Educate Hopkinton Formalizes its Structure and Applies for 501(c)(4) Status
Educate Hopkinton (EH) has been a civic group in Hopkinton since 2007, organized by an informal Steering Committee, operating a website and mass email list at minimal cost. When the group began it had only 80 subscribers on its email list, but the number has grown over the years and EH now has over 440 subscribers. Email subscriptions are free and available to all Hopkinton residents and business owners regardless of their political views.
After the failure of the vote for the proposed new school and as the FY12 budget season draws to a close, members of the EH steering committee decided it was time to formalize the group’s structure before the FY13 budget season begins in the fall. “This was something we talked about doing last summer, but many of us were busy with other organizations in town and didn’t find the time to follow through with the paperwork,” said Amy Ritterbusch, Educate Hopkinton President.
Members of the EH Steering Committee have varied over the last four years, but their newly formed Board of Directors includes: Amy Ritterbusch (President), Tara Sanda (Treasurer), Erin Graziano (Clerk), Kristy Willadsen (Clerk), Cindy Bernardo, Jon Graziano and Laura Barry. According to Ritterbusch, “We have modeled our structure loosely based on the Citizens for Needham Schools organization, and hope to complete work on our by-laws before school starts in the fall.”
The Mission Statement for EH is “Educate Hopkinton’s goal is to keep people up-to-date on the budget process and the Town’s financial needs.” When asked what the residents needed to be most informed about this year, Kristy Willadsen responded “The town needs to weigh-in and come together on a long-term solution to the Center School problem. There especially needs to be more education about longer grade spans.” According to former EH Steering Committee member Esther Driscoll “Before the voters can decide if Center School is to be decommissioned as a school, they need a better understanding of what will be done with the building.” Laura Barry brought up the library “We will find out Hopkinton’s status on a state grant to pay for about half the cost of the renovation and expansion in July. Besides state funding, the library will be paid for by a combination of private donations via a capital campaign and a debt exclusion put to voters first at a town meeting then at the ballot.” Tara Sanda said “Class size is always a concern in every budget season, as well as Hopkinton’s lack of a full day Kindergarten program for all families.” Cindy Bernardo expressed “We are very eager to get to know our new Superintendent, Jonathan Landman, and the EH Board will be happy to help supply food for the Conversations with the Superintendent this summer.”
When asked why EH decided to apply for 501(c)(4) status, Ritterbusch explained “We have been limited in what we can do in previous years due to lack of funds and lack of formal board member roles. We have relied heavily on email, social media and the internet, but this year we would like to host coffees and information sessions, as well as publish brochures and mailers to help keep residents informed. I hope to continue to grow our email list and create a group structure that will allow EH to continue informing Hopkinton residents for many years to come. I am excited by the challenge.”