Cyber-bullying Incidents High - Adolescent Health Survey

Use of alcohol significantly lower than region

Above, file photo

by Heather Kelley

October 2, 2009 — Last night the School Committee received the results of the most recent MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, funded by the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation and administered anonymously to middle and high school students in 2008. According to the executive summary presented by Jill Leach, Wellness Department Head at the High School, the students are eating better and are engaging in more physical activity. However, they are also taking part in riskier behaviors including the use of alcohol and other substances, including cigarettes and inhalants.


Middle School Assistant Principal Jason Webster presented the summary of the Middle School results. He stated that the incidence of bullying, including cyberbullying, was high, with 60% of students reporting having been bullied in the past 12 months, mostly on school property. Since very few incidents are reported by students, or witnessed by staff, the assistant principal intends to ascertain where bullying happens most, so that more supervision can be provided for in those areas.


Leach credited the beFree! project with bringing teenage drinking numbers down from the last time the study was administered 2 years earlier. The percentage of students in Hopkinton who reported current use of alcohol was “significantly lower than the MetroWest region,” she said. However, the numbers she reported about teens who had ridden in a car with someone who had been drinking were “frightening.” One hundred and twelve teens said that they had been in a car driven by someone under 21 who had been drinking. Fifty-five admitted to having driven a car themselves after drinking — “an accident waiting to happen.”

According to Leach, the full report will be posted on the school website by early next week.


Beginning the budget process, School Committee member Rebecca Robak and Director of Finance Geoff MacDonald will meet with the Capital Improvements Committee on Monday, October 5. According to Superintendent Dr. John Phelan, they have been asked to present budget numbers that would represent maintaining the current level of services for FY 2011, as well as the following 9 years.


Many School Committee members expressed concern that this year’s budget already represented a loss in services, with Robak noting a high school calculus course that does not have textbooks. Jean Bertschmann cited higher than anticipated class sizes, especially in first grade.


The Committee directed MacDonald to create a first-pass budget that accounted for the newly revised Strategic Plan and the initiatives that it lays out; that compensated for special circumstances, such as one-time offsets to the current year budget; and that improved situations such as the unexpected jump in class sizes for some grades.


Replacing the Elmwood School boiler, at a price tag of $145,000, will also be included. According to Phelan, this is “not discretionary,” but rather is deferred work from a time when redistricting of the town’s schools was thought to be on the horizon. In a redistricted Hopkinton, Elmwood School would have needed work to bring it to a point of parity with Hopkins, and the boiler project would have been part of a larger overhaul plan for the school. Luckily for the town’s bottom line, MacDonald reported that $158,000 is left over from the Center School boiler replacement, and a Town Meeting vote to transfer the funds from that project to the current need would alleviate the need for appropriation of new money.


Member Troy Mick asked to see what a budget would look like “without any fees.” According to Phelan, the last time the administration added up the fees collected, the annual total came to $675,000 to $700,000.


MacDonald expects that this budget will be “the first step in an exercise…a starting point in the discussion.”


Chair Nancy Burdick announced that the School Committee will be hosting a public recognition moment on Friday, October 16, to dedicate the David M. Hughes Stadium. Prior to the homecoming game against Holliston, the new sign will be unveiled in a ceremony to honor the long-time coach and mentor.


Despite what he called minor damage due to a fire that resulted from a “small issue with an electrical box,” Phelan reported that the solar panel project atop the roofs of the Middle and High Schools is slated for full completion by December 17. After a final inspection by NSTAR, the panels will be brought online. A kiosk will be installed in the High School lobby that will display the solar functions.

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