standing Letters

As a taxpayer in Hopkinton and a retired Chariho teacher, I am keenly aware of financial issues from both sides. I sometimes groan when I pay my tax bill, but then I remember that the majority of that money goes to the schools here, which are overwhelmingly successful by many standards, not just high-stakes testing. I am grateful for a system that serves our students well and helps hold my property value.

Since my 17-year residency in Hopkinton, I have heard criticism of the size of the fund balance held over from year to year and often used as a reason to object to the school budget. Recently I have taken the time to understand these concerns and take this opportunity to respond to the March 31 letter to the editor of this paper from Sylvia Thompson. I appreciate and thank her for her faithful service to Hopkinton, despite disagreeing with her position on the 2021 Chariho school budget referendum, which comes up for a vote on Tuesday .

I suspected Sylvia’s statement — “As of the last completed audit, Chariho had amassed a fund balance of $9.1 million” — to be misleading. When I dug into the audit to find this number, I discovered that $9.1 million is absolutely correct for the difference between what was budgeted in 2020 and what remains. However, $2.8 million of that is held in the category of non-spendable money for obligations outstanding from 2020 and $3.5 million is held in the committed category for expenses for which the system is liable in the future, leaving $2.8 million unassigned. As required by a Chariho School Committee fund balance policy, $1.6 million was sent back to the towns, leaving a $1.2 million dollar surplus in the Chariho School District fund balance to be used for emergencies. The Chariho fund balance policy allows a fund balance up to 4% of the budget. $1.2 million of a $60 million budget seems like a conservative rainy day fund to me .

I commend the School Committee and administration on applying for a waiver to the state for considering the “Newer and Fewer” proposal for matching funds. More study is obviously needed and the $250,000 allotment in the budget for this study will be well spent to help us make a good decision next year at this time for our elementary schools and is not a valid reason to vote this budget down.

I say vote yes on Tuesday, April 6, to show support for the students and staff of Chariho, confidence in the administration and School Committee and pride in our community.

Etta Zasloff

Hope Valley

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