Three Elementary School Planning Community Conversations This Week – Please Attend One

Hopkinton Elementary School Planning 
Join the School Committee for an Essential Community Conversation 

The School Committee will be a hosting a conversation with the community regarding planning for our elementary schools. To maximize attendance and participation, three dates will be offered and the format and topics will be the same at each event. Attending one of these meetings will empower residents to participate in developing the next proposal to address the challenges that exist across our school facilities. Please make time to join us at one of these three important events:

  • Wednesday, November 2, 10 am – 12 pm; Faith Community Church, Room 213 
  • Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm – 9 pm; High School Cafeteria 
  • Saturday, November 5, 2 pm – 4 pm; High School Cafeteria 

There will be a short recap of the process to date as well as background information provided. The majority of the meeting will be spent in small group discussion focused on evaluation of potential building projects and solutions.

Data collected from these conversations will be shared with the community, and will also be used in the development a community wide survey regarding our elementary schools. The survey will be designed for all Hopkinton voters to participate in.

The Library Needs Your Help! Fundraising Meeting Tomorrow

Lindsay McDermott, Hopkinton resident and Educate Hopkinton subscriber, will hold a meeting to brainstorm and begin planning community events to benefit the library. If you would like to plan events, or just help with small tasks, the Library needs you! The meeting will be at Lindsay’s home tomorrow, October 20 at 7:30pm. If you would like to attend, please contact Lindsay for directions at lindsay.mcdermott@yahoo.com or 508-435-3587. Everyone is welcome!

Over the summer, Hopkinton Public Library was approved and awarded a Massachusetts Public Library Construction Grant in the amount of $4,533,580. Hopkinton’s project, along with several others around the state, will be funded in the state’s 5 year capital plan. Read more about the Library Expansion Project at http://www.hopkintonlibrary.org/hopkinton/expansionhome.asp 

Questions? Lindsay McDermott lindsay.mcdermott@yahoo.com 508-435-3587 Library Expansion Project: http://www.hopkintonlibrary.org/hopkinton/expansionhome.asp

Educate Hopkinton Fall Survey Results

What budget topics are Hopkinton residents most interested in this year? Although our survey is not scientific, it does give the Educate Hopkinton board some direction, and at least a rough idea of what topics are of most interest to our readers. If you would still like to take the survey it will remain open through next Tuesday, October 24: http://www.rationalsurvey.com/s/1566

1) What Hopkinton capital projects are you most interested in this year? (Check all that apply) 
Center School Capital Project 41%
Library Expansion Project 24%
Hopkinton Center for the Arts 14%
New DPW Facility 11%
Hockey Rink Building Project 7%
Write-In Responses: Elmwood School and Special Education Reform

2) What Hopkinton land development projects / issues are you most interested in this year? (Check all that apply) 
Milford Casino 32%
Legacy Farms/Former Weston Nurseries Property 29%
Hopkinton Square/Price Chopper 25%
Sports Fields / Active Recreation 8%
Community Preservation Act Funds 4%

3) What Hopkinton annual budget topics / issues are you most interested in this year? (Check all that apply)
Elmwood School Maintenance/Repairs 18%
Class Sizes 17%
Middle School Maintenance/Repairs 15%
Expansion of Foreign Language Program 14%
Town Operating Budget – 2 ½%
Increase 13%
Energy Efficiency Savings / Green Issues 8%
Fees to Residents (Trash, Bus, etc.) 7%
School/Town Union Contract Negotiations 4%
Health Care Costs for Municipal Employees 2%
Write-In Responses: Center School Maintenance/Repairs, Downtown Revitalization, Special Education Reform

If you would like to weigh-in the survey will remain open through next Tuesday, October 24:
Click Here to Begin the Survey

Recent Notes on Center School and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)

Although no decision has been made yet, the town may decide to submit a new Statement of Interest (SOI) to the MSBA. The MSBA is accepting FY12 SOI’s from now through January 11, 2012. Some brief info about MSBA SOI’s:

  • An SOI should be building specific, that is, only one school building can be the subject of an SOI. For example we cannot submit a single SOI for BOTH Center School and Elmwood School. “Districts should submit one SOI per school for each school they believe requires a project with the MBSA. Where applicable, the district can express interest in multiple accelerated repair projects at one school (generally projects for the repair and/or replacement of windows, roofs, boilers, and/or a Science Lab Initiative project). All districts that submit multiple SOIs will be required to select one SOI as its ‘district priority SOI’ for consideration and due diligence efforts by the MSBA.” 
  • An SOI cannot propose a specific solution to the problem. The solution will be arrived at after collaborating with the MSBA on the most appropriate educational and cost effective solution. For example we cannot tell the MSBA that the ONLY solution we want is to renovate/rebuild at the Center School site (or any other specific site). The SOI should just state the problem(s), not the solution. 
  • The Superintendent must be authorized by both the School Committee and Board of Selectmen before filing an SOI. 
  • If Hopkinton submits an SOI and the MSBA approves it, the taxpayers would be asked to fund a new feasibility study at a future town meeting. It is unknown yet if this would be at the May 2012 Annual Town Meeting or at another date. 
  • More information from the MSBA about the current SOI process http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/building/prerequisites/SOI_overview and http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/building/prerequisites/SOI_FAQs 
  • Read the SOI submitted for Center School in 2007 (one of several SOI’s submitted by Hopkinton in July 2007) at https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxlZHVjYXRlaG9wa2ludG9ufGd4OjJmMGFkM2I5MGI3MmUzODM. This SOI was approved unanimously by the Selectmen (Muriel Kramer, Mary Pratt, Michael Shepard, Brian Herr and Matt Zettek) with a vote of 5 to 0. This SOI was also approved unanimously by the School Committee. The School Committee identified the Center School as its priority SOI per a directive from the MSBA in August 2007. 
  • Read about what five final options (from the original 13 options) were evaluated in detail during the Center School Feasibility Study, their estimated costs and why they were ruled out as not being preferred options. http://hopkinton.k12.ma.us/newweb2/HESBC/5FSOptionsMatrix.pdf

Updates on Center School Maintenance and Repairs in the Meantime

HVAC System 
Over the summer the steam traps in the oldest cast iron radiators at Center School were cleaned at a cost of $8,000 to make them more efficient and not overheat. According to Al Rogers, Hopkinton Public Schools Director of Buildings & Grounds “The last time we did steam trap maintenance was 2004. They recommend 3-5 years.” This should ameliorate, but not permanently solve, the problem of some classrooms being too hot in the winter. In addition sometime in the middle of the last school year some components of the unit ventilators were sent out to be rebuilt. It took several months to complete, because the unit ventilators are so old and hard to find parts for. This should ameliorate, but not permanently solve, the problem of some classrooms being too cold in the winter. A Request for Proposals (RFP) has recently gone out seeking a designer to do a study of existing conditions of the complete HVAC system at Center School to determine alternatives (with price construction timeline estimates) available for repair, upgrade, and/or replacement of the HVAC system. For any project over $100K, the state bid law requires a designer or engineer. Read the full RFP at http://ma.mypublicnotices.com/PublicNotice.asp?Page=PublicNotice&AdId=2519924.

Gym Floor Buckled from Water Damage 
As many parents saw at the Kindergarten and First Grade Open Houses this month, the Center School Gym floor suffered some water damage during Hurricane Irene. Read this article from the Crier for more details: Hopkinton works to salvage flood-damaged school gym floor http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/features/x1499151705/Hopkinton-works-to-salvage-flood-damaged-school-gym-floor#axzz1ZkRK3z38

Center School Window Replacement Cost May Go Over the State Limit and Require Full ADA Compliance 
A study of the existing window conditions at both Center and Elmwood School was done in 2005 by Gale Associates. At that time, it was estimated that the cost to replace the Center School windows would be $787,000. Read the full study at http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us/newweb2/PDF/GaleStudy.pdf. According to Ralph Dumas, HPS Director of Finance, at the September 30 School Committee meeting the fair cash value of Center School is approximately $2.7 million. According to the regulations of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, if the renovation work amounts to 30% or more of the building’s fair cash value, the ENTIRE building is required to be accessible. Right now only portions of the Center School building are accessible. Thirty percent of Center School’s value is $810,000. If both the HVAC System and Windows are replaced, it is very likely to cost over $810,000 and therefore require full ADA compliance. (Even if the work is done in phases the total cost of such work in any 36 month period shall be added together as per MAAB rules.) To be fully accessible, all Center School bathrooms would need to to have at least one accessible toilet and sink and all of the building’s floors would need to be accessible by elevator. Currently the 3rd floor (in the oldest part of the building) is not accessible by elevator and there is not room to install one without eliminating or shrinking rooms currently in use. Read more about Massachusetts Architectural Access Board regulations at http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/dps/aab_regs/521003.pdf. Read the Cubellis Report 2007 ADA Survey of Center School: http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us/newweb2/schoolcommittee/strategic_docs/PDF/CubellisReport.pdf. (Some of the smaller non-compliance items noted in the Cubellis Report have already been taken of since this report was issued in 2007.)

Capital Asset Assessment Reports 
The School Committee had previously commissioned Capital Asset Assessment Reports from Habeeb and Associates Architects in 2000 and again in 2006. The School Committee is considering refreshing these reports at an estimated cost of $12,000 to both refresh the reports of schools already studied and to add a study for the High School, which had not previously been assessed because it was so new.
2000 Capital Asset Assessment for Center, Elmwood School and Middle School (at the time this building was both the HS and MS) http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us//newweb2/schoolcommittee/building_projects/Buildingprojects/CAPITAL_ASSET_OCT_00.pdf
2006 Capital Asset Assessment for Hopkins, Elmwood and Middle School http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us//newweb2/schoolcommittee/building_projects/Buildingprojects/CAPITAL_ASSET_FEB_06.pdf

Casino Bill Update

Thank you very much to Representative Carolyn Dykema for attending our event on September 25 and answering our questions. The top two contenders for the “Northeastern Region” casino site are Milford and East Boston (Suffolk Downs). The most clicked link in our last email was the location of the proposed Milford casino, which would be nestled between Route 85 and Route 16 on the Hopkinton/Holliston side of Milford. Here it is again in case you missed it: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=33+New+York+Ave,+Framingham,+Middlesex,+Massachusetts+01701&msa=0&ll=42.168938,-71.500225&spn=0.028818,0.054159&t=h&z=14&msid=105846700826706787977.0004765faeddb24bdd8ba 

The Massachusetts House voted to authorize casino gaming on September 14, the Massachusetts Senate has not yet completed its debate or voted. The Senate is still going through over 180 proposed amendments. Two of Hopkinton’s Sentator, Karen Spilka’s amendments did already pass:

  1. The first amendment adopted makes clear that the initial studies an applicant is required to provide to the Gaming Commission would not be deemed to prevent the need for corresponding studies and reports prepared for host or surrounding communities. Host and surrounding communities will be significantly impacted and this amendment ensures that a municipality has the ability to receive additional studies on these impacts from the Commission or gaming applicant that they need to fairly negotiate agreements. 
  2. The second amendment adopted authorizes the Commission to provide for reasonable costs of negotiating agreements between municipalities and applicants – the Commission may require applicants to pay these costs. Since the negotiation process can be burdensome, complex, and expensive for host and surrounding communities, this will give them the tools they need to ensure effective and fair representation. 

Read more from Senator Spilka at http://karenspilka.com/2011/09/26/senate-adopts-spilkas-amendments-to-protect-communities/ and read this recent article about Senator Spilka’s role in the Senate debate so far http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/politics/state_politics/senate-gambling-debate-stalls-out.

What Can Hopkinton Residents Do? 

  1. Write to Senator Karen Spilka and Governor Deval Patrick. Snail mail is best, but in the interest of time you should feel free to call or email them if that is easier for you. 
  2. Educate Hopkinton is looking for more volunteers to help keep our subscribers informed about this important issue. Please contact Amy Ritterbusch at amyritterbusch@educatehopkinton.com if you can help. We already have three people who have stepped up to work on this issue, but could use more. 

Contact Info 
Senator Karen Spilka
State House – Room 511C
Boston, MA 02133 617-722-1640
Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov
Gov. Deval Patrick
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor – Room 280
Boston, MA 02133
617.725.4005

Enrollment in Hopkinton Schools Remains Flat, No Significant Decrease is Expected

Educate Hopkinton has created a chart of enrollment data from a variety of public documents, which we have recently posted to our website. Although there are slight increases and decreases from year-to-year there is no significant downward or upward trend. From 2004-2018 enrollments range from a low of 3,306 to a high of 3,462, just a 4% difference over a 15-year time-frame. The last time we had fewer than 3,306 students in our district was during the 2003-2004 school year. http://www.educatehopkinton.com/pdf/Hopkinton_Schools_Enrollment_Data_09-30-11.pdf