Franklin proposes programming & teacher cuts to make up for budget shortfall

Shortfall partly due to reduced state aid and declines in enrollment, says Superintendent Daniel LeGallo

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Franklin, a small town just north of Concord, eliminated seven positions to make up from a budget shortfall resulting in part from the reduction in state stabilization aid and declining enrollment.

From the Concord Monitor:

Franklin High School could see its music and arts curriculum cut in half and its French department eliminated next year, unless the city can come up with money to fund those programs.

The school district eliminated seven positions – including the high school’s only French teacher – earlier this month to help make up a $813,832 budget shortfall, superintendent Daniel LeGallo said.

Six more unfilled positions in the form of student aides, guidance councilors and a secretary were also cut, and two teachers at the high school who teach courses in chorus, band, drawing and painting were downgraded from a full-day to a half-day schedule, the superintendent said.

This is not the first year Franklin, a property-poor city, has been forced to cut educators, and officials are saying the trend points to the need for a revaluation of how the state funds its schools…

LeGallo said districts’ struggle to meet their budgets is partly due to a decrease in state stabilization funding, which in particular helped buoy property-poor cities and towns like Franklin and Pittsfield.

The legislature in 2015 decided to discontinue stabilization grants, a $150 million program, via annual reductions of 4 percent until the grant funds are removed altogether. In Franklin, stabilization once accounted for about half of the $8 million it received in state aid, but its annual allotment is being reduced by about $160,000 a year.

In addition, Franklin’s adequacy grants – a base of $3,600 received from the state for each student – has decreased as enrollment has dropped, a trend that’s evident around the state.

This has made teacher cuts a regular occurrence instead of an anomaly, LeGallo said.

Last year, four staff cuts in Franklin were proposed, and one employee was laid off. In 2016, 25 cuts were proposed, and 13 employees laid off.

A new education funding lawsuit would be something that Franklin would support, LeGallo said.

“That would be a long-term, down the road solution,” he said.

Since districts rely heavily on local property taxes to fund their schools, property-poor districts like Franklin have a harder time raising funds. The district spends about $3,000 less per student, despite having a higher-than-average tax rate. The state provides a base of $3,636 per student, with additional funds for students in special education, who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, and other programs.  

Learn more about the school funding formula in the state, its effect on student outcomes, and more:

Source: Franklin faces more school cuts as city pushes for lawsuit against state | Concord Monitor