In Favor of Center School and Districting

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To the Editor:

The proposed new Fruit Street elementary school is an emotionally charged topic. When we moved to Hopkinton it was in large part because the town believed in and supported education - Hopkins was new and the High School was about to open. Ten years later the town has a new and imperative need – to replace Center School. The school does not merely need cosmetic improvements - it is literally falling apart. It needs to be replaced and the proposal before us, with the state paying 43%, is the most cost-effective solution. According to six different elected Hopkinton School Committees, our Administrators and various committees, it is also the best educational model for our students.

We understand that the change to neighborhood K-5 schools makes some residents very anxious and in our hearts we do not want Hopkinton to district our elementary schools. But times have changed – graduating classes have grown to almost 300 – not the small groups of 80 they once were. It is a fallacy to say that every child knows each student in his or her grade. Even if children are with different kids every year, by the time they get to 6th grade, they will have still only been in class with ½ the grade.

We are not educators. We cannot speak from experience on the pros and cons of neighborhood schools in a town like ours. However, Dr. Phelan recently said something that really struck a chord with us - to paraphrase; he said that since he’s been in Hopkinton decisions such as these have been made based on what we had the ability and capacity to do. This is an opportunity to make a decision based on what we believe is the best educational model.

We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have:
• to give our children a smaller environment in which to forge friendships and gain confidence during those formative elementary school years
• to give families time to get to know and be vested in their elementary school
• to make scheduling logistics easier for families with multiple children
• to shorten bus routes for everyone, start secondary schools later and save money by eliminating a bus run
• to create the best educational model for our children

Parity is a legitimate concern but we have to solve one problem at a time. Resolve the problem with our neediest school first and then allocate funds to bring the other elementary schools up to comparable standards. It is up to the town to support each step of this process. For those of us who are concerned with our property values, continuing to invest in our future – our children and their education - is an excellent way to secure those property values.
As adults, we owe our success to previous generations who believed in and invested in education. As a community we owe the same to the next generation.

Beth and Mark D’Alleva
43 Blueberry Lane