Franklin (MA) School Committee Blog

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

Day of reckoning is approaching

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on December 26, 2010

For years, we have been warning of a fiscal meltdown in municipal financing. And for years, some of us have been accused of crying wolf.

But as this recent 60 Minutes clip makes clear, the day of reckoning is near. You can view the clip by clicking on the video image below. As the report noted: “No one is talking about it now, but the big test will come this spring. That’s when $160 billion in federal stimulus money, that has helped states and local governments limp through the great recession, will run out.”

Like many communities across the country, Franklin has been a generous recipient of federal and state aid. On the school side, state Chapter 70 funding ($26,714,222 in FY11 and $28,152,172 in FY10) accounts for 56% of the total budget ($50,297,820 in FY11). In addition to Chapter 70 funds, the school system receives grants to supplement the operational budget. During FY 2010 Franklin received $2,784,792 in grants to provide additional staffing and supplemental services to meet the needs of students. The district also receives significant financial support from within the community from the Franklin Education Foundation, Music Boosters, Athletic Booster Clubs, Parent Communication Councils (PCC), and other groups. But, as the reports points out, these sources of funds are drying up.

Our community rightfully has high expectations for performance in our schools. And we are committed to meeting these expectations, but we need some thoughtful reflection and ideas about how to meet that goal.

For the last nine years, the School Committee has steadily reduced spending on services and imposed and increased fees for busing, athletics, and student activities, to name a few. The savings generated from these decisions have been poured directly into the classroom, to recruit and retain top quality teachers, support a strong curriculum and to maintain appropriate class sizes. As shown in the table below from the state DESE website, Franklin spends under the state average in all 11 categories of education spending.

We know, as you do, that the success of our children in the economy of the future depends hugely on the education that the Franklin schools deliver to them today, and each and every day. It is our responsibility as a community to deliver the best possible education to the 6,200 children in our schools. As always, we invite and solicit your input on a solution which will enable us to carry on the tradition of high performance in our schools in dire financial times.

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