HOPKINTON — Hopkinton will not join Richmond in convening a Town Council session at the Jan. 15 Chariho School District omnibus meeting. Charlestown has also declined to support the Richmond request.
Richmond Town Council President B. Joseph Reddish sent letters dated Nov. 12 to Charlestown and Hopkinton, asking the towns to consider convening regular council sessions at the omnibus meeting to discuss three issues: student attendance districts set forth in the Chariho Act; reducing the Chariho School Committee from 11 members to nine; and sending residents separate town and school tax bills. By convening council sessions, the towns would be able to pass resolutions at the omnibus meeting, an annual meeting of School Committee members and representatives from the three member towns. Hopkinton councilors did not warm to the idea. “I think this letter is absurd,” said Councilor Scott Bill Hirst.
“I think we’re all of the opinion of not opening up the Chariho Act,” Hopkinton council President Frank Landolfi said at a Monday workshop. “I’m not sure what he had in mind here, but I’m not in favor of convening at the omnibus meeting. I just think it’s not the right forum.”
Richmond has questioned provisions in the Chariho Act called “student attendance districts” that require students to attend certain schools even when there are other schools that are closer to where they live.
Council Vice President Sylvia Thompson said she feared that changing the attendance districts could lead to other, more odious changes.
“Then future school committees... all they know is it’s been changed, and now maybe ‘let’s get rid of the Hope Valley School because we can move kids around now,’ ” she said. “I see it as a back door to other things.”
Councilor Barbara Capalbo said she would be willing to discuss reducing the school committee to nine members. Charlestown and Hopkinton currently have four members each on the committee, and Richmond has three.
“I am perfectly open to a nine-member Chariho regional school committee,” she said.
The councilors were unanimous in rejecting Richmond’s proposal to send separate town and school tax bills.
“Why do we have to have two tax bills?” David Husband asked.
“I have the impression that this all started because they now pay pretty much what we pay and it’s hitting them,” Thompson said. “So when it comes to sending separate bills, maybe Richmond thinks that if they can get Chariho to take it over, then they don’t have to send the bills. They save money.”
“They want these things, change the whole Chariho Act. Take it and throw it away, Thompson said. “You adhere to the laws that exist today.”