State of the Town Tomorrow Morning, Candidates Debate on Wednesday, FY11 Budget Recap

2010 State of the Town Forum by the Hopkinton Chamber of CommerceTuesday, April 27 at 7:30-9:00 a.m.
First Congregational Church of Hopkinton, 146 East Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
(Also broadcast on HCAM-TV, Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30)
Hear from a variety of Hopkinton Town Officials on the current state of our Town. A great primer for the upcoming Town Meeting on May 3! This event is both free and open to the public.

Candidates Debate Sponsored by the Hopkinton Independent

Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM-TV, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

Annual Town Meeting
Begins Monday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. (continues on consecutive days until complete)
Hopkinton Middle School Auditorium, 88 Hayden Rowe St, Hopkinton MA 01748
(Also broadcast on HCAM-TV, Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30)

Meet the Candidates Night Sponsored by the Hopkinton Women’s Club

Thursday, May 6, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM Studios, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

RECAP Appropriations Committee Public Hearing on the FY11 Budget

Overview: The Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on the 2010-11 Budget this past Thursday evening. It was NOT televised. The Chairman noted attendance was greater than they have had in many years. The Appropriations Committee presented a $61,356,071.17 Recommended Budget. Massachusetts state aid to towns is still unknown at this time. The proposed budget assumes a 4% cut in state aid. As the budget stands now, Hopkinton will be taking a 1.8% tax increase (of the available 2.5%) for FY11. If the proposed budget is passed, Eldridge stated that Hopkinton will have roughly $1,000,000 in untapped proposition 2.5% levy reserves from the last two years, which could be tapped in future years without an override. As the economy improves in future years, Chairman Eldridge expects that the town will take the full 2.5% tax increase and perhaps even more. In addition Hopkinton will have roughly $1,000,000 in its stabilization fund if the proposed budget passes.

CPA: The Appropriations Committee recommends a reduction in taxpayer contributions to the Community Preservation Act (CPA) fund from 2% to 1.1% next year. [NOTE: The Community Preservation Committee does not support the reduction and voted in an earlier meeting not to reduce the CPA contribution, but to keep the contribution at 2% next year.] Hopkinton puts about $310,000 into the CPA fund each year. The 100% match from the state has been reduced to approximately 31-32%. Residents will have a chance to weigh in at Town Meeting.

Highlighted Changes: Chairman Eldridge highlighted some recent changes to the budget from the first one voted on by the Board of Selectmen. The new proposed budget includes a $290,000 increase in pavement management funds, because the town has a large backlog of bad roads needing repairs. It also includes a $352,000 increase in the cost of healthcare benefits for town and school employees. The town pays 75% of a town or school employee’s family healthcare plan and it pays 85% of a single employee’s healthcare plan. The proposed budget includes a $144,000 increase in Information Technology (IT) improvements for Town Hall, which had been very out of date.

School Department: Chairman Eldridge also noted that the School Department is receiving $300,000 in stimulus funding this year, but this revenue source will not be available next year. School Committee Chair Nancy Burdick noted that the stimulus money was not used for salaries, but for other school budget items, such as prepaying out-of-district SPED tuition. The Appropriations Committee’s recommended budget allocates $170,000 less to the schools than they requested. The School Committee has not yet determined what items will have to be cut from their budget to account for this discrepancy of $170,000.

After submitting their budget to the Town Manager, the School Department learned it would receive $106,477 (part of the $300,000 stimulus total listed above) in federal stimulus money for FY11 only. This amount had originally been earmarked for higher education, but was reassigned by the governor to local education due to cuts in state education aid. Rather than put this money toward the $170,000 budget discrepancy, the Appropriations Committee recommends reducing the amount paid by Hopkinton taxpayers toward the School Budget by $106,477. The tax savings would be minimal: about a $18/year or $1.50/month for the average homeowner.

For More Information:
The following budget documents are available on the Hopkinton town and school websites.
PDF 2009 Town Report
PDF Fiscal year 2011 Proposed Budget
PDF Annual Town Meeting Warrant May 3, 2010
PDF School Committee’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Jan 28, 2010
PPT School Committee Public Hearing FY 11 Budget Presentation
PPT Superintendent’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Presentation
Video State of the Schools Forum

Public Hearing on the FY11 Budget this Thursday, Candidate Debates coming up and the State of the Schools recap

Appropriations Committee Public Hearing on the FY11 Budget
Thursday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. at Town Hall/Room 215, 18 Main St

The Selectmen and the School Committee have submitted their budgets. The Appropriations Committee has reviewed them in detail and will now hold a public hearing on the 2010-11 Budget. The public hearing will NOT be televised, but residents are welcome to attend. Residents who are out of town for vacation week or who are otherwise unable to attend should feel free to send their comments and questions on the budget to the appropriate school and town officials by email in advance of the public hearing. The following budget documents are available on the Hopkinton town and school websites:
PDF 2009 Town Report
PDF Fiscal year 2011 Proposed Budget
PDF Annual Town Meeting Warrant May 3, 2010
PDF School Committee’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Jan 28, 2010
PPT School Committee Public Hearing FY 11 Budget Presentation
PPT Superintendent’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Presentation

Appropriations Committee:

Ron Eldridge, Chair roneldridge289@msn.com
Joe Karner Karner_joe@emc.com
Stuart Cowart stuart.cowart@vzw.blackberry.net
Mary Lou Haroian mlharoian@comcast.net

Town Manager:
Norman Khumalo nkhumalo@hopkinton.org
Board of Selectmen:
Brian Herr: bherr@hopkinton.org
Matt Zettek: mzettek@hopkinton.org
RJ Dourney: rjdourney@hopkinton.org
Todd Cestari: tcestari@hopkinton.org
Michele Gates: mgates@hopkinton.org

Superintendent of Schools:

Jack Phelan jphelan@hopkinton.k12.ma.us

School Committee:
Nancy Burdick, Chair: nancyb88@hotmail.com
Rebecca Robak: rebeccarobak@aol.com
Richard Demont: rdemont@demontlaw.com
Jean Bertschmann: jeanber65@hotmail.com
Troy Mick: troymick@verizon.net

Save the Date: Candidates Debate Sponsored by the Hopkinton Independent

Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM-TV, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

Save the Date: Meet the Candidates Night Sponsored by the Hopkinton Women’s Club

Thursday, May 6, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM Studios, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

Recap:  The State of the Schools
The HPTA held its annual State of the Schools forum on April 7 which included a question and answer session with Superintendent Jack Phelan and School Committee Vice Chair Rebecca Robak. If you missed it, you can watch the replay on the HCAM-TV website at http://www.hcam.tv/series/HPTA/video.shtml (1 hour). The following questions were posed:

  1. What is the one-to-one laptop initiative at the High School? It seems very expensive. Why do we need it, and when is it targeted to begin?
  2. Many families are struggling in this economy. Fees are already a burden for some. Are fees going to increase? Could you offer a family cap or sliding scale based on income?
  3. Are there any plans to improve the current foreign language program? 
  4. Is there concern that there is an uptick in students attending schools out of district? 
  5. Kindergarten enrollment is on the rise – now estimated to be 23/class. Will another teacher be hired to keep class sizes from getting even larger?
  6. Can we get better food in our schools? For instance, 100% whole grain pasta, rice, and bread. Get rid of chicken nuggets, hamburgers, and french fries every day. why are we letting our kids choose junk food in the cafeteria? If it’s not there, they won’t eat it.
  7. What do you foresee for the schools next year if they don’t receive the School Committee’s budget with recent increase?
  8. Both of my boys (Hopkins and Elmwood) have experienced bullying and behavior problems on the bus this year. I read that Milford has a successful “Bus of the Month” program which helps promote good behavior and safety on the buses. Would Hopkinton Public Schools consider adopting a similar program?
  9. How many years does it take for a teacher to be tenured in Massachusetts? And is there a review process in place for teachers once they do receive tenure?
  10. Why are our children being pulled out of their academic classes in 5th grade to learn an instrument? While these lessons are amazing, can we have them either before or after school or during electives such as gym, art, or general music?
  11. We recently learned that Dr. Lynch, the Middle School Principal will be retiring at the end of the year. When will the search process for a new principal begin?
  12. How do you plan to improve middle school and high school academics? The high school was ranked around 450 on a national report. It is not bad, but how do you plan to make it much better?

Open Forum on the Hopkinton Public Library, Meet the Middle School Principal Candidates and Election Deadlines this Week

Open Forum on Future of the Hopkinton Public Library
Monday April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Hopkinton Library

Did you know that the Hopkinton Public Library is funded by the Town of Hopkinton but is privately owned? Under this arrangement, the trustees currently fund all building expenses, but the Town pays for salaries, utilities and books.

The Hopkinton Library Board of Trustees want to hear from you! To kick off National Library Week, the Trustees will hold a public forum on April 12, 2010 to give a brief overview of the unique ownership structure of the library and the objectives of the recently proposed transfer of ownership to the town – which will be voted at the May town meeting. The overview will be followed by a question and answer session. So please come and meet the Trustees at 7:00 pm at the library for this informative event.

Meet the Hopkinton Middle School Principal Candidates
Wednesday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium

UPDATE: The Appropriations Committee Public Hearing on the FY11 Budget has been rescheduled for April 21 or 22. Details to come. The Following documents have recently been posted to the Hopkinton town website:
PDF 2009 Town Report
PDF Fiscal year 2011 Proposed Budget
PDF Annual Town Meeting Warrant May 3, 2010

REMINDER: Last Day to File Nomination Papers – Monday, April 12
Would you like to help shape the future of Hopkinton? There are several elected positions within Hopkinton Town Government that are up for re-election this year. This includes positions on the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, the Planning Board, and several others. The last day to file nomination papers is April 12. Town Elections will be held May 17. Please visit the Town Clerk’s elections web page (http://www.hopkinton.org/gov/clerk/elections.htm) for more details.

REMINDER: Last Day to Register to Vote – Tuesday, April 13
Are you registered to vote? Town Meeting is coming up (begins May 3), and in order to vote on the school budget and many other town services, you must be a registered voter. The deadline to register to vote is April 13 at the Town Clerk’s office (office hours are weekdays 8am-4:30pm, and until 7pm on Tuesdays). Please visit the Town Clerk’s elections web page (http://www.hopkinton.org/gov/clerk/elections.htm) for more details and be sure to remind friends that have just moved to town and may not yet be registered.

Important School Update: State of the Schools Forum, Per Pupil Spending, School Choice and more

School Facts: How have budget cuts over recent years impacted Hopkinton Schools?

Per Pupil Spending
Hopkinton spends 11.5% less in per pupil than the state average (that’s approximately $1,503 less), based on FY09 data on the Massachusetts Department of Education website. In FY06, Hopkinton was only 5.9% under the state average. Hopkinton also spends less per pupil than most neighboring towns, including Ashland, Holliston, Northboro-Southboro and Westborough. In addition Hopkinton spends less per pupil than most towns with similar structure and district wealth, such as Belmont, Burlington, Canton, Nashoba and Sharon.

School Choice & Charter Schools
Did you know that for the 2009-10 School Year, Hopkinton sent 41 students out of district via the Massachusetts School Choice Program and/or to Charter Schools at a mandated cost of $235,371 to Hopkinton taxpayers? More Hopkinton families opted to send their children out of district this year than families in Holliston, Southborough and Westborough. The number of Hopkinton students opting to go out of district via School Choice has been steadily increasing since the 2005-06 school year.

Class Sizes
Class sizes in the elementary grades are currently higher than most surrounding school districts. Did you know that both Elmwood School and Hopkins School currently have empty classrooms? If another teacher was added at each school class sizes could be significantly reduced.

Foreign Language
Did you know that Hopkinton Public Schools do not offer any foreign language instruction until grade 7? It used to be offered as early as grade 5. Most neighboring school districts offer foreign language earlier than Hopkinton, some offering it as early as Kindergarten.

State of the Schools Forum

Wednesday, April 7 at 7:00-9:00 p.m.
HCAM-TV, 77 Main Street, Lower Level
Question and answer session with Superintendent Dr. Jack Phelan and School Committee Vice Chair Rebecca Robak. Call 508-435-7887 during the show with your questions and concerns or email them to secretary@hptaonline.com in advance or during the show. Space is Limited! Click here to RSVP. Or watch at home on Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30.

The Next Steps in the Budget Process:
The budget has been given to the Appropriations Committee who are in the process of reviewing the budget in detail. The Appropriations Committee will hold a Public Hearing on the budget on Wednesday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall in the 1st Floor Conference Room. This hearing is NOT televised, but is open to the public. Residents will vote on the budget and the financial warrant articles at the annual Town Meeting, which begins Monday, May 3 at 7:00pm.