Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 7, 2012

Dusting off an old friend

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 7:41 pm

It looks like I haven’t posted on here since February 2010, save a couple of items posted for Sylvia Thompson of the Hopkinton Town Council.  “Back in the day” this blog was quite popular, not because of what I was writing but because of all the readers and their participation.

I just wanted to log-in, dust off the ‘dashboard” or whatever WordPress is calling it now, and get my feel back for the blog.  I have been asked to participate in a group that will be of interest to the past readers of this blog and will post more details very soon.

Best to all, and congrats to those who won yesterday.

Bill

March 29, 2010

update from Sylvia

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:02 pm

                  CHARIHO            SCHOOL COMMITTEE OVER-ESTIMATED EXPENSE OR UNNECESSARY TAXATION                                                                           

              General Fund        Revenue     Total surplus                                                    

Fy 06 Adopted Budget $46,085,400    $1,922,621                                                                 

 Actual             $44,093,756    $2,630,703                                                                 

Surplus $1,991,644      $708,082         $2,699,726                                                     

FY 07 Adopted            $48,552,771    $2,691,434                                                                 

 Actual $46,483,664    $3,560,165                                                                 

Surplus $2,069,107      $868,731         $2,937,838                                                     

FY 08 Adopted            $50,327,187    $2,999,876                                                                 

 Actual $48,048,414    $3,389,019                                                                 

Surplus $2,278,773      $389,143         $2,667,916                                                     

FY 09 Adopted            $51,559,070    $3,598,605                                                                 

 Actual $50,221,870    $3,235,691                                                                 

Surplus (Deficit)            $1,337,200      ($362,914)       $974,286                                                        

FY 06 is the year the taxpayers cut 2 million. The School Committee stated the entire 2 million was too much due to contractual obligations.                                                                                     

So, voters restored some funding. However years later, the taxpayers learned the budget could have sustained an even larger cut. The audit                                                                                       

proved they ended the year with a surplus of $2.699 million, even after claims the 2 million cut was too excessive.                                                                                             

Fy06, 07, 08, 09 data from Chariho Year-End Audits, capital budget not included.                                                        Prepared by Sylvia Thompson 3/26/10                        

Exhibit 1

Chariho Budget

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 9:56 am

Sylvia asked me to post this Chariho budget information.

Chariho2008002 (Chariho Audit 2008)

Chariho2009003 (Chariho Audit 2009)

  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008  2008-2009
General Fund Budget $43,897,020 $46,085,400 $48,552,771 $50,327,187 $51,559,070

        FY 06      FY07       FY08  FY09 Proposed Fy10/11
Amt. Chariho Demanded $44,162,779 $45,861,337 $47,327,311 $47,960,465 $48,607,924
Amt. Chariho Spent $41,463,053 $42,923,499 $44,659,395 $46,986,179  

February 23, 2010

Resignation

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 3:12 pm

I have resigned from the Hopkonton Town Council.  Three kids, one wife, and two companies is just too much. I hope they still allow me to work with the council on the school choice initiative – I have been given indication that they will.  My resignation letter is pasted below.

I also won’t be posting on this blog anymore but will continue at http://ospri.wordpress.com – one blog is enough. Thanks,
Bill

February 11, 2010

Thomas Buck
Council President
Hopkinton Town Council
1 Town House Road
Hopkinton, RI 02833

Dear President Buck,

It is with great sadness that I write this letter of resignation as a member of the Hopkinton Town Council, effective immediately.

It has been a pleasure to work with all of the members of the Committee. While we didn’t always agree, and I often found myself on the more “radical” side of government reform, I am convinced that all of the members of the Committee have their hearts in the right place and are doing what they think is best for the community.

Unfortunately, due to family and business commitments that have grown considerably since my election, I am unable to fulfill my commitment to the voters of Hopkinton. However, I do hope that we are able to move forward with the proposed school choice initiative in the near future. I will be unavailable until the end of March but look forward to speaking with you more on this issue at that time.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the community and your support in my efforts and if there is anything I can do to make this transition happen more smoothly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully yours,

William J. Felkner

January 28, 2010

From our friends at ATR

Filed under: National,Stimulus,Tax — Editor @ 5:28 pm

STATE OF THE UNION MYTH/FACT: GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTHCARE

 

 

January 28, 2010  

 

MYTH:   “[My health plan] would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.”

 

FACT:     The Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan would actually increase health premium costs for the uninsured.  The average individual health insurance premium today is $2985 for singles and $6328 for families.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the average premium will increase to $5800 for singles and $15,200 for families under the Obama plan by 2016.  This is 10 to 13 percent higher than they would be under current law.  Only those individuals earning less than about $40,000 and families earning less than about $85,000 would receive any tax or spending benefits to even partially-offset this increased cost.  Those earning more than this get no help whatsoever.

                 For small businesses (“small group plans”), today’s average premium is $4155 for singles and $10,956 for families.  Under the Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan, this increases to $7800 for singles and $19,200 for families by 2016, a 1-2 percent increase over current law.  Only about 12 percent of people receiving coverage from their small business employer would benefit from the small business health tax credit.

MYTH:   “[My plan] would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.”        

 

FACT:     Under current law, someone can’t wait until they are sick and then sign up for health insurance.  That’s called “gaming the system.”  Insurance only works if healthy people are paying premiums each month, so that when you get sick or go to the doctor, money is there for you.  If healthy people can wait to buy coverage, the entire insurance model falls apart very quickly.  Put simply, “guaranteed issue” would be the death of insurance.

 

MYTH:   “Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.”

 

FACT:     The Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan taxes your current health insurance, if it’s deemed to be a “Cadillac plan.”  It also puts in place minimum coverage requirements in order to remain “qualifying,” which probably will alter your plan.  It probably will make it impossible to design health insurance plans which are HSA-compatible.  Clearly, you simply can’t keep your current plan under this bill.

 

MYTH:   “According to the Congressional Budget Office – the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress – our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.”

 

 

FACT:     According to CBO, these cost estimates only pan out if Congress is willing to cut Medicare provider reimbursements, something everyone knows will never happen.  Budget savings based on phony, never-going-to-happen spending cuts are bogus.  This creates an unfunded liability in the program.

 

MYTH:   “I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them.”

 

FACT:     When the American people don’t want a massive plan of this size, margins can get a little tight on Capitol Hill.  That’s why Obama-Reid-Pelosi had to buy off members with the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Cadillac Compromise, and untold other backroom, closed-door deals.  Back in the campaign, candidate Obama said he would put negotiations on C-SPAN so this could not happen.

 

MYTH:   “There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.”

 

FACT:     One word: money.  The American Medical Association, nursing groups, hospitals, and others are receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies under this bill.

 

MYTH:   “If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”

 

FACT:     It’s worth pointing out that even President Obama’s own plan will increase premiums, increase the deficit (at least in the real world) even while raising taxes, cover only some of the uninsured (theoretically), cut Medicare, and drive insurance companies totally out of business.  So one might first turn the question back on him.

 

Can President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and/or Leader Reid use the Internet?  Can their staffs?  It appears not, since this is a common refrain easily refuted.  The fact is, there are dozens of good ideas and several comprehensive plans which have been proposed.  The House Republicans have even aggregated all of them.  Their list doesn’t include the DeMint plan, nor does it include the comprehensive “American Roadmap” government reform plan (including healthcare) of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

December 15, 2009

Coming to a town near you

Filed under: Budget,Hopkinton,State-wide — Editor @ 12:22 pm

RI Future posted a memo from the Governor’s office about the suplimental budget. Emphasis (bold) and notes (red) added :

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNORINTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM

TO: Andy Hodgkin, Beverly Najarian, John Robitaille, Gary Sasse, Rosemary Booth Gallogly, Mike Cronan, Fred Sneesby
   
FROM:  Amy Kempe

RE: FY 2010 Supplemental budget briefing schedule and message points

DATE:  December 14, 2009

General Message Points (working draft only)
o The state needs to find $225.1 million in six months.  o $125 million revenue shortfall
o $60.8 million carryover from FY 09
o $33.9 million agency expenditures, directed related to increased caseloads due to the stress on our social services

o By now, we are all aware of the fiscal crisis the State is facing.  For the past two years, revenues have continued to decline. Rhode Island is not alone, but we have felt the economic recession longer than other states.

o Rhode Island slid into this recession before the rest of the country.  As a nation, economists predict that state finances are not expected to recover for at least two years.

o Yet, despite being in this longer, we have managed our way through it without raising broad based taxes.  And, that must continue. 

o The state’s fiscal situation continues to generate difficult and often painful budget choices. There are no more easy solutions.  There are no good choices.  There is no more money to be handed out.

o The supplemental budget I am submitting today addresses three broad outcomes which is reflective of the continued slide of revenues

o First, it addresses the FY 09 closing deficit of $60.8 million through a series of one-time savings

o Second, it resets spending levels on the state side for the remainder of this fiscal year and for future years.

o And third, it gives the cities and towns the tools they need to mange their budgets and reset their spending levels.

o In total, we are reducing general revenue spending by $155. 2 million from the FY 2010 enacted budget.

o To address the FY 09 carryover deficit, I propose a number of land sales.  Specifically:

o The Veteran’s Auditorium, valued at $10.75 million, to the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority.  Under the proposal, the Convention Center Authority will issue a $25 million bond for the purchase and rehab of the Vets Auditorium

o The former site of the Training School in Cranston, valued at $6.2 million

o The current facility housing the estate’s centralized IT center, for $1.5 million, and

o Two acres situated within Roger Williams University, valued at $2.8 million
o I am shifting $5 million of the federal stabilization money from FY 2011 to this year.

o An additional $7.2 million in federal reimbursement for child support enforcement, from FY 2005 through today. The state will realize  savings from this program through federal reimbursement going forward.

o The supplemental shifts $22 million in repayment to the Rainy Day Fund to FY 2011. 

o There is an additional $6 million from our developmentally developed providers.  Under Medicaid, provider donations are allowed without a reduction in the FFP. If we were to resolve the deficit by reducing provider billing, it would require a reduction of $17 million all funds or a rate reduction of 20 percent, which would have a significant effect on services to individuals.

o Over the past several years, we have made considerable structural changes, reduced personnel expenses by XX percent, redefined eligibility standards for our social service programs, and trimmed states spending across the board.  Last year, the General assembly passed significant pension reform. 

o But, as I stated last year when I signed the budget, the pension reform did not go far enough.  We need to go back at it this year, specifically with regards to COLAs.

o Last year, I proposed sweeping pension reform that included ending COLAs.  I am again asking the General Assembly finally do away with COLAs.  There is no such thing as a COLA offered as part of a retirement plan in the private sector.  It is archaic idea, and one can no longer afford it.

o Under my propossal, which Rosemary can outline in greater detail, the state will eliminate the COLA for state employees, teachers, judges and state police for employees who were not eligible to retire on September 30, 2009.

o The article does continue COLA for those who are eligible to retire on or before September 30, 2009, and those who became eligible and retire through the passage of the legislation shall continue to receive a COLA

o Further, the article gives authority to the General Assembly to review annually and give an ad hoc COLA adjustment to retirees who are not otherwise eligible

o This will save a total of $43 million in this fiscal year, and reset our baseline for next and future years.

o The pension savings break down as follows:
§ $11.3 million from state employees
§ $507,950 from State Police
§ $240,190 from Judges
§ $18.5 million from teachers, with the savings passed on to the cities and towns § $12.3 million for the state’s share of teacher pensions

o We have made significant changes to our personnel budgets in the past few years with the changes to retiree healthcare and last year’s pension reform.  We continue to tackle personnel costs in this supplemental with the elimination of the pension COLA.  We have made significant changes to the social services budget. 

o Because of the economic recession, our social services are increasingly pressured.  To accommodate for that, we have continued to constrain spending throughout state government.  In this budget, we find an additional $19.6 million in agency reductions.

o Also, we anticipate seeing $8.7 million in employee medical benefit savings. This is a significant saving that result in the changes to employee cop-pays and our wellness program. We are making a healthier workforce that is making smart healthcare decisions.

o We cannot get through this economic recession without addressing how we fund our cities and towns.  I have said this over and over again, and we can no longer

o First, I am proposing withholding the 3rd and 4th quarter vehicle excise tax from the cities and towns, for a total of $65.1 million.

o I know that many of our cities and towns have also opened up their labor agreements and negotiated higher health insurance co shares and co pays, and delays of wage increases. I applaud those efforts. 

o But, all our cities and towns need to take that cue, and work with labor unions to bring them in line with the private sector, in terms of healthcare costs and a reduction in pay.

o I don’t expect our cities and towns to make up for the reduction in aid by renegotiating contracts alone.

o Last year, I proposed a series of budget articles that would give the cities and towns the tools they need to manage their budgets and cut expenditures.  The General Assembly did not pass these tools, despite cries from the municipalities and independent analysis that the packet of tools could save cities and towns $125 million per year.

o Specifically, statewide purchasing system, end to minimum manning, increased health insurance co-shares to be equal to that of the state plan, and a BRAC commission to study school district consolidation (eeek – i’m fearful of the last one).

o I urge the General Assembly to pass the municipal tools articles immediately upon returning to session. There is no need to debate them again this year. Pass them and free the cities and towns to manage their own budgets.

o Of the $41 million in reduction in education aid, $18.3 million is offset by the savings from the elimination of the pension COLA.  The reduction is further offset by the distribution of $4.6 million in Recovery Funds

o This leaves approximately $20.6 million, which mirrors the personnel reduction the state workers accepted this past year. 

o This past year, the state employees agreed to take essentially a three percent pay cut.  Many municipal employees have done so too.  Many municipal employees too have taken a pay cut.  I am very appreciative of the understanding by state and municipal employees that we do have good jobs, with good benefits and good working conditions. There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t.  And, a three percent pay cut is a small sacrifice for the greater good.

o The total personnel budget for schools last year was $XXX million.  Three percent of that total is $20.6 million. Do the math. $20.6 million is the exact amount I am proposing we reduce education aid.

o Personnel costs continues to be one of the biggest pieces of municipal budgets, and if we are to get through this economic recession, all employees – including teachers – need to be part of the conversation and solution.

o Over the past several months, my team and I have met with mayors and town managers to alert them of the proposed funding changes, and time and time again, the message they have shared is that they need relief, not only of the many unfunded mandates, but also help in controlling the spending on the school side. 

o Once again, I am submitting legislation to suspend the Caruolo Act in any year there is a reduction in state aid. (not sure it needs to be tagged to a year with a ‘reduction in state aid’)  The legislation gives the appropriating authority – the city and town councils – final approval for all school labor contracts.  This unifies the budgeting and taxing functions and ensures school committees are not over promising and thereby putting cities and towns in greater financial danger.

o There are a number of smaller budget items included in this supplemental, which Rosemary and her team can go over in greater detail with you after this.

o As I said earlier, our fiscal situation leaves us with only difficult choices.  We have for too long now not tackled the tough issues and given in too early to special interests. We can no longer afford to operate as business as usual.

o Later today, Rosemary and her budget team will present this corrective action plan to the House Committee on Finance. I strongly urge the Committee and the General Assembly to act quickly and pass these much needed changes.  If they do not, they will be setting this state, the taxpayers, and those who rely on government services on a much longer road to recovery than we can afford.

November 27, 2009

Four Chariho members accused of collusion

Filed under: Chariho,contract negotiations — Editor @ 6:18 pm

From the Westerly Sun:

 

WOOD RIVER JCT. — A Chariho Regional School Committee member has accused four of his counterparts of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act and conspiring against the district’s solicitor.

The charges, aired publicly Tuesday, center on the school committee’s Aug. 18 executive session meeting, when two attempts were made to hire outside lawyers to represent the district in teacher contract negotiations, following the departure of attorney Sheryl Hanley. While the committee ratified a new, three-year work agreement with the local teachers’ union on Oct. 29, tensions between school board members have run high for months.

William Day, who represents the town of Richmond, charged four others on the committee – Deborah Carney of Charlestown, and George Abbott, Georgia Ure and Richard Vecchio of Hopkinton – of “blatantly” violating the state’s Open Meetings Act by supporting votes that were not on the agenda. The foursome trampled his rights as he sat outside the closed-door session with Committeeman Andrew Polouski of Charlestown, he said.

Both Day and Polouski, along with Committeewoman Terri Serra of Richmond, have spouses or relatives who are employed by the district, and recused themselves from taking part in the negotiation process.

“I had every right to be in there, [and] Mr. Polouski had every right to be in there,” said Day, a staunch Chariho supporter who, at times, has clashed with representatives from Hopkinton. “This district is being accused by certain individuals as being shady, but what the four of you people did was the most disrespectful thing to the citizens of Richmond and Hopkinton, and to me, Mr. Polouski and Terri Serra.”

“I don’t trust you anymore,” he added angrily. “You went behind my back, you went behind Andy’s back and turned around and made motions to hire another lawyer, which was not on the agenda, and which was going to cost the taxpayers of the Chariho district considerably a lot more money than we were paying out.”

Day alleged later that Carney, Abott, Ure and Vecchio hold a “grudge” against District Solicitor Jon Anderson, who penned a legal opinion last fall that led to the ouster of former Hopkinton Committeeman William Felkner – and eventually filled Hanley’s role in the negotiations. He also expressed concern that, with only six or seven committee members present at future closed-door sessions, the four could approve “something that is going to be derogatory to the best interest of this district and the taxpayers.”

“Please don’t do it again,” Day said. “I’m imploring you, don’t do it again. The four of you vote as a bloc. If I believed in conspiracies, my conspiracy theory would be that you sit around and have telephone calls and decide how you’re going to vote.”

Carney, a former Town Council president and a one-time proponent of Charlestown’s withdrawal from Chariho, fired back. (With Hanley’s departure, she said the committee no longer had legal representation in the contract negotiations; the votes were appropriate under an agenda item titled “Teacher Contract Negotiation Update,” she added following Tuesday’s meeting.)

“I take great insult to this innuendo about a voting bloc because the same could be said about others around the table, but I won’t even go there,” Carney said, clearly agitated. “I’m sick and tired of this approach. Enough is enough. You want to file a complaint? File a complaint. But I’m not going to sit here and be attacked and be insulted because, quite frankly, I’ve had it.”

Vecchio agreed, calling the Richmond representative’s charge a “frivolous claim” that would waste district resources.

“You weren’t part of the negotiations, neither was Ms. Serra [or] Mr. Polouski,” he told Day. “You had no say in the matter of bringing in an attorney to negotiate for us…You’re bellyaching about something you had nothing to do with, as far as I’m concerned.”

Chairwoman Holly Eaves of Charlestown said the closed-door session involved mixed conversation on teacher contract negotiations and legal representation, but acknowledged that the whole committee should have been involved in the votes that took place.

“I will admit it was a very difficult and a very gray area, and as chair I was in a very difficult position,” she said. “I would take responsibility as chair of that meeting if an Open Meetings Act violation has occurred.”

“What’s done is done, we are who we are,” Eaves added.

While he has spoken with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and a personal attorney about lodging a formal complaint, Day said he doesn’t want to file a grievance that could end up tarnishing the record of the school committee – and his own legacy. He has until Feb. 14, 2010, to file an Open Meetings Act complaint with the AG’s office against the 11-member board.

ckeegan@thewesterlysun.com

[editor's note] Day thinks he has a legacy?

November 23, 2009

plz email

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:06 pm

Retired BMA or “Texas”, please email me. thx

On a related note (isn’t  everything related to education?) the School Choice Workshop has been rescheduled to Jan 25 at the Hopkinton Town Hall.

October 28, 2009

Chariho teacher contract

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 10:34 pm

From our friends in Richmond

 

Teacher Contract Ratification Scheduled

 

The Chariho School Committee is scheduled to meet this Thursday (10/29), 6PM, Middle School Library, to ratify the teacher’s contract.

 

I didn’t hear it but I’m told by others that there was an expectation that the “ground rules” made accommodation for the secret negotiations by having the contract available for public review for 30 days before the ratification vote. It appears that this will not occur. As it stands now, your only opportunity to hear about the new contract and make your feeling known will be at this meeting.

 

I’ve probably heard the same rumors you have on what will be in the new contract – – many of them the same we have seen in other contacts this year in other towns  – increased co-pays (lets hope we get them to the private sector range of 25-35%) – – very small or no “raises” (lets hope they deal with the real raises – the steps) — changes in longevity (good if they go as far as Hopkinton in eliminating them – although we did replace them with a couple of steps) — and will they follow East Providence and propose merit pay. 

 

Of course, the devil is in the details, so a 30 day review would have been nice 

 

 

October 23, 2009

Ed Comm Gist drops “bombshell”

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 8:35 pm

Commissioner Gist today announced that RI public schools should not allow “seniority” to stand in the way of putting the best teacher where they are most needed.

“In my view,” she (Gist) wrote in a press release, “no system that bases teacher assignments solely on seniority can comply with this new regulation.”

I’m told she has backed off that a bit by saying she was simply reiterating current regs, but I still like the tone of it.

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