School Committee Discusses Center School and Success of Advanced Placement

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Award recognition was the first order of business for Thursday’s School Committee meeting. Superintendent Phelan opened the December 2nd meeting by recognizing the Hopkinton School District for winning the MIAA District Sportsmanship Award in District C.

Phelan also provided the committee with a detailed report on the success of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Going back to 2000 Phelan noted there were 53 students taking one or more AP classes. In 2010 that number has grown to 376 students. Even with the increase in student population from 620 to 1040 factored in, the increasing level of AP participation is a significant achievement. Phelan credits the expansion of AP class offerings for much of the success of the program.

“Broadening the AP offerings, broadens the opportunity” said Phelan.

Committee Chair Rebecca Robak updated the committee on the Center School Project. According to Robak, the project continues to move forward. Some of the milestone dates have been amended, but the changes will not affect the project schedule. The December 12th date for grant submission to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has been pushed back to December 30. The MSBA board meeting to decide on the grant application is now set for February 9, 2011.

In recent discussions with the MSBA the School Committee has noticed that the potential MSBA reimbursement rate for the project has changed and is not in step with the anticipated construction cost. As explained in the meeting, the MSBA has established a maximum reimbursement rate of $275 per square foot.
This rate is significantly less than the architect’s estimate of $290 per square foot cost.

As it did at the recent Board of Selectmen meeting, the question of the relocation of the DPW garage also reached the floor. The board questioned the costs to modify the Fruit Street School plans at such a late date. The eventual disposition of the issue should be decided on when the Elementary School Building Committee meets next Monday, December 6th. The solution for the relocation must be finalized before the December 30th MSBA grant submission.

Superintendent Phelan asked the committee if it was appropriate at this time to submit a Statement of Interest to the MSBA. Citing needed building upgrades and maintenance to roofs and windows, Phelan said the repairs might warrant applying for MSBA funds. Looking forward in an uncertain future, Phelan asked the committee to consider what the priority of renovations would be if the proposed new elementary school is not approved.