School Committee roundup: HHS construction bid awarded

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The Hopkinton School Committee voted unanimously at its July 23 meeting to award the bid to build six new classrooms at Hopkinton High School to Avatar Construction at a cost of $2,839,000.

Construction on the new wing is expected to start soon and will take place while students are in school. The district hopes the work will be completed by the end of the 2020-21 school year.

The project was approved by Town Meeting voters to accommodate the growing enrollment numbers in the schools.

Modular classrooms already are being installed at Hopkins and Elmwood, and those projects are expected to be completed before students return to classrooms.

Cavanaugh explains special education criticism

Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh referenced a Boston Globe article indicating that Hopkinton was one of the communities in the state called out by SPEDWatch for “asking parents to sign away special education rights’’ during the pandemic. SPEDWatch is a nonprofit organization that fights for the educational rights for children with disabilities.

Cavanaugh told the School Committee the complaint related to a sentence in a memo to special education parents that asked them to agree to “excuse the district from strict performance of IEP timelines.” The district had concerns that deadlines for meetings with special education families might be missed because of delays related to the pandemic, Cavanuagh said, and that sentence was added after consulting with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) special education officials and the district’s legal advisors.

“There was absolutely no [bad] intent,’’ she said. “We had every intention of carrying out every meeting.”

Committee to address Hopkins School name

School Committee chair Amanda Fargiano pointed to an article in the previous issue of the Hopkinton Independent about Edward Hopkins, namesake of Hopkins School (and for whom the town was named), indicating Hopkins was a slaveowner. Issues involving the naming of schools fall under the purview of the School Committee, which will “investigate and consider any appropriate action regarding information about the slave-owning history of Edward Hopkins,” she said.

Fargiano asked that the issue be added to a future agenda for discussion. Committee member Joe Markey suggested bringing in a historian to assist with a comprehensive review of the issue, and Fargiano supported that idea.

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