Last Update for this page:  03/15/2013 01:39:16 PM


New School not needed

Center School to remain open

by Julie Brennan


July 7, 2006—The Hopkinton School Committee met last night to discuss plans for a new elementary school during which  plans to accommodate future growth of the community weighed. 

     For now, the Center, Elmwood and Hopkins schools have a total capacity of roughly 1478 students with ideal class sizes.  Currently, there are about 1638 students enrolled in these schools.  The committee estimates needing between 69 and 71 classrooms to accommodate these students.  Cuurently, there are 67 classrooms between the three buildings.  Data collected from various experts does not predict enough growth to require an additional school at this time.  However, with plans for properties such as Fruit Street and Weston Nurseries still being unknown, predicting the town’s growth rate over the next few years is incredibly difficult.  The committee’s general opinion is that there is not enough solid data to justify the need for a new elementary school at this point in time. Photo, from left, School Committee Chair Rebecca Robak, members Lyn Branscomb and Phil Totino. HopNews photo by Julie Brennan.

     They explored the option of closing Center school, due to the fact that it does not quite meet current state standards for public education buildings, and building a new school as a replacement.  The committee, however, determined that the members of the community would not support a decision to decommission Center School, eliminating any further justification for a new building.  The committee voted to wait another year before continuing with plans for the new school in hopes that there will be more statistics to substantiate its construction.

      In the meantime, the committee will be addressing ideas for short term solutions for the elementary schools at its next meeting.  Some of these ideas include the possibility of keeping kindergarten and first grade students in Center School, and making both Elmwood and Hopkins a school for second through fifth grade, and districting the schools.  Renovations for Center and Elmwood will also be discussed, as well as adding modulars to Hopkins to relieve crowding.  One of the major problems the committee expects to encounter is the placement of pre-school students, who are currently located in the increasingly crowded Middle School.  These topics, however, will be discussed in more detail at the next School Committee meeting.

     Following the lengthy discussion regarding the elementary schools, the committee discussed a few minor matters, including a review of the current School Committee Policy Manual with the intent to make several changes to it in the near future.  One of these changes will most likely affect how comments from the public are received by the committee.  These changes, however, will be discussed formally and decided upon at the next meeting.

     Another topic briefly addressed by the School Committee was next year’s Graduation Ceremony.  Many of the committee members felt strongly about no longer allowing school employees to distribute diplomas to their children.  They felt that this caused a lot of confusion and distraction during the ceremony, and was also unfair to parents who are not employees of the school.  The committee also felt that the distribution of diplomas should be left to the School Committee and the School Committee alone.  Although no vote was taken at that time, it seems that in the future, only committee members will be allowed to distribute diplomas to graduating seniors.

    The evening ended with Superintendent Dr. Jack Phelan updating the committee on the progress of hiring a new principal for the High School and a new Assistant Superintendent.  He stated that right now there were roughly fifteen to sixteen applicants for the High School principal position, and that a screening committee had been assembled.  The screening committee consists of eleven members, including faculty, parents and a high school student.  This committee will be holding its initial meeting on July 12th, and will be interviewing applicants on the 24th and 25th.  Progress on the hiring of a new Assistant Superintendent is running a little behind schedule.  A screening committee for applicants of this position will be assembled within the next few days.

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