March 12, 2011 School District Meeting
HOPKINTON SCHOOL DISTRICT MEETING
HOPKINTON HIGH SCHOOL, CONTOOCOOK, NH
MARCH 12, 2011
Moderator Edward Kaplan called the annual meeting of the Hopkinton School District to order at 9:05 a.m.
The Moderator recognized Pat Heinz and Mary King to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Moderator introduced the following Hopkinton High School students to sing the national anthem: Emma Donahue, Jessica Marston, Emily Jones, Laura Masinick and Megan Edwards.
The Moderator introduced the Flag Bearers:
From Cub Scout Pack 77: Brett Crawford, Emerson Hall, Preston Hall, Jackson Locke, Isaac Maillous, Patrick Quinn and Danny Rinden.
Cub Scout pack 77 received special recognition for 2010 as a Quality Unit for the centennial year of Scouting.
From Boy Scout Troop 77: Andrey Hubbard, Eric Hauschild, Alex Locke, Will Maloy.
The Moderator introduced Elaine Loft, School District Clerk; Carol McCann, Sharon Baker, Sandy Smart and Bonnie Cressy, Supervisors of the Checklist; Tom Barry of Nixon, Raiche, Vogelman, Barry & Slawsky, representing the School District.
The Moderator noted childcare services were provided by Hopkinton High School National Honor Society members.
The Moderator gave his appreciation to Mr. Richard Fortier and members of the Hopkinton Middle and High School custodial staff for the arrangements and set up for this School District Meeting and thanked Steve Lux for his assistance with the sound system.
The Moderator then introduced David Luneau, Chairman of the Hopkinton School Board, for the purpose of introducing school administrators and the Board.
Mr. Luneau thanked everyone for coming out on a beautiful Saturday morning. He further noted that although the town had gathered to talk about school budgets, everyone’s thoughts were not far from those affected by the devastating earthquakes and tsunamis about the Pacific Rim, the quakes in New Zealand and Haiti, and the political turmoil in the Middle East.
Mr. Luneau then introduced the school administration and Board members: Steven Chamberlin, Superintendent; Christopher Sousa, Principal, Hopkinton Middle High School; Christopher Kelley, Assistant Principal, Hopkinton Middle High School; Michael Bessette, Principal, Maple Street School; William Carozza, Principal, Harold Martin School; Michelle Clark, Business Administrator; Dr. Valerie Aubry, Director of Student Services; Matthew Stone, Director of Technology. Members of the Board include: Liz Durant, Vice Chairman, Larry Donahue, Bill Jones, and Louis Josephson.
Mr. Luneau announced that the student representatives to the Board are Sam Helrich and Cam Givens. He gave thanks to Sam and Cam for taking time from their busy schedules to work with the Board, share their perspectives, and keep their fellow students up to date. The Board wishes best of luck to both as they wrap up their high school careers and head off to college this fall.
On behalf of the Board, Mr. Luneau thanked “our extremely talented teaching faculty and staff.” Luneau noted: “I’d love to thank them each individually but that would take all day and I’ll leave that up to the Selectmen next week.”
David Luneau thanked our NH State Representatives, Christine Hamm, Derek Owen and Gary Richardson for meeting with the school board and administration and keeping both bodies apprised of things happening at the state level and for listening to our concerns.
Luneau offered his thanks to the Board of Selectmen, the Town Administrators, and the many, many employees the schools rely upon for helping to call a snow day, for helping to maintaining our fields, to helping our kids to make good choices.
Mr. Luneau congratulated Business Officer Michelle Clark on her recent nomination to the Board of Directors of the Local Government Center where she represents school districts throughout the state.
Luneau further congratulated Corrine Lajoie for being named Middle School Counselor of the Year, noting: “She’s amazing…working with kids going through some of their most difficult years, and as a parent, I thank her so much, such well deserved recognition.”
Concluding his list of thank-yous, Luneau commended the members of the Hopkinton community, for their support of the school system. Although tax dollars alone is a commitment, each year volunteers also dedicating large amounts of their time, whether to chaperone a field trip, build a new playground, help in the classroom, or excite youngsters for the Reach for the Stars early enrichment program celebrating its 10th year.
Opening Remarks: David Luneau
For the past five months the administration and School Board have been working on next year’s school budget being presented to you today. Working together, significant cuts have been made in order to keep the budget well below the structural increases to insurance, retirement and contractual obligations.
The Board and Administration never lost sight of the importance to maintain a quality school system: it is the reason many people move to Hopkinton. Our schools are central to the vibrancy and vitality of the community. Ninety percent of recent graduates plan to attend two and four-year colleges. Seventy percent of our high school students play organized sports. Test scores are well above state averages. Our kids are involved in numerous clubs and activities. There’s science behind the fact that an active lifestyle improves academic performance. What is more important that some of our students going to schools like Dartmouth and Tufts, is that so many of our graduates go on to continue their education, 90% of them, whether it is to NHTI, MIT or UNH. These results come at an average cost: a third of all school districts in New Hampshire spend more per student than Hopkinton. So please remember we are delivering an excellent education for an average cost.
Power Point Presentation: David Luneau
The Operating Budget is up 2.2% after being flat this year and has over $200K in personnel cost reduction. A contract for support staff freezes the salary schedule for another two years. There are also appropriations to Contingency and Capital Reserve account. All in all, the tax rate impact is 98 cents.
Mr. Luneau acknowledged the impact the economy is having on members of our community, but feels we are providing the right balance to meet the needs of our students, the priority our community places on education, and our ability to support education with local tax dollars.
Mr. Luneau called the Moderator to the podium.
The Moderator called forward Mike Timm, Chair of the Hopkinton Public Schools Foundation. Timm came forward to announce the formation of this organization, whose goal is to raise endowment funds to improve the school experience. He gave the example of the Robotics Team, white boards and other enrichment opportunities. The Foundation will be in touch with everyone in the community to raise money to enhance (not support) the school budget. Timm thanked the community for its continuing support of the public schools in Hopkinton.
The Moderator explained the parliamentary procedures for the meeting.
The Moderator then recognized Larry Donahue for the purpose of moving Article I, seconded by Liz Durant, as follows:
ARTICLE I: To hear reports of agents, auditors, committees, and officers chosen or to take any other action in relation thereto.
The Moderator opened Article I to discussion.
Hearing no discussion, the Moderator called for the vote.
Article I passed on a voice vote.
The Moderator recognized David Luneau for the reading of Article II, seconded by Liz Durant, as follows:
ARTICLE II: To see if the School District will vote to raise and appropriate as an operating budget, the Budget Committee’s recommended amount of Sixteen million four hundred twenty-one thousand, nine hundred and two dollars ($16,421,902) for the support of schools, for the payment of salaries for the school district officials and agents, and for the payment of statutory obligations of the district, or to take any other action in relation thereto. The school board recommends $16,523,601. This article does not include appropriations voted in other warrant articles.
The Moderator recognized Mr. Luneau to make an amendment to this article.
Mr. Luneau offered an amendment to Article II, increasing the budget by $101,699, bringing the total amended budget to $16, 523,601 which is the School Board’s recommended budget.
Liz Durant offered a second to the amendment.
The Moderator recognized Mr. Luneau to speak to the amendment to Article II.
Mr. Luneau noted that Article II is the operating budget, and represents a 2.2% increase over the current budget. It includes: salaries and benefits for administration and for non-union staff, no raise for school administrators, a merit raise of approximately 1.1% average for non-union office support staff; required contractual step increases and benefits for the teachers going into the second year of their contract and the custodians going into the third year of a five year contract. Mr. Luneau referred the audience to the Town Report, and reviewed increases and decreases to the Operating Budget.
Mr. Luneau pointed out the Evergreen Law had recently been repealed at the State level, but the Board felt the step increases should remain in the budget, because this law has not been court-tested.
The Operating Budget also includes Federal grants, of up to $750,000 to be able to accept funds from the Federal Stimulus Funds.
The School Board made modest increases in technology media in library and classroom areas, new textbooks, and the increase in the middle school athletic program.
Mr. Luneau made note of budget uncertainties: fuel costs will probably increase (up to $35,000); the State may down shift retirement costs to local school districts and municipalities, with an impact as much as $400,000 to Hopkinton. If this occurred, a Special Meeting would need to be called to address the issue.
Mr. Luneau addressed the differences the School Board had with the Budget Committee: The Budget Committee chose to eliminate $24,000 for expansion of middle school athletics; $31,000 in new classroom technology; $40,000 to maintenance and facilities; $6500 in merit-based raises for non-union staff.
The Moderator recognized Karen Irwin from the Budget Committee to speak to Mr. Luneau’s amendment.
Ms. Irwin noted the Budget Committee went through the budget without any of the uncertainties referred to by Mr. Luneau. The Budget Committee looked with the School Board at different tiers of budget decreases: school sports, new classroom technology, maintenance and facility increases, and merit-based raises for non-union staff were all areas where the Budget Committee felt there could be decreases in the budget. The Budget Committee felt money for new classroom technology money could come from the new Foundation and the current building fund is healthy ($225,000), and could provide needed money for projects such as the boiler upgrade. After the public hearing on the budget, the Budget Committee did reinstate some of the funds it had proposed eliminating.
Dan Meserve came forward to speak in favor of the amendment; mainly because of the portion which contained money for the middle school sports program. Mr. Meserve spoke about the importance of athletics in the classroom, citing statistics including the number of the top graduates who also played sports, and the number of members of the National Honor Society who were also athletes. Conversely, 87% of the kids on the failure list did not play sports. Dan spoke in favor of bringing expanded sports to the middle school level. The purpose of the middle school program is to increase sports without increasing taxes. The best way to do this is to increase the sports fee. The sports fee will offset the increased cost of bringing sports to the middle school.
Brenda Quinn also spoke in favor of the middle school sports program. There is a need for middle school sports which HYSA cannot continue to fill. There are important national studies showing the correlation between sports and academics. Ms. Quinn concluded the middle school sports program is a win-win situation.
Kimberly Saunders asked who would be receiving the non-merit based raises? Are they the lowest paid in the District?
Superintendent Chamberlin replied 16 or 17 people would be receiving the raises; they are not the lowest paid people in the District.
Cameron Ford voiced opposition to any type of increase this year. Mr. Ford talked about neighbors in foreclosure and other financial maladies. Ford emphasized this is just not the time to increase taxes.
Mark David (Crowell Road): Very much in favor of Middle School Athletics, was concerned with the other additions to the budget. Can the budget amendment be broken apart?
The Moderator explained one could vote against the amendment, and if the amendment failed, then a second amendment could be brought to the voters.
Scott Flood wondered if the School District can is there anything to stop the School District from funding the $24,000 athletic fees with money that is in the current budget and then off-set it with the revenues? Given the fact that this would be a revenue neutral proposition, the School Board can still go forward with the program, even if the amendment is voted down.
David Luneau explained this is the right way to fund the program, because there are both costs and revenues to the middle school athletic program.
Rob Cook wanted to know if the 22 year boiler is still in place. Are we adding more money to the fund to fix the old boiler?
David Luneau said there is no new money is being spent to fix the old boiler, the money in the existing fund would be to buy a new boiler, if necessary. The money requested in the amendment is to fix the furnace at the SAU office, which is a residential sized unit.
Rob Cook addressed the issue of the value of sports, and the correlation between sports and success. Are those who are failing allowed to participate in sports?
Steve Chamberlin said there is an academic requirement in order to participate in high school sports.
Diane LaChance addressed the middle schools sports program. Will there be a real improvement in academics if there are additional sports? What will be the return on our money? Ms. LaChance noted the money could be spent elsewhere to help with academic improvement.
David Luneau explained which sports would be added to the middle school (grades 6-8) sports programs. These sports are currently being offered on the club level, but having them in the school system, anyone can participate. It would place the hiring of coaches on the athletic director; this would add some year to year consistency to the program. This program is not about building sports programs at the high school level, it is just an opportunity to expand the program.
Diane LaChance added that it is not perhaps the best use of our money. Perhaps there are other things we can use the money for.
Richard Kennedy noted everyone can’t always get what they want; there are going to be some very serious funding issues on the state level. Mr. Kennedy asked: What is the plan if the state “pulls the rug out from under us?”
David Luneau replied that these are the uncertainties which had been raised at the beginning of the meeting. There is a potential for more costs being downshifted to the Hopkinton School District, but those costs could vary widely. It is not yet clear which costs might be coming onto the backs of the taxpayers. We will know this better in late June. Can the District absorb these increases? Small increase might be able to be absorbed, but there might be other programs which might have to be eliminated. The first question will be: What are the cuts? The second question will be: What can the School Board do about these cuts? If the cuts will compromise the goals of the District, then the issue would have to be taken before the voters.
Sam Delgado (Upper Straw Road). Regarding the $24,000 middle school program, is a pay to play program? If the money is coming from each individual, then we are not talking about an increase to the taxpayer. Mr. Delgado also noted that if kids are not able to play sports at a middle school level, then their abilities are not as advanced as other players when they get to high school.
David Luneau confirmed there is no increase to the taxpayer.
David Boutin (Salachar Road) If this is a pay to play, what happens to a family which could not afford pay? Also, many times people confuse correlation with causation. Does participation in middle school athletic sports correlate to academic ability or it is causation? Please clarify.
Steve Chamberlin noted there is a fund for those who can’t afford to pay. Steve thinks it is a combination of causation and correlation. The School Board has looked at this issue. At the Middle School level, it is very important to keep the kids moving and to get them to make healthy choices.
Mary French (Hopkins Green) noted that sports have always been an “emotional trigger” pulled at school district meeting. Please don’t be blinded about what we are talking about: the duty of the school to educate. Mary said she appreciates sports, but thinks we are blinded by what is going on. Our economy is not in good shape. Taxes are a real burden on many people. The Budget Committee oversees the School Board. Mary thinks we should vote against the amendment and go with the amount proposed by the Budget Committee.
David Lancaster disagreed with Mary French; he does not feel the School Board uses sports as leverage. He then asked what the known decrease in revenue will be.
Steve Chamberlin noted the decrease will be about $168,000.
Mr. Lancaster noted there is more in this amendment than sports. If you vote in favor of the amendment, you are also voting for other increases. David wanted the voters to know the school board intends to increase the school athletic fees whether or not this amendment passes.
Janet Krzyzaniak, Chair of the Budget Committee. Early in the budget process, the Board asked the school what they could cut if they had to cut $200,000 from the budget. Some of the items in the amendment are things the schools said they could cut. The Superintendent said he could not think about cutting classes before cutting athletics. So the cuts suggested by the Budget Committee came from the schools. At the time of budget planning the Budget Committee did not know about cuts to the retirement system; the Governor had not yet made his recommendations. There is a good chance there will have to be a special meeting to vote on increases to retirement.
David Luneau wanted to clarify that the $40,000 0f cuts to the facilities fund were not recommended by the School Board.
Jayne Schoch (Pine Street) asked how many programs at middle school level could be compared to the benefits of athletics. Are there also programs in arts, music, debate at the middle school level which could have the same positive affect as participation in sports programs?
Steve Chamberlin noted art club and other opportunities for middle school level. Athletics also help to deal with childhood obesity.
Dale Warner talked about his long interaction with sports and other school activities. Why is HYSA backing out of the sports programs? Where are all the volunteers? Why is it now all about the money? It is not the duty of the school to run athletics on all levels; it is the duty of the parents. Warner noted he supported the decision of the Budget Committee and was not in favor of the amendment.
Katie Merrow (Crowell Road) asked for the percent of the total budget this amendment represents.
David Luneau answered 0.67%
Katie Merrow said the proposed cuts in state funding are a broader discussion. In that context, Katie asked for information about what the town might be dealing with to deal with decrease in state level funding.
David Luneau noted there are a lot of unknowns; there are going to be some things the District will have to do once they hear about the State Budget. The Contingency Fund is usually about $50,000. It is an appropriated fund; most years it goes unused. The Contingency Fund will probably have to be bumped up to about $75,000 to deal with some of the budget uncertainties. This will probably not be sufficient to cover the benefits and retirement.
Winnie Langtry called the question.
Brenda Quinn (Putney Hill Road) came forward to address some of the questions raised about the correlation between sports and academics. Sports bring blood to the brain, which keeps the brain stimulated and thinking. There is also a great deal of socialization which comes out of organized sport. Regarding the statement that there used to be volunteers to run HYSA sports. Ms. Quinn noted a lot of the HYSA games occur early in the day, which means many working parents can’t coach, this is an increasing problem. There is no academic requirement for middle school sports.
Jim Hersey (Kearsarge Avenue) asked if we vote today on the Budget Committee’s recommendation, can the District still move the money around to fund the sports program or a computer program or something else?
David Luneau said yes, money can be moved around, but the School Board agreed that money for the middle school sports program would not be taken from other programs.
Dan Meserve reiterated that there was an attempt to make the middle school sports program cost neutral.
Karen Irwin noted there was a $20,000 off-set to the $24,000 being spent, but that was spread over a revenue increase to the high school. $12,000 is still in the budget for the increase in sports fees even if we do not support the middle school sports program.
Scott Flood noted we could vote down this increase, and create a revolving fund.
The Moderator clarified that the issue before the meeting is on the amendment to Article II; an increase of approximately $101,000. The Moderator took a voice vote. The voice vote was not clear; a standing vote was taken by the ballot clerks.
The results of the voting were 166 in the affirmative and 133 in the negative. The amendment to Article II carried.
The Moderator explained the issue now before the voters was the amended budget: $16,523,601.00. The Moderator noted there was a petition for a written ballot on this vote.
George Camp asked the Moderator how many registered voters were present.
The Moderator queried the Ballot Clerks and noted there are 339 registered voters present.
The Moderator asked if there was further discussion about Article II, as amended.
Scott Flood confirmed that the article in question was Article II. He then reiterated the economy is not in good shape. He urged the voters to be more conservative in their votes.
Donna Ireland asked for clarification of the vote which was just taken; she believed that the vote was for a decrease, not an increase in the budget. The Moderator explained that the vote taken was to increase the warrant article by $101,000. The Moderator apologized for the confusion for those people who had misunderstood the vote.
Tom Congoran, Selectman, noted when the state passes on increases to the Town, the School Board will have to pass the increases down to the taxpayers. Tom noted we have to be very careful about long term commitments to the teachers’ contracts and other long-term commitments.
Pat Sangillo (Meadows Drive) asked if a voter were confused about the vote, could they vote to reconsider?
The Moderator noted anyone who voted on the affirmative you could make a motion to reconsider the vote.
David Lancaster noted what the tax increase ($1.04) would be if Article II as amended passed, and if the School Board had to come back to the voters to ask for additional money to cover the shortfall in teacher salaries, there would be an additional increase.
Karen Irwin, Budget Committee, told Mr. Lancaster the second increase would be 61 cents per thousand.
Mr. Luneau added that the School Board has not yet said they are coming back to the voters for additional money, because the state had not yet made its budget decisions.
Richard Kennedy asked to move the question.
The Moderator explained there is a ballot request on Article II as amended. The Moderator explained how to use the paper ballots.
The Moderator noted there are currently 341 registered voters in the room.
The Moderator announced there were 280 votes in the affirmative and 117 votes in the negative.
The Article II, as amended, passed.
The Moderator recognized Mr. Donahue. Mr. Donahue made a motion to restrict consideration of Article II.
The Moderator explained there was motion to restrict reconsideration of Article II which meant the means the vote cannot be reconsidered for 7 days, at a reconvened meeting.
There were no questions or discussion.
The motion carried. Article II, as amended, cannot be reconsidered at this meeting.
The Moderator recognized Bill Jones for the reading of Article III, seconded by Liz Durant, as follows:
ARTICLE III: To see if the School District will vote to approve the cost items included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement reached between the Hopkinton School Board and the Hopkinton Educational Support Staff, which calls for the following increases in salaries and benefits at current staffing levels:
Fiscal Year Estimated Increase
and further to raise and appropriate the sum of Twenty-two thousand nine hundred and forty-five dollars ($22,945) for the upcoming fiscal year, such sum representing the additional costs attributable to the increase in salaries and benefits required by the new agreement over those that would be paid at current staffing levels in accordance with the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. (The Hopkinton School Board recommends this article.) (The Hopkinton Budget Committee recommends this article.)
NOTE: Pursuant to RSA 273-A:12, if approved, the terms of this Collective Bargaining Agreement, including the Pay Plan, but excluding cost of living increases will continue in force and effect until a new agreement is reached.
Bill Jones offered further clarification of Article III.
The Moderator asked if there were questions about Article III.
Scott Flood asked for clarification of the note on the bottom of the page about RSA 273.A.12? It appears to refer to the Evergreen Law.
Steve Chamberlin clarified the status of Evergreen. If this article fails, there is no longer an obligation to abide by Evergreen. However the district legal counsel has advised the District to keep the Evergreen Clause in the budget, in case, after litigation, the Evergreen Clause is still required.
David Boutin (Salachar Road) had a question about terminology. He asked if the Board could explain why people are getting cost of living adjustments if there is no cost of living increase included in the budget.
Steve Chamberlin says this is only in place to comply with Evergreen, which was still in place at the time the budget was produced: it is language which connects to a statue.
David Lancaster asked for agreement from the School Board that they will not pay any Evergreen.
David Luneau assured Mr. Lancaster if the contract failed the Board would not be paying any step increases. The Board is hoping it will not be tested by a court decision.
David Lancaster asked what the minimum requirements are of teachers.
Steve Chamberlin noted the minimum requirement is a high school diploma, but the majority of people have Bachelor degrees or Masters degrees.
David Lancaster asked how many will receive a step increase?
Steve Chamberlin listed the number who will receive a step increase.
David Lancaster asked how much more the school district will have to pay if the state subsidy for retirement goes away. What will the percent increase be?
Steve Chamberlin replied that the District is already paying for retirement, which is a differing amount depending upon the position.
Diane LaChance was informed by a state senator that when Evergreen was repealed that the town also needed to repeal Evergreen.
The Moderator noted that the town can adopt Evergreen, but the town can also opt to not pass Evergreen. This is not an obligation, it is negotiated.
David Luneau further clarified that when Evergreen was discussed last year at Hopkinton town meeting, it was due to the fact that Evergreen was the law of the state. This year, it is no longer attached. Some other Districts do attach specific Evergreen language to their contracts.
Seeing no further discussion the Moderator called forth the vote on Article III.
Article III passed on a voice vote.
The Moderator recognized Larry Donahue for the reading of Article IV, seconded by Louis Josephson, as follows:
ARTICLE IV: To see if the School District will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of Seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) for the purpose of a General Contingency Fund to meet the cost of unanticipated expenses that may arise during the year and to expend said funds or to take any other action in relation thereto. (The Hopkinton School Board recommends this article.) (The Hopkinton Budget Committee recommends this article.)
The Moderator recognized Larry Donohue for further explanation of Article IV.
Mr. Donahue noted the contingency fund usually stands around $50,000. The Board wants to increase the Contingency Fund to $75,000 as it sees the potential to use some of this money if the state steps away from its obligation to pay for retirement. Obviously, this would not cover a larger amount, previously mentioned as being as high as $500,000. This money might also be used to pay for the unexpected rise in fuel costs.
Scott Flood made a motion to amend Article IV to increase the contingency fund by $375,000, which would cover the District if the state were to pass down the increase in the retirement fund. This increase would eliminate the need to have a special town meeting if the District needed to raise additional money.
The Moderator asked Mr. Flood to put the amendment in writing.
The Moderator stated the amendment would bring the total of the Contingency Fund to $450,000.
The amendment was seconded (no name given).
The Moderator opened the amendment to discussion.
Mr. Donohue said the School Board has already considered increasing the budget to cover retirement. However, this increase would substantially increase taxes, and may not ultimately be necessary.
Ron Cook (College Hill Road). If the amendment is passed, but the funds do not need to be spent, does the money go back to the taxpayers?
Mr. Donahue explained that any unused money would be used to off-set taxes, as happens every year. It will be reflected in the tax rate the following year.
David Lancaster believed Mr. Donahue’s statement was incorrect. The money goes back to the town, and the town decides if it will be used to off set taxes.
David Luneau noted that any un-used portion of the contingency fund would end up in the “unreserved fund balance” and would go forward into the next budget as revenue and would off-set any future revenues. The School Board cannot retain any un-used funds.
David Luneau offered further clarification: Any unused portion of the Contingency Fund would go into the “unreserved funds” also sometimes referred to as the “surplus.” The school surplus does not move into a general town account.
David Lancaster noted that the tax impact would be another $1.65 per thousand.
Diane LaChance asked the Moderator to translate the increase that the amendment would have on taxes on a house of a specific amount ($250,000). How much more would someone be paying?
The Board conferred and informed Ms. LaChance that for a $250,000 house, the increase would be about $250 to fund the amendment to Article III.
Bob LaPree asked for more information about the impact of the $400,000 retirement increase. Is this the only increase coming to the town from the state?
Steve Chamberlin replied that currently, state law says that the town has to support teacher retirements. If the state passes the obligation down to the town, the cost to Hopkinton would be approximately $400,000. The town could deal with in several ways. We could reduce Cobra payments, or reduce personnel. But it is still early in the state budget process; there are a lot of unknowns. The state budget will be finalized by the end of June. At that time, the Board will look at the cost, and come to the Superintendent with recommendations about how to meet the increased costs.
Bob Lapree then asked if we are contractually obligated to our teachers to meet the shortfall (the $400,000) if that comes to pass.
David Luneau replied we are not obligated to cover retirement under our teacher contracts, but we are required under state law to pay for retirement for our teachers.
George Langwasser, Selectman, spoke against the amendment. Langwasser noted because we do not yet know what the state plans to do in terms of downshifting funds, it is too early to know what is really going to happen on the local level. We should wait until the increase arrives before we react.
Richard Kennedy noted there is still a lot of time before the state budget is decided; we do not yet need to move on this issue.
Roger Turcotte stated by raising taxes today, before a decision has been made on the state level, we are sending the wrong message to our state legislature; we don’t want to give the impression Hopkinton can easily absorb increased costs.
The Moderator called the vote on the Amendment to Article IV, which would raise the contingency fund from $75,000 to $450,000, an increase of $375,000.
The amendment to Article IV failed on a voice vote.
The Moderator asked if there was any further discussion or amendment to Article IV..
Phil Stone asked what CRTC stands for. What amount of the current contingency fund has been spent, and what is the past history of spending of this fund?
Larry Donohue replied that CRTC stands for Concord Regional Technical Center, where the district sends kids for vocational/technical classes. Donahue noted the Board is on track to spend about $35,000 this year. In the previous year, the contingency money was spent to make up shortfalls in state retirement subsidies and to install Gypsum board at Harold Martin School.
Bob Cook (College Hill Road) asked for further clarification on where retirement falls in the contingency fund we have not yet spent.
Larry Donohue explained we are currently covering previous downshifting of retirement costs to the school district.
The Moderator, seeing no further discussion, called the vote.
Article IV passed on a voice vote.
The Moderator recognized Liz Durant for the reading of Article V, seconded by Louis Josephson, as follows:
ARTICLE V: To see if the School District will vote to raise and appropriate up to Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) to be added to the Replacing School District Vehicles Capital Reserve Fund, established March 6, 2010 and authorize the school board to transfer up to Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) from the year end undesignated fund balance (surplus) available on June 30, 2011, or to take any other action in relation thereto. . (The Hopkinton School Board recommends this article.) (The Hopkinton Budget Committee recommends this article.)
Liz Durant spoke about Article V. This fund was set up last year to fund the replacement cost of three District-owned vehicles; one maintenance van and two smaller school busses. At this point the fund balance is $25,000, which was passed at the meeting last year. The Board is recommending another $25,000 be deposited into the account in this year, with the anticipation of replacing one if not two vehicles.
The Moderator, seeing no discussion, called the vote.
Article V passed on a voice vote.
Larry Donohue made a motion to restrict reconsideration of the previous three articles.
The Moderator asked if the meeting wanted to consider the articles separately, or as one.
The meeting voted, by voice vote, to restrict all three, previous articles in one vote.
There was no further discussion.
The vote to not reconsider the previous three articles at this meeting passed on a voice vote.
The Moderator recognized Louis Josephson for the reading of Article VI, seconded by Bill Jones, as follows:
ARTICLE VI: To see if the School District will vote to raise and appropriate up to Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) to be added to the Health Insurance Trust Fund, established March 6, 2010, and authorize the school board to transfer up to Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) from the year end undesignated fund balance (surplus) available on June 30, 2011, or to take any other action in relation thereto. . (The Hopkinton School Board recommends this article.) (The Hopkinton Budget Committee recommends this article.)
Louis Josephson spoke to the article. This is the same concept as previous articles; the Board is trying to “even out the bumps in the road.” Last year there was a significant increase in health insurance costs. The Board is not anticipating the same increases this year, but it is good to have money in reserve.
Dave Boutin (Salachar Road) asked how Article VI works. What happens to the surplus at the end of the year?
David Luneau said unexpended funds, less than $25,000, would all go towards health insurance costs; they would not to other funds.
Seeing no further questions or discussion, the Moderator called the vote for Article VI.
Article VI passed on a voice vote.
The Moderator recognized David Luneau for the reading of Article VII, seconded by Liz Durant, as follows:
ARTICLE VII: To transact any other business that may legally come before said meeting.
David Lancaster asked for the Moderator to confirm the number of registered voters in the town and in the room, and the percentage.
The Moderator reported there were 4732 registered voters; 348 were at the meeting; about 4% of the registered voters attended the meeting.
Dan Meserve noted $767 had been raised at a recent basketball game for the benefit of Hopkinton Food Pantry. Mr. Meserve thanked those in attendance for their generosity.
The Moderator asked if there was any discussion on Article VII.
Seeing no discussion, the Moderator called for a motion to adjourn, the motion was seconded. The meeting adjourned at 11:54 am.
Elaine P. Loft
School District Clerk