Franklin School District has lost one-eighth of its staff in three years

  • Some of the Franklin High School cap designs on Friday, June 15, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 7/3/2018 6:12:35 PM

Franklin School District officials anticipate they will only re-fill four of the 13 positions cut this year due to the ongoing budget shortfall.

That would mean 26½ positions have been eliminated in the last three years, Superintendent Dan LeGallo said. That’s one-eighth of the district’s staff.

“We continue to be asked to do more with less,” LeGallo said. “It’s very difficult to meet the needs of the kids.”

The Franklin School District has struggled to meet costs while losing more than $1 million in adequacy and stabilization funding from the state in the last three years. In that time, staff cuts have become expected in the district.

In 2016, the district cut 13 positions. In 2017, the district cut four full-time positions and one part-time grant writer.

This year, district officials felt a glimmer of hope when the Franklin City Council voted Thursday to break the tax cap and give the district an extra $708,623. That money would have allowed the district to rehire most of the 13 lost positions.

But less than a week later, on Monday, the city council went back and rescinded its vote to break the cap.

Mayor Tony Giunta said maintaining the city’s tax cap will be vital in encouraging businesses to invest in Franklin.

Keeping taxes stable attracts projects like the $12 million renovation of the Franklin Light and Power Mill that was turned into affordable residential units by CATCH Housing last year, r developer Eric Chinburg’s purchase of Franklin’s JP Stevens Mill, which could bring $20 million to $30 million to the city in the next few years, the mayor said.

“As far as I’m concerned, for this city to turn itself around, the tax cap is critical,” Giunta said.

The Franklin City Council pieced together $422,722 Monday night to give to the schools. That’s $285,278 less than the district was promised last week.

LeGallo said only two people – the student support room teacher and the custodial position at the Paul Smith Elementary School – out of the total laid off in May have not found positions elsewhere.

The district gave five people pink slips – including Franklin High School’s only French teacher – and decided not to fill eight positions in the district in May to make up for this year’s $813,832 budget shortfall. 

To make up for lost adequacy funding and stabilization aid, school board Chairman Timothy Dow had proposed that the city vote to increase the tax revenue allocated to the schools this year by 4 percent, resulting in a little more than $400,000 being added to the school budget.

The council did not vote to change the way tax revenue is allocated in the city – but it did approve more spending than Dow asked for in his plan.

Dow said he was happy that the council had met his request, but he also said that by going back on its decision to break the tax cap, the city council had disappointed many families in the city.

“The city council has had our budget since April 2,” Dow said. “They’ve had ample opportunities to see what route they wanted to take. Instead, they waited until the 12th hour to make this decision.”

(An earlier version of this story stated that Franklin High School’s French teacher was offered another position in the school district. She was not offered another position.) 

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)


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