Hopkinton School Board to consider consolidation plan
Hopkinton School District officials are exploring the possibility of consolidation in a move they say could open new educational opportunities.
On Tuesday, the school board will vote to create a facility committee of board members and residents responsible for designing and developing the two-school plan, which would include one building for students in pre-kindergarten through grade five and a second building for students in grades six through 12. The Hopkinton schools are currently divided into three buildings. The Harold Martin School houses pre-K through third grade, the Maple Street School holds grades four through six and the Hopkinton Middle/High School has grades seven through 12.
On March 8 at the school district meeting, residents will be asked to approve a school budget that includes $50,000 for architectural designs and renderings to be commissioned by the committee.
This “wouldn’t be designing shovel-ready construction blueprints,” said Hopkinton School Board Chairman David Luneau. “We’re taking it one step at a time, very much one step at a time.”
The proposal could mean moving grades four and five from the Maple Street School to Harold Martin, since it is the bigger of the two, and just had a boiler replaced. “We are thinking that building is more equipped for longer-term efficiencies,” said Superintendent Steven Chamberlin.
Then, grade six would move to the middle/high school campus. Part of the committee’s task will be building analysis, to see whether additions to Harold Martin and the middle/high school can accommodate the shift.
That would leave Maple Street School open to new educational uses, which could include administrative offices or higher education classes delivered through a community college, Luneau said.
The two-school recommendation was developed by the Hopkinton School District Leadership team, with input from the residents, over a two-year period.
Consolidation has both educational and operational benefits, Chamberlin said, which include a reduction of building transitions for students, greater continuity and communication between classrooms, and an expansion of the sixth grade academics to include world language and engineering classes, offered at the middle school.
On Feb. 13, Chamberlin sent a letter to parents that outlined pros and cons of the proposal. Some of the concerns, he said, include ensuring the middle and high school campus is appropriate for sixth-graders and minimizing anxiety among staff during a transition.
A final proposal could be presented to voters in 2017.
“Nothing is falling down around us,” Luneau said. “We can take the time to get out in front of this and put together the best and most cost-effective facility solution for our district.“
Not by accident, 2018 is the year when a bond expires that had funded a renovation of the Maple Street School and the middle/high school completed in 1999. “We’re trying to look ahead,” Chamberlin said, “and trying to be ready to continually invest in schools.”
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)