The high school proposal was approved by the Town Council on Wednesday night. March 27 will be the date that the voters have their say on this important matter. The arguments for the new school are rather convincing; paying 40 cents on a dollar to gain a brand new high school. Who wouldn't do that? Bottom line, the taxes we all pay will need to increase although not in a significant way for the high school until 2017.
In the meantime, we need to address the operational needs of Franklin. What level of service do we want? The Library has just been excluded from the state inter-library network likely due to the under-funding of their operation that has happened over the recent years. Franklin had applied for waiver and as we go to press this week, the specific details around this remain to be determined. However, it should not be a surprise. It has been threatened before and was one of the key arguments for the successful operational override that passed in 2007 (the only one that did!).
What Franklin needs to do is leverage the hundreds of volunteers that are gathering to promote the discussion for the new high school, to also talk about our operational needs. The two discussions go hand-in-hand. While yes, strictly speaking there is a capital budget and an operational budget, to the average Franklin taxpayer, there is one tax bill.
Should we go all out to build a new high school at such a good deal (given the state reimbursement) and not appropriately fund our regular operational requirements, we'll end up with a nice new school and insufficient teachers, administrators and other staff to support it. Those extra classrooms that are being touted may very well go unused if we don't support our operational requirements. The School budget has already cut over 100 teachers in the last several years. Will there be enough left at the high school to use the new school?
The discussion needs to be had. We can no longer ignore the 'elephant in the room'. The time and opportunity is now. What services will the Franklin taxpayers support?
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