In favor of K-5 Elementary School Districts

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I am writing to express support for the proposed new K-5 elementary school on Fruit Street and for three elementary school districts. I think many excellent arguments have been made to show why Center School is no longer safe or educationally sound for Hopkinton's children, as well as why now is the right time to go forward with this project financially due to low construction costs and the high reimbursement rate from the state. However, I know many residents are nervous about the concept of districted schools since this is something that has never before been done here. While it is completely natural to be nervous about the unknown, we should recognize that the decision to move to districted elementary schools has not been taken lightly by our elected and appointed officials. It has been done through a long, thoughtful and open process over the last several years.

Many years ago when the number of students in a given grade in Hopkinton was only 50-100, it made sense for them all to attend the same school and it was possible for them to all get to know each other. But now, with 200-300 students per grade level, they will never get to know all the students in their grade. Instead, each year when we get our class lists, at most we know only a third of the children in their classes. They start over again each year, have to make new friends and on top of that they change buildings every two years. They have to get to know the layout of a new building, the new principal, nurse, music and art teachers. While our teachers and staff do an excellent job with the short grade-span schools we have, these frequent transitions do not benefit our children.

Although no district lines have been drawn yet, as a downtown resident it will be highly unlikely that my children will attend the new Fruit Street school. I live less than one mile from both Elmwood and Hopkins. This year I have children in all three elementary schools, and in visiting the schools the differences are shockingly apparent. Center School is in terrible condition, while in comparison Elmwood and Hopkins both have spacious classrooms, lovely large libraries and none of the severe heating problems that Center School has. I would be thrilled if all three of my children were together at either Elmwood or Hopkins School. The thought of being able to attend a Meeting of the Eagles to see all three children makes me smile.

I urge all residents to attend a School Committee forum to get the answers to all the questions you have. By watching any of the School Committee meetings on TV, you already know that it is a very thoughtful group and that they take all our questions and concerns very seriously. I have confidence that when districting takes place it will be done equitably, fairly and for the benefit of our town.

Respectfully,

Amy Ritterbusch
54 Grove Street