Thursday, 4:30 PM
Fate of one-room schoolhouse to be decided
By April Simpson, GLOBE STAFF
FRANKLIN -- For more than 200 years, children here have attended kindergarten in a one-room schoolhouse, a small red brick structure on a quiet residential street just outside the center of town. Residents call it a local treasure which 31 years ago was added to the National Historic Register.
But the schoolís future is in limbo. Tuesday, at a meeting expected to be emotionally charged, the Franklin School Committee will decide whether to accept a gift to continue running the school, or heed the superintendentís three-month-old suggestion to close. The town is working to offset a $6.4 million budget shortage, and the Brick School may be too costly to keep, said Jeffrey N. Roy, the committee chair.
"Itís one of those facets of our education system that makes Franklin unique, that we have this oldest continuously operated one-room brick school in America," Roy said. "Then again, we have a community that expects us to be fiscally prudent and wise with their tax dollars. Thereís striking a balance."
Roy, who would like to keep the school open, said the townís public school system could save roughly $30,000 a year in operational costs by closing the school. The schoolís longtime teacher would be moved to the Davis Thayer Elementary School, which is less than a mile away. The elementary school would also add a new kindergarten class for the additional students.
Matt Kelly, president of the Red Brick School Association, said that $30,000 figure touted by the school district includes teacher pay, which the district would have to absorb regardless of the school closing. His association has offered to pay $9,000 a year, which he said would cover the leftover expenses.
"Franklin is the birthplace of Horace Mann, the founder of education," Kelly said in a telephone interview. "Itís like ripping education, and the history, away from Franklin."
On Sunday, former students gathered at the school for a photograph and to rally against its closing.
Taylor Madison, 6, said he liked being in one room. "I liked it because itís old, itís one room, just for all the kids," he said.
April Simpson can be reached at email@example.com