Citing staff cuts, schools chief quits

Last day in June, Ogden tells board

'I have no desire to continue to dismantle our school system,' wrote Wayne Ogden in his resignation letter. "I have no desire to continue to dismantle our school system," wrote Wayne Ogden in his resignation letter.
By Rachel Lebeaux
Globe Correspondent / August 31, 2008
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Franklin's superintendent of schools submitted his resignation Tuesday night, citing layoffs in the wake of voters turning down a tax increase as the deciding factor.

"I came to Franklin in May 2006 to help move the public schools from good to great. Instead, we are beginning another academic year moving in the opposite direction," Superintendent Wayne Ogden wrote in his resignation letter to the School Committee. "We will start the 2008-2009 school year with 180 more students than when I arrived, and a budget that is several million dollars short of keeping pace with this growth."

In June, Franklin residents rejected a $2.8 million override of Proposition 2 1/2, with 4,290 voting against the property-tax increase and 3,402 in favor of it.

In the wake of the vote, the district laid off 15 teachers at the elementary schools, eliminated 12.5 teaching positions at the middle school, and cut 16 at the high school.

It also implemented a $100 increase in the pay-to-ride bus fee, and eliminated late buses for students, although the School Committee continues to seek ways to restore the service.

In the past two budget cycles, Ogden wrote in his letter, he has reduced school staff by more than 70 employees, the majority of those being teachers.

"I have no desire to continue to dismantle our school system and, as such, I no longer feel I offer the right fit to lead the Franklin schools," he wrote.

In a later interview, Ogden called the override vote and the resulting school district layoffs "the final straw."

"That kind of human cost . . . takes a toll," Ogden said. "It was the thing that finally got me thinking about resigning at the end of the year."

Ogden's resignation will take effect June 30, at the end of the fiscal year, and the third year of a five-year contract. He handed his resignation letter to School Committee chairman Jeffrey Roy following Tuesday's committee meeting, Roy said.

"Obviously, the School Committee is disappointed," Roy said. "We're unhappy that our community is going to lose a great educational leader."

The results of the override vote "disappointed a lot of us," Roy said. "It certainly was foreseeable that something like this could happen."

Ogden, he said, " is a man with very high principles. He understands what it takes to bring an educational program from good to great, and he wasn't given the tools - the money - to make that happen."

The budget for this school year is $55.4 million, but Ogden believed that $58.8 million was necessary in order to maintain level services. The district serves more than 6,000 students.

"At the simplest level, I think the most important thing a superintendent does in a school is provide students and teachers with the resources they need to learn and teach at a high level," Ogden said.

"For the past couple of years, I haven't been so successful at doing that. I got to a point where I thought maybe I'm not the perfect person to marshal these resources, so this allows the town to search for someone who will do it better."

The School Committee will begin discussing its next steps at its Sept. 9 meeting.

"School districts throughout the Commonwealth are struggling to recruit superintendents," Roy wrote in a statement discussing Ogden's announcement.

"We know it will be difficult to find a leader willing to come to a community that has begun to step back from supporting its educational mission."

'I have no desire to continue to dismantle our school system,' wrote Wayne Ogden (left) in his resignation letter.


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