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Plan Revised as ‘Target for 2010’
Started in 1999, the ten year plan
called for updates and revisions to be made every three years so
that proper adjustments could be made as needed. “When you look
back at the first documented produced on February 1, 2000, and
look at where we are today, it’s amazing the amount of changes
that have been made since then,” Vice-Chair Phil Totino said.
The plan was last updated in 2004.
“This document has been updated to
show the current situation (current fiscal year) with
comparisons to the original named “Vision of the Future”
strategic plan. Because the original objective was to identify
and complete school district goals by the year 2010, we’ve
renamed the document as Target for 2010. And we’ve added a third
column, ‘Status’ which indicates the current position for each
named measurements,” Mr. Totino explained. “The three categories
are On Track – to indicate that the target has been reached; In
Progress to indicated that work is underway to reach target; and
More $$ to indicated that significant additional investment will
be required to reach the target.”
The plan is broken down into several
sections of measurement: Academic; Curriculum and Instruction
programs; Co-curricular programs; Instructional Methodologies;
Staffing; School Culture; Organization and Operations; and
Facilities. Improvement Benchmarks are also part of the plan.
“The good news is that 2/3rds of the
goals are now ranked either in the On Track or In Progress
status category,” Mr. Totino
“But I’m still waiting for the
however statement,” Ms. Burdick said. “What’s the other half of
“The rest of the story is that 1/3rd
of the goals need significant new investment and I’m not sure
the schools can do this alone,” Mr. Totino replied. “Given the
new charter, the upcoming town meeting and elections, and the
special town meeting and separate election for the Weston
Nurseries project, we need to get going on this plan right now.
Last year we ran into the same problem; we were told to wait for
the town meeting, elections, and before we knew it, it was
summer and everyone was gone. I don’t want to repeat that this
year. This is too important.”
“Based on what our esteemed
colleague, Dave Stoldt, coined a few meetings ago, the
‘structural deficit’ needs to be addressed town wide,” Mr.
Totino continued. “I was at the forum last weekend put on by the
Land Use Study Committee and their consultant, and I was amazed
to hear that their goal was to make sure the Weston Nurseries (WN)
project was ‘revenue neutral. Why can’t we make sure that the
outcome is revenue positive?
“We should address this now. We’ve
had recent success working collaborating with other town
departments, Board of Selectmen, Appropriations Committee, etc.
I think we should publish this document as is and plan to get
together with all parties between now and October 1st so we all
are on the same page as we start the next fiscal year budget
“We had a two million dollar problem
this year we had to overcome, and it looks like we’re going to
have a two million dollar problem next year as well unless we
address this issue now. Because our budget represents 75% of the
annual town budget, we need to drive this process. Instead of us
basing our plans and future on the outcome of the WN land, the
School Committee working with the town should be able to dictate
the outcome of the land. We’ve got this upside down. We should
invite the Land Use Study Committee to our next meeting, and
then get the other parties involved in this discussion,” he
Ms. Burdick replied, “I think we’re
being pro-active by inviting the other committees to our
meetings so we can have open discussions.
The structural deficit occurs when
the operating budget increases outstrip the available revenue.
Because of Proposition 21/2, towns cannot increase taxes more
than 2.5 percent annually. Costs of health care, union salary
contract commitments, and other fixed costs have been increasing
at a higher rate than 2.5%.
“We need a couple of million dollar
babies,” Mr. Totino stated. “Working collaboratively to build
community leadership, we need to find other ways to leverage WN.”
Phelan presented an update on the FY ’08 budget by explaining
how public input helped to drive several changes under the
current situation. The proposed approximately $447,000 cuts
facing the School Committee at their last meeting had been
alleviated due to shared town costs coming from the water and
sewer account. The infusion of approximately $493,000 to the
town coffers does not mean all those cuts go away.
“We’re still faced with far less
money to produce level services,” Dr Phelan said. “We are
keeping the same amount of teachers at the High School, we’re
not increasing the sports fees from $125 to $175, we will not be
introducing fees for high school and middle school clubs, and
all town departments we able to move forward with approximately
Chair, Ms. Robak explained that
Chapter 70 (school targeted) funding would “remain flat or
perhaps a very modest increase for Hopkinton because the funding
increases would now be made on financial need.”
Mr. David Warner representing Larson
Associates Landscape Architects presented conceptual drawings
for the siting of the new Early Childhood Center on the grounds
of Elmwood School. “Working with Dave Phinney of Design
Partnership of Cambridge who has been involved with long-term
planning with Hopkinton for a very long time, we were able to
build this concept in conjunction with the master plan created
in 2002,” he explained. “We’ve incorporated traffic control by
bringing in access from Wood Street for the busses, created
additional parking spaces, and account for additional
playgrounds with minimal disturbance to the natural habitat.
Mr. Totino wanted to know what the
configuration of the building would accommodate. Mr. Phinney
explained, “12 classrooms for Kindergarten and Special Ed, and
four Pre-K classrooms along with necessary core facilities.
There will only be one service kitchen because the food
production for both Elmwood and the Early Childhood Center can
all be done in the current kitchen at Elmwood. This would reduce
the need for another full-time kitchen crew.”
Chair Robak said, “I guess the next
step is to reconstitute the building committee and get the
design process going.”
Dr. Phelan said that the “design
monies have already been made through the three million dollar
granting from a few years ago.” Monies for the construction and
potential reimbursement numbers from the state should be
identified in time for the 2008 annual town meeting.
Wellness Coordinator, Ms. Jill Leach, along with Project
Director for Youth Empowered to Act in Hopkinton, Renee
Cammarata, co-presented the Youth
Behavioral Survey recently conducted in the district in
collaboration with Social Science Research and Evaluation, Inc.
The questionnaire was administrated in April of 2006 with all
public school students in grades 9-12. The total number of
respondents was 798, which represents about 85% of the high
“The survey, when presented as
voluntary and confidential which this was, always results in
higher responses,” Ms. Leach explained. “And it’s important to
note that these issues we’re talking about are not just school
issues, they’re also community issues.”
The survey process which has
recorded results from 2002, 2004, and 2006 shows declining
substance use of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, ecstasy,
methamphetamines, steroids, and other illegal drugs such as LSD,
PCP, mushrooms, Special K, Roofies, or GHBs. The only increased
abuse was with marijuana and that increase was minimal.
However, current use of alcohol
amongst high schools were tabulated for each grade showed 28% of
9th graders having drank within the last 30 days of the date
survey was taken. 31% of sophomores drank in the same timeline,
with 49% 11th graders, and 63% seniors. In a separate study of
all respondents, several students admitted to binge drinking
which amounts to one imbibing five or more drinks in any two
hour period. 11% of 9th graders, 17% of sophomores, 37% of 11th
graders, and 46% of seniors admitted to binge drinking.
Because of greater number of
teachers being involved with the students outside of the
classroom, the opportunities for students to join one of 48
sports teams, or 30 different clubs, and the introduction of
coping skills programs, the percentage of students who reported
depression or considered, planned, or attempted suicide in the
past 12 months have continued to decrease from 2002 and 2004.
6.4% of all respondents who had ever
had intercourse admitted to having used alcohol before sex.
“This is important to consider because it shows that regardless
of where the alcohol is acquired, sexual intercourse will more
often happen,” Ms. Leach explained.
An increase of 16% of juniors and
23% of seniors had had intercourse since the last survey in
2004. When asked how often students had had direct conversations
with their parents about pregnancy and sexually transmitted
infections (STIs), 49% of all respondents claimed they had had
no conversation whatsoever with their parents. 29% stated they
had had one conversation in the last 12 months; 15% said they
had a conversation once in awhile, and 7% said they had frequent
conversations of at least once a month with their parents.
During her presentation, Ms.
Cammarata reported that, “we have a multi-pronged approach to
our program. First it is corroborative with other districts
involved, and we’re building awareness programs such as the
recent ‘Sticker Shock’ campaign where students went into local
liquor store and put on warning labels on alcohol. The campaign
was so successful, package store owners asked them to come back
at prom and graduation seasons.”
Ms. Burdick applauded the work and
results of the efforts of both Ms. Leach and Ms. Cammarata by
stating, “It’s nice that we now have this body of work and the
mechanism to move forward. This is very important information
that we have to put into use.”
The two year grant has now completed
and funding for the next phase is still up in the year. When
asked how she felt about her work in Hopkinton, Ms. Cammarata
replied, “I’ve been involved in a lot of grants and I’ve never
been in a more concerted effort with the community as I have
been with Hopkinton.”
The committee approved moving forward with the design of the new Elmwood School boiler by agreeing in principal with the proposed agreement still being negotiated. Dr. Phelan explained that because the boiler will probably need to be assembled in pieces to fit into the area, and the fact that asbestos will have to be remediated, the proposed total figure for design and installation of $243,000 “may be a little light.” The design costs will be $25,700.00 and more firm figures will be available following the design process.
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