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Town Meeting Part 3: Schools and Green Initiatives

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This article is part of a continuing series on the Hopkinton Annual Town Meeting scheduled for May 1, 2023 at 7:00 PM. There are 48 articles to discuss at the 2023 Town Meeting; what follows are the most important agenda items for Hopkinton residents to considerEach of these articles requires a Yes or No vote from registered voters in attendance.

>> RELATED: Town Meeting Part 1: Short term rentals, gun clubs and public safety

>> RELATED: Town Meeting Part 2: Zoning Changes

Article 18: Hopkinton Public Schools HVAC Renewal Work

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems at Hopkinton Public Schools are reaching end of life. This article asks the town to raise the money to replace the HVAC systems district-wide at an estimated cost of $1,250,000.

Why this matters: A climate controlled environment is essential for students to learn.

Article 19: Hopkins School Addition

This article asks the town to appropriate $21,000,000 for design and construction of an addition to the Hopkins School, which today serves students in grades 4-5. This addition would build new classrooms, a cafeteria, and kitchen area at the school. The construction would also trigger building code updates which by law will need to be completed.

Why this matters: The Massachusetts School Building Authority estimates that the Hopkins school will serve more than 800 students by 2030, up from the 670 students enrolled today. Hopkins School is already at capacity.

Article 22: Long term Contracting Authority

This article allows the Superintendent of Schools (or their designee) to enter into multi-year contracts for digital curriculum, technology equipment lease, property lease, and school bus transportation agreements for periods between three and six years.

Why this matters: Though this initiative is fairly broad in scope, providing the school district with the ability to negotiate long-term contracts will likely lead to favorable pricing from service providers, saving the town money in the long run. It’s worth noting that there is no approval from the School Committee required; the superintendent merely has to certify in writing that engaging in a longer contract was in the best interest of the town.

Article 46: Net Zero Initiative

The Select Board and Sustainable Green Committee are sponsoring an initiative that commits the town to a net zero goal of 2045. This will eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from municipal, commercial, and residential sources, with intermediate milestones of a 50% emissions reductions by 2030, and a 75% emissions reductions by 2037 relative to the baseline levels established in 2017. 

Why this matters: Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. Hopkinton, with its large open space and relatively small commercial industrial footprint, is uniquely positioned to lead other municipalities in the commonwealth on this front. This article makes climate a formal priority for Town Hall and all boards and committees moving forward. 

Article 38: Solar Canopy Leases at the Middle School and High School

This article allows the Select Board and School Committee to enter into a 30 year lease for a portion of each school’s parking lot to a solar provider that will design, construct and maintain a solar canopy in the parking lot. 

Why this matters: Solar installations like this are very common. Parking lots are wide open spaces and therefore are ideal candidates for large solar arrays. Readers may have seen similar installations at Ashland High School and UMass Amherst. This agreement will allow the schools to generate clean energy for their own power while selling any excess power generated back to Eversource, effectively fixing the cost of their electricity for several decades and saving money in the long run. 

>> NEXT: Land Purchases, trails, and other uses of Community Preservation Funds

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