HomeOpinionLetter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Elmwood

Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Elmwood

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Dear Neighbors of Hopkinton, 

I write to express my wholehearted support for our town’s proposed construction of a new elementary school. As a dedicated advocate for educational programming, as parent of three students, and as a concerned citizen, I firmly believe that a “Yes” vote on the Elmwood School Project is crucial for the continued success of our community. In this letter, I aim to provide compelling factual information regarding key aspects of the Elmwood School Project. 

While the estimated cost of the project is DAUNTING at $158 million, it’s essential to understand the breakdown. This figure encompasses both construction costs ($125 million) and soft costs ($34 million), including expenses like the feasibility study, furniture, technology, and contingency. The committee that has been working, in public meetings, for 2 years has identified ways to maximize the contribution from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), totaling approximately $61million of eligible costs – taxpayer burden is down from $111 million expected to under $97 million as of a MSBA update from 10/25/23! It’s imperative to note that rejecting this project would result in the LOSS OF MSBA reimbursement, placing the TOTAL FINANCIAL burden on the Town of Hopkinton when there is funding available due to the years of work that has been done already by School/Town Administrators, the School Committee, and the Elmwood Building Commitee. The Town has been pursuing MSBA support since 2008 due to the space constraints and Elmwood being considered end of life. 

Voting against the Elmwood School Project would lead to significant consequences including: (a) renting modular classrooms at over $1million per school year per classroom, (b) loss of all art, science, and music spaces to be used as classrooms, ( c ) additions or more modular classrooms needed at Hopkins, Middle School, and High School, (d) tighter lunch rooms starting earlier in the school day, (e) heavier used playgrounds in already tight spaces, and (f) possible loss of the teachers who make our schools so successful as working conditions deteriorate. 

Elmwood Elementary School is facing an immediate space crisis. Based on demographer estimates, we will face continued enrollment increases over the next decade. Both the town and state provided demographers have concluded that the current Elmwood School is grossly undersized to service the total enrollment of our students, the children of Hopkinton.  A new Elmwood School would improve the student learning experience as the new school would have appropriate cafeteria, gym, and play space. Furthermore, the addition of MANY general education classrooms protects class size for our learners and creates new spaces that do not exist at the current Elmwood School made to ensure special education students and multilingual learners have access to the resources they need and deserve in the same hallways as their peers. 

As we approach November 13th, where we will all need to be present to cast a vote, it’s essential to make fair and informed decisions about the Elmwood School Project. I urge those who have not been involved in the evolution of this important town endeavor to read up on the www.elmwoodproject.com website, reach out to a member of the Elmwood School Building Committee via email at esbc2@hopkintonma.gov, or attend an upcoming Community Forum (listed on the website! Or contact the committee to request an information session).

A “Yes” vote signifies support for a larger facility at the most advantageous cost to our community. Let us secure Hopkinton’s continued position at the forefront of educational excellence by approving this essential project on November 13th! 

Thank you for supporting the continued success of our schools, the success of our children. Strong Schools = Strong Communities.

Jamie Wronka

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  1. My kids are out of the schools so I haven’t been paying as much attention to this as I otherwise would have, although I am a taxpayer so it is of interest to me. How would the failure to approve the Elmwood School Project affect whether modular classrooms are needed at Hopkins, the Middle School and the High School?

    • It’s not the taxpayers building houses and it’s likely very hard to stop development, legally. Nice idea but that ship sailed years ago in Hopkinton when people sold their farms or large land holdings for development.

  2. Residents need to keep in mind that this project is part of a larger solution which requires significant renovation to the Hopkins school, which is planned to be presented at town meeting in May. The cost of this second project will be covered ENTIRELY by the taxpayers of Hopkinton, and is estimated to be between 40M and 50M. Tax impact TBD. These increases will tax some current residents out of Hopkinton, and make Hopkinton out of reach for many who wish to move here. As far as projected increases in enrollment, Hopkinton has recently seen a decline in single family home sales of approximately 28% in 2023 year over year (according to The Warren Group). There was also a 25% decline in sales from 2021 to 2022. Was this factored in to the demographer’s projections?

    One other thing to think about is that Hopkinton is facing a 1.7M operating budget shortfall for next year, will we be looking at an override vote in addition to the costly Elmwood and Hopkins projects?

    • The real estate sales drop doesn’t mean necessarily that houses are sitting empty. High interest rates, high prices and other factors have led to fewer homes going on the market. So that decline in sales is not likely to be predictive of a drop in school-aged children. If interest rates or housing prices drop, it is likely that this trend will quickly reverse as more people put homes on the market.

  3. Hopkinton schools are the towns “product”. Vote against the school and taxes won’t come down, but real estate values will suffer if the school system struggles to stay on top

  4. There is no investment of more importance than investing in our children’s future. I am 69 years old with no children or grandchildren in our schools, but will gladly make the financial sacrifice to support our kids by voting “YES” for the new school.

  5. Not everyone who lives in this town has Deep pockets we still have water that we can’t drink nor cook with I’ve tried to look up on how much our taxes will increase with this new spending program!I think people who live on fixed incomes (retired) have had it with this run away spending !!

  6. Whether a replacement for Elmwood School is needed is not the question. The question(s) should be whether the proposed site location is rational and whether the cost is within the Town’s residents ability to pay for it.

    First, the school planners paid for a traffic study and received the answer that they wanted; albeit a very poor assessment of the problem. As an example this morning, it took me close to 15 minutes to travel from Chesnut Street to the traffic light on Main Steet. The bumper to bumper traffic lasts for two hours each morning and another two hours in the afternoon. This is totally due to school buses coming and going, plus parents dropping off and later picking up ther children. Another school in this area will make this mess worse than it is now. THE PROPOSED SITE FOR THE SCHOOL IS LUDICROUS. THERE ARE TOO MANY SCHOOLS IN THE AREA NOW. ADDING MORE WON’T IMPROVE THE TRAFFIC MESS CREATED WITH THE LAST TWO SCHOOLS PUT IN THE AREA.

    Secondly, the propsed school design with its opulent amenities is too expensive. The estimated cost (even after State funds and rebates) is 2X – 3X what would be reasonable.

    Change the location to something more rational and cut the cost in half and I’d vote yes for the project without hesitation. FAILING THIS, MY VOTE WILL BE A RESOUNDING NO.

    These issues have been brought up to the folks doing the planning, but similar to the TRAILS Project, people on these projects have their minds made up and refuse to listen to anybody. re. Why not have a hiking trail cross Rt. 85 four times; no issue whe’ll just add a few traffic lights.

    I am hopeful that other residents recognise this insanity for what it is AND VOTE NO FOR THIS PROJECT.

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