Tag Archives: School Choice

School Choice Update

At its January 26 public hearing on School Choice, the School Committee voted not to accept students into Hopkinton schools via the Massachusetts School Choice program. Every year they must decide by June 1 if Hopkinton will accept school choice students the following year. We have NOT accepted school choice students for several years, however Hopkinton students may still go out of district to other towns that accept school choice students. This year 13.5 students attend out of Hopkinton via School Choice and 29 students attend public charter schools out of Hopkinton. The number of Hopkinton students opting to go out of district via School Choice and Charter Schools had been slowly but steadily increasing since the 2005-06 school year, but is now down slightly from last year.

Hopkinton School Choice Trends from Mass DOE FY12
Hopkinton Students Attending Charter Schools from Mass DOE FY12

Hockey Rink, Casino, School Choice and School Budget Public Hearings

Parks and Recreation Hearing on Legacy Farms Land / Hockey Rink
Mon. January 23 @ 7:30-8:30pm
Hopkinton Town Hall, Room 215
Read previous EH blogs on this topic.

Regional Forum on Casino Legislation
Thurs. January 26 @ 7:30pm
Adams Middle School Auditorium, 323 Woodland St, Holliston
Please join members of your local Boards of Selectmen as we meet with legislative leaders to discuss the recently passed Gaming Legislation. The discussion will outline the legislation and the options for surrounding communities impacted by the new law. Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Carolyn Dykema will be in attendance. Audience members may ask questions and make comments. Read previous EH blogs on this topic.

School Committee Public Hearing on School Choice and the 2012-13 School Budget
Thursday, January 26 @ 7:00pm (Not Televised)
Middle School Library, 88 Hayden Rowe St
Public Hearing – FY13 Budget and School Choice
ATTENTION! If you can only attend one school committee meeting a year, this is the most important one to attend. It is your chance to voice your opinion on the budget.
Read previous EH blogs on these topics.

REMINDER – Preliminary 2012-13 School Budget

Click to view a pdf file of the Superinendent’s Preliminary 2012-13 School Budget Presentation.

Or on HCAM-TV you can watch a brief 7 minute summary of the budget presentation or watch the whole meeting. Follow this link:
hcam.tv/videos/superintendent-landman-presents-preliminary-budget

Please note that school budget discussions are NOT televised. So far no one has come to speak during the public comment portions of the school committee meetings to speak up about fees, class size or any other topic. As always you should feel free to contact the School Committee hpsschoolcommittee@hopkinton.k12.ma.us and Superintendent jlandman@hopkinton.k12.ma.us at any time with questions or concerns. You may also voice your opinion publicly at the School Budget Public Hearing coming up on January 26.

School Committee Meeting
Thursday, January 19 @ 7:00 PM
Middle School Library, 88 Hayden Rowe St
Regular Meeting/Working Session – FY13 Budget Topics:
Middle School, High School, Athletics, Town Meeting Articles, Athletic Fee, Parking Fee, F1 Visa Tuition, Walking Zone, 1:1 Laptop Initiative, Bus Parking Lot (The Budget Portion of the Meeting is Not Televised)

School Committee Public Hearing on School Choice and the 2012-13 School Budget
Thursday, January 26 @ 7:00pm (Not Televised)
Middle School Library, 88 Hayden Rowe St
Public Hearing – FY13 Budget and School Choice
ATTENTION! If you can only attend one school committee meeting a year, this is the most important one to attend. It is your chance to voice your opinion on the budget.

Budget Overview – 3.95% Increase from Last Year
Superintendent Landman presented his preliminary 2012-13 (FY13) school budget at the December 20 School Committee meeting. Some highlights are included below. Please note that nothing is final at this point, this is just the beginning of a process. The School Committee will provide feedback to the Superintendent who will then refine the budget before the School Committee votes on a budget to submit to the Town Manager by the February 1 deadline.

Thumbs Up:

  • Maintains close to level services for 2012-13
  • Continues to work toward Strategic Plan goals such as:
    • Aligning our math curriculum with Common Core standards
    • Intervention Pyramid for struggling students
    • 21st Century Learning (such as online classes at the HS)
    • Technology Infrastructure Updates, such as replacing teacher laptops that are more than 5 years old
    • Critical Language (Mandarin) at the HS
    • Exploration of how to add the study of world languages to grade 6 and below
  • Create a school bus parking lot in town to save fuel, as well as save on excise tax paid to the other town where our buses currently park.

Thumbs Down:

  • $707,268 Decrease in budget offsets from last year such as state circuit breaker special education funding and education job grants
  • Increased class sizes in grades K, 1, 4, 6 and 8 (see chart below)
  • More high school classes with over 25 students (17% this year vs 20% next year)
  • A net cut of 2.6 Staff Members compared to last year (a net cut of 20.4 staff members since the 2006-07 school year)

Proposed Class Sizes:

Grade Strategic Plan
Guideline
2011-12 2012-13 Proposed Change
PreK n/a 19 18 Decrease
K 19-21 21 22 Increase to above guideline
1 19-21 21 22 Increase to above guideline
2 22-24 24 24 Same
3 22-24 24 20 Decrease
4 22-24 22 24 Increase
5 22-24 25 25 Same but still above guideleine
6 n/a 19 22 Increase
7 n/a 23 18 Decrease
8 n/a 17 23 Increase

Mixed Bag:

  • Increase student bus fees from $210 to $250 per year
  • Increase student athletic fee from $125 to $200 per sport
  • Increase student parking fee from $210 to $250 per year
  • Assess a daycare drop-off bus fee of $100 per student
  • Creation of a “walking zone” and elimination of the bus for Middle School and High School students living close enough to walk to school.

Summary of the Preliminary 2012-13 Budget:
$32,957,722 This Year’s Approved Budget 2011-12
+$1,518,755 Fixed Cost Payroll Increases (contractual obligations)
+$62,401 Other Fixed Cost Increases
___________
$34,538,878 Level Services 2012-13 Budget
+$285,425 Strategic Initiatives
+$71,000 Extraordinary Maintenance
-$69,342 Cost Cutting Measures
-$208,368 New Revenue (Fees)
-$359,608 Net Staff Positions Cut
_________
$34,260,733 Total Preliminary 2012-13 Budget – 3.95% Increase from Last Year

HCAM News Candidate Focus Tonight and School Committee Meeting Thursday

HCAM News Candidate Focus – TONIGHT
Monday, May 9 at 7:00pm
HCAM Studio, 77 Main St
RSVP to news@hcam.tv
Read more…

Candidates in contested races:

Selectmen – 1 position open – 3 year term
Brian Herr (R)
Francis D’Urso (D)

School Committee – 2 positions open – 3 year term
Nancy Burdick (R) (Incumbent)
Richard P. deMont (D) (Incumbent)
Scott Aghababian (R)


School Committee Public Hearing and Meeting
Thursday, May 12 @ 7:30 pm
Middle School Library
The School Committee holds its annual public hearing on School Choice. Every year they must decide by June 1 if Hopkinton will accept school choice students the following year. We have NOT accepted school choice students for several years, however Hopkinton students may still go out of district to other towns that accept school choice students. This year 15.5 students attend out of Hopkinton via School Choice and 34 students attend public charter schools out of Hopkinton.


Recaps from Annual Town Meeting

Town Meeting: Monday Night Recap
by Michelle Murdock, HCAM News Director
http://www.hcam.tv/news/town-meeting-monday-night-recap

May 2011 Town Meeting Recap: Second Night
by Michelle Murdock, HCAM News Director
http://www.hcam.tv/news/may-2011-town-meeting-recap-second-night

Scenes from Hopkinton Town Meeting
By Gene Cassidy, HopkintonPatch
http://hopkinton.patch.com/articles/scenes-from-hopkinton-town-meeting

Hopkinton Town Meeting Closes on 2 Library Yes Votes
By Gene Cassidy, HopkintonPatch
http://hopkinton.patch.com/articles/hopkinton-town-meeting-closes-on-2-library-yes-votes

Support builds for DPW home in Hopkinton.
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff MetroWest Daily News
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1760689936/Support-builds-for-DPW-home-in-Hopkinton

Hopkinton Town Meeting approves library renovation, rezoning.
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff The MetroWest Daily News
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x449047688/Hopkinton-Town-Meeting-approves-library-renovation-rezoning

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.

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 www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us 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 rebeccarobak@aol.com
  • Nancy Alvarez Burdick nancyb88@hotmail.com
  • Lyn Branscomb lsbranscomb@comcast.net
  • Dave Stoldt stoldt@comcast.net
  • Phil Totino ptotino@comcast.net

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

EducateHopkinton

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, EducateHopkinton.com 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 rebeccarobak@aol.com

Nancy Alvarez Burdick nancyb88@hotmail.com

Lyn Branscomb lsbranscomb@comcast.net

Dave Stoldt stoldt@comcast.net

Phil Totino ptotino@comcast.net