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Webster parents interested in sending kids to Hopkinton schools

A groundswell of support is growing among some Webster residents interested in sending the town’s students to Hopkinton, as the town continues its push to study withdrawal from the Merrimack Valley School District.

“For so many years I’ve heard whispers off and on about Webster going to Hopkinton,” said Webster resident Karin Page. “I get that a lot of parents want their kids to go to MV. They went there and they graduated from there. I get that, but there are also parents who want options.”

In February, petitions calling for a study of potential withdrawal from Merrimack Valley began circulating in Webster and Salisbury, two of the five towns that comprise the district. Based in Penacook, the district also includes students from Loudon, Penacook and Boscawen.

District enrollment continues to tumble in Hopkinton, where the school board chairman said they would listen to the overtures from Webster.

“We’re certainly aware of it,” said David Luneau, chairman of the Hopkinton School Board. Several Webster residents have shared their interest with Superintendent Steven Chamberlain, Luneau said. “Obviously, they are in the very early stages of what will take some time. We are certainly, as a district, open to listening to their interest, being responsive and learning more.”

For Hopkinton, absorbing Webster students would help boost enrollment. In 2005, Hopkinton had 1,055 students, according to the state Department of Education. The number dipped to 905 students this year, bringing with it continued loss of state aid and staff reductions because of fewer students in the classroom. Merrimack Valley High School also has about 900 students.

“We recognize there is a structured process for the town and Merrimack Valley to follow, and we’ll be interested to learn more and explore what opportunities might make sense if the time comes,” Luneau said.

The petitions in Webster started with Page.

Next year, her daughter, who is home-schooled, will attend Merrimack Valley Middle School. Her son, also home-schooled, will likely attend a Montessori school, she said. Page and other parents have supported the study as a way to identify options. “I think finally enough parents said, ‘Let’s do something,’ ” she said. “I started circulating it on the parent level and found Mason Donovan was doing the same thing. We were doing it for different reasons, but we want the same end result.”

Donovan, a Webster selectman, said petitions are still circulating, but they have not been submitted to the school board. “One of our select board members suggested at a recent open session that we create an informal committee to gather more information on our alternatives,” Donovan said in an email. “So when the special town meeting is set, we will have more to share with residents.”

The committee’s main charge will be gathering information to present to the public. Its members will be determined this week, Page said. “A lot of people are very emotional about this. I think if the emotions come out of this and people will look at the facts, we’ll be better guided,” she said. “We’re not looking to take MV away from people who want it. It’s more about choice.”

For the Page family, which lives on Clough-Sanborn Hill Road near the town line, Hopkinton is a more natural fit. “My daughter will have a 50-minute bus ride each way next year. She will get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to school and get off on the bus at 3:20 p.m.” she said.

State law sets the framework to study withdrawal.

To formally begin the process, selectmen in Salisbury and Webster would need to schedule a special town meeting for a vote based on the petitions. This would trigger the Merrimack Valley School Board to create a study commission with at least one school board member and selectmen from each of the district’s communities. Within 180 days of its formation, the committee would report its findings to the state Board of Education. Only after the state board approves a withdrawal plan would residents in the district get a chance to vote on the proposal.

“I think there are still a lot of questions. The only way to answer these is by forming a committee,” she said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or

Legacy Comments25

I am not missing the core issue Gcarson. I, like many others have put my kids through school. I also believe that parents hold the schools hostage. They do that with issues like, my kid has reading problems, get him a tutor, or I will sue. No chat about the parent reading to the kid every night at home before bedtime. Ask and threaten and the schools will provide. We also have shrinks making it easier for kids to get coded and get services at the expense of taxpayers. Your kid has a dirty mouth, he has mild tourettes, no manners and does not play well with others, he has mild aspergers. Cannot sit still because he has a junk food sugar diet, he has ADD. We also have a lot of teachers in the US that have graduated at the bottom 1/3 of their class. We have lousy administratators who do not support the teachers. Teachers are not judged on their performance and paid accordingly or fired. Thank the unions for that. Now our public school system could adopt some of the private school system's methods. Uniforms, everybody is judged on who they are, not what they are wearing. Community service in HS for 4 years in order to graduate. 10 hours the first year of HS and so on. Detention means you get up early on Saturday morning and clean the school. I guarantee you that teens hate getting up early on the weekends. We need to find a way to hold more lousy parents responsible instead of giving them a pass. Get kids out of the classroom who cannot manage being in the classroom. Lots we can do instead of throwing more money at a failed system. Seems the left has issues with holding anybody responsible, but instead shifts that responsibility to others. Teachers are hired to teach, not parent and are the ones who should be out front talking about what is wrong in the classroom and how things can be fixed. They are being used as scapegoats.

If you want to get a pretty good picture of how the Dems think in regards to education, I suggest folks on this forum look into what is going on in NYC in regards to the Success Academy. The newly elected mayor is out to close down all charter schools. I have no issue with defunding any charter school that does not produce results, but the Success Academy deserves it's name. There are Success Academy schools in Harlem in poor neighborhoods doing a wonderful job. Their test results prove it. Same with Charters in DC that the President tried to defund. Same happened in CA with an Indian Charter School. So if the goal is to give minorities equal chances, why close down the charters that are successful in educating minorities? I thought education was suppose to be about the kids and the best education possible. Evidently, great test scores, and successful charters, even in Harlem are a threat to the Dems. Why?

Reality check here, countering the lies of the privatization movement:"The first question, of course, is do charter schools in these cities serve the 'same kids?' as traditional public schools in the same city/borough and at the same grade level. To answer this question, I estimate regression models to three years of data (2008 to 2010) where the population characteristic of interest is the dependent variable, and a)year of data, b) location of school (city) and c) grade level/range are the independent variables. Figure 1 shows that in New York City, Charter Schools serve a) far fewer children who qualify for free lunch , b) far fewer LEP/ELL children and c) far fewer children with disabilities than school serving the same grade level in their borough. Uncommon schools are indeed the least common. But Success academies have particularly large deficits in LEP/ELL children. These schools simply aren’t comparable in terms of student populations. Figure 3 shows that in New York City, charters are generally outspending traditional public schools serving similar student populations. KIPP and Uncommon schools are outspending BOE schools by over  $4,000 and $3,500 respectively and Harlem Childrens Zone schools are spending similarly (and that’s not even counting all of the additional money flowing to/through the parent organization. it’s just the annual financial report data!). Figure 5 shows that each of the charters spends quite a bit more than otherwise similar district schools. Each charter also has higher average performance (except St. Hope) than district schools. But, as shown above, they also have less needy students.  In other words, no miracles by these measures. Higher average outcomes yes. Lower spending? NO. Same kids? NO! Figure 7 again shows that in New York City, charters tend to significantly outspend district schools with similar populations – well except Equality charter which is somewhat closer. On average, the average gains are indeed higher in these higher spending charters – actually moving upward in sort of a pattern. But remember, the peer groups in these schools also aren’t particularly comparable. KIPP AMP and Brooklyn prospect, however, don’t do so hot.  But, if there’s any case to be made here with these charters, resources just might matter. Not the same kids. More money. Some reasonable outcomes. Clearly, some deeper investigation is warranted. But, in each case there are also district schools, including lower spending district schools that outperform most of the charter schools. “These numbers suggest that the [NYC] charter schools are not doing a better job than non-charter public schools with the same students. They don’t educate students who most need the help and support of top-notch teachers. District 7 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 27.7%
Highest need special education students: 11.9%
Economic need index: .93
English Language Learners: 21.5%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.83
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 52.4%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 53.6% District 7 charter schools
Special education students: 12%
Highest need special education students: 2.3%
Economic need index: .78
English Language Learners: 12.6%
Incoming student Math/English scores: 3.08
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 34.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 31.5% District 23 non-charter public schools
Special education students: 18.8%
Highest need special education students: 11.9 %
Economic need index: .86
English Language Learners 4.8%:
Incoming student Math/English scores: 2.92
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 43.7%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 51.8% District 23 charter schools
Special education students: 14.1%
Highest need special education students: 7.0%
Economic need index: .65
English Language Learners: 2.4%
Incoming student Math/English scores 3.18:
Incoming students who scored in the lowest third citywide in English: 26.9%
Incoming students who score in the lowest third citywide in Math: 20.6 “

did any single person actually read his usual cut and paste screed?

You and the Rabbit might want to read it before your next post touting the benefits of private, for profit charter schools like NYC's "Success Academy".

Bruce, Your sources are "pro" public education websites. Not valid.

Not valid? Dispute the facts the researcher found on these charter schools. The business model for private, for profit charters relies on making their test scores look better than those of neighboring public schools. The facts uncovered here detail how this is done. The curriculum is driven by the tests. Low wage, non-union teachers are hired. Executives receive exorbitant salaries. Special needs and English language learners are limited/excluded from schools like Success Academy. Students are expelled for minor infractions. Those who might lower test scores are told to stay home. You and other posters airily dismiss the reality-based facts on private, for profit charters, as on so many other topics--from taxes and the economy to climate change, in favor or an ideological fantasy land that fits a fear and anger driven nastiness opposed to so much that made this nation great--including universal, free public education, and the unionization of workers . Get real.

3 days later...still waiting for any facts that contradict the findings I posted detailing the many ways private, for-profit schools scam the public in the ALEC-inspired right wing assault on public education.

This article is about a bored homeschooling housewife with nothing better to do than stir the pot. We are happy with the relationship with the district. If someone wishes to move their child out of the district, then by all means, take your kid there and pay the tuition. All of Webster kids have to bus out of town for middle and high school, she has the right to drive her child to and from school. The withdrawal process will be costly and a study will cost money that this town doesn't have. Talk about being financially irresponsible!!

Isn't Hopkinton with under 1000 students almost a private school? Why would Hopkinton allow Webster kids in their schools? Hopkinton willingly pays their school budget and would pay with a smile even if it increased to 30 million. heck they are so rich their Police Department has more Motorcycles than Concord!

I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic or not, but rest assured, majority of Webster parents don't want to send their kids to Hopkinton,

There maybe some interest by some parents in Hopkinton, but lets get real it's not a "groundswell" of support. Concord Monitor quotes one parent that disliked the IB program and pulled her children and home schooled them. Yes, Hopkinton has a higher rating in the state, however, they have a much smaller school population and most likely a much smaller population of special needs students. I have no problem with special needs students, my nephew is special needs, they are included in standardized testing and bring the scores down. That being said, MV provides a broad, well balanced education, that with their larger population can provide a wider range of subjects at a lower cost per student. Webster pays $9000 per student. Hopkinton is $16000. As for the 50 min ride her child would have to take to MV, we switch to Hopkinton, my children have at least the 50 min ride as I live on the other side of town. If you choose to live in a rural area someone will have long ride, unless you plan on bring them and picking them up. As it is we live a couple of minutes from the elementary school, but it takes my son approximately 40 min to get home in the afternoon, because he is one of the last to get off the bus. If you don't like the school district of the town, don't live there or be prepared to send you children to private school.

CHOICE - democrat always rally about choice. Simply support a parents right to choose where their kids go to school and you liberals would not be such big hypocrites

Who's being a hypocrite? Josephine said "If you don't like the school district of the town, don't live there or be prepared to send you children to private school." Pretty straight forward I think. Sending ones children to private school has always been an option. As for the Webster parent and IB, well that will just be filed in my "all towns have crazies" file. Not a sound basis for switching since I firmly believe that you get out of schooling what you put into it. Home schooling is the poorest of all worlds and a disservice to any child. Bet you went to private school........

I posted my statement before the other comment. But you decided to attack me with no basis.... When liberals cant debate the issues they always revert to their lowball tactic of personal destruction - If you take issue with the growing national movement to give parents choice of all schools then state your case or dont comment - that would be the mature thing to do.

Re:"Growing national movement to give parents choice of schools". You mean the ALEC instigated, right-wing promoted, hedge fund manager/ Walton Foundation financed scheme to privatize American K-12 education, replacing teachers with low-wage "minders", sticking kids in front of computer screens with drill and kill, teach to the test software, cherry-picking their students and leaving the poor and the special needs kids behind, and expelling students for minor infractions along with those who might lower a school's test scores, all the while skimming "profit" from tax-funded money to exorbitantly paid executives with no accountability? That kind of "school choice"?

Each parent should be allowed to determine what is best for their child. Public school teachers may not like the thought of parents being in charge but teachers are public "servants", yet they act like they are so enlightened and have all of the answers. Teaching is a talent, either you have it or you don't. I looked at the Walton program, looked it up and I do not see the word "minder" anywhere. I do know that I am keenly aware of who teaches my kids and I certainly do not want some communist teaching my kids revisionist history and the global warming agenda. Not sure that anyone in Concord, Pembroke or Boscawen wants that either. If they were aware of some of the teachers character they probably would not be happy.

Throwing down the Red Card again, are we? When rational argument fails, let the implicit intimidation, innuendo, and smear begin. Bring back loyalty oaths. "Are you now, or have you ever been...."

Bruce, yes you will need to plead the 5th when you testify.

Yes Bruce . . . THAT one! LOL!

I don't believe I am guilty of personal destruction, you have managed nicely on your own. I never said parents have no rights to choose where their kids go, that was you talking. My parents always exercised that belief, my two sister went to private schools, I chose public high school and when married I chose to live in Bow where we put our two kids through school. My granddaughter will be going to school in a few years and I support my daughters choice that she move to Webster as well for the schools. As for any relevant groundswell in Webster over Hopkinton, this is the first mention that I have heard. Forget politics, you get out of any school what you are willing to work for, plain and simple. I am not trying for any lowball tactics, I don't think I have ever hidden my dislike of your very narrow view of things. All things evil are the result of democrats. I have nothing against Itsa, I don't agree with his/her views but at least there is some objectivity there and merely aggravates me, you on the other hand.........

Parents already have a choice in where there kids go. For example, I've had several students over the years whose folks CHOSE to send them to the local catholic school, then CHOSE to pull them and enroll them in the public school I teach in because they saw that we had more to offer their kids.

Most private schools are popular, so much so they have waiting lists. When applying to a private school, your kid and you are interviewed. The way the school operates is made clear in regards to expectations, parent envolvement and community service required. You basically know what you are buying and what results you will get. Not so in in Public School. In Public Schools we hear that more money is needed, even though public school tuition is now even or surpasses private school tuition. Where is the money going? It appears it is not leading to better test results. The test is blamed, the parents are blamed, and poverty is blamed. New methods are tried and history proves, many of those methods have failed. We are talking about teaching the basics, which seems to be a challenge, yet Common Core is embraced, and that is an even more complicated method to implement. Our public schools provide a lot it seems in regards to taking over the role of parents. The question is, why do they not get results? We all want choice in everything, from the car we buy to the food we eat. Why not in education? Asked the folks who send their kids to charter schools in NYC and DC if those schools have made a difference. Also, competition does in fact produce a better service or product. We all know that, maybe with competition our public schools will actually improve. I stated many times on this forum that our failing education system would lead to vouchers and charter schools. And more home schooling. Folks want choice.

The core issue you are missing is based in one of your statements. That there are requirements for entering a private school, one of them being parental involvement. That.s it in a nutshell. You also mention the pluses of competition, well in this case there are none. The one thing holding back some students is the fact that public schools have to accept everyone by definition. Special needs, general troublemakers, the full spectrum. From IEP's to out of district services, this doesn't come free and trust me these are not the students in high demand by private schools.

Parents always have a right to choose where their children go to school. Diverting precious tax dollars to those private institutions that can discriminate is where I draw the line. All public schools have to accept and teach any student with a disability to the best of the school's ability. Some schools do well, others not so well. But private schools do not have to accept these students. So why should I have to pay for the benefit of these accepted students to go to a private school when my son who has learning disabilities will be precluded? Your arguments for private schools smacks of the rich and privileged wanting to have the middle and lower financial classes pay for the their kids to go to private schools so they can keep more money in their pockets that never "trickle down".

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