Tonight’s School Budget Public Hearing is Still On

If you can only attend one School Committee meeting a year, this is the most important meeting to attend!

After the public’s input at the hearing tonight the School Committee will consider making any changes they decide are necessary to the Superintendent’s budget before submitting the budget to the Town Manager. If you think something should be added or cut from the budget, this is your chance to speak up. If you are unable to attend Thursday, please email your comments to the School Committee before the meeting. Click here to email the School Committee.

Thursday, January 27
Middle School Library
6:30pm – School Committee Office Hours
7:30pm – Public Hearing on the Budget

Superintendent’s Preliminary Budget

High School
Middle School
Athletic Department
The following budget summaries are not yet posted: Special Education, Buildings & Grounds, Central Office, Center, Elmwood, Hopkins and Technology.


Thumbs Up:

  • Class Size – Average elementary class sizes are projected to remain close in size to last year. Grades K-1 are projected to have about 21 students per class and Grades 2-5 are projected to have about 22-25 students per class.
  • Fees – The Superintendent’s preliminary budget includes no fee increases to parents.
  • Math Tutors – Continued funding of math tutors enhances the school district’s ability to help struggling and at risk students.
  • Hopkins – Budget includes new funding to enhance the English Language Arts program at Hopkins.
  • Middle School – Reinstatement of a Grade 6 teacher prevents class size from exceeding 25 students.
  • High School – Budget includes the addition of a High School Mandarin Chinese teacher, which is currently being funded by a grant from the federal government.

Thumbs Down:

  • Staff – Budget requests 435.6 total staff members for the 2011-12 school year. While this is a slight increase over last year (3.3), it is a total decrease of 20.3 staff members since the 2006-07 school year. Enrollment has increased by 8 students since 2006-07.
  • Class Sizes – Grade 3 average class sizes are expected to increase to 23 students per class next year. Grade 4 average class sizes are expected to increase to 25 students per class next year.
  • Elmwood/Hopkins – Continued sharing of an Assistant Principal at Elmwood and Hopkins continues to stress the operational demands at these schools.
  • Technology – Continued elimination of a dedicated technology teacher for each school adversely impacts the way in which technology is woven into the daily curriculum.
  • Foreign Language – Budget does NOT include a Foreign Language teacher at Hopkins, which places it off-track for meeting the Strategic Plan goal of offering foreign language in elementary school by 2014.
  • Middle School – Budget does not include the request of two additional days per Middle School guidance counselor, which impedes their ability to ensure students’ schedules are accurate, that students have been properly placed, and that universal screening reports are prepared for teachers prior to the beginning of school.
  • High School – The percentage of High School classes over 25 students will increase from 17% this year to 21% next year. History and Math are the greatest areas of concern with 29% of classes over 25 students.

Please Attend Thursday’s Public Hearing on the 2011-12 School Budget

If you can only attend one School Committee meeting a year, this is the most important meeting to attend!

After the public’s input at the hearing on Thursday the School Committee will consider making any changes they decide are necessary to the Superintendent’s budget before submitting the budget to the Town Manager. If you think something should be added or cut from the budget, this is your chance to speak up. If you are unable to attend Thursday, please email your comments to the School Committee before the meeting. Click here to email the School Committee.

Thursday, January 27
Middle School Library
6:30pm – School Committee Office Hours
7:30pm – Public Hearing on the Budget

Superintendent’s Preliminary Budget

High School
Middle School
Athletic Department
The following budget summaries are not yet posted, but will be available at http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us/newweb2/schoolcommittee/budget/budget.php before Thursday’s meeting: Special Education, Buildings & Grounds, Central Office, Center, Elmwood, Hopkins and Technology.


Thumbs Up:

  • Class Size – Average elementary class sizes are projected to remain close in size to last year. Grades K-1 are projected to have about 21 students per class and Grades 2-5 are projected to have about 22-25 students per class.
  • Fees – The Superintendent’s preliminary budget includes no fee increases to parents.
  • Math Tutors – Continued funding of math tutors enhances the school district’s ability to help struggling and at risk students.
  • Hopkins – Budget includes new funding to enhance the English Language Arts program at Hopkins.
  • Middle School – Reinstatement of a Grade 6 teacher prevents class size from exceeding 25 students.
  • High School – Budget includes the addition of a High School Mandarin Chinese teacher, which is currently being funded by a grant from the federal government.

Thumbs Down:

  • Staff – Budget requests 435.6 total staff members for the 2011-12 school year. While this is a slight increase over last year (3.3), it is a total decrease of 20.3 staff members since the 2006-07 school year. Enrollment has increased by 8 students since 2006-07.
  • Class Sizes – Grade 3 average class sizes are expected to increase to 23 students per class next year. Grade 4 average class sizes are expected to increase to 25 students per class next year.
  • Elmwood/Hopkins – Continued sharing of an Assistant Principal at Elmwood and Hopkins continues to stress the operational demands at these schools.
  • Technology – Continued elimination of a dedicated technology teacher for each school adversely impacts the way in which technology is woven into the daily curriculum.
  • Foreign Language – Budget does NOT include a Foreign Language teacher at Hopkins, which places it off-track for meeting the Strategic Plan goal of offering foreign language in elementary school by 2014.
  • Middle School – Budget does not include the request of two additional days per Middle School guidance counselor, which impedes their ability to ensure students’ schedules are accurate, that students have been properly placed, and that universal screening reports are prepared for teachers prior to the beginning of school.
  • High School – The percentage of High School classes over 25 students will increase from 17% this year to 21% next year. History and Math are the greatest areas of concern with 29% of classes over 25 students.

Educational Benefits of Neighborhood Schools – HSC Press Release 1-20-11

Whenever a school district decides to change its grade configuration, it generates a lot of discussion in the community. The reasons for the proposed change vary by district but generally include some dialogue about the number of student transitions, effects on student achievement, enrollment growth or decline, social or economic factors, student transportation, parental involvement, opportunities for student interaction, and/or facilities. The most important question often gets lost in the debate: What grade configuration most benefits students?

With this question as its central focus, on February 28, 2002, the School Committee voted to support longer grade span neighborhood schools at the elementary level once space became available. Before making its decision, the School Committee weighed a report from a broad‐based study committee and engaged in healthy discussions with citizens about community traditions, school parity, competition, curriculum consistency, and effects on home values. As a measure of the community’s faith in the decision, at the May 2005 Annual Town Meeting voters approved $3 million for the architectural design of a new Early Childhood Center and grade 1‐5 neighborhood school at Fruit Street and for improvements to the Elmwood School.

In July of 2006, due to a temporary moratorium on state reimbursement for school building projects, the School Committee decided to defer its building and districting plans.  In 2011, the opportunity to meet both goals is once again before us, and the benefits for students of longer grade span neighborhoods schools remain the same:

  • Fewer educational transitions, which are difficult for all students and particularly for students with special needs;
  • Improved staff ability to provide interventions for students needing support services given its familiarity with students over a longer period of time;
  • Increased student familiarity with their classmates given the smaller number of students in each grade and more opportunities for cross‐grade mentoring;
  • Stronger relationships between parents and the school since students will remain in a school for a longer period of time;
  • Elementary‐aged siblings follow the same school schedule and ride the same bus, which reduces parents’ time before and after school;
  • Increased accountability for Principals and staff since students will remain in one school for six years;
  • Easier to schedule time for teacher training, planning, and vertical curriculum and assessment discussions across all schools; and
  • Opportunity to revisit school start times at the Middle and High School.

For the past ten years, the School Committee has planned for neighborhood schools and the community supported this goal in the 2009 Strategic Plan. The School Committee has also tried to listen to and address constituents’ concerns and has made every decision with the best interests of students in mind. We now have an opportunity to move to neighborhood schools and to build a new school with state funding. Given the poor condition of Center School, doing nothing is not an option.

For further information, please see the Elementary School Building Project Page on the Hopkinton Public
Schools website:  www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us.

[For much more detailed information please see the frequently updated Hopkinton Elementary School Building Project website: https://sites.google.com/a/hopkinton.k12.ma.us/hesbc/]

Ballot Question Committee for the New School is Formed

“The Ballot Question Committee for Hopkinton’s New Elementary School ” submitted papers to the Hopkinton Town Clerk on December 23, 2010 to form a Ballot Question Committee so that they can support the School Committee’s efforts, currently underway, to build a new elementary school on Fruit Street.

According to Cindy Bernardo, Chairman of The Ballot Question Committee for Hopkinton’s New Elementary School, the Committee will organize informational neighborhood coffees and events, and promote the School Committee’s Informational Forums so that the community has an opportunity to learn: why this building project is important, why moving to neighborhood schools would provide a beneficial learning environment for our children, and why it is financially advantageous to build a new school now. The Ballot Question Committee for Hopkinton’s New Elementary School would like to encourage all residents to attend either a forum, neighborhood coffee, or School Committee office hours over the next three months.

The School Committee will be holding its first community forum on Wednesday, January 12, at 7:00 pm at Center School (Snow Date January 18). Presentations by the School Committee and a tour of Center School will be held.

A calendar of events, all open to the public is available at the Committee’s website www.buildingforhopkinton.org. Periodic updates will be posted. Educate Hopkinton will continue to inform its readers about a variety of school and town budget issues, including the new school, but the Ballot Question Committee is specifically focused on the new school and will be raising funds to cover the costs of photocopies, mailers and ads. Educate Hopkinton does not raise funds and has a broader focus. If you would like to receive more detailed email updates about the new school or if you would like to help with this effort, please sign up at their website or contact them directly at:

Building for Hopkinton Email Sign-Up

Cindy Bernardo
Esther Driscoll
Amy Ritterbusch

FY12 Budget Season is in Full Swing

At the December 16, 2010 School Committee Meeting, Superintendent Phelan presented his Preliminary School Budget. You can view his presentation online at:

Preliminary Budget Highlights:
Enrollment – The projected student enrollment for the district in 2011-12 is 3,461 students. This is a total increase of 8 students from 2006-07.
Staff – The preliminary budget requests 435.6 total staff members for the 2011-12 school year. This is a total decrease of 20.3 staff members since the 2006-07 school year.
Budget – The Superintendent’s total budget recommendation for 2011-12 is $33,189,883. This is a 2.7% increase from this year’s budget. Budget challenges include: loss of funding from other sources, last year teachers agreed to defer step increases until FY12, regular transportation increase of 2%, SPED tuitions & transportation increase of 3%, the addition of a Grade 1 teacher and the addition of a computer technician.
Class Size – In the Superintendent’s preliminary budget, average elementary class sizes are projected to remain close in size to last year. Grades K-1 are projected to have about 21 students per class and Grades 2-5 are projected to have about 22-25 students per class.
Fees – The Superintendent’s preliminary budget includes no fee increases to parents.

Articles about the Superintendent’s Preliminary FY12 Budget
:

Draft School Dept. Budget Increase of $871,885
By Heather Kelley, HopNews.com, Dec. 17, 2010
http://www.hopnews.com/sc_12_16_10.html

School Committee Reports Preliminary FY12 Budget
by Mark Collins, HCAM, Dec. 17, 2010
http://www.hcam.tv/news/school-committee-reports-preliminary-fy12-budget

Hopkinton school budget asks for 2.7 percent jump
By Michael Morton, The MetroWest Daily News, Dec. 17, 2010
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x953406307/Hopkinton-school-budget-asks-for-2-7-percent-jump

At the January 6, 2011 School Committee Meeting/Working Session, the Committee heard preliminary budget presentations from High School Principal Alyson Geary, Middle School Principal Alan Keller and Athletic Director Eric Karjel. You can view the Executive Summaries of their budgets online at:

New School Estimated at $37.9 Million – State expected to cover about 37%
[This article also includes information about the HS, MS and Athletic budgets.]
By Heather Kelley, HopNews.com, Jan. 7, 2011
http://hopnews.com/sc_01_07_2011.html

Upcoming School Budget Dates:
Special Education, Buildings & Grounds and Central Office Budget Presentations

School Committee Working Session
Thursday, January 13 at 7:30pm in the Middle School Library
This working session is NOT televised, but it is open to the public.

Elementary School (Center, Elmwood and Hopkins) and Technology Budget Presentations

School Committee Regular Meeting and Working Session
Thursday, January 20 at 7:30pm in the Middle School Library
The working session portion of this meeting is NOT televised, but it is open to the public.

Public Hearing on the Preliminary FY12 Budget

School Committee Working Session
Thursday, January 27 at 7:30pm in the Middle School Library

New Elementary School at Fruit Street – HPS Press Release 1-6-11

For the past ten years, the School Committee has been discussing with the community the need to renovate and expand Center School to improve the quality of education for Hopkinton’s students. The age and condition of the present facility compromise learning. The age and condition of Center School also do not allow the district to meet its goal for “neighborhood schools” where all K-5 students from a family could attend the same school near their home. The deteriorating conditions at the Center School and the plan for neighborhood schools have been discussed openly at a number of community forums, with elected and appointed officials, and at Town Meetings. Funding and space constraints have been the major impediments to implementing these plans. The current school building program through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) gives the opportunity to finally realize this long-time goal.

In July of 2010, the MSBA endorsed votes by the Hopkinton Elementary School Building Committee (HESBC) and the Hopkinton School Committee to retire the Center School and replace it with a new facility on Fruit Street. Though three options were proposed for the renovation and addition to the Center School, the MSBA viewed Fruit Street as the most cost effective option and the best solution for educating Hopkinton’s children. The MSBA reached its decision after reviewing the results of a comprehensive Feasibility Study that was originally authorized by the MSBA in December of 2007 and supported by the voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May of 2008.

On December 29, 2010, the school district submitted the Schematic Design for the new elementary school to the MSBA. Design Partnership of Cambridge (DPC) specifically designed the facility to be a K-5 neighborhood school. The school will also house the town-wide Integrated Preschool. The building will contain four pre-school classrooms, twenty-four classrooms for grades K-5, and other standard core spaces. If the new school is approved, the school district will offer a tuition-based, full-day kindergarten program for any interested family at the new elementary school, at the Elmwood School, and at the Hopkins School, each of which will become a K-5 neighborhood school.

DPC has designed a 93,430 square foot building that will meet all the criteria for a ‘green facility’ and earn the maximum incentive points from the MSBA. The school includes three levels, which take advantage of the natural topography of the land. The lower level houses the preschool and provides it with its own separate drop-off and play area. The main and upper levels include the classrooms and programmatic spaces for students in grades K-5. The building has been zoned to provide a sense of neighborhood for each grade level and to most efficiently allow for after-hours community use.

The proposed school will be located on parcel 7 on the Fruit Street property, the tract of land designated for a new school as part of the Master Plan for the land. The parcel includes the current lacrosse/soccer field and baseball/softball/soccer field, which will remain intact under the current plans for the school. The overall design of the school has been improved as a result of collaboration with other town boards, committees, and officials. The school project now includes some infrastructure improvements that will benefit the school as well as the future development of the property. These improvements include utility upgrades and building the school access road to subdivision specifications so it can potentially be used as the main entry way to the Fruit Street property.

The School Committee will request funding from the citizens of Hopkinton for the final design and construction of the new elementary school at a Special Town Meeting and Election in March. To inform the public about the project, a series of community forums, neighborhood coffees, and School Committee office hours have been scheduled.

For more complete information regarding the Feasibility Study, the designs for the school, important project information, and School Committee information sessions, please visit the Elementary School Building Project page on the school district website at www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us.

[The preceding is a press release from the Hopkinton Public Schools, dated January 6, 2011. For much more detailed information please see the newly launched Hopkinton Elementary School Building Project website: https://sites.google.com/a/hopkinton.k12.ma.us/hesbc/]