Sunday, January 9, 2011

FM #82 - Week Ending 1/8/11

Let's take about ten minutes to find out what matters in Franklin, MA as this week comes to a close. There are three important meetings in the coming week. We go over the highlights for each of them.

Time: 10 minutes, 0 seconds

MP3 File

Show Notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 82 in the series for Franklin Matters.

In this session, let's take about ten minutes and I'll fill you in on what matters in Franklin as 2011 opens and the Fiscal Year 2012 budget season begins in earnest.

The Finance Committee was canceled this week. The first meeting they have for 2011 will be Feb 8th.

The Long Range Financial Planning Committee did meet on Wednesday for the first time since August 8, 2010. One of the citizen members (Morrison) was stepping back and a request went out for a replacement. The response was overwhelming in quantity and quality. So much so, that the group was reconstituted and resumed this week as a committee comprised of all citizens. The surprise, if any, was that there was an ex-officio Town Counselor present but no one from the Schools. Should there be? I think yes, and there is one single reason, a big one. With all due respect to the Town side of the budget, the schools account of half of the total budget. You can not leave out any insights into half the budget of any type of serious discussions. This is only the first meeting, they are still organizing, there was talk of having schools represented in some form for future meetings. We'll see what happens.

I was thoroughly impressed with the credentials of the new committee. These will be very good representatives for the citizen or outside view.

My meeting notes can be found here:

The week ahead has three important meetings.

Monday – the public has an opportunity for input to the smaller of the two downtown projects. Yes, there are two. The Federal grant is $5 million and covers E Central, Main St through to the Old Brick School. The second grant, Public Works Economic Development (PWED) from the state is worth $1 million and covers Emmons Street between Main Street and Hillside Road, Dean Avenue between Main and Ray Streets, Ray Street and Depot Street.

The two projects have separate budgets and separate plans but it does make sense to coordinate the planning and eventual construction work between the two.

Details on the location and time for this meeting are contained in the link attached.

Tuesday – the School Committee meets for the first time in 2011.

The guest and presentation section has the following items:

  • FHS Girls Soccer Team
  • Harry Potter Re-write – Davis Thayer - Debbie Taylor (Teacher) and students Katie Sumner and Reilly Deforge
  • K-5 Health Program – Kristen Cerce, Michele Kingsland Smith
  • Budget Update - Kindergarten

As I recall, there were two items previously scheduled for the January 25th meeting; kindergarten and the space needs report. Given the kindergarten update has been moved here, I can speculate (which is always dangerous) that kindergarten is no longer 'on the table' from a budget perspective. If you recall the analysis I did with the School Administration last year, moving from full to half day was NOT a cost savings. The Budget Subcommittee would likely have come to that conclusion in their recent meetings as well if that is the case. Again, this is reading between the lines on my part, I could be wrong. We'll find out Tuesday.

The school enrollment projections reinforce my expectation that with the shifts in population within Franklin and the overall decline in student population, we will see a re-districting proposal. Some of the schools are over capacity, others are under. It makes sense to shift the school boundaries to equalize the populations. This should be a collaborative process and not something done 'overnight'. The modular buildings over time can also be de-commissioned rather than replaced. This is also somewhat speculative on my part but I feel comfortable with that direction based upon what the numbers are showing. The details on this we should find out at the School Committee meeting on the 25th.

Either way, both of these items and their budget impact (if any) should be covered during the budget workshop on Saturday the 29th. If you don't have that on your calendar, I would encourage you to make the time for it.

Back to the meeting on the 11th, the School Committee also has a 'community engagement' item in the 'Discussion Only' section. As the parent communication survey was last done in 2005, it appears that the committee will be looking for an update.

School Committee agenda

Enrollment projections

2005 Parent Communication survey results

Wednesday – The Town Council meets for the first time this year. Amongst the items on the agenda, two caught my eye. One, Franklin Cafe and Grill is looking for a liquor license for their new operation to open in what was the KFC building at 418 W Central St. Two, there is a joint easement agreement proposed between the Town and the Franklin Center Commons

The Town Council agenda can be found here:

These three meetings get us quickly into 2011, the budget season and important decisions about how this town will look and operate. Please stay informed, please participate, this will be a busy and important year.

In case you missed the end of year 2010 or mid-year (Jan to Jun) review, you can find them here

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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!