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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Franklin Schools Explain Chapter 70 Funding Changes

By J.D. O’Gara
Buzz around Franklin has been taking place on local social media forums regarding the Franklin Public School budget and state funding. Local Town Pages looked to Franklin Public Schools Superintendent Sara Ahearn, for clarification on exactly what the financial picture is for the school department.
“We have received very favorable support from the state, and despite our declining enrollment as a ‘hold harmless district,’ meaning the state will not reduce your Chaper 70 funding from one year to the next if your enrollment decreases, what’s happening, over time, is we’ve had a pretty steep enrollment decline,” says Ahearn, adding that the decline has come from a significantly reduced birth rate. At the same time, in terms of “the funding formula, the town of Franklin as a whole is becoming wealthier as measured by the property values and median income,” says Ahearn, “so the state, which supplies additional support to our budget, is saying, ‘Hey, Franklin, you have the ability to contribute more.’”
Ahearn says Franklin Public Schools expects to see their local minimum contribution, then, to increase by about 2% every year, and that, “at some point, it will max out.”
“I think it came as a surprise to people,” says Ahearn. “A lot of folks, in my time here, have wondered how the State Opportunity At is going to help Franklin, and there are places where it’s going to help us, but that’s not in the Chapter 70 formula.

Ahearn points out that a 2015 revealed areas in need of state funding, such as health insurance, special education, and low-income earners. “They decided there need to be a reset of the form, so there was an adequate amount of money going to support those communities with a higher percent of (those groups).
“The reality is the local contribution has got to be higher,” says Jamie Hellen, Franklin Town Administrator, on Chapter 70 funding. Demographics, he says, is what drives the aid to the town.