources; how do results compare to other getting more money - not an easy answer but it could be put together. are students behind due to COVID? learning loss? #tc1006
  • comparisons not exactly easy to do given the circumstances, this is seen across MA and across the US; additional funds being applied to support those needs to being them up to grade level expectations #tc1006
  • pandemic did point out inequities, MCAS and other things are being looked at for change #tc1006 remote only learning is not permitted to be offered by us. Some students may have unenrolled from FPS and enrolled elsewhere to do so
  • Dellorco - through SAFE we found addiction has risen; Ahern - shout out to J Levine and SAFE for her work. #tc1006 
  • Frongillo - thanks, as to all - how do we measure outcomes? a variety of ways, some through test scores, not reflective of whole approach; at FHS students DECA work
  • post secondary success is another way; Mock Trial team; 8th grade civics projects, would love to see more project based learning; those don't hit the headlines, test score hit the headlines. #tc1006 # of student on AP scores and test results
  • student/teacher ratio is a challenge at FHS for the US News report and ranking system; we take a hit there. We do care, scores are dependent upon the student/teacher ratio. #tc1006 how does the funding work? how did we get here? Ahern defers some to Jamie
  • property wealth and median income has increased over time, factors combine to drive the Chap 70 numbers. #tc1006 Jamie provides a good overview of the budget process, dept by dept review before going to FinCom and then TC in May; depts do come with a wish list
  • try to achieve in a slow and steady process to achieve objectives - look at budget narrative, budget docs, participate in the meetings to learn about the details  town budget info ->   #tc1006 School budget info -> 
  • Bissanti - narrative needs to change for Chap 70 from a state increase to find more ways to fund what you need. #tc1006 how do we help the schools more?
  • food deliveries have problems, chicken sandwich without lettuce the other day. Menu items can change day to day, truck schedules surprising, products not necessarily in stock. #tc1006 we are seeing the impact of the broken supply chain
  • students are getting a meal, maybe different but they are getting a breakfast and lunch daily for every child at no charge. #tc1006 Dellorco - A teamster, there are no drivers, it is not your fault
  • Mercer - what is the % of students leaving the district, up/down - Ahern, very flat overall - an increase in homeschool, it jumped last year, staying high this year #tc1006 Q on the pie chart, why are they more specialists? Are they taking away from teachers?
  • Mercer - I applaud the efforts to explain it, Ahern: who is supporting the classroom is more of a team approach to the key teacher in the room, delivery and needs have changed, requiring additional support #tc1006
  • D'Angelo - final phase is being installed at Kennedy this week, then the systems will be turned live within three weeks, all the other Town buildings including the fire stations are completed. #tc1006
  • Mercer - transportation? are we getting any support from the State? Goodman: our biggest impact are the athletic runs and the after school activities due to the driver shortages #tc1006 having this type now (not during a budget presentation) is hitting an audience we need
  • it has been a challenging 2 years but our staff has stepped to the plate to do a wonderful job #tc1006
Legislation for Action
  • moving to Resolution 21-54: A Resolution  Adopting the Town  of Franklin 2021  Housing Production Plan  (HPP)
  •  = Motion to Approve Resolution 21-54 - Majority Vote req'd #tc1006 only req'd vote to approve
  • support from Jamie with kudos to Bryan and Planning Dept, thanks to Planning Board for approval; this is a roadmap, still needs to to be worked, will help us plan for the future #tc1006 many thanks around to get this done - vote to pass 8-0
  • Resolution 21-55: Gift Acceptance - Veterans Department, $1000 (Motion to Approve Resolution 21-55 - Majority Vote) - motion, second, passes 8-0 #tc1006
  • Resolution 21-56:Gift Acceptance - Conservation Commission, $1000 (Motion to Approve Resolution 21-56 - Majority Vote) #tc1006 - motion, seconded, passes 8-0
  • Resolution 21-57: Gift Acceptance - Town of Franklin, Dog Park Gazebo (Motion to Approve Resolution 21-57 - Majority Vote) #tc1006 motion, seconded, passes 8-0  (building approved, to be installed soon)
  • Resolution 21-58: Cable Funds in Support of PEG Service and Programming per MGL Ch. 44, §53F3/4 (Motion to Approve Resolution 21-58 - Majority Vote)
  •  #tc1006 motion, seconded, passes 8-0 - similar to the quarterly transaction to move from cable vendors to Franklin TV
Town Administrator's Report
  • $2,2M Massworks grant for reconstruction of Washington and Grove St; thanks to Planning Board, betw this grant and host community agreement, by winter shd have $3M to add light, bike lanes, etc. #tc1006 thanks to Legislative team for assistance
  • $75K for housing development grant, won't need to use local funds and may re-appropriate or re-apply to the actual development work. $22K for road safety grant to work on speeding and seatbelts; senior center implementing vaccine policy Oct 18, certs req'd or mask
  • 49 have passed via COVID, 47 of the 49 were over 70 yrs old. need to protect the seniors! #tc1006 for all town sponsored events. 51 active cases as of last week, it has increased recently. small cluster of cases, sadly many with small children - a reality here in Franklin
  • 215 Prospect st did come in - next step for their evaluation;  Fire house open house on Saturday 10 -2 PM on West Central #tc1006 municipal aggregation, NationalGrid rates at 14.86, we are locked at 10%, no one needs to do anything. If you want to opt back in, call
  • waiting list at housing authority is over 6,800 individuals not all from Franklin #tc1006
Councilor Comments
  • Hamblen - thanks for School presentation, thanks to the Downtown Partnership, the Festival was good, it was wonderful. Bissanti -attended the veterans coffee - commend Health Dir Cathleen Liberty for her info and insights. #tc1006 rec dept, can't say enough about that
  • Chandler - Police exam coming up in December, footings in at dog park, thanks to your family Councilor Bissanti for your donation #tc1006 Frongillo - recognized Cultural Council for new event, FDP did a repeat event, bigger and better
  • Jones - so good to see, it is a lot of work to make that possible - thank you! #tc1006 Dellorco - Harvest Fest was great, to spend time with folks outside was great. FHS football - shout out to them for beating Mansfield, made my night - we got a lot of money, thank you!
  • Mercer - thanks to Ahern, Goodman and SchComm for coming tonight, thanks to FDP for Harvest Fest, and with that entertain a motion to adjourn #tc1006, passes 8-0

Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days

Cultural Council's Kaye Kelly recognized for work on the recent Cultural Festival
Cultural Council's Kaye Kelly recognized for work on the recent Cultural Festival

Thank You to Everyone who Made the Harvest Festival Possible

Thank You!
We are so grateful to the many people and businesses that made the 2021 Harvest Festival possible! This amazing community event can only happen with the support of a small army of people! In particular, we indebted to the efforts of:

  • Scott Martin - chair of the Harvest Festival
  • Beth Simon and Bryan Taberner for coordinating volunteers
  • All the other members of the Harvest Festival Committee: Roberta Trahan, Pandora Carlucci, Gregg Safford, Kevin Johnson, Dawn Porthouse, Matt Lechter, Chris Peterson, Jen Hurst, Amy Love, and Melanie Hamblen
  • Michael Carroll and Dean Bank for hosting Dancing on Dean
  • Gary Donelan, FDP treasurer, for all he does for the FDP
  • Laurel Katsaros and Rockland Trust for use of the bank's parking lots
  • Jen Hurst and the Dean Bank staff for running the cider and donut stand for the FDP
  • MyFM for promoting and emceeing the Harvest Festival
  • Signs By Cam
  • Allegra printing
  • The Country Gazette
  • Local Town Pages
  • The Franklin Police Department and Department of Public Works
In Appreciation of Our Sponsors
  • Platinum sponsors: Dean Bank, Mosquito Mary's and RI Motorsports and Detail
  • Silver sponsors: Bissanti Real Estate Appraisals & Consulting, Glen Meadows Apartments, Hockomock YMCA, Liberty Tax, Middlesex Savings Bank, Rockland Trust, and The Enclave of Franklin
  • Bronze sponsors: Arcadia Dental of Franklin, Beaux Regards Photographic Art, Camford Property Group, Chestnut Dental Associates, D.G. Ranieri Real Estate, Encore Music Academy and Recording Studios, Edward Jones - Kevin L. Johnson, Fenton Financial Group, Keefe Insurance, La Cantina Winery, LeafFilter North, Mint Dental of Franklin, MyFM 101.3, Nerds to Go, and Senate President Karen E. Spilka 
With our sincere thanks to all of you!
Franklin Downtown Partnership • 774-571-3109 •
Franklin Downtown Partnership | 9 E. Central St., Franklin, MA 02038

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Aspen Dental FREE Day of Service For Veterans - November 6, 2021

Aspen Dental FREE Day of Service For Veterans 
- November 6, 2021

A day of FREE dental care for veterans

Saturday, November 6, 2021 - 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

At PARTICIPATING Aspen Dental Practices

Call 844-ASPEN-HMM

To find the nearest location and make an appointment


Shared from Town of Franklin page ->

Aspen Dental FREE Day of Service For Veterans
Aspen Dental FREE Day of Service For Veterans

Franklin Dog Park schedules Halloween Costume Contest for Furry Friends - Oct 31

Halloween Costume Contest for your Furry Friends. 

October 31st at 11 AM at Dacey Community Field, Franklin MA Dog Park. 

Lots of prizes. Categories are cutest, funniest and scariest. Prizes are 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th and 7th. Prizes range from 1st $25.00, 2nd$20.00,3rd$15.00, 4th thru 7th $10.00 gift certificates to Vet Med and Pet Supply Plus. We also have free gifts from Franklin Agway, Pet Smart. Plus free home made dog biscuits, doggie ice cream and other doggie goodies. 

“ENTRANCE FEE”  donation cash or check made out to Furry Friends of Franklin INK.  Must register and get number for your pet. 

Hope to see you at the Halloween 🎃 Contest Parade.  

Thank you,
Gennarino D’ONOFRIO
 President of Furry Friends

Dacey Field dog park
Dacey Field dog park

More Perfect Union: 034 - Presidential Libraries (audio)

"In this episode, Jeff Roy leads the discussion on U.S. presidential libraries, the tradition of honoring past presidents with a library which details the time during their presidency. The group discusses the significance around these libraries, stories, and Jeff's recent completion of his library passport."

Audio file -> 

More Perfect Union: 034 - Presidential Libraries (audio)
More Perfect Union: 034 - Presidential Libraries (audio)

10/8/2021 Recycling Pickup Update

10/8/2021 Recycling Pickup Update

A portion of yesterdays (10/7/21) recycling route was not collected, today (10/8/21) collection will continue at the point at which it left off yesterday. Additional information has been posted on the DPW Facebook page.

Shared from Town of Franklin ->

10/8/2021 Recycling Pickup Update
10/8/2021 Recycling Pickup Update

CommonWealth Magazine: Gov Baker appoints new MBTA board

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Thursday announced the formation of a new seven-member board to govern the MBTA, with a state transportation veteran at the helm.  
The new board will be chaired by Betsy Taylor, who has been the treasurer and chair of the finance and audit committee for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board since 2015. (The transportation agency has its own board that is separate from the one governing the MBTA.) Taylor worked in financial roles at the Massachusetts Port Authority from 1978 to 2015.  
The previous Fiscal and Management Control Board that had been in place since 2015 expired at the end of June. In July, the Legislature reached an agreement on the makeup of a new, permanent MBTA board. "
Continue reading the article online 
MBTA Red Line in January 2021. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)
MBTA Red Line in January 2021. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

FM #622 - Town Clerk Candidate Nancy Danello - 10/04/21 (audio)

 FM #622 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 622 in the series. 

This shares my conversation with candidate for Town Clerk Nancy Danello  

This is one of a series of conversations with candidates for the Franklin Election on Nov 2, 2021. I do this to provide Franklin, MA voters with accurate and timely information that they can use to cast an informed vote.  Publication of the answers or interview responses does not constitute an endorsement of this or any candidate.

We cover the candidate questions as previously developed in conjunction with the community and shared with the candidates in advance. Five of the questions are ‘general’ in nature, the sixth is specific to the role of the candidate. In this case, for the Town Clerk

Our conversation runs about 15 minutes, so let’s listen to my interview with Nancy Danello.  ** Audio file ->


Candidate questions -> 

Candidate page -> 

Election Collection 2021 -> 


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  or 

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"

Town Clerk Candidate Nancy Danello
acting Town Clerk Nancy Danello

FSPA Re-Opens Broadway

Alumni and Broadway Faculty from the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA) have been on stage in the reopening casts of many Broadway shows. This September marked the return of the Great White Way since the shutdown in March 2020. FSPA is currently represented in the Broadway companies of WICKED and Waitress and the North American Tour of Hamilton.

FSPA musical theater alum Dan Gleason returned to the Broadway cast of WICKED when it re-opened on Tuesday, September 14. Gleason appears in the ensemble and understudies the lead role of Fiyero. His other credits include the national tours of American Idiot and Miss Saigon. Of his years growing up at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts Gleason says, "I owe a lot of my consistent vocal health and technique throughout the rigorous run to my years at FSPA.  Healthy singing habits were ingrained in my body and now have become second nature. FSPA set me up for success in life and I am so thankful for my years of training in my hometown." 

Joining Dan in the reopening cast of WICKED, is FSPA Broadway Faculty Member Kevin Massey. Massey’s Broadway credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Memphis, Tarzan, and Big River (Deaf West). He is a UNC-Chapel Hill Morehead-Cain Scholar. As a member of the FSPA Broadway Faculty, Massey is available to the musical theater students for one-on-one vocal and acting coaching. “I have an amazing time working with FSPA,” notes Massey. “The students are so talented and responsive to coaching. It is so exciting to see immediate improvement and their confidence build. No matter the level, there is always so much to work with.”

Christopher Rice-Thomson, a member of FSPA’s Broadway Faculty for singing, acting, dancing, and marketing for performers, is currently on the road with the hit musical Hamilton. Rice-Thomson’s Broadway credits include Pretty Woman and The Book of Mormon and the tours of West Side Story (Baby John, Tony understudy) and White Christmas. His viral #Tappy YouTube videos have received over 10 million views and been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, The Meredith Vieira Show, On Air with a Ryan Seacrest, and more. Rice-Thomson has appeared with Franklin Performing Arts Company as Jack Kelly in Newsies and in his own creation: Christopher Rice’s The Tappy Christmas Special: LIVE!

FSPA Broadway Faculty Member for Voice and Acting Emily Koch returns to Waitress on Broadway understudying the show’s star and composer Sara Bareilles. Koch’s credits include WICKED (Elphaba) and Godspell with the Berkshire Theatre Group.  In Franklin, Koch has headlined FPAC’s Broadway In Franklin Weekend, THE BLACK BOX Sings… WICKED, and appeared as a guest with viral A Cappella sensation T.3 at THE BLACK BOX. 

The Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA) is still enrolling for the 21-22 school year. FSPA is a home for performing artists of all ages, abilities, and interests. Founded in 1985 by Director Raye Lynn Mercer, FSPA is a unique place where students can participate in an array of music, dance, and drama programs with professional instruction and extraordinary performing opportunities. FSPA offers programming for students as young as 18 months. Students are able to “discover their FSPA” and take class from one day a week to six. For more information about FSPA and its programs, visit, call 508-528-8668, or stop by 38 Main St. in Franklin. Follow FSPA on Facebook, Instagram (@fspaonline), and YouTube. 


FSPA Re-Opens Broadway
FSPA Re-Opens Broadway