Franklin (MA) School Committee Blog

The pieces below represent the views of the individual authors, not the committee as a whole.

Archive for the ‘Community Relations’ Category

American schools do a better job than some may think

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on August 19, 2009

To those who think that American schools are so bad, look at the book Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization by Yong Zhao. As the jacket materials note, this remarkable book will forever change the debate about what’s wrong and what’s right with American education and where it should be going.

Based on his own experience as a student in China and as a parent of children attending school in the United States, Zhao skewers conventional wisdom while setting straight the recent history and current state of US schools. To make his case, Zhao explains:

  • Why the perceived weaknesses of American education are actually its strengths.
  • How reform proponents, business executives, and politicians have misjudged American education.
  • Why China and other nations in Asia are actually reforming their systems to be more like their American counterparts.
  • What really matters for an education system and what really counts as educational excellence.

With an extraordinary command of facts and thought leadership, Zhao describes how schools have to keep pace with a world that is being dramatically transformed by globalization, the “death of distance,” and digital technology. Instead of falling in line with mandates for standardization, his prescription is for educators to

  • Expand the definition of success beyond math and reading test scores.
  • Personalize schooling so that every student has opportunity to learn.
  • View schools as enterprises that embrace globalization and digital technology.

You can view the slideshow from Zhao’s presentation at the 2009 School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) by clicking here or one viewer’s notes by clicking here.

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Former Justice urges more civic education

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on August 7, 2009

David H. Souter, retired as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, challenged American Bar Association (ABA) members at the Opening Assembly for the 2009 Annual Meeting to “take on the job of making American civic education real again.”  For video of Souter’s speech, click here

When more than two-thirds of Americans cannot even name the three branches of government, they cannot speak up for an independent judiciary, Souter said.  “This is something to worry about” and there is “a risk to constitutional government,” he warned.  Souter said he learned the statistic in a conference convened in 2006 by retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

He contrasted the lack of public understanding of the workings of government today with his own civic development as a child growing up in Weare, N.H.  He attended yearly town meetings with his parents, watching community leaders decide issues of local governance, differentiating between legislative and executive functions and between township responsibilities and those of the state.  A respected citizen who had been elected by township residents lead the meeting with fairness and recognition of all viewpoints, in a judicial capacity, he said.  When he reached the ninth grade, the formal civics class taught in school was easy to understand, and not one of his classmates would have failed to identify the branches of government, he added.

The reality that a “majority of the public is unaware of the structure of government,” and fails to understand the notion of separation of powers, is the “root problem we have to face about judicial independence,” Souter said. 

Civic education must be raised to a new power,” he concluded.  It is “the birthright of every American.”

Along these lines, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in cooperation with Georgetown University Law Center and has developed a Web site and interactive civics curriculum for 7th, 8th and 9th grade students called Our Courts. You can view that site by clicking here. At the ABA conference, Meryl J. Chertoff, Professor at Georgetown University Law School and Director of the Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary reported on new online learning tool. You can view that video by clicking here.

As part of my personal commitment to this effort, for the past two years, I have participated in the Constitution in the Classroom project at Franklin High School. Constitution in the Classroom is an effort by the American Constitution Society to bring its members into primary and secondary classrooms to raise awareness of fundamental constitutional principles. In 2009, the classroom discussion focused on the Redding student strip search case which was decided by the Supreme Court in June 2009. The conversations with students have been lively and bring into perspective the role of the courts in their lives.

As Thomas jefferson once observed: “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.”   Those words are critical underpinnings to the need for greater civics instruction in schools.

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The community benefits from education

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on June 26, 2009

Having strong and vital schools is important for every community. Because we appreciate that fact, we are constantly urging the community to support public education and keep us on the path of moving from good to great. The downturn in the economy has been troubling to these efforts, but we remain committed to the cause.

It is in this spirit that we introduce you to the Common Good Forecaster, a joint product of United Way and the American Human Development Project. They have developed a tool to forecast how things might change in our community if educational outcomes were better.

They have also prepared a companion report which you can view by clicking here. As they note in the introduction:

Those who advocate for greater investment in education often make the economic argument: more education leads to higher wages and is critical for financial stability and independence. They’re right. Robust evidence supports the view that higher levels of educational attainment are linked to higher incomes, less unemployment, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance.

But education is about more than just better jobs and bigger paychecks, important though they are in making families and individuals more financially stable. More education is also linked to better physical and mental health, longer lives, fewer crimes, less incarceration, more voting, greater tolerance, and brighter prospects for the next generation. More education is good for individuals who stay in school to earn their high school degree or who enter and graduate college, but it is also good for all of us, paying big dividends in the form of increased civic engagement, greater neighborhood safety, and a healthy, vibrant democracy.

You can look at the statistics for Norfolk County by going to the forecaster, which you can view by clicking here. Once there you can view the data sets and see for yourself how education impacts our community. We have long been strong and passionate advocates for education in Franklin and believe that the site offers empirical evidence of the benefits of living in a community with a high performing school district. You are also urged to review the companion report for suggestions on ways that you can help and support the educational offerings in Franklin.

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Franklin teacher on mission at space camp

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on June 20, 2009

Horace Mann Middle School science teacher James Schliefke is at space camp this week after earning a scholarship from Honeywell.

Schliefke, a resident of Franklin, was one of 288 teachers from 16 countries and 47 states chosen to take part in the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy programs at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

He is sharing letters and photos from SpaceCamp on the County Gazette’s website which you can view by clicking here.

The Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy programs provide teachers with new and innovative techniques to educate their students about science and math.

The programs focus on space science and exploration in a variety of classroom, laboratory and real-life astronaut training, including: a high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training, and state-of-the-art flight dynamics programs.

Schliefke is the only teacher from Massachusetts chosen to attend.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, Honeywell and its employees have sponsored more than 1,100 scholarships for teachers from 36 countries and all 50 U.S. states, to participate in the Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy programs.

Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy is part of Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company’s corporate citizenship initiative, which focuses on several areas of vital importance: Family Safety & Security; Housing & Shelter; Science & Math Education; Habitat & Conservation; and Humanitarian Relief. Together with leading public and non-profit institutions, Honeywell has developed powerful programs to address these needs in the communities it serves.

For more information on Honeywell Hometown Solutions, click here.

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New FPS logo unveiled

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on June 10, 2009

A new logo for the Franklin Public Schools (shown at right) was unveiled last night at the School Committee meeting. The new logo was chosen from many participants in a contest that the Strategic Planning Committee organized to involve students in the strategic planning process.

Roseann Gosch, art teacher, created a flyer and encouraged students to help us design a logo for the Franklin Public School District. Students were encouraged to create a bold graphic image that represents all of our separate schools combined. After the drawings were submitted, they were brought to the Franklin High School Graphic Design class which incorporated them into a finished product.

Thirty students who participated in the design process were recognized and received certificates at last night’s School Committee meeting. Kristen Dumas was recognized for coming up with the winning logo.

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Shining eyes amplified the performances

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on April 6, 2009

Over the last month, we have had the opportunity to see Franklin students perform on stage in various ensembles. We have seen bands, orchestras, choral groups, and for the past two weekends, we have had theatrical performances put on by the Footlighters (all three middle schools) and Franklin High School. Here’s a snapshot of what we has taken place in the last five weeks alone:

The Franklin High Jazz Band performed in four different Jazz Festivals all listed below:

  • University of Massachusetts Jazz Festival At this festival three high school students were awarded scholarships to attend the UMass Summer Jazz Program
  • Massachusetts Central District Jazz Festival The band was awarded a gold medal and was invited to perform at the state festival
  • University of New Hampshire Jazz Festival All Jazz Band students also attended an improvisation clinic at this festival
  • Massachusetts State Jazz Festival The band was awarded a silver medal at the state Jazz finals

The band also performed at the FEF Trivia Bee

Three of our high school students were accepted into the Massachusetts Music Educators All State Festival. These students performed in the Massachusetts All State concert at Symphony Hall.

On March 27th & 28th, the middle school students ppresented “Guys and Dolls” and on April 3rd & 4th, the FHS performed “South Pacific.”

On Saturday, April 4th, the Middle School String Orchestra and the Middle School Select Chorus competed at the MICCA festival.  At the festival, the Combined Middle School Orchestra received a silver medal and the Middle School combined Select Chorus received a bronze medal.

These events give both participants and the audience a feel for what performance is all about. Students get to see how you translate technical musical skills into a performance. There is far more to music than simply knowing the piece and playing it. You have to make your performance appeal to the audience and you have to move them.

Along those lines, I ask you to indulge me for 20 minutes. Please view the 20 minute video below that explains the idea of “performance” very well. It’s a TED talk by Benjamin Zander. Since 1979, Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He is known around the world as both a guest conductor and a speaker on leadership — and he’s been known to do both in a single performance. He uses music to help people open their minds and create joyful harmonies that bring out the best in themselves and their colleagues. Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. In this video, you’ll see him translate this passion into words, and hopefully make you appreciate what you see in the performances each night.

You can view the video by clicking here or on the image below.


And here is a clip from the Presentation blog that provides more perspective:

It is not enough to know a piece of music intellectually or to play it without any mistakes, you have to convey the true language of the music emotionally, says Zander. When musicians truly get into the music and play it with such heart and emotion that audiences are moved beyond words, Zander noticed that the music was flowing through the musicians, taking control of their bodies as they swayed from side to side. Zander, then, urges musicians to become “one-buttock players,” that is to let the music flow through their bodies, causing them to lean and to move from one buttock to the other. If you’re a musician, or making a performance of virtually any kind, and you are totally in the moment and connecting with the language of the music and the audience, there is no way you can be a “two-buttock player.” You’ve got to move, you’ve got to connect, and you must not hold back your passion but instead let the audience have a taste of the commitment, energy, and passion you have for the music (or the topic, the ideas, etc.). This quote below from Martha Graham captures the essence of the idea of giving way to passion (from page 116 of The Art of Possibility). I think you can apply these words to the art of performance or presentation, and frankly to life in general including leadership, entrepreneurship, etc.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” — Martha Graham

You decide. You can hold back, aim not to make an error and play it perfectly “on two-buttocks,” or you can say “Screw it!—I’ll take a risk” and dare to lean into the music with intensity, color, humanity, and passion and quite possibly, in your own small way (and on only one buttock), change the world. Play it with total sincerity and with your entire body — heart and soul — and you will make a connection and change things. As Ben Zander said while encouraging one of his talented students to play it in the “one-buttock” style:

“If you play that way, they won’t be able to resist you. You will be a compelling force behind which everyone will be inspired to play their best.” — Ben Zander

Thank you to the Franklin middle and high school students who did such a great job over the past two weekends. You truly did have shining eyes.

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Emerging young artists featured in exhibit

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on April 1, 2009

woodshed-gallery-posterIf you are looking for an event that will give you a glimpse into the creativity of some of our Franklin students, you are urged to attend to the gallery opening next week. Entitled, “Emerging Young Artists of Franklin,” the show features the work of 7 Franklin High School students who intend to pursue their art beyond high school.

The opening is April 7th from 5-7pm at the Woodshed Gallery, 1243 Pond Street. Artwork will be on display until April 28th.

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TIMSS results place Massachusetts among world leaders in math and science

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on February 23, 2009

Massachusetts’ fourth and eighth graders outscored the nation, and most of their international peers, in math and science on the world’s largest study of student performance in those subjects. According to the results of the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Massachusetts 4th graders ranked second worldwide in science achievement and tied for third in mathematics; the state’s 8th graders tied for first in science and ranked sixth in mathematics.

TIMSS is an international math and science assessment administered every four years to a sampling of 4th and 8th grade students in participating nations around the world. The test was administered in April and May 2007 to 3,600 students attending 95 randomly selected schools in Massachusetts.

Other findings include:

  • Massachusetts 8th graders made significant gains in math and science performance on TIMSS between 1999 and 2007. In math, the state’s 8th graders improved by 34 points, from 513 in 1999 to 547 in 2007. In science, 8th graders scored 23 points higher in 2007 (556) than in 1999 (533). There are no trend results for the state’s 4th graders.
  • In grade 8 science, 20% of Massachusetts students met the Advanced Benchmark, behind Singapore (32%) and Chinese Taipei (25%). In math, 16% of the state’s 8th graders scored Advanced, behind Chinese Taipei (45%), the Republic of Korea (40%), Singapore (40%), Hong Kong SAR (31%), and Japan (26%).
  • Boys outscored girls in Massachusetts on three of the four tests. At grade 4, boys outscored girls in math (578 to 567) and science (576 to 566). At grade 8, boys outscored girls in science (561 to 551), but the difference was not statistically significant in math (550 for boys, 544 for girls).

TIMSS was developed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in Amsterdam to measure trends in students’ math and science performance worldwide. In all, 59 countries and 425,000 students participated in the 2007 TIMSS administration. Massachusetts and Minnesota were the only two states to opt to participate as “nations.”

Additional information on TIMSS is available online at the National Center for Education Statistics’ website (nces.ed.gov/timss/) and the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center’s website at timss.bc.edu/.

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Vallee appointed as majority leader

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on February 12, 2009

Congratulations are in order for Franklin’s State Representative James Vallee who was chosen to be a key player on the leadership team of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. Jim was selected as the Majority Leader. For the complete report from today’s Boston Globe, click here.

Jim has been a consistent and loyal friend of the Franklin public schools and we wish him well in his new position. Thanks to his continued leadership, Franklin has been a generous recipient of state aid to support our educational offerings. He is also a frequent visitor to and supporter of the Franklin schools.

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Complements to the Franklin staff

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on February 6, 2009

There are those occasions when a refreshing letter comes across the desk. Today was one of them.

Assistant Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski shared a letter she received from one of our teachers at Remington Middle School. The letter speaks to the caliber of the staff in the Franklin Public Schools, their commitment to public education, and their dedication to the task at hand. The Paul and Shawn she is referring to are Principal Paul Peri and Assistant Principal Shawn Forton. It is with great pleasure that I share it with you here:

Dear Maureen,

I feel it necessary to email you my thoughts about Paul, Shawn, and Franklin in general. Let me back track a little bit. Before I got to Franklin, I thought I would be potentially entering my last year of being a teacher. The administration and politics at my previous school district burnt me out with their rigid rules on the make-up of the perfect teacher. It allowed me to forget why I went into teaching in the first place-the children. Everything seemed to overshadow my passion for teaching. I found myself saying that I was going to work every day, not school. I even questioned my effectiveness in the classroom.

When I arrived at my interview at RMS, I didn’t know that I would leave the building praying that I would be hired by Franklin. The professionalism of Tim, Paul, Jeff Chaffee, and Shawn during the interview shined. Their vision of finding the perfect fit for RMS was evident. I was offered two jobs before Paul had called me. I bravely asked these two schools to be patient as I was waiting to hear back from another school (RMS). When Paul called me with the offer, I was in Seventh Heaven! Suddenly, my enthusiasm for being a teacher came back! This has only rejuvenated itself working with Paul and Shawn.

Paul welcomed me to the RMS community by offering his assistance from everything from desks to school supplies. Little did I know at the time, that he was stepping into new shoes himself (Do you like that one?). He was dealing with his own transition, but that never got in the way of helping a new teacher find her way around RMS. He has always been very clear that he’s available anytime. I can go into his office anytime, and he’ll drop whatever it is to help/hear me. Paul says what he means, and means what he says. It’s always about the little things isn’t it? Before school started, I received a card from Paul welcoming me to RMS. Since then, I’ve received thank you cards for various occasions such as volunteering at the schools’ “Lock-In.” It’s these little gestures of appreciation that really go a long way. On our Wed Memos, Paul posts “Best Practices.” This spotlights what my colleagues are doing well in their classroom. This builds community and allows everyone to celebrate the top-notch staff. It brings us closer as the family that we are. Paul is a precious gem, a D-Flawless, if you will.

I was so excited to have Shawn as a teammie. Then, he was taken away and promoted to Assistant Principal. Good call!!! Shawn is junior in his position, but this never hindered his ability to make decisions regarding the students. Last year, I stopped sending students to the A.P. because there was no point. I knew that I could give them a better suited consequence. This year, there is never a hesitation. I know that when I send a student to Shawn, he is going to assess the situation and handle it in the best way possible. He’ll consult me either before or after meeting with the student to ensure that it is handled well. I appreciate the respect. Shawn commands respect and gets it. Furthermore, the students always know that Shawn will make a fair decision. One time, Shawn was walking down the hallway and my students had set up their Giver projects. They really wanted him to see them because they value his opinion. He took time out of his busy schedule and visited my classroom to pay his oohs and ahhs to the students’ hard work. They were so thrilled! Shawn is always friendly and approachable.

I wanted to let you know how thrilled I am to go to school, not work every day. Franklin has renewed my love for teaching. My administration, team, and colleagues are second to none. I take the CBJ class on Thurs and have gotten to know teachers working in the other middle schools. Franklin certainly only hires the cream of the crop.

Lastly, I wanted to congratulate you in your new role. May you have fabulous shoes on your first official day on the job!

Julie McManuis, M.Ed.

Remington Middle School

Grade 7: English/Language Arts

Posted in Community Relations, Teaching | 1 Comment »

Facebook for educators

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 18, 2009

Here is a video for educators on how to use Facebook as an educational tool.  It includes creative uses of the news feed, wall, and applications specific for student-teacher communications.  As the author notes, Facebook can be a powerful tool to drive a sense of belonging in the classroom.  Click on the image below to view the video.

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Light appointed principal at FHS

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 15, 2009

On Tuesday, January 13, 2009, Peter Light was appointed as the new Principal of Franklin High School. He will take over the reins on January 26, 2009.

Light has been a part of the Franklin community for the last 12 years, most recently as an Assistant Principal at Franklin High. The School Committee is delighted that Mr. Light will be staying in Franklin.

At the last school committee meeting, Mr. light took the opportunity to outline his vision, objectives, and leadership style. We have captured that segment of the meeting in three parts for viewing online. You can begin with part one by clicking on the image below. Parts two and three are included in the blog posts below.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Light to his new position. For the Milford Daily News report on lights elevation to Principal, please click here.

Posted in Community Relations | 1 Comment »

Light outlines his vision and objectives for FHS

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 15, 2009

In this second part (of three videos), newly appointed FHS Principal Peter Light, continues to outline his vision and objectives for Franklin High School. He takes over the position beginning on January 26, 2009. You can view the video by clicking on the image below.

Posted in Community Relations | 1 Comment »

Light takes questions from the committee

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 15, 2009

In this segment of videos, Peter Light responds to questions concerning his new job as principal of Franklin High School. You can view the video by clicking on the image below.

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Students give civics lesson to school board

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 13, 2009

In what may be the first attempt in California to unseat an entire school board, high school students and supporters who want to oust all five members of the Big Oak Flat-Groveland School Board fired collected enough signatures to put the issue before voters, the Tuolumne County clerk said Friday. The students organized the recall campaign as a civics project after the board voted to get rid of their popular math teacher Ryan Duton, a former professional football player.

The controversy began in September after Supt. Mari Brabbin and the school board removed Dutton from his job teaching math at Tioga High School over an allegation of plagiarism. He also lost his post coaching baseball. Dutton, 31, who was studying for his teaching credential at Cal State Fresno, was accused of copying another student’s homework in March. He denied the charge. The University says the allegations were unfounded but the school board refused to reconsider its decision, so the students organized a recall campaign and tossed out the entire school board.

The school board is scheduled to meet next week to receive formal notice that the recall has qualified. The board will have the option of calling the election itself and allowing a vote entirely by mail.

For the complete story as reported in the Los Angeles Times, click here.

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Attracting and retaining the best and brightest teachers

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 7, 2008

Attracting and retaining the best and brightest teachers in the Franklin public school system has been one of the top priorities for the School Committee. Our last post on teachers can be viewed by clicking here. We continuously look for ways to improve the quality of our educational workforce. We have been extremely successful in coordinating this effort, but recent budget issues have placed a strain on our ability to maintain our high standards. We will continue to pursue these efforts nonetheless.

Today, the Boston Globe published an interesting op-ed piece which highlights the need for good teaching. In the piece, we are reminded that President-Elect Barack Obama has declared that “now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation – to provide every child a world-class education.” To do so, we need to focus on teachers in the classroom. As the article further notes:

The clearest result from decades of education research is the importance of teacher quality. My colleague Tom Kane finds that students who are lucky enough to get a teacher in the top quarter of the teacher-quality distribution jump 10 percentile points in the student achievement distribution relative to children who end up with less able teachers. Improving teacher quality has about twice the impact on student outcomes as radically reducing class size.

Just as the human capital of our citizens will determine the strength of our nation, the human capital of our teachers will determine the quality of our schools. The first step toward improving teacher quality is to attract more talented teachers. The second step is to improve teacher selection on the job, promoting the best and encouraging the worst to help society in some other way.

The piece was written by Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University. He is the director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. To view the complete article, click here.

Posted in Community Relations, Teaching | 1 Comment »

Retired teacher volunteering to help at FHS

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 3, 2008

For some it may be a golf course or beach which calls them out of retirement. But for one retired teacher, it’s the opportunity to get back into a classroom that is the lure.

For the past year, Don Roemer, a Franklin resident and retired teacher from the Wayland Public School system, has volunteered as a part-time teacher working alongside a few full-timers at Franklin High School, in a pilot program he proposed last October to Franklin Superintendent of Schools Wayne Ogden.

The Milford Daily News did a story on his public service and the pilot program. You can see the full story by clicking here. The story is accompanied by a video which can be viewed by clicking the image below or clicking here.

Our thanks and gratitude go out to Mr. Roemer. This is a classic win-win situation, giving our high school students an opportunity to get some extra guidance, and a retired teacher the opportunity to get back into the classroom.

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Franklin schools update

Posted by Ed Cafasso on September 1, 2008

As we begin the 2008-09 school year in Franklin, it is worth reviewing some objective facts about the state of your schools. The first section of the report below provides a summary of academic performance in Franklin as of today. A second section summarizes the financial performance of the school district based on the most recent data available.

The School Committee believes that this data demonstrates that, up to now, the Franklin Public Schools have been high performing academically and have used taxpayer resources in a highly efficient manner to produce those results. How long can it continue? That’s the big question. You be the judge.

Academic Performance   

The Franklin Public Schools received four commendations in 2007-08 from the Office of Educational Quality Assurance (EQA) that directly affect and speak to student performance: High MCAS scores, curricular alignment with state frameworks, the district professional development program, and the mentoring program. 

The district analysis of the 2007 MCAS data continues to identify the Franklin Public School System as a “high performance” district in all tests at all grade levels.

  • All students continue to outperform the state averages on the same tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science/Technology Engineering (STE). 
  • All 17 tests, including three Long Composition tests, given in Grades 4, 7, and 10 scored a “High” (80-89.9) or “Very High” (90-100) performance rating.
  • MCAS 2007 included, for the first time, the addition of a science competency test at the high school.  Students in the class of 2010 must pass a STE test to graduate. The district identified Biology as the test of choice since Biology is a requirement for graduation.  The 2007 Grade 9 Biology CPI was 96.7 (Very High), outperforming the state by two performance ratings.
  • All Special Education subgroups in Grades 3-10 achieved a higher proficiency index than state subgroups in each of the subject tests.
  • All Low Income subgroups achieved higher proficiency indices (PI) than the state subgroups in each tested area with the exception of Grade 7 ELA, which scored equal to that of the state subgroup, and Grade 8 Math, which came in at 3 PI points below that of the state subgroup.
  • When compared with 28 top-performing districts in the state by AYP grade levels (3-5, 6-8, 9-12), Franklin outperformed 14 districts in one or more of these AYP reporting categories.
  • At the high school, 105 students were awarded the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship based on their Grade 10 MCAS performance.  Students qualified for this scholarship by scoring: (a) in the Advanced category in English Language Arts or Mathematics and Advanced or Proficient in the other subject area on the grade 10 MCAS assessments; and, (b) in the top 25% of the students in the district on these tests.

The complete MCAS report may be found on the Franklin Public Schools main web page by clicking here. 

In addition, the Franklin schools met the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standard for 2007 in both ELA and Mathematics.  This is an important improvement indicator for Franklin and identifies the district as “No Status” for two years running.   From 2003-2005, the district did not meet AYP (subgroups only).  In 2006, the district made AYP and maintained this status for a second year (2007).  This two-year performance has officially removed the Franklin Public Schools from the “Identified for Improvement – subgroups” status.

District and school NCLB Report Cards may be viewed on the Franklin Public Schools website by clicking here. 

At Franklin High School, the graduation rate for the Class of 2008 was 98.7%. Of the graduates, 73.1% chose to attend a public or private four-year college, and 15.4% chose to attend a public or private two-year college. Graduates chose to attend a wide range of well-known colleges or universities, including Boston College, Boston University, Bates, Brandeis, Dean College, Harvard, Hofstra, Northeastern, Providence, Syracuse, University of Pennsylvania, and U-Mass.

School Financial Performance

According to April 2008 data from Massachusetts Department of Education, Franklin spent $9,586 per pupil. (This data is for the 2006-07 academic year, the most recent calculated by the state.)

Fifty-one (51) school districts spent less per pupil than Franklin, and 277 spent more per pupil than Franklin. In other words, 84% of the school districts in the state spent more per pupil than Franklin. The average per pupil expenditure among school districts in Massachusetts stood at $11,859, which was $2,273 more than Franklin’s.

  • Franklin spent $201 per pupil on school administration. The state average was $401
  • Franklin spent $480 per pupil on instructional leadership. The state average was $770.
  • Franklin spent $4,718 per pupil on classroom and specialist teachers. The state average was $4,513.
  • Franklin spent $90 per pupil on professional development. The state average was $222.
  • Franklin spent $190 per pupil on instructional materials, equipment and technology. The state average was $356.
  • Franklin spent $213 per pupil on guidance and counseling. The state average was $328.
  • Franklin spent $862 per pupil on pupil services. The state average was $1,081.
  • Franklin spent $923 per pupil on operations and maintenance. The state average was $1,041.
  • Franklin spent $908 per pupil on insurance and retirement programs. The state average was $1,929.

The average teacher salary in Franklin stood at $56,366, according to the DOE data. Statewide, the average teacher salary was $58,257.

Franklin’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is approximately $88 million. The school budget for the current academic year is $49.9 million, approximately $3 million less than the amount required to maintain the same level of service as last year. The town budget is funded largely by two key revenue streams – property taxes, which provide $48.8 million or 55% of the total, and state and local aid, which provides $33.5 million or about 38% of the total.

Chapter 70 education aid accounts for the vast majority of the state aid distributed to Franklin and totals $28.7 million in the current fiscal year. Almost 58% of the budget of Franklin Public Schools is paid for through Chapter 70 funds.

The Franklin School Committee will do its best in the 2008-09 academic year to continue to deliver the best possible educational outcomes with the resources and support we receive from the state and local governments. We hope parents, staff, alumni and members of the community will continue to support this effort despite difficult economic times.

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Franklin a website superstar

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on April 28, 2008

Franklin is one of only 24 communities in the state whose website has been designated a “superstar” by the Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government. The organization recognized municipal websites that make it easy for citizens to obtain access to key government records online. As noted by MCOG, this simple and inexpensive action opens local government to more people and greatly improves their ability to be responsible, informed citizens. With the growth of the internet, everyone should be able to obtain important information about their local government with the click of a mouse.

The communities selected and criteria can be viewed by clicking here. Franklin was designated a superstar because its site includes:

  • an archive of governing board minutes and agendas
  • zoning bylaws
  • town or city charter
  • community calendar
  • school committee agenda and minutes, and
  • agendas and minutes of one other town committee

The Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government’s goal is to make access to information about local and state government actions and decisions as easy as possible for every citizen, by raising public awareness about the Massachusetts Open Meeting law and the Massachusetts Public Records Law, by supporting changes to those laws to increase access, and by encouraging greater use of the internet by local and state governments as a mechanism for providing access.

Massachusetts Campaign For Open Government is a project of Common Cause Massachusetts, a citizens lobby for open and accountable government.

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K-12 art gallery opening at FHS

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 12, 2008

We received this exciting announcement from Mike Caple, the K-12 Art Director & Art Teacher:

The Art Department has been working this year to open a Franklin Public Schools K-12 Art Gallery. All the teachers in the department work tremendously hard to teach the students relevant art skills and thinking strategies. We believe it is important to get the results out of the class room and share it with the greater community. The new gallery space is yet another way we can share with the community.

The new gallery space, Gallery 218, is located in the old bank space at Franklin High School. I want to stress that even though the space is housed at FHS the gallery is K-12. The work that will be on display for the first show will represent all buildings in the district. We are calling it Young Artists 08! The art work is from this year’s Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards entries and work that is currently at the Worcester Art Museum as part of the Youth Art Month Program.

I would like to invite all of you to the Inaugural Exhibition Opening of Gallery 218! The opening will take place Monday April 14th from 6:30-8:30pm and is free to all. That evening we will also be running an Empty Bowls event to continue to raise money for the Franklin Food Pantry. A $5 donation will allow you to pick out your own mug or plate and fill it with hot chocolate, coffee, or sweet treats. I do hope you can join us.

The AP Studio Art students are currently working on a post card invitation that I will send to all of you.

Thank you for all your support!

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Academic Decathlon team places 3rd in state

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 9, 2008

Franklin High School’s Academic Decathlon team came in third place in the State Finals competition held at Walpole High on Saturday, March 8, 2008. This year’s topic was the American Civil War, and Franklin followed winner Acton-Boxborough and second place finisher Wellesley in the day-long competition.

The team is coached by Pamela Cook and Kevin McCarthy, both teachers at Franklin High.

The Academic Decathlon team is made up of nine students in A,B, or C categories based on their G.P.A. Students compete in the areas of literature, social science, science, fine arts, math, economics, and the Super Quiz. The topics in each area change yearly, and the schools with the highest totals go on to the final state competition in March. At that time an essay, an interview, and two speeches are added to the test and the Super Quiz portions.

The event is organized throughout the country by the United States Academic Decathlon organization. The winner of the state event goes on to participate in the national competition will be held April 30 – May 3, 2008 in Garden Grove, California.

In addition to the team competition, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded for individual events and total scores. In the State competition, Franklin had seven medal winners as follows:

Elise Howell- Bronze in language & literature, Silver in music

Kevin Moore- Silver in interview

Alicia Roy- Gold in art, Gold in science

Arushi Singh- Bronze in interview

Patrick Skehill- Gold in economics

Congratulations to the Academic Decathlon Team and thank you for bringing honor and pride to the Franklin Public Schools.

The FHS students maintain an AcaDec page on Facebook which can be viewed by clicking here.

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FHS’s own featured artists

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 8, 2008

soundhall.jpgOn Thursday, January 3rd the Franklin High School “Sound in the Hall” musicians and recording students under the direction of Michael Peacock recorded a live radio show. During this show students performed and were interviewed by DJ Mark Maverick from 104.7FM iRadio in Los Angeles. FHS teacher and studio founder Mike Peacock and FHS Principal Pam Gould were also interviewed for the show.

This interview was conducted from the Franklin High School music room to Los Angeles using the Skype software. On Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. the show was broadcast live from Los Angeles. It will be rebroadcast on Wednesday 1/9 at 7:00 p.m. and on again Thursday 1/10 at 8:00 p.m. It will then be added to iRadio’s pod cast page for on demand listening. Because this is one of the first student run record companies in the country the station has decided to make “Sound in the Hall Records” their featured artist for January.

This student run record company has created an outlet to highlight the talents at Franklin High School. Students are involved with all aspects of music recording and production. Students are creating and performing as well as designing the CD labels and marketing and distributing the CDs to the public. Franklin’s music director Nancy Schoen observed that Mr. Peacock has done a wonderful job with this program and described it as a great opportunity for our Franklin High students.

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Franklin in Top 10 places to raise a family

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on July 28, 2007

Family Circle magazine rated Franklin as one of the top 10 places to raise a family in the United States. The town is featured in a cover story in the August 2007 issue of the magazine which described the 10 communities as perfect places to live. You can see the entry on Franklin by clicking here. To view the full article, click here.

In a July 2, 2007 letter to Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting, Editor-in-Chief Linda Fears noted that the magazine was honoring towns that offer what most parents and children want – affordable houses, good jobs, top-rated schools, open spaces, and a lot less stress. She also noted that Franklin was a place where families can thrive.

In the article, it was noted that:

When Americans choose an area to live in, most of us yearn for the same things: fewer crowds; less concrete and hassles; more serenity, nature, and neighbors we can count on. That’s why Family Circle singled out these small cities, where living costs, commute times, and crime rates are low, and the educational and cultural scenes are way above average. In all of them, moms and dads are stepping up to help their children thrive; they volunteer in schools, coach sports teams, and keep bike trails clean. As the people in these top towns will tell you, life is good.

CBS TV’s Early Show featured Franklin last week during an interview with Family Circle’s editor Linda Fears. To view the CBS video and report click here.   The honor was also featured in a Milford Daily News story which can be seen by clicking here

Kudos to the community. This is an honor in which we can all take pride.

Family Circle chose Franklin and the other communities with the help of On Board, a New York City research firm providing real estate and demographic data. With its help, Family Circle assembled a list of 1,850 places with populations between 15,000 and 150,000 and a high concentration of households with an average income of $65,000. From that, 800 localities were selected based on the magazine’s family-friendly criteria, including cost of living, jobs, schools, healthcare, air quality, green space, and crime rate. Family Circle assessed which towns best met those standards and ranked them according to state. The magazine then selected the winners from the highest-rated towns in the top 10 states nationwide.

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Brick School task force volunteers sought

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on June 29, 2007

As part of the vote to keep the Brick School open for the 2007-08 school year, the School Committee decided to form a task force to study the school’s long-term financial viability.  In doing so, the Committee is looking for people who may be interested in serving on that group.

In addition to financial vibility, the task force will study handicapped-accessibility, alternative uses for the building, grant funding,

The task force will include those who want to keep the school open and those who want to close it for financial and other reasons.

Volunteers interested in serving should submit their applications by delivery to the Superintendent’s office or via e-mail to the School Committee (click here for e-mail) by July 7, with selections to be announced at the July 10 meeting.

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Myths v. Realities

Posted by Ed Cafasso on May 14, 2007

With Franklin’s override vote coming up on May 22, many of you are undoubtedly speaking to neighbors and friends about the important issues at stake. Municipal finance is not an easy topic to discuss in the best of times. When the Town faces a serious situation with real consequences, the discussion can be confusing and emotional.

The following “Myths” and “Realities” should help keep the dialogue constructive and fact based, providing the knowledge you need to feel more comfortable discussing the override with your fellow citizens.

MYTH: The Town and the Schools don’t have a long-term plan.

REALITY: Both the town and the schools use long-term plans to make budget decisions. On the municipal side for example, the Town has a specific multi-year plan for capital improvements to roads, sewers, water lines, public buildings, etc. The schools have done long-term studies to track future enrollment, so we are trying to focus more resources at the high school while reducing the number of elementary teachers. The school system has a strategic plan, which is scheduled to be updated next year, and has developed a long-term budget plan that calls for bringing per pupil spending in line with the state average.

MYTH: The Town and the Schools don’t have any fiscal discipline.

REALITY: For almost a decade now, the tax burden on the homeowners of Franklin has never increased to support the Town’s revenue needs. Year after year, the Town and the Schools have managed inflationary costs and increasing service needs with the exact same share of property tax revenue. That is the definition of fiscal discipline.

Year after year, both the town and the schools have publicly debated and approved budgets that do not keep pace with rising costs or service needs. In order to avoid dismantling the services people expect, they have used generous state aid and money from rainy day/surplus funds to close the gap. And, they have gone to the citizens of Franklin to ask for additional tax revenue.

The facts are clear: The taxpayers’ share of the cost of operating municipal and school services in Franklin has literally never increased. Every proposal for override to help the operating budget has been shot down. The proportion of the Town budget that comes from property taxes has never changed, despite the fact that inflation and government mandates have increased costs dramatically each year. And yet we have been able maintain core services to residents. That’s the definition of fiscal discipline.

By any objective expert analysis, the amount of money the town spends – on both municipal services and school services – is well below state averages for communities of similar size, for communities with similar infrastructure, and for communities with similar per capita income. And yet our quality of life has remained relatively strong. That’s the definition of fiscal discipline.

MYTH: The Town and the Schools are not doing anything to address ongoing budget problems.

REALITY: Public employee health and pension costs represent the number one budget buster facing Franklin. These costs increase each year at a rate that far outstrips revenue. Town and school officials have been looking for ways to reduce these costs by working with the state Legislature, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and other groups.

The Town Administrator has lobbied for many years to alter certain elements of Proposition 2½ so that towns like Franklin have more flexibility, while the School Superintendent has lobbied for a more realistic state funding formula when it comes to meeting special education mandates.

MYTH: The Town and the Schools have negotiated sweetheart deals with all the public employee unions.

REALITY: There is no evidence to support that claim.

In fact, on the school side, only one union contract has been negotiated and approved in the last three years. Three-dozen school custodians recently negotiated a three-year contract with a total pay increase of slightly over 7% (less than 2.5% a year). The custodians’ entire pay raise was wiped out in the first year of their contract because of increases in the cost of their health insurance. And, 20% of the school custodians will soon lose their jobs without an override.

Contract negotiations with all other school employees unions are either on hold, stalled or headed toward mediation.

It’s true that employee costs drive a huge percentage of the Town and School budgets — that is the precise financial problem facing local, state and federal governments. Out-of-control employee healthcare and pension costs make nationwide headlines every week, including in the May 13 Boston Sunday Globe.

MYTH: The schools have laid off teachers as a scare tactic to get more people to support the override.

REALITY: Teachers in Franklin are being laid off for non-budget and budgetary reasons.

Every year at around this time, some teachers are let go based on their performance. These decisions usually don’t get media attention, but they happen annually.

Other teachers are being let go for budgetary reasons because the school budget faces a $4 million shortfall. Given that Franklin residents have never approved an override, it is only prudent to give teachers fair warning that their jobs are likely to be eliminated when the new fiscal year begins on July 1. Keep in mind that the months of April and May are prime time for teachers seeking jobs and for schools seeking to hire teachers. If teachers who are laid off from Franklin have sufficient time to find jobs elsewhere, the town will not have to pay their unemployment benefits. Delaying pink slips until late May or early June could wind up costing Franklin taxpayers more money.

The exact number of teachers who are being laid off by grade level, as well as the number of teaching positions that would be restored if the override passes, can be found online at: www.franklin.k12.ma.us/co/supt/budget/Final08Budget.pdf.

MYTH: The Town should have done more to plan for a revenue shortfall.

REALITY: Town and school officials have known for many years that our property tax revenues would not keep pace with our needs or our growth. You can go back into the archives of the Finance Committee, the Town Administrator, the Town Council and the School Committee – starting almost a decade ago – and see frequent warnings on the topic, especially during budget discussions.

Our budget issues have been an annual topic of debate for nearly a decade now, which is why there have been override votes every few years and why we have spent less on town and school services than we knew we should each year.

MYTH: The schools have never tried to reduce spending.

REALITY: Annual growth in the school budget has been driven almost entirely by the need to keep pace with basic inflationary costs, to honor increasing special education mandates, and to maintain reasonable class sizes. In the past 20 years, the number of students in the Franklin public schools has grown from 3,143 to 6,152 – an increase of 96%.

For many years, the School Committee has reduced spending in non-core categories, and then redirected the savings toward the classroom and instructional staff needed to maintain reasonable class sizes in the face of student enrollment increases.

More costs also have been shifted onto the backs of parents through increased users fees, supply expenses and transportation costs. Generous parents and boosters have dug deep into their own pockets to help subsidize a variety of educational and athletic offerings in Franklin.

You can see a sample list of how the schools have handled the town’s revenue squeeze online at www.franklin.k12.ma.us/co/supt/budget/Cuts02-05.pdf

Our ability to maintain reasonable class sizes is the number one reason that the Franklin public schools have been a high-performing district, despite spending far less on our schools compared to the state average and to other Massachusetts communities with similar student enrollment.

MYTH: The fact that all these new buildings are going up, like the new fire station and the new senior center, must mean that the Town has the money it needs.

REALITY: The Town sells bonds to borrow the money it needs to pay for public buildings, recreational facilities and other big-ticket capital items, just as most homeowners take out a mortgage to pay for their homes. A small amount of property tax revenues and water/sewer fees is used to pay off this long-term debt, amounting to about 3% of Franklin’s annual budget.

The Town cannot borrow money to pay for its operating budget, like municipal services or the schools. Most homeowners do not take out a loan to pay their monthly bills. m

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