This year it will be 50 years since I graduated from Chariho High School in 1971. As a local leader I have the responsibility to express my opinions on relevant topics of the day. I am an elective official and local politician, and so are School Committee members. However, the Chariho School Committee has a legal and political advantage over their local town councils that School Committees in single school districts do not have. That advantage is they do not need town council approval for their budget bottom line. That creates potential problems with state-mandated tax caps on the respective towns for budget increases. It needs to be remembered the education line item is part of the town budget, but that is set by the towns’ share of the district budget, voted by all towns.
A very historic thing is being contemplated in Chariho. That is one or more new elementary schools, or perhaps just repairing the old schools? Talk is about changing the Chariho Act to do it. Every town council should have its local building official give their opinion of the condition of the elementary schools in their town. The school district is required to maintain the elementary schools, which are owned by the towns and leased to the district.
I will be voting against the proposed Chariho budget on Tuesday. The vote is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You must vote in person. Majority vote carries it. And remember line items can be moved around after the budget is voted on. We are voting on a “bottom-line” budget.
I am a strong supporter of an outside management study on school district operations. This would be the less political solution, it would appear. It should be done before a final building proposal should be done and especially if we have both a school budget vote and building vote next year, as well as a Chariho Act change in 2022. Remember, the school budget approved this year will cover the 2021-22 fiscal year, and does not have a line item for an outside management study. That study could be a useful tool in making decisions. In addition, the School Committee still has the option to ignore the outside management study report. But I realize public relations-wise it could be difficult.
Those who wish to share their views with me can contact me at 401-326-5162 or scott,email@example.com.
Scott Bill Hirst
The writer is a member of the Hopkinton Town Council.