Vote Tonight – Special Town Meeting for the New School begins at 7:00pm

Vote Tonight – Special Town Meeting for the New School begins at 7:00pm

Town Meeting Survival Guide

If you have never been to Town Meeting before, you may not know what to expect. As such, we decided to compile this “survival guide” to help you know what to expect.

You do not need to bring anything to Town Meeting. However, many people find that bringing a notebook and pen or pencil is helpful to make notes during the discussions. No food or drink is allowed in the HHS Athletic Center. There is a drinking fountain outside the gym or bring some change to get something from the vending machine (minimal selection). Many people also find that something to occupy one’s hands is helpful. If you are a knitter, for example, bring a small project. There will be folding chairs on the gym floor with additional seating in the bleachers. It is not comfortable. Bring a cushion or stadium seat if you have one. Wear comfortable clothes. Babysitting will be provided by the HPTA, but space is limited. Babysitting reservations are required by 12:00 noon, you must contact Beth D’Alleva at or 508-435-7393 with the ages and number of children attending.

Town Meeting begins at 7:00pm at the HHS Athletic Center. Parking will be tight, please allow time to park and walk to the building. (For the Legacy Farms vote many people had to park on the Loop Road or in the back parking lots by the fields; consider bringing a flashlight.) Arrive early to find a good seat. As you enter the high school, head downstairs to the cafeteria to sign in. There is an elevator for handicapped access. To actually vote in the gym, you must be a Hopkinton resident registered to vote and you must sign in at the voter table. Your name will be checked off and you’ll be given a piece of paper. Hold on to this piece of paper; you will need it when it is time for the votes to be counted! You’ll see a table of handouts and fact sheets regarding the proposed new school from both the town boards and committees, as well as the groups in favor of and opposed to the proposed new school. There is some terrific information here that may answer many of your questions. Listening devices for the hearing impaired will be available, please ask when you check in.

You do not have to be present for the entire town meeting to vote, though the more that participate in whole, the more balanced the democratic process. A quorum of 100 people is required to open the meeting. There is no set time to check in. The meeting will be broadcast live via HCAM TV (Comcast 8/Verizon 30), but you MUST be present to vote. You just need to check in prior to the vote, whenever you arrive. You only have to check in once, and you can come and go from the gym as you please. You can text (with phone switched to silent mode) from within the gym, although there is minimal cell coverage. Step outside to make a phone call.

The Board of Selectmen (RJ Dourney, Chair) presides over the meeting, which is facilitated by the Town Moderator (Dr. Bruce Karlin) and recorded by the Town Clerk (Ann M. Click). The format of the meeting itself follows Robert’s Rules of Order. Articles are presented, motions made, discussions ensue. Sometimes it can be a little confusing if an amendment comes up, so keep your ears open. Listen carefully — and you’ll learn a lot. There are two questions on the warrant (agenda) for Hopkinton’s Special Town Meeting on March 21.

Article 1: New Elementary School Project – School Committee
To see if the Town will vote to appropriate, borrow or transfer from available funds, a sum of
money to be expended under the direction of the School Building Committee for the
construction of a new elementary school on Town-owned property located at 50 Fruit Street in
Hopkinton to replace the existing Center Elementary School, pursuant to a construction contract
procured in accordance with the provisions of M.G.L. Chapter 149, or a contract utilizing
construction management at risk delivery method in accordance with the provisions of M.G.L.
Chapter 149A, as determined by the School Building Committee which school facility shall have
an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children of at
least 50 years, and for which the Town may be eligible for a school construction grant from the
Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”). The MSBA’s grant program is a non-
entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any project
costs the Town incurs in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA shall be
the sole responsibility of the Town. Any grant that the Town may receive from the MSBA for the
Project shall not exceed the lesser of (1) forty-four and seven tenths percent (44.70%) of
eligible, approved project costs, as determined by the MSBA, or (2) the total maximum grant
amount determined by the MSBA.
[A ⅔ majority is needed to pass Article 1.]

Article 2: School Project Property Transfer School Committee
To see if the Town will vote to transfer the care, custody, management and control of the real
property located at 50 Fruit Street in the Town of Hopkinton and shown as Tract 7 on a plan
entitled “Fruit Street Conceptual Master Plan,” prepared by Beals and Thomas, Inc. and dated
April 2003 (a copy of which is on file with the Town Clerk’s Office) to the School Committee for
the purpose of constructing and maintaining a school building on such property in accordance
with the provisions of the Project Scope and Budget Agreement entered into by and between
the Board of Selectmen and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, dated February 2S,
2011; provided, however, that the existing Department of Public Works facility on such property
shall remain in the care, custody, management and control of the Department of Public Works
until such time as the Elementary School Building Committee determines that such facility must
be moved or demolished; and provided further that each of the existing athletic fields located
on such property shall be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department until such time as
the Elementary School Building Committee determines that use of such field is incompatible
with construction activities on the property or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued for the school
building thereon, whichever occurs first, and, after the issuance of such Certificate of
Occupancy, each such field shall be made available for the use of the Parks and Recreation
Department as necessary; and provided further that any portion of the school building, school
parking areas, school playing fields or other uses related to the school building that extends
onto Tract 6, as shown on said “Fruit Street Conceptual Master Plan,” shall be maintained by the
School Committee.

A presentation will be made by the Hopkinton Elementary School Building Committee (Rebecca Robak, Chair) regarding the request for funding a new PreK-5 neighborhood school on the Fruit Street property. The Town Moderator, Dr. Karlin, will facilitate a question and answer period for registered residents. If you choose to ask a question or comment on an article, step up to one of the microphones located on the gym floor. Wait for the moderator, to recognize you, then state your name and address, and keep your comments brief, civil, and to the point. Passion is absolutely allowed. The comment, question and answer period will end when either #1 the moderator sees that no one else is waiting at the microphone to speak or #2 a voter comes to the microphone, is recognized by the moderator, and says “I move the question” or “I call the question.” The motion to end debate must then be seconded and then adopted by a ⅔ vote.

As for the actual voting, most votes start as a voice vote. The moderator asks all in favor and all opposed. If the voice vote sounds close, it will go to a standing count. The moderator will ask all in favor to stand up. Now is the time to get out that piece of paper! Hold out your paper and remain standing until the counters for your section have indicated that your vote has been recorded.

Although you can leave at any time, we recommend you do NOT leave until both questions on the warrant have been voted and the meeting is officially adjourned. Someone may ask for a recount, and if a large group has already left, the outcome could be different, especially if the original vote was close. If you have any other questions about Town Meeting, please ask!

(Thank you to the folks at DuxburyCares for giving us the Survival Guide idea!)