Potential Tax Increase, Special Town Meeting Scheduled, School Finance Update and District MCAS Results

Tax Increase May Be Needed
The Board of Selectmen (BOS) indicated at its October 19, 2009 meeting that any state cut in local aid may now have to be covered solely by raising property taxes. As we noted in our last e-mail, the state is facing a severe tax revenue shortage and town funding from the state has already fallen short of earlier predictions, with more potential cuts looming. Town officials had discussed trimming department budgets or incorporating unspent cash from previous years to cover the potential funding gap Hopkinton will face because of state cuts, but the cash has not been released yet by the state.

Special Town Meeting for Wastewater Treatment Plant
The BOS has posted a special Town Meeting for December 14, with a December 21 snow date.The warrant for the meeting opens this Thursday (October 22) and closes Nov. 5 at 4:30 p.m. The main purpose of the Special Town Meeting is to request funding for the Fruit Street Wastewater Treatment Facility project. While the town’s unspent budget money could be state-certified and available for additional spending by December, the BOS is asking town departments not to make any requests. For more on this issue, see Hopkinton Town Meeting to Focus on Sewage Plant at http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x1718695307/Hopkinton-Town-Meeting-to-focus-on-sewage-plant

School Finances

The October 15, 2009 School Committee focused on finances and the district’s MCAS results. Cost-saving measures discussed included the Middle School NSTAR project, a transition plan to cover the maternity leave of the Director of Student Services, and a creative agreement to bring new funding sources online with a license agreement with local business, Phipps Insurance. The School Committee directed the School Department to continue to look for efficiencies and institute a freeze on non-essential spending. They discussed the potential further cuts to local aid for FY10, and planned an e-mail to the Town Manager indicating their support for any and all potential sources of revenue to be fully explored prior to making further cuts to the FY10 Budget. Superintendent Phelan noted that there has never been such a low balance in the Circuit Breaker Account, which is used for pay for state mandated, but unfunded, special education costs.

District MCAS Results
In addition to the finance discussion, Dr. Mary Colombo also gave a presentation on the MCAS results–citing promising scores in English Language Arts for grades 3 through 6 and in Math for grades 3 and 6. But she also noted the challenges in Math for grades 4, 5, 7 and 8, and in Science across the elementary and middle school grades. For more information, see the following articles: