Monday, April 30, 2007

Tidbits from FinCom Meeting 4/30/07

The FBI recommendation for security personnel for a town of our size = 61.
Franklin has 46

National Fire Safety standard for a town of our size calls for two fire personnel for each 1,000 in population. Do the math, approx. 30,000 residents times 2 = 60.
Franklin has 48

Jeff Nutting, Town Administrator said "The town does not have enough money to operate"

"If the override is approved, we will start next fiscal year $1.6M in the hole"

"Regionalization is a bad word in the Commonwealth. The only alternative to trying to save money by pooling resources is to increase the tax rate over and over again"

Jim Roche, FinCom member said "The budget was a political decision not a financial decision by the Town Council"

Ken Norman, FinCom Chariman said "We see nothing but planning by the departments in this town. It is wrong from criticism to say there is a lack of planning"

Jeff Nutting said "Debt is not driving our problem. 1.8% this year and 2.7% next year, a 0.9% percent increase in debt on an $80 million budget."

FinCom Upset with Town Council

The Finance Committee (FinCom) voted down (by a 6-3 vote) the revision to the budget that the Town Council requested of the Town Administrator. The primary sentiment as expressed by members of FinCom was disappointment in the Town Council's use of the stabilization fund.

The Town Administrator by direction of the Town Council had worked to (1) increase the revenue projections by approx $300K (2) reduce the town side of the operating budget an additional $500K to provide $800K to the schools. The $800K plus the use of $1M in stabilization added to the FinCom approved increase of $200K would fund the schools at $2M over the 2006 budget. This $2M would cover the state mandated (but not state funded) special education costs.

This would be the base budget. Then if the override passed, the $2.7M override would be allocated $2M to the schools, and $700K to restore some of the last cuts in the town budget. Of course, if the override fails, the cuts really hurt all departments.

The Town Administrator selected to take almost half of the $500K (see #2 above) from the Library. This would reduce the operation from 6 days to 4. It would also reduce the overall library funding such that the state grant would be withdrawn. The withdrawal of the state grant would also kick in the elimination of a Franklin resident to use the library to borrow a book through the intra-library loan system, even if they physically went to the other town library to find the book.

The motion the FinCom voted on was to accept the Town Administrator's budget adjustments with one shift; instead of reducing the Library by about $260K, the schools would get $260 less.

This motion failed by the mentioned 6-3 vote.

What does this mean to the budget?

What does this mean for the override?

Go to the Information Session at Horace Mann Tuesday night May 1, 7:00 PM or tune into the local cable channel as the session will be broadcast live.

What is in the school budget?

The Franklin School budget has been in development over the last several months.

The Superintendent's office worked on a "good to great" budget. These budget numbers show what it would take for Franklin to restore cuts from prior years and enable the district to deliver not just a good education but a great one. This budget would have been an increase over 2006 of approximately $12 million. Clearly, not something Franklin could afford but a necessary exercise (PDF) to see what it would take to go from "good to great".

The second major iteration was one that would provide "level service (PDF)". "Level service" means that the service level being currently provided during this current school year would be continued next year. This is what makes the most sense to me. If what Franklin gets today is good, then continuing that should be good.

The third iteration was a request for a "level funding (PDF)" budget. "Level funding" means taking the current budget and determining how to provide the best possible education with less funds. This would require the layoffs of more than 70 school personnel. Why? This is due primarily to increases in state mandated special education requirements.

What will really happen? Go to the information session on Tuesday, May 1 to find out what the current iteration will be. The latest iteration is required because the Town Council voted for something less than a level service budget. It will be important to find out what will get cut whether the override passes or not, as well as what will get cut if the override doesn't pass. The "pay to ride" program and sports fees will likely see good increases if the override doesn't pass.

This is a town problem, not a school problem. Franklin needs to determine how to develop a revenue stream to maintain a level service funding model.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Franklin Music Boosters Email Notice

This was the text of an email just received(slightly reformatted but with no textual changes).

Do you care about all the students in Franklin Public Schools?

Do you believe that music is not just a supplement to an education, but an integral part of the development of a complete intellect, capable of clear critical thinking?

Do you feel that Franklin Schools should at least maintain its current level support for music, particularly for the young elementary school students, still in their formative years?

If you say "YES" to these questions, then vote "YES" to the override vote on May 22 AT FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL 6AM TO 8PM. If you say "no", you need to understand the direct consequences of these further cuts in funding….funding that has been dwindling for many years:

  • elimination of the elementary instrumental program
  • elimination of the middle school instrumental program
  • elimination of 2 elementary music teaching positions
  • elimination of 4 middle school music teaching positions

We have heard the following from many of our neighbors, who in many cases, don't believe that there is a financial crisis, or a need to continue this level of music education, and still have students in the school system:

  • "They will find the money somewhere…."
  • "I do not want my taxes to go up anymore…"
  • "Classroom activity is more important than art, music or sports…"

In another words, let it pass, it is not important. Here are some things to think about as a parent and resident of Franklin:

  • The Franklin tax rate ranks…26 out of 30 similar size communities
  • Over the past five years, the school budget reductions have eliminated 3 music and the fourth grade instrumental music program
  • These cuts will happen..they are part of the budget now; even if the override succeeds, there is no clear indication that all of these music cuts will come back.

But you have an opportunity, beginning on May 22, to begin to turn back future cuts, and provide support for all our school programs, including music, by a "yes" vote. If we begin to put our schools on a firm, and fair, financial footing, Franklin will continue to be an attractive town to raise a family. Our goal, through the Music Boosters, is to simply state in the affirmative, that music in Franklin is important for everyone---parents, students, senior citizens, businesses, and all residents. Join us in supporting our town!

Franklin Music Boosters



MAY 1, 2007



Special Override Election - 5/22/07

The Town of Franklin will hold a Special Override Election on Tuesday May 22, 2007.
The polling place will be open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
All precincts will vote at the Franklin High School Fieldhouse on Oak Street.

There will be one question on the ballot and it will read as follows:

Ballot Question 1

Shall the Town of Franklin be allowed to assess an additional $2,700,000.00 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purposes of the operating budget from which this assessment will be used for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2007?

You can vote Yes or No

The last day to register to vote:
May 2, 2007 at 8:00 PM at the Town Clerk's Office, First Floor, Municipal Bldg, 355 East Central Street.

Absentee ballots information:
Absentee ballots are now available in the Town Clerk's Office. A registered voter who will be unable to vote at the polls on election day due to the following reasons may vote absentee up to 12:00 noon the day before the election:
  1. absence from your city or town during normal polling hours; or
  2. physical disability preventing you from going to the polling place; or
  3. religious belief.

First wave of teacher layoff notices sent

The first of two waves of teacher and school personnel layoff notices were sent out this week. The second wave is due by the end of next week. As you should be aware, the pending override vote will still not provide for a level service funding for the school budget requiring the layoff notices.

Details were published in the Country Gazette this week.

It will be important to see what the real impact of the override vote would have under the two scenarios; one, if it passes and two, if it fails.

You can attend the Information Session scheduled for the Horace Mann Auditorium on Tuesday, May 1 to find out more about this important matter.

Of course, once you are fully informed you will be able to cast your vote on May 22.

What does Franklin value? A history of not increasing taxes (via operational overrides) or increasing taxes to maintain some level of service?

I stress the "some level of service" because even if the override passes, it will not provide the same level of service to the school population next year as already experienced by our student population this year.

Get informed! Come out to vote May 22!

Friday, April 27, 2007

May 1 - Information Session

There will be an information session held at the Horace Mann Auditorium on Tuesday evening, May 1. Members of the Town Council and School Committee will join with Superintendent Wayne Ogden and Town Administrator Jeff Nutting to present information on the Fiscal Year 2008 budget and answer question about why the override was put forward. The event being coordinated by the Joint PCC.

Your chance to hear and ask question directly.

Your chance to be informed.

Your chance!

May 1
Horace Mann Auditorium
7:00 PM

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Register to Vote, pick up an Absentee Ballot

Register to vote

With the town vote scheduled for May 22 on the override, there is still time to register to vote, if you are not already registered.

Voters must be registered at least twenty days before an election. To be safe, let May 1 be your deadline to register to vote.

Updated: You have until May 2, 8:00 PM to register to vote. Register at the Town Clerk's Office, First Floor, Municipal Bldg. 355 East Central Street.

May day, register to vote.
May day, register to vote.

Absentee ballot

From the Town Clerk web page:

If unable to vote on election day because of physical disability, religious beliefs or travel you may vote by absentee ballot.

Obtain your absentee ballot from the Town Clerk before 12 noon the day before an election. Absentee ballots are generally available up to three weeks before an election.

Application for absentee ballots may be submitted in-person at the Town Clerk's Office, or by mail. If a voter submits the application in-person he may obtain the ballot and vote over-the -counter (if available). Otherwise, the ballot is sent by mail.

Ask the Town Clerk's Office for information regarding members of the same household requesting absentee ballots.

Return of ballots: Must be received before the polls close to be counted for Franklin Town elections. Other rules apply for State elections, ask the Town Clerk's Office for more information.

Every vote counts, make your vote count!

Every vote counts

It is an old adage and well worth repeating that every vote counts. You only need to look to the vote in Natick for proof. The vote for town moderator resulted in a tie with 1,772 votes cast for each candidate.

The two candidates, incumbent Paul Connolly and challenger Frank Foss, each received 1,772 votes in the March 27 election.

Initially, it appeared that Connolly had won by a single vote. But then the town conducted a dramatic, daylong recount at Natick Town Hall on April 13. Newly elected Town Clerk Judi Kuhn and other town officials discovered a missing ballot tucked away in a ballot box at a middle school. The vote was for Foss.

Natick is about the size of Franklin
4,000 voters came out for the election
This could happen here

What can we do to avoid this?

Get everyone out to vote. Each and every vote counts!

Vote May 22!
Vote May 22!
Vote May 22!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lessons from Westwood

Westwood, MA voted to approve their Prop 2 1/2 override Tuesday, April 24th with 3002 votes for and 2207 votes against.

Highlights from the Boston Globe Override Central reveal
  • 56% voter turnout (let's hope for something similar)
  • they had 15 months to prepare for the vote (not that much time here)
  • multiple presentations to explain the numbers (the Franklin school officials have made an effort to get out and talk about the numbers)

Read the full article here

Hey, Franklin!

Franklin offers high-quality local schools, both public and private, with average test scores that well exceed state and national averages. Franklin High School has been recognized for its near-perfect graduation rate, as more than 99% of students earn high school diplomas. Many graduates continue their studies at more than 20 nearby colleges and universities.

With three local golf courses and over 3,600 acres of land reserved for parks and recreation, Franklin provides an ideal setting for employers to recruit and retain well-qualified employees.

Attesting to the superb quality of life, Franklin is the largest city in ______ to attain more than 10% population growth since the 2000 census. The desirability of the community is further evidenced by continuing consumer demand for new homes in the 40 residential developments that are currently under way within the City.

No, the blank is not filled by Massachusetts.

Try Wisconsin and you would be correct.

Coincidently Franklin, WI voted down their Prop 2 1/2 override for both a new high school and operating budget earlier this month, April 3.

So while much has been made, and properly so, that over 50 communities in MA are facing override votes, our fellow namesake in WI is also experiencing rapid growth and budget pressures.

For more information on Franklin, Wisconsin check out the following:


Covering Wisconsin the way the media won't.
Covering the media, the way they fear!

Franklin Residential Tax Rate Comparison (only with those with a single rate tax)

Have you read the FY 08 Budget Letter?

The Override Vote coming up May 22 will be the sixth for operating revenue that the town has had to vote on since 1990.

Clearly, our tax rate is low in comparison to our neighboring communities.

Did you know that the Commonwealth of MA is generous enough to pay for half of the Franklin School budget? Check out the details on the Chapter 70 funds in the FY 08 Budget Letter.

The Chapter 70 funds were introduced to allow a town to come up to speed with the education reform requirements. Franklin's growth has allowed for an increase in funds year over year.

We need to find a way to generate a self sustaining income stream to provide a level service budget.

We need to start planning to pay for the other half of our own educational expenses. We can not expect the Commonwealth to continue to fund us so generously.

Franklin needs to pay its own way!

Note: The figures in the chart come from the analysis done by Franklin Finance Committee member Stephen Whalen and found on the Franklin School Committee blog

Updated 4/26/07 - this was originally published with the May 22 vote counting as the fourth override for operating expenses, a re-examination of the data reveals this to be the sixth.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Franklin Council Meeting on YouTube

Someone managed to get a clip of the Town Council meeting that voted for the override and post it to YouTube. Thank you!

Here is Carlo Geronimo with his comments before one of the override votes.

Yes, there were multiple override votes. One for $4 million failed to pass the council by a 5-4 vote. The one for $3 million passed on a 5-4 vote.

Carlo said:
"If we don't go for a $4 million override, Mister Chairman, we are in deep trouble..."

Well we are in trouble as we have only a $3 million override to vote on.

Either way we vote, another million is coming from the stabilization fund. If it passes, the million will help to balance the budget. If it fails, the million will be used for unemployment insurance for the school personnel to be laid off.

Quotes from the Franklin FY08 Budget Letter

The following I think are critical sections of the Budget Letter (PDF).
"The proposed FY08 Budget is the fourth budget in a row that is 'balanced' by the use of reserves."
Balanced? Using reserves to balance a budget for four years in a row! Franklin, this problem has not just happened upon us. It has been coming for some time.
"It all also calls for $3 million override to fund a 'level service' municipal budget and a reduction in the schools level of service."
A polite way of saying the education provided to this year's graduating seniors at the high school (for example) will NOT be provided to next year's senior class. Of course, you can substitute each and every grade in that same statement. Life in school next year will be less than this year. Less teachers, less education...
"Further, it requests the use of $1 million from the stabilization account. This should be the last year we use the account to balance the budget."
So we are playing a dangerous game here Franklin. 4 years in a row borrowing from our stabilization fund to balance the budget and this year going for an override as well.

In light of these quotes from only the first page of the Budget Letter (PDF), I also pose some questions for you the Franklin resident:
  • Why is the tax rate dropping over the past 5 years?
  • Why has the Commonwealth subsidized the school budget up to 50% for FY 08?
  • What does the future look like for this subsidy (Chapter 70 funds)?

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Turn off TV Week" - Tune into Franklin instead

This is "Turn off TV Week" and a good thing to do while the TV is turned off is to visit the various Franklin web sites to become informed about the budget situation and the Override Vote scheduled for May 22, 2007.

The town will be better off with an informed voter population.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Return trip to Deja Brew

I missed the brewing session on April 1st but was able to make it back for the bottling session today. I missed the fun of all six kettles in operation but while bottling today, I managed to quality check 5 of the 6 and the guys did very well with the choices and the execution. We have a fine selection to choose from:
  • Thoroughbred Red: In a class by itself, this beer will go the distance! Great body & flavor
  • Chocolate Cream Stout: A nice beer to relax with after a hard days work
  • Honey Summer Ale: a slightly sweet, honey kissed summer ale
  • Top Drop Dopplebock: This extra strong beer is heavy on flavor and alcohol
  • Gnarly Barley Wine: Perfect for a night cap. Drink with caution!
  • Klawtobier: Lobster Claw’s big brother, a highly aromatic barley wine and very potent.
For additional types of beer, wine, soda available to be created, check out the listing on the Deja Brew web site. As I have mentioned before, if you are in or near Shrewsbury, MA and want to brew some beer, Deja Brew is one place to definitely check out.

My previous posts on Deja Brew can be found here:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'd take away the guns

As a parent with two daughters in college, the tragedy at Virginia Tech hits close to home. My prayers go out to all those families.

As for the solution to this madness, I endorse the words Cheryl Wheeler composed in response to the Jonesboro school yard shooting.

If It Were Up to Me
Words and Lyrics by: Cheryl Wheeler

Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books
Maybe it's the bullets, maybe it's the real crooks
Maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the parents
Maybe it's the colors everybody's wearin
Maybe it's the President, maybe it's the last one
Maybe it's the one before that, what he done
Maybe it's the high schools, maybe it's the teachers
Maybe it's the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it's the Bible, maybe it's the lack
Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the crack
Maybe it's the hairdos, maybe it's the TV
Maybe it's the cigarettes, maybe it's the family
Maybe it's the fast food, maybe it's the news
Maybe it's divorce, maybe it's abuse
Maybe it's the lawyers, maybe it's the prisons
Maybe it's the Senators, maybe it's the system
Maybe it's the fathers, maybe it's the sons
Maybe it's the sisters, maybe it's the moms
Maybe it's the radio, maybe it's road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it's the army, maybe it's the liquor
Maybe it's the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it's the athletes, maybe it's the ads
Maybe it's the sports fans, maybe it's a fad
Maybe it's the magazines, maybe it's the internet
Maybe it's the lottery, maybe it's the immigrants
Maybe it's taxes, big business
Maybe it's the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it's the communists, maybe it's the Catholics
Maybe it's the hippies, maybe it's the addicts
Maybe it's the art, maybe it's the sex
Maybe it's the homeless, maybe it's the banks
Maybe it's the clearcut, maybe it's the ozone
Maybe it's the chemicals, maybe it's the car phones
Maybe it's the fertilizer, maybe it's the nose rings
Maybe it's the end, but I know one thing.
If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns.

(P) October 1, 1997

Penrod And Higgins Music / Amachrist Music
ACF Music Group
International Copyright Reserved

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Conversation is fuel

Speaking of "conversation is fuel" and taking the "blog off the blog", Felix Gerena and I got to have dinner Tuesday night in Boston.

Felix writes at Brand Soul. We have collaborated previously with the Blog Synergy and we finally got to share a drink, dinner, and a couple of hours of good conversation in person!

Alas, the pictures taken with my camera were not good quality. Once Felix sends me a copy of his, I'll post it. Updated, the picture can be found here.

Felix, I hope your conference is worthwhile. I hope the rain lets up so you can enjoy some of Boston and Cambridge in better weather. I hope the Celtics play well when you go to see them play tonight.

I look forward to our next meeting, maybe in your Basque homeland.... and of course, to our continued conversation!

It was great to finally meet with you!

Northeastern Concert

Carolyn has continued playing her viola at Northeastern by joining with the school orchestra. The Spring performance was held on Sunday. It was anything but spring-like in Boston. The nor'easter was bringing wind and rain to the region. We managed to stay mostly dry as we navigated from the train station to dinner and then to the concert.

The ride home was longer than it should have been as for the first time in all my years of commuting here in Boston and previously in NJ/NY, we got on the wrong train. We remained warm and dry, but it took us awhile to get off at the next stop, and wait for another train to bring us back to a recovery point to catch the proper train home. A learning experience!

The concert was good although the program was shortened due to the weather. The harp accompanist elected not to travel in the wet and raw weather to protect the instrument. A wise decision.

One piece by a student composer did successfully recreate the feelings of openness and wonder that he experienced as he approached Denali via plane. I have not been to Denali but have been out in the wilderness in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mt Katahdin in Maine, and on top of the South Teton in Wyoming. For music to recreate the feeling of standing in one of those places, listening to the gentle wind, and all the life of nature, was truly impressive.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Franklin Override Collection

For those visiting and looking for my writing on the Franklin Override Vote 2007, this is one place to look. Of course, you are most welcome to browse around, search, and read everything else I write to your hearts desire.

For the information on Franklin's override vote for 2008, please visit Franklin Matters.

The postings are listed in reverse chronological order (newest on top):

MA Override results: updated

MA Override results: updated

MA Override results: updated (6/8/07)

Medfield Override passes

It's official - Override money added to budget

Override Central is out of date

School Committee Meeting Notes 5/29/07

Override Related News Items of Interest

MA Override results: Tally to date

sherku: Franklin override

Hey, don't miss the comments on this one!

Boston Globe - Override Central - Franklin's Yes

Milford Daily News headline - Franklin approves $2.7M override

Historic Step - Reflections

Vote tally - May 22, 2007

It's YES for Franklin's override!

What could we have done?

Voter turnout busy

Franklin Override - Vote May 22

Vote May 22

Ben's advice for Franklin

Yes, the Brick School should close as a classroom

Country Gazette full of override stories

Look at Mendon and Milford, their Chapter 70 stories

Library cuts headline Milford Daily News Today

Lessons from Seth's town

Anonymous response continued

Myths vs. realities

Response to anonymous' questions

Oak Street Kindergarten Show

Franklin makes the news in Maine

Pink slips delivered

Back to the drawing board, again

Teachers face uncertain future

Franklin Chart Summary

Franklin MCAS Scorecard

Franklin Special Ed as Percent of Total Education Spending

Franklin Chapter 70 Insights

An Apple for Franklin

Franklin Contribution to Education Declining

Franklin Per Pupil School Expense vs. MA Average

Franklin Info

Override Vote on May 22 - Yes or No?

Medway library = Franklin's future?

Franklin Budget - Milford Daily News

Budget final

Reality is what you think it is

Franklin Override Q&A - Yabuts!

Franklin's first library may not last

Information Session Replay

The property tax is not working

Shrewsbury Override Fails

Where is the 5 year plan?

Franklin's broke, needs to vote

Information Session in the Milford Daily News

Override Info Session Recap

Questions for the Information Session

Tidbits from FinCom Meeting 4/30/07

FinCom Upset with Town Council

What is in the school budget?

Franklin Music Boosters Email Notice

Special Override Election - 5/22/07

First wave of teacher layoff notices sent

May 1 - Information Session

Register to vote, absentee ballot

Every vote counts

Lessons from Westwood

Hey, Franklin!

Franklin Residential Tax Rate Comparison

Franklin Council Meeting on YouTube

Quotes from the FY 08 Budget Letter

Turn off TV Week, Tune into Franklin Instead!

red sky at morning, Franklin take warning

"Industry need not wish"

Franklin budget info

It's a Franklin problem and not a school problem

red sky at morning, Franklin take warning

Yes, this was the sunrise on Thursday morning. The morning after the Town Council voted for an override of $2.7 Million which even if passed would still force cuts across every town service.

The morning of a rainy day forecast. Not the rainy day kind that allows for raiding the "rainy day fund" as some councilors feel they have an obligation to do to avoid the inevitable, that is finding a way for Franklin to raise sufficient finding to sustain itself.

The photo is from my yard looking across the trees to open space that had been there since we came to Franklin (11 years ago) and is now being built upon. More house, more families, more children.

Shouldn't some one tell them that even if the budget override does pass their children will not be provided the same educational support that my daughters received when they graduated in 2004 and 2006?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Industry need not wish"

Poor Ben will turn over in his grave when he hears what the town that honored his name has done or more properly, failed to do.

On the Town Council chamber wall behind the councilors and out of view by most of the common camera angles from the cable TV, is the town seal. The seal is a grand picture of Ben Franklin with his quote underneath: "Industry need not wish".

This was the first thing I wrote in my notebook when sitting in the chambers for the council meeting Wednesday night. The irony of this quote grew as the night wore on. The importance of this quote to our current trouble became clear as my head managed to sort out the events of the evening during my walk home.

So let's see what sorted out:

This problem has been recognized for years. At least 3 years according to some, longer according to others. But certainly not a surprise to anyone familiar with the town.

The budget for fiscal year 2008 as submitted by the all the departments and reviewed by the town administrator was further cut by the Town Council.

The recommendations by the Finance Committee were ignored by the Town Council.

The warnings of our state representatives that the Chapter 70 money can not be counted on for the future left an impression upon the audience. Based upon the Town Council's action, it is safe to say that they ignored them as well.

Independent financial analysis on the relative position of Franklin's tax base vis a vis comparable communities apparently was ignored.

Neither this Town Council nor any other prior has put together a fiscal plan to get Franklin out of its dependence upon Chapter 70 funds. Forget rainy days, one year, Franklin will not receive half of what it currently gets and that will be a disaster.

Recall that the Chapter 70 funds were provided by the Commonwealth in recognition of an increase in mandated school requirements and that some towns experiencing higher growth rates would not be able to afford the requirements. Franklin clearly demonstrated that growth. My own family was part of it arriving in the fall of 1995 and adding two children to the school population. This growth is now slowing down. Recall also a couple of years ago, there was major hoopla over cutting the number of permits allowed. Well, guess what, it is working. And you can't have your cake and eat it too!

With a flatter growth curve (PDF), the Chapter 70 money will decrease.
The charter school reimbursement is scheduled for further reductions.
Special education requirements are increasing and our state representatives will work hard (as they have) to obtain appropriate funding for us, but how much will that be?

The current Chapter 70 funds account for about half the school budget and one quarter of the total town budget.

If the town council would listen to some financial advice and become more industrious about getting a plan together, then the real disaster looming over the town might be alleviated.

Until that day comes, the citizens have only one choice. In order to maintain some level of service, the override must be passed. This year, and next year, and until we have a plan to make Franklin a self-sustaining community. We have been riding on the largess of the Commonwealth for too long. Judgment day will come.

Let's go back to take heed of Ben's insights: "Industry need not wish".

If we work at it, we can solve this problem. Maybe not tomorrow but we can eventually.

Franklin Override May 22

Is this a crisis?
No, it is worse that one because it has been foreseen for some time and could have been avoided.

How does it happen?
Many reasons contribute to this amongst them:
Franklin’s history of not ever passing an override vote.
Some town councilors believe that Franklin can not afford any increase.

How does it get fixed?
Multiple overrides. Yes, multiple. Not just this year. Next year and perhaps for some years there after. And maybe there is another way to avoid overrides. I have not fully explored this so as I do, I’ll share what I learn.

Franklin has been living off income from the state that accounts for 20-30% of its total budget. The money (Chapter 70) was initially funded by the state to allow Franklin time to adjust its own revenue stream to meet its needs during a period of considerable growth. This town council and others before it have no plan for helping to correct this situation. If the state cuts the funding by ½ which is possible, we would see a real crisis.

This town council and others before it have continued to raid the emergency fund. The emergency fund was filled some years a go with an 11 M settlement. A one shot deal that has continued to be drawn down time and time again to pay for regular operating expenses. A real emergency could occur and Franklin would not have the funds or wherewithal to be able to cover the emergency. Bankruptcy would be an option.

What are the choices?
  • If Franklin wants to maintain something resembling services previously provided, then the override needs to pass.
  • If Franklin wants to start down the road to developing a ghost town, it should vote against the override.

Longer term

We need to get the Town Council to address and provide a plan for a self sustaining Franklin budget. This is one failure that needs to be addressed so all in Franklin can rest with some confidence in the future.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blogs fit to print!

Most recently via Steve Garfield I find this link and story about a "new" free daily paper to be handed out to Boston commuters next week.

Hey I am one of those commuters!

Apparently, there will be a significant blogger contribution to each edition as bloggers are supposed to be "in the know" for what is happening in the Boston area.

Can't wait to pick up a copy!

Monday, April 09, 2007

PowerPoint Tip and Cognitive Theory

According to the article in InformationWeek's IWDaily newletter:

PowerPoint's hypnotic effect is no coincidence, according to an Australian researcher who found reasons why the Microsoft software-generated slide presentations put spectators to sleep.

The brain simply isn't wired to absorb information in two simultaneous forms as well as it takes in one type of information. Processing the written and spoken word at the same time creates quite a challenge for the mind, according to John Sweller, a researcher from the University of New South Wales.

So who is this John Sweller?

A google query brought up this wikipedia entry where I find out that he is known for an informational theory called "cognitive load".

In my simple terms, I understand cognitive load to be an explanation of how the brain processes information. There are three terms related to this theory.
  1. Intrinsic cognitive load - that which is inherent to the topic (presenter has no chance of altering this), the presenter can split the explanation of the topic into schemas and subschemas and have one build upon the other to paint the full picture
  2. Extraneous cognitive load - when describing a square with words vs. drawing a picture, the words are extraneous
  3. Germane cognitive load - the manipulation of the schemas and subschemas in telling the story

Interesting stuff.

The next time you have a chance to do a PowerPoint, keep it simple!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Welcome

The story has it that the pineapple was a "welcome" symbol for the clipper ship captains when they returned home from a voyage to their New England home port; Boston, Salem, Newport, etc. The captain would stick a pineapple on the front stair post and thereby neighbors and friends would know the captain was home.

It is cool today in New England, about 35 F so it won't be too inviting to sit outside and have a conversation.

If you do visit, make yourself comfortable amongst the archives.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Franklin Budget Info

The Franklin School Committee blog has the posting with links to lots of important information like:
FY08 budget materials are available online. You can access those materials by clicking here, which will take you to the Superintendent’s budget page. There, you can view an Executive Summary of the budget, a list of budget cuts from previous years, proposed cuts for FY08, student enrollments for the past 10 years, and a long range projection of student enrollment trends. In addition, you can see how Franklin performs in comparison to the state average in budget categories by viewing data compiled by the Department of Education.

There is also a schedule of appearances at various PCC and other public meetings to review the information on the budget for 2008.

New reader or regular, you should be aware that my wife is a kindergarten teacher in Franklin. My two daughters are recent products of the Franklin School system and both are doing well in college. There are a few other good reasons for me to be writing about this issue. I will continue to elaborate on them here.

The schools educate our future. Our family has worked hard to get where we are today. We'd like to be able to dream of a good future here in Franklin. Stay tuned for what happens on Franklin's 2008 Budget.

Your vote will be important.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Music to run

There is a great event coming up this Saturday at Hopkinton High School. The Metrowest Symphony Orchestra will be conducting a special concert to help kick off "Marathon Week".

Regular readers may recall that Carolyn had the opportunity to play for this wonderful group while she was a student at Franklin High. She is still pictured in the group photo on the Metrowest website.

I wrote about the symphony previously here and here.

More about the concert is available here or directly at the Metrowest website.

If you go, I am sure it will be enjoyable.

This is a hidden gem for the Metrowest area. If you live in Franklin, Milford, Medway, Hopkinton, Westboro, Millis, Southboro, Marlboro or any of the other neighboring towns, you should look into attending a concert. This is great classical music at a very reasonable price.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

CoComment removed due to problem

You may have noticed some long delays loading the page today. I am not sure when it started but was at least occurring during the time I was blogging this Tuesday evening. Near as I could tell, the page load slowness was due to CoComment having some problems. Their site was not reachable. Their blog was not accessible. So for the time being the widget was removed.

We'll see what CoComment says about this when they get back online and determine how to proceed.

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It's a Franklin Problem, not a school problem

Franklin appears to be heading for a possible vote on an override. The Finance Committee meeting was instructive. They have known about the problem for the last several years. Franklin has been able to avoid a major problem by drawing down the reserve fund. This is not good fiscal management. You need to spend within your income, you can not draw from savings forever.

The real issue is that there are unfunded mandates, items of expense that the town does not directly control that exceed the 2.5 percent cap imposed by law. Since much of the unfunded mandates are state and federal requirements for the schools, it appears to a be "school budget" issue. It is not. It is a Franklin issue.

Franklin has grown because of the good school reputation. It is time to pay more for this fine educational benefit. Not an easy thing to do but it must be done.

What can you do?

1 - Be informed.

2 - Visit the school Superintendent's page for additional information on the budget and school operations.

3 - Visit the School Committee blog. Yes, they have a blog!

New reader or regular, you should be aware that my wife is a kindergarten teacher in Franklin. My two daughters are recent products of the Franklin School system and both are doing well in college. There are a few other good reasons for me to be writing about this issue. I will continue to elaborate on them here.

The schools educate our future. Our family has worked hard to get where we are today. We'd like to be able to dream of a good future here in Franklin. Stay tuned for what happens on Franklin's 2008 Budget.
Your vote will be important.

Monday, April 02, 2007

StopCyberBully Update

It is heartening to read that Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke have posted a joint statement about the major incident that prompted my endorsement of Andy Carvin's stopcyberbullying posting last week.

You can read their joint statement here.

Sounds like there may be more civil conversations about this as the story continues to play out.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dolores and East Conference Trophy

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Dolores and I got to meet with the New England Revolution team this afternoon. This is one of the three conference trophies that they have taken home (2002, 2005, and 2006).

This year they want to bring back the bigger one (The MLS Cup).