Chariho School Parents’ Forum

August 10, 2007

Hopkinton 5th & 6th grade Ad Hoc committee cranks up

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,Hopkinton — Editor @ 10:18 am

Two posts in the comments section of the last header deserve ‘header’ status.  First post is from James Labrosse, ad hoc members.  Second post by Barbara Capalbo, town council member and leading the committee efforts.

Hello all. Per the voters’ request, the group looking into the options for moving Hopkinton 5th and 6th graders back to elementary groups has been started. At this time it is an ad hoc committee. I’m told that ad hoc allows us the flexibility to independently work on the multitude of options. Less meeting and more work is right up my alley!

I’ll be looking into cost estimates for a variety of options. A couple of others will also be doing this part. I’m still waiting for information and a listing of some of the potential options. I have reviewed a floor plan for Ashaway and Hope Valley schools, and with a cursory review, it seems to me that the schools can easily handle K through 5th grade. If the 1904 building is included, there easily should be enough space for K through 7th.

There has been some talk of estimating renovations of the schools, but I tend to not favor this approach, at least not if it is linked to bringing back 5th and 6th grades. If renovations are needed, I would like to see this presented as a separate option. My view is that the voters do not need or want another building committee proposal and I’m not comfortable going beyond the scope of the voters’ request.

Also, I feel Chariho should be responsible for renovations to the extent possible. Why should Hopkinton taxes go to Chariho for building maintenance and then go directly to the schools because Chariho is not maintaining the buildings? It’s like we are paying for the same thing twice.

I’ll try to come here to keep you posted as things evolve. Please don’t hesitate to offer me suggestions or criticisms if you think I’m off track. I’d like to get this done so our children can be put back into the appropriate educational environment ASAP.

Comment by Jim LaBrosse — August 3, 2007 @ 7:38 pm | Edit This

Good afternoon,

I wish to follow up on Jim Labrosse’s comment. We have begun the research into the 5th and 6th grade referendum question. It has been divided into three parts and anyone who would like to assist in these areas should call me at home – 377-2254 and I will get you in touch with the persons working on each section.

The first area is Why we would like to return the children to a K-6 format. Lois Buck will head this direction. She and others will research the studies on grade configuration and national scoring, preventing delinquency, strengthening emotional well-being and the family unit through these early years, etc. Even the school board realizes that the overwhelming majority of people in all three towns would like to see the return of the 5th and 6th to their home town elementary school as much as that is possible.

The second section will be the research needed on ’special needs’. The mandates where spatial needs exist(classrooms or offices for speech, physical therapy, learning assistance, etc.) must be planned for within our present elementary school buildings or portables. These classrooms may be able to fluctuate between elementary schools in the district.

The third area is cost. Jim Labrosse and myself will be researching this portion of the question. We want to know the least amount of money needed to bring the 5th and 6th graders back to Hope Valley and Ashaway. We will also let the citizens know the approximate costs of upgrading options.

The questions are quite complex and anyone wishing to assist any of us or comment on an area, or just question us is welcome to do so. We will have workshops once we have something to discuss.

Comment by BarbaraC — August 9, 2007 @ 2:33 pm | Edit This

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2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the header status Bill.

    Here’s the latest update. Mr. Ricci has a huge book with much information from a $100,000,000 bond proposal several years ago. He was gracious enough to let Barbara and me scan through and pick out things that might help us determine expenses associated with relocating 5th and 6th graders back to the proper environment (elementary schools).

    Not to go off on a tangent, but one thing that was striking about the failed $100,000,000 bond was the building committee’s determination to deliver “parity” to all Chariho elementary school students. In my inexpert opinion the supposed need for parity doomed the bond because parity was calculated based on equal facilities, not equal education. The cost of parity was incredibly expensive. As the parents of a soon-to-be first grader, my wife and I are concerned about teachers, books and curriculum – not whether the cafeteria is also the gym (an example of a parity goal). Who cares? And if you do care, why and at whose expense? As far as my participation on the ad hoc committee looking into bringing back 5th and 6th graders, I won’t be worrying about whether the facilities in Ashaway and Hope Valley are the exactly the same.

    Where things stand now is we need to figure out the mandated requirements for Hope Valley and Ashaway (including the 1904 building). Since the schools are in use now, I would think the only mandated code requirements would be at the 1904 building. Just looking at the floor plan, I think we already have enough room to bring back 5th grade. If we are able to put the 1904 building back in play, we definitely have enough space for K – 6th – I’d say we could even do 7th. At first I thought we would need to read through tons of legislative documents to see what mandates are needed in the 1904 building, but as Barbara pointed out, the mandates involve fire safety, health, and building codes. That being the case, then town and state officials could be called upon to inspect the building and tell us what needs to be done. They could likely even give us a ballpark estimate of cost. I believe Barbara will be looking into getting these inspections done. Another item that needs to be done is to decide what other costs might results from moving 5th and 6th graders back to the elementary schools. This could include additional staffing as student to teacher ratios might be impacted. There likely would need to be extra custodians and other service providers.

    Lastly, political hurdles might remain as the Chariho School Committee, or maybe Charlestown and Richmond, could object to Hopkinton’s decision to put our children in a more appropriate educational environment. I’m not sure, and Bill might be better situated to answer this, but it could be that the 5th and 6th graders fall under Chariho’s jurisdiction, so just because Hopkinton voters have overwhelmingly expressed their wishes, Chariho might have the final word on the whole thing? I don’t think there’s much the ad hoc committee can do about this potential obstacle other than to provide data showing the benefits and maybe convince Richmond and Charlestown politicians that their 5th and 6th graders should be given the benefits of not being forced into an inappropriate academic environment. I’ll speak up regarding my opinion, but if it comes to the political issues, others would need to deal with this aspect.

    I’ll wait to hear back from Barbara about the inspections – or maybe she’ll tell us here. I hope we have some concrete information before the November bond vote so we have a better understanding of our options when we enter the voting booth.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — August 15, 2007 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  2. You are right about the parity. Even if Hopkinton and Richmond can use existing facilities, Charlestown would need to build. Then the funding arrises – will Richomond and Hopkinton fund new construction in Charlestown. Mrs. Capalbo offered some interesting ideas to resolve that issue, but its premature to do so now.

    Also, remember that when it comes to mandates, they do not require you to do them immediately. Many of our schools have been in the ‘process’ of upgrading for fire codes for some time now (which I see in the news might still change – http://www.projo.com/news/content/firecode_08-14-07_796N6E2.3271d5d.html).

    But you are also correct that the decision is ultimately up to the school board.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — August 15, 2007 @ 5:31 pm | Reply


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