All posts by Amy Ritterbusch

eHop Board Member 2007-present

March 11th Board of Selectmen Meeting About FY09 Budget

At its December 4th, 2007 meeting, the Board of Selectmen voted to provide an FY09 budget that provides “as close to Level Services as possible” for the town.

At this week’s March 4th Board of Selectmen meeting, the Town Manager presented his FY09 budget presentation. Following the presentation, the Town Manager recommended that the Selectmen decide between two options:

  • MAINTAINING SERVICES (LEVEL SERVICES) ****this would require some amount of override


  • SPENDING ONLY THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE which means the town will have to reduce services.

The Board of Selectmen raised several concerns by the Selectmen regarding departmental budget requests that appeared to exceed the “level services” threshold. The Selectmen requested that town departments prepare to respond to questions regarding the requested Level Services (MAINTAINING SERVICES) budget and the impacts of a Level Funded (SPENDING ONLY THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE) budget so that the financial and service impacts of both budgets can be weighed.

The Board of Selectmen will be continuing the FY’09 budget discussion next Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall’s Room 215. encourages you to attend this public meeting to observe the process and take advantage of any public comment section there could be. The meeting will be accessible on HCAM as well.

Educate Hopkinton’s goal is to keep people up-to-date on the budget process and the Town’s financial needs.

Further discussion of School Choice option at 2/28 School Committee meeting

The School Committee will continue to investigate and debate the appropriateness of School Choice for FY09, at the February 28th Regular School Committee meeting at the Middle School Library 7:30 p.m. Check the website for the Meeting Agenda schedule so that you know when the discussion on this agenda item will take place.

EducateHopkinton encourages you to the take the opportunity to have your voice heard and your questions answered regarding this one of many revenue enhancing recommendations made to the School Committee by the Financial Plan Working Group.

Emailing, calling or writing the members of the School Committee with questions or comments regarding the School Choice discussion is one way to involve yourself and your neighbors in the budget building process.

Many community members have already contacted the School Committee to discuss their questions and concerns regarding this choice.

School Committee members names and email addresses are included below:

  • Rebecca Robak, Chair
  • Nancy Alvarez Burdick
  • Lyn Branscomb
  • Dave Stoldt
  • Phil Totino
Educate Hopkinton’s goal is to keep people up-to-date on the budget process and the Town’s financial needs.

Voice your opinion on the Hopkinton’s FY09 budget now

There have been several questions sent to regarding the definition of a level services budget vs a level funding budget and about what residents can do to make their voices heard. We hope that the information here will clarify the definitions and your role.

Level services vs Level Funding

· Level Services maintains the services the town now offers without any loss of personnel and programs. Funds may be shifted to accommodate changes in need, but residents would not feel a difference in what they now have. Supporting this type of service would require an override and increase your taxes beyond what is allowed by Proposition 2 ½.

· Level Funding or, more appropriate, funding to existing revenues, uses available revenue to fund the town budget. It does not require an increase in your taxes over what is allowed by Proposition 2 ½. It will, however, reduce the services that you now receive from schools, police, fire, and public works.

In both cases, at this point, the town does not know the exact dollar amount for an override or for service reductions. It is currently projected at $1.4 million, but that number is expected to go down to somewhere between $500 thousand and $1 million.

To have your voice heard, you should write the Board of Selectmen. They have the ultimate authority on deciding whether or not to put an override on the ballot, allowing citizens the choice of level services or level funding.

Because of the budget schedule, you should contact the Board of Selectmen or Town Manager before March 4.

If you want to send an email, here are some examples of sample wording:

1) Supporting Level Services:

Dear BOS/Town Manager,

I would like you to consider endorsing a level services budget for FY09. I understand that this will maintain current services for our schools, police, fire, and public works, avoiding a loss of personnel and programs. I would like the opportunity to vote on any potential override required.

Thank you for considering this request.


The X Family

2) Supporting Level Funding:

I cannot support a tax increase to support Level Services. I understand that the impact of this choice will result in reductions in our schools, police, fire, and public works and am asking the town to construct a FY09 budget that makes the best use of revenues the town expects to receive.

Thank you for considering this request.


The X Family

Here are the email addresses for the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager.

Muriel Kramer, Chair:
Mary Pratt, Vice Chair:
Mike Shepard:
Brian Herr:
Matt Zettek:

Tony Troiano

Next Year’s School Budget



Hopkinton is finalizing an FY09 TOWN BUDGET. Money is tight and every town department is trying to find ways to cut expenses and find efficiencies because the projected revenue available for FY09 is not enough to cover expenses.


All town department budgets will be reviewed by our Town Manager and on March 4th he will present his recommendation for a Town budget to the Board of Selectmen. His recommendation for the town budget (more than 50% of which is the school department budget) will be either to:

propose MAINTAINING SERVICES (LEVEL SERVICES) ****this would require some amount of override


propose SPENDING ONLY THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE which means the town will have to reduce staffing.

The Board of Selectmen will vote to adopt an FY09 Budget on March 14th. The BOS decides whether or not to put a property tax override on the ballot – where we the voters get to decide what level of service we want for our town.

The School Committee just presented a budget to the Town Manager asking to MAINTAIN SERVICES for next school year. This term is known as LEVEL SERVICES. That simply means, not cutting teachers, programs, professional development and not increasing class sizes or fees. This would cost more than what the town expects to get in revenues and would require a property tax override

*What is the Impact of LEVEL SERVICES vs. SPENDING ONLY THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE on the school budget?

LEVEL SERVICES does NOT cut anything currently in place.

If the BOS votes for a Level Service Budget then we get to ultimately decide if that’s what we want. WE can decide if we want to vote for an override to support LEVEL SERVICES or not. The School Committee’s budget together with the budget requests from other departments requires about $1.4 million above what is currently available to the town in order to be able to offer LEVEL SERVICES. ****This shortfall is likely to be reduced somewhat by changes in state aid, reductions in negotiated healthcare costs, etc. between now and March 14th.

SPENDING ONLY THE FUNDS THAT ARE AVAILABLE cuts services, and here is the impact of that:

*Loss of teachers/other personnel

*Higher Class Sizes

*Reduced academic supports

*Loss/Erosion of programs

*Increase of fees


· Determine what your position is regarding the budget and contact the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager!

You can find all the information on the website


*Board of Selectmen Emails:

Muriel Kramer, Chair:

Mary Pratt, Vice Chair:

Mike Shepard:

Brian Herr:

Matt Zettek:

*Town Manager Email: 

Tony Troiano


Educate Hopkinton’s goal is to keep people up-to-date on the budget process and the Town’s financial needs.

School Committee Submits Preliminary FY09 Budget to Town Manager

The School Committee is presenting its Preliminary FY09 Budget at tonight’s regular Meeting at the Middle School Library at 7:30 p.m. That meeting will be carried, as usual, live on HCAM and will be rebroadcast. If you have cable television, you are encouraged to watch (if you cannot attend the meeting).

A PowerPoint presentation of the preliminary FY09 budget presentation will be presented by Chair, Rebecca Robak.

The link to the School Committee’s Preliminary FY09 Budget Memo to the Hopkinton Town Manager:

The link to the School Committee’s complete Preliminary FY09 Budget submitted to the Hopkinton Town Manager:

Check these primary source documents out and begin formulating questions for the School Committee. EducateHopkinton encourages you to be educated and informed.

Educate Hopkinton’s goal is to keep people up-to-date on the budget process and the Town’s financial needs.

HPTA Coffee/Town Budget

Understand Hopkinton’s Budget

You are invited to join your friends and neighbors for coffee and information at:

Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 10:30 am

Address: CAA, 98 Hayden Rowe

Host: HPTA

RSVP:, by 2/11/08

You’ll Learn:

1. The difference between a “level service” budget and a “level funded” budget and what they mean to you.

2. How the budget affects the services you receive from the town such as trash pickup, road maintenance and repair, fire and police response to calls to your home, the construction and development of commercial and residential land, the education of your child(ren).

3. The gap between the revenues the town has to spend and the cost of delivering the same services you receive now.

4. What elected officials and town volunteers are doing to cut expenses, implement economies, and build revenue this budget cycle and the years to come.

We are looking forward to hosting you. Experts will be available to answer your questions.
If you can’t attend, please go to, and learn how you can understand and participate in the decision making for this year’s Hopkinton budget process.

Making a Difference Every Day

Financial Plan Work Group Live-Call in show 1/31 7:00 p.m. HCAM

A Live broadcast discussion of the recommendations of the Financial Plan Working Group has been scheduled for Thursday, January 31, 7:00 – 8:00 PM on HCAM-TV (Comcast Channel 8 – Verizon Channel 30).

The format of the program will be an interactive dialogue between Tony Troiano (Town Manager), Stuart Cowart (Appropriation Committee) and Phil Totino (School Committee).

Together, they will discuss service cuts vs. overrides as solutions to the Town’s finances. They welcome questions and comments. Please call 508-435-7887 during the program.

If you have specific questions that you would like the presenters to answer during the broadcast, you are asked to email them in to FPWG member, Phil Totino at

Please share this information with your friends, neighbors and contacts so that people can educate themselves on the issues while there is time to comment, ask questions and learn what lies ahead for our town.


In response to some questions already raised by inquiring minds, the School Committee has crafted a communication regarding the Massachusetts Department of Education’s School Choice program which is included below. If after reading the information below, you continue to have questions regarding the cost versus the benefits of this program, encourages you to contact anyone of the School Committee members listed below to discuss your questions.

In this article, the Hopkinton School Committee would like to clear up some misunderstandings that have arisen in the public mind about the School Choice program.

The School Choice program provides an option for any School Committee to vote to allow students from other school districts to attend its public schools.

The Hopkinton School Committee is considering whether to participate in the program during the school year beginning next September. The idea was identified by the Financial Plan Working Group in its report last October as a potential way to bring new revenue into the town to help alleviate the structural deficit in town finances.

Hopkinton used to accept School Choice students but has not participated since the 2000-01 school year because of growing enrollments and space constraints. We have had our hands full trying to keep up with a rapidly rising population of school-aged children living in Hopkinton. However, this situation has begun to change in the last few years. Enrollments in the lower elementary grades have shown a significant drop, and estimates from the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) are for this lower level of enrollment to persist over the next ten years.

Under state law, the School Committee can limit school choice seats to specific grade levels and specific numbers of students based on available space. If the number of applications exceeds the number of seats available in a grade, a lottery is held. After a student is accepted, he/she must be allowed to stay in the school system until graduation from high school.

The School Committee is NOT required to accept students who were expelled from schools in other school districts.

Participation in the School Choice program relates only to accepting students from other districts. It has no bearing on Hopkinton students who choose to go to school in other districts. State law allows students from any district to go to school in another district that accepts incoming students in their grade (subject to space constraints). There are currently seven students living in Hopkinton who attend school in other districts under the School Choice program.

The district that the student is coming from is required to pay the receiving district a certain amount for each student. The amount is based on a formula established by the state. The formula is tied to the average per-pupil spending in the receiving district. The amount that Hopkinton would receive for each School Choice student coming into the district is $5,000 per school year. For special-education students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), the amount would be higher based on the state formula. The receiving district is not required to provide transportation to and from school for School Choice students.

To understand how participating in School Choice could raise revenue without compromising the quality of education, consider the following example. Suppose that one of our elementary grades has 240 students and 12 classes. The average class size would be 20. If we were to take 20 students into that grade via the School Choice program and add 1 class, then the average class size would remain the same, 20 (260/13). The cost of staffing the additional classroom would be about $50,000. However, the 20 students would generate $100,000 in new revenue. This would provide $50,000 that could be used for other purposes. This example assumes that no incoming students have special needs. A separate analysis would need to be done to determine if the incremental revenue that would accompany such students per the state formula would cover the incremental costs incurred by the school district.

The School Committee has great flexibility in deciding how to use the new revenue. For example, the money could be used to offset other expenses of the school district, thereby reducing the amount that Hopkinton taxpayers would have to fund. Alternatively, in the example described above, the extra $50,000 could be used to hire a second new teacher, thereby reducing average class size for the grade. This assumes that there is space available for a second new class. Another possibility is that the money could be used to hire a new teacher (or a portion of a new teacher) at the high school in order to add more sections of particular courses and thereby reduce the number of sections with high class sizes. These are examples of the possible uses of the incremental funds.

The School Committee is continuing to study the matter and will give careful consideration to the decision about whether to participate in School Choice for the school year beginning next September and, if so, to what extent.

Detailed information about the state’s School Choice program and data on those districts participating in the program is posted on the Massachusetts Department of Education web page on School Choice.

If questions remain about the parameters of the School Choice program, please let us know.

Hopkinton School Committee:

Rebecca Robak, Chair

Nancy Burdick, Vice-Chair

Lyn Branscomb

Phil Totino

Dave Stoldt


School Committee Member Email Addresses:

Rebecca Robak, Chair

Nancy Alvarez Burdick

Lyn Branscomb

Dave Stoldt

Phil Totino