To the Townspeople of Hope:

As taxpayers, whether or not you have a child attending Hope Elementary School, the school’s budget directly affects you. With the town vote of the school budget slated for May 15, we, the members of the Hope School Committee, feel it is important that you understand what has gone into making this budget – one that is fiscally responsible yet maintains quality programming for our children’s education and their future.

Hope Elementary has been fortunate to have received money that helped subsidize various components of its operation, but much of that money is no longer available. For instance, state funds that once paid for one of HES’s Educational Technicians (Ed Techs) are gone, and that cost must be absorbed locally. Additionally, another state-mandated Ed Tech is required at HES as well. Whether they are special education or regular instruction Ed Techs, their presence is needed to provide quality educational services in addition to those offered by the regular classroom instructors, and to help keep HES special education needs and costs to a minimum. Also, a $20,000-per-year technology grant that we’ve relied upon for the past six years is no longer available, yet technology must still be maintained.

Additionally, there are new costs being incurred over which we have little to no control: There are increases to the Special Ed and Superintendent’s offices because (a) Hope’s increased enrollment results in a higher percent contribution to those offices; and (b) the superintendent’s position has gone back to its original full-time status.  Negotiated teacher contracts must be honored. The costs for maintenance of the building and additional safety measures to further ensure the safety of our children have been added.

But within these numbers is another message altogether – numbers that reflect an economy of operation in the HES staff that is unparalleled. With a per pupil cost of $9,983, Hope is well under the state average of $11,062 (and the lowest in the five town community) – yet Hope’s students continue to achieve at the highest academic levels on a consistent basis! Hope’s awards are numerous – National Title I Awards, Principal of the Year, the National Blue Ribbon School Award and, most recently, an “A” grade from the state – and this has all been accomplished by an administration focused on saving money at every turn, eliminating costs wherever possible, and running as tight a budget as anyone could hope to do. As much as we’d like to ask for more programming, we realize that, in this economy, now is not the time to do it. But just to maintain the current level of programming, local funding must increase.

If the education of its youth is the “return on investment” of a school, then Hope Elementary is certainly operating in the black, and is still a solid investment for the entire town.

We stand behind this budget, we stand behind our school and its children, and we encourage you to do the same on May 15.

Sincerely,

Hope Elementary School Committee members:

Jude Pearse, Chairman

Christine Alberi

Mike Bracher

Mike Pierce

Samantha Pushaw