Dear BFCCPS Community,

 

As you may have seen recently in the local print and in social media, BFCCPS has been listed as the main driver of the budget deficit for the Franklin Public School system. Many current and former parents and faculty have shown great support for BFCCPS on social media over the last few weeks.

 

Please know that several pieces of information that have been reported are inaccurate. For example, while various articles report 258 new students attending our school next year; only 95 students from Franklin have accepted offers of enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year. As we have 31 grade eight students who will be attending Franklin High School next year, the true impact is only a net of 64 new students attending BFCCPS from the town of Franklin next year.  Additionally, articles have repeatedly indicated that our expansion includes a High School offering. We have no plans to expand to grades 9-12.

 

When we began our expansion process in 2012, we were intentional in designing our region to have a lessening impact on the town of Franklin.  In fact, next year, even with expansion, we will enroll fewer children from the Town of Franklin than before we became a regional school in the 2015-2016 school year.

 

The charter school funding mechanism is vastly misunderstood.  We often use the description that the money follows the child. “Charters receive funding only when parents choose to enroll their children in them; the funds move with the students. The amount a charter receives is based on how much a given district spends on each student. And in fact, by the state’s own accounting, charter schools receive about 22 percent less funding than districts.” (source: Mass Charter School Association)  While some sources will state that Charter Schools “take funding” from public school districts, many districts are actually eligible for multi-year reimbursement for the “loss” of a student to a charter school on a sliding scale (source: Mass charter School Association.) To learn more about the funding formula we invite you to review a document prepared by the Massachusetts Charter School Association: Charter School Myth Versus Reality.

 

BFCCPS also faces some of the same financial challenges as traditional public schools including the rising costs of healthcare for employees, as well as the cost of special education and english learner education.  However, there are also additional costs that we bear as an independent entity; specifically our facility expenses which currently includes rent for the building at 201 Main Street as well as utilities, maintenance and upkeep. We are not eligible for the same funding streams that traditional public schools are eligible for when building a new facility.  Charter schools are given a modest facility allocation from the state of Massachusetts, however it has been stagnant for more than a decade with no adjustments for inflation, while the cost of sustaining a facility has dramatically increased. As a result, many charter public schools are diverting approximately 10-15% of their operating budgets out of the classroom just to pay for facilities — these are funds that would otherwise be invested in materials and experiences that could increase the quality of education for our future leaders.

 

Over the course of our expansion project, the Benjamin Franklin Educational Foundation has paid over a million dollars in fees to the town of Franklin for traffic studies, building permits and various town improvements, including  the installation of a traffic light to be installed at the junction of Washington and King Streets, and a water loop to improve the water flow in the area surrounding the school.

 

BFCCPS has long had a cooperative relationship with both the Franklin Public School System and the Town of Franklin.  We were thrilled when two BFCCPS Alumni ran for office on the Franklin Town Council and both were elected to office. In fact, we have many families that have enrollment both here at Charter and also at traditional public schools in Franklin! Many Charter Families were vocal in the support of the override vote to provide for the construction of the new Franklin High School facility. We believe that charter schools exist as centers of innovation. As such Madame Malouf has worked collaboratively with the French Department at the High School, and we’ve sent guidance counselors to Franklin’s schools in times of need.  Recently we’ve offered to provide assistance so that Franklin can offer a science fair to their students and would be more than happy to collaborate on ways that they can incorporate STEAM technologies into their programming.

 

While we appreciate the budget difficulties that all public schools have, and the constraints in which they have to operate, we do not believe that we are the driving cause of the budget deficit in the Town of Franklin or the Franklin Public Schools.  The Town of Franklin will be holding their budget hearings on May 22nd and May 23rd. We encourage all Franklin residents to attend the meetings if you have any questions regarding the Franklin FY20 budget.

 

Later today we will be asking your support with outreach to Senate President, Karen Spilka with a request to increase the charter school per pupil facilities rate.

 

If you’d like to discuss any concerns about our expansion, charter school financing or the impact on our local town please contact Ms. Fallon to set up an appointment on my calendar. As always, we greatly appreciate your commitment to our school.    

 

Mrs. Zolnowski

BFCCPS

Executive Director