This is the site for all information related to the 2020 Hopkinton School District Meeting, which will now be conducted remotely due to House Bill 1129: providing for optional school district meeting procedures during the state of emergency declared in response to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19). All information related to the School Meeting will be posted here, so please continue to check back for updates.
Important Procedural Updates Due To New Law
Because Article 3, Motion 6 failed, the meeting was initially recessed pursuant to Rule 4.b. However, on July 10, 2020 Governor Sununu signed into law House Bill (HB) 1129 providing for optional school district meeting procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak period. While similar to what the School District has done with our previous two voting periods this spring, HB1129 now delegates the responsibility to consider and address public comment, and responsibility to amend the posted warrant, to the Hopkinton School Board.
We have confirmed with School District Counsel that the following timeline and procedures meet the requirements of HB1129, and that HB1129 is not retroactive; the process used for the previous votes, including the community’s vote in favor of the rules, are valid. Please note, voters will be required to approve an updated version of the meeting rules and procedures, as the prior meeting rules need to adhere to the provisions of HB1129.
THE HOPKINTON SCHOOL BOARD WILL HOLD THE FOLLOWING MEETINGS AND VOTING SESSION:
MONDAY, AUGUST 10 AT 5:30 P.M.: Information Session 1. Presentation of the proposed amended Article III and changes to meeting rules.
TUESDAY-THURSDAY, AUGUST 11-13: Public questions and comments submitted to the School Board by noon on Thursday, August 13.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 13 AT 5:30 P.M.: Information Session 2. Review public comment and finalize the ballot. The final ballot will be posted online by noon on August 14.
AUGUST 15 FROM 8:30 A.M. TO 2 P.M.: Drive-through voting for all registered voters at the Hopkinton Middle High School (297 Park Avenue, Contoocook).
The methods to submit comments, questions, or recommended amendments are:
You can access the August 10 and August 13 Virtual Meetings at the following links:
- ZOOM: bit.ly/AugustSchoolDistrictMeetings (same for both meetings)
- YOUTUBE 8/10: http://bit.ly/August10YouTube
- YOUTUBE 8/13: http://bit.ly/August13YouTube
- PHONE: Dial 1-312-626-6799 then enter 815 3723 3722
Voting will be on August 15th at Hopkinton Middle High School, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. To help expedite voter check-in, cars will be split the following ways. Upon entering HMHS from Park Ave, voters will split into three lines, by last name: A - F, G - M, N - Z.
When approaching the big parking lot in the rear of the school (behind "shop alley"), cars will further divide into the following splits by last name: A - D, E - K, L - Q, R - Z. This means that if you are A - D, you should stay in the left lane the entire time. If you are R - Z, you should stay in the right lane the entire time. If you are E - Q, you may have some merging to do, but we will have assistants placed along the way helping to sort and direct traffic and cars.
The ballot will be available for review and printing by noon on August 14th. For those that need them, ballots will be handed out by an assistant upon check-in. If your car has more than one last name, one person should get out and walk if they are able. If not, we will take care of you at check-in. Walk-ins are welcome the whole day.
Town residents who are not already registered: the last day to register to vote for those who are not already registered is 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 12. Registrations may be completed at the Town Clerk’s Office in the Town Hall. By law, there is no absentee voting for this meeting and there is no same day registration. Check your voting registration status at bit.ly/HopkintonVoter.
THE HOPKINTON SCHOOL BOARD’S RECOMMENDED AMENDED ARTICLE III EXPLANATION
The School Board and the Budget Committee each unanimously recommend amending the Article III Operating Budget to $20,923,855, or a 1.8% increase over the 2019 approved budget. This level of funding supports our students, while keeping the tax impact of the entire School District Warrant to $0.07/$1,000 of property value.
This proposal came about after the School Board asked the superintendent to provide options to reach a “flat” budget. The superintendent presented options for reductions at the June 18th School Board meeting (video and support materials), which provided the Board and the community a greater understanding of the impact to our schools of such a decision. That list entailed $954,508 of potential cuts that painted a fairly grim picture of the impact to necessary programs - including academics, social/emotional programming, and sports - that would result from such a large reduction.
With this in mind, School Board Member and Finance Committee Chair Rob Nadeau developed a budget proposal that would meet the needs of both students and taxpayers. Rather than begin with a targeted number to achieve, Mr. Nadeau went through the reductions list and identified items that were either administrative or not central to educational, social/emotional, or sports programs. Mr. Nadeau’s objectives were (1) administrative austerity and (2) the protection of student services: core academics, electives, and extra-curricular activities important to a quality education. The School Board approved the proposed amendment 5-0 on July 2nd (video and support materials), and the Budget Committee voted to approve the proposed amendment 9-0 on July 15th (video).
The Hopkinton School Board believes that the current proposal is more than reasonable, despite the fact that it represents an increase of $370,810 or 1.8% over last year. For those who wanted a larger budget, it represents the need for restraint; for those who wanted a “flat” budget, it illustrates a significant slowing of budget growth without negative long-term impacts to core educational programming.
This approach maintains programs necessary to meet the educational needs of our students, while keeping the tax rate impact of the entire School District Warrant to $0.07.
FREQUENTLY ASKED BUDGET QUESTIONS
What is the overall tax impact of the proposed budget, including the previously passed Articles? The tax impact of the previously passed articles was $0.24/1000. Due to various savings, responsible fiscal management, unanticipated revenue, and a change in town valuation, the total tax rate impact of all the School District Articles (including passing this Operational Budget) would be $0.07/1000, or a tax increase of $14 a year for a house valued at $200,000.
What is likely to be cut if the Hopkinton School District reverted to a “flat” budget? In addition to all cuts already made for the previous 2 budget amendments, reductions would include the Elementary Numeracy Specialist; School Psychologist; Wood Technology; HMHS Art, Music, English, and Science classes; Independent Studies; Middle School Sports (all); select High School Sports; Field Trips; and the High School Student Assistance Program. A complete list of the reductions presented by the superintendent on June 18th to reach a flat budget can be found on the District website.
Why would a “flat” budget lead to so many reductions, when the educational programming hasn’t changed? Like all organizations, the Hopkinton School District has annual budget increases that are out of our control. This year, these increases include Health Insurance (+$254K), a Bond Payment (+$128K), Transportation (+$96K), Contracted Services such as facilities maintenance (+$27K), Vocational & Out-of-District Tuition (+$24K), and Facility-related Expenses such as fuel/electricity (+$30K), for total FY20 expected increases of $568,851 - before the budgeting process even begins. Additionally, this does not take into account changes in revenue.
What is the Board doing regarding budget planning now and moving forward?
March 2020: Created a Finance Committee to work with the administration to develop understandable, ground-up budget creation, as well as the creation of a sustainable multi-year budgeting plan.
March 2020: Created a Capital Improvement Planning Committee for ongoing facility and maintenance planning and budgeting.
May 2020: The Finance Committee began looking into alternative ways to present budget documents that would be more clear and accessible to both the Budget Committee and the community.
Ongoing: The Board is working with the superintendent to continue carefully managing our revenues and expenses, and develop ongoing, sustainable budgets with understandable increases and decreases, that work toward a common goal.
FY22 Budget: Fiscal Year 2021-2022 planning will begin in October 2020, with Board-suggested percent increase limits for budgets as they are created at the building level (HMS, MSS, HMHS) and up, taking into account projected changes to both revenue and expenses at the beginning of the budgeting process to help lessen the overall potential tax impact.
What’s the main takeaway from all this?
In closing, we know many in our community are struggling both financially and emotionally. Over the past 6 months, this new Board has worked hard to listen to everyone - from those who feel their concerns in the past haven’t been taken to heart or responded to, to folks worried for their children, to folks worried about their town and community.
We know there is more work to do. We believe the newly presented budget for August 15 is the right step forward, but we also know that this is not the end of the story.
This is the beginning. Budget challenges remain ahead, and we, your Hopkinton School Board members, are committed to working creatively and collaboratively - within this new economic reality - to meet these challenges head-on, while maintaining the excellent educational system our students today - and tomorrow - deserve.
THE HOPKINTON SCHOOL BOARD’S RECOMMENDED AMENDED ARTICLE III
Article III remains open to amendments to be considered by the School Board until August 13 at noon.
(RECOMMENDED) AMENDED ARTICLE III: Shall the School District raise and appropriate the Budget Committee’s recommended sum of $20,923,855 for the support of schools, for the payment of salaries for the school district officials and agents, and for the payment for the statutory obligations of the district, or to take any other action in relation thereto. The Budget Committee vote was 9-0. The Hopkinton School Board recommends this article. The School Board vote was 5-0. This article does not include appropriations voted in other warrant articles. This article amount represents a tax rate decrease of -$0.03.
IF MAJORITY VOTE IS YES: The newly proposed operating budget will go into effect immediately. There would be no interruption to services or programming, as the necessary position reductions and class reconfigurations have already been made.
IF MAJORITY VOTE IS NO: The Hopkinton School District will revert to the FY19/20 budget, which would include an additional decrease of $370,810, and result in reductions to academics, social/emotional programming, and sports, as described in the FAQs above and the June 18th School Board Meeting.
May 27th Budget Committee Meeting Recording: Link
May 21st School Board Meeting with Amendment Discussion and Presentation: Link
Slide presentation from May 21st Meeting: Link
Second Flyer - Mailed May 23: Link
May 12 School District Meeting Recording: bit.ly/HopkintonTuesdayYouTube
May 12th Presentation: Link
May 15th School District Meeting Recording: bit.ly/HopkintonFridayYouTube
Comments and Amendments:
ADDITIONAL MEETING INFORMATION
Please read the following important letters:
Additional information on the meetings:
Prior to the Emergency Order, there had been several meetings in the leadup to the original date for School Meeting. Below is information that Voters may find helpful for familiarizing themselves with the Warrant and proposed Articles, including the School Budget, proposed Teachers Contract and more. The full list of materials is below, but key documents have been brought to the top for immediate attention and review.
- MS-27 Proposed Budget
- Budget Bulletin - Updated after the February 20 School Board Meeting
- Budget FAQs
- January 7th Memo to School Board on Budget Reductions
- Warrant for the 2020 Annual Hopkinton School District Meeting
- Proposed Teamster’s Contract - Changes & FAQ
- Proposed Hopkinton Education Association (HEA) Contract - Changes & FAQ's
Prior years’ budget documents can be found under the Budget Info tab at the top of the website.