Spending per pupil is 22% less than the state average
Net school spending is rapidly approaching the state minimum
Based on the downward trend, our current status compared to our peers and the state
average will deteriorate
Three years ago, when speaking about the budget, we noted that Franklin was
Three years ago when speaking about the budget we noted that Franklin was
below the state average in 9 of 11 categories of education spending. The only areas
where we outspent other Massachusetts communities were in classroom teachers
and instructional materials. Two years ago, Franklin slipped further. With the
continued education cuts, Franklin fell below the state average in 10 of 11
categories. Last year, we predicted that with the loss of more teachers, Franklin was
sure to dip below on all 11 categories next year. As you can see from the latest
sure to dip below on all 11 categories next year As you can see from the latest
data, it has happened.
Analysis which borrows from long range financial planning report.
Recent study demonstrates that top quartile teachers will increase the performance
of their classroom students by 10 percentage points.
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.
In past 10 years, enrollment has increased by over 1,000 students
Number of teachers has gone from high of 517 in FY06 to low of 399 in FY09.
Stimulus and grants allowed us to retain some positions last year.
From 1999 – 2003 growth rates for teachers and students were similar. From 2003
to 2006, the schools added more teachers (many funded by grants) in response to
special education mandates and a shift in enrollment per grade level. Budget
constraints, however, led to sharp reductions in the number of teachers in 2007 and
2008, resulting in increases in class size district wide.
For the past two budget cycles, the School Committee has had to make reductions
in teaching staff in order to meet costs not funded with budget appropriations from
the town. Prior to that, the School Committee steadily reduced spending on other
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. The result has
been stellar academic performance, to the point where our students have gained
acceptances at the top universities and colleges in the nation. Compared to dozens
and dozens of other districts, Franklin academically outperforms those who spend
much more per pupil. We have cut around the edges to protect our core.
This year, however, there are no edges left. Without substantial additional revenue,
we must and we will make budget reductions mostly in personnel, because we have
exhausted all other areas for significant cuts.
Club and activity fees at middle and high school will double to $50.
Athletic fees will increase and move to a tiered system, resulting in fees ranging
from $175 to $450 (up from current $125 fee)
Increases in class sizes in grades K‐8, up to 30 students in a classroom, and a
shortened school day at elementary schools
Also will eliminate 3 buses.
We are not alone:
Local officials and citizens in North Reading have made a massive effort over the last few years to rein in
spending and to push for more local aid. Where has that left us — still 13th or 14th from the bottom in per
pupil spending in the state. We have gone for an override two straight years and have lost. We have
elementary school libraries and computer labs that are closed two or three days per week. Also this year, we
close our elementary and middle schools two hours early each Wednesday in order to give our teachers the
required prep time that they lost when we eliminated or cut music, art, physical education and other courses.
In addition, we had to cut the physical education class option for high school juniors and seniors and we have
numerous classes with more than 30 students.
Thanks to great cooperation this year between various town boards, we will be able to restore a full school
Thanks to great cooperation this year between various town boards we will be able to restore a full school
week, every week, at our elementary and middle schools, as well as some of the courses that were cut this
year. However, we still will have no physical education for juniors and seniors, still only have ONE certified
librarian in our entire school system, and still not be able to open our computer labs.
Last week in North Reading we had the misfortune of approving a $100 increase in athletic fees. Now, a
student will pay $400 for the first sport and $100 each for the second and third. The family max is now $1,100.
Thankfully, we could keep our busing fee at the bargain rate of $250 per student and our even bigger bargain
student extracurricular fee at only $125. And, the big bonus with the extracurricular fee is that the $125
covers as many activities in which the student wishes to participate.
There has been much discussion of late as to the cause of our financial challenges. Is the crux of the problem
due to mismangement of funds, inefficient use of revenue, i.e. new fire station, senior center, not being able
to live within our budget, etc.? Could we continue to work hard and make sure we are spending every dollar
in the most efficient way? Absolutely, but every organization aspires to the same goal. The point of my
sharing this email with you is to say that we are not alone. There are many cities and towns facing similar
problems to our own, if not worse. My question is, if we are all facing the same problem…..are we all not
being financially responsible?
We knew that FY10 was going to be a very difficult budget season. We noted that as
a community we would all have to dig deeply to come up with a solution to keep
the system intact. Last year, the employees in the district accepted wage freezes and
deferrals, forego any increases for FY10, that cost them thousands of dollars. This year
we ask the community to make a sacrifice that will cost on average $254 per household,
about 70 cents per day, based on the average assessment of $368,000 in Franklin.
Passage of the ballot question would add 69 cents to the tax rate, or $.69 per
$1,000 of the assessed value of your home.
Some have asked why we don’t just freeze teacher salaries in light of these difficult
economic times? While it may seem easy to “freeze” salaries, there are many
reasons why that is not a good idea and would adversely affect the school system.
To begin, it is our goal to attract and retain high‐quality teachers in our
system. Salary freezes would run counter to our goals.
Part of attracting and retaining quality staff is the pay scale. Indeed, there are many
communities throughout Massachusetts that offer more attractive salaries and
benefits than Franklin. We are in competition with these other communities. In
the past few years, we lost some high‐quality teachers because of budget issues and
the prospect of layoffs. Many current teachers have applied for jobs outside of
Franklin because they perceive a lack of community support. There are many
communities out there that will take our talent in a heartbeat. That will continue to
iti t th th t ill t k t l t i h tb t Th t ill ti t
occur if we are unable to meet the budgetary needs.
A great education is the most important gift that we can give to our children. That’s why
we have a constitutional and moral obligation to educate kids.
Franklin is the birthplace of Horace Mann, the father of public education.
High expectations for responsibility, achievement and personal growth
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.
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. 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.
Twenty‐five years ago, Americans awoke to a forceful little report that changed
public education. It is fruitful to revisit this report, as we consider the choices that
face the citizens of Franklin with an override vote. The Nation at Risk report found
poor academic performance at nearly every level of the American education
system. It warned that “the educational foundations of our society are presently
being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a
Nation and a people.” One of the five goals that stemmed from the report was for
districts to provide better teacher training, and salaries should be “professionally
competitive.” In 25 years, the Franklin School system has made tremendous
progress on this recommendation. The result has been stellar academic
performance, to the point where our students have gained acceptances at the top
universities and colleges in the nation. Making this change, among others has
required an infusion of money.
When the decision‐makers at QinetiQ North America were trying to determine where to
locate their business, they picked Franklin because of the public education system. Qi iQ
l h i b i h i k d kli b f h bli d i QinetiQ
North America is a local maker of soldier protection gear which moved to Franklin two
The Milford Daily News did a story on QinetiQ North America and the visit to the company
by Congressman Jim McGovern.
“When we were trying to open a factory up we had the choice of moving to Charleston
When we were trying to open a factory up, we had the choice of moving to Charleston,
S.C., or here,” McCormack said. “We picked (Franklin) because of the public education
Of course, we are delighted to read news like this because it speaks so highly about the
quality of our education system here. Moreover, it speaks to how our system contributes
beyond the walls of our schools. In the case of QinetiQ North America, by attracting them
to Franklin, a number of jobs were added, which is a boost to our local economy. We talk
to Franklin, a number of jobs were added, which is a boost to our local economy. We talk
often how the school system drives up property values and enhances the community, but
this story provides empirical data to support those assertions.
This timely mention of the Franklin public schools is also further evidence of how we need
to continue to support the school system financially through the override on June 8. Our
community rightfully has high expectations for performance in our schools. And we are
committed to meeting these expectations, and for that reason are supporting the override