Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 14, 2007

Hopkinton Town Council Member’s Response to Ricci Letter

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,Hopkinton,Student Performance — Editor @ 4:50 pm

From today’s Westerly Sun Public Forum –  


“R.I. taxpayers deserve more accountability for their school dollars”


I would agree with Superintendent Ricci’s letter (The Sun, People’s Forum, March 12) that a respectful and calm dialog is beneficial to all our tri-town citi­zens.

 However, I would appreciate his not using “the children” as a shield. It has been done so often that it is no longer valid. 

The state of Rhode Island and our particular towns and neighbor­hoods have done nothing if not given whatever money was requested for “the children.” Our state has among the highest-paid teachers ( within the top five states). We also have the 32nd and 40th lowest national educational scores in 50 states, and the lowest regional scores in New England. Children should learn that intensi­ty or passion in dialog is not disre­spectful. 

Everyone in education at Chariho should be mortified, appalled and embarrassed. This has not been the case. Personally, I am not interested in reasons, excuses or bad luck. We do not have slums, projects, minorities, migrant children or a large popula­tion of immigrants without English as a primary language. There is no excuse for these scores. It is either teaching, administrative choices or curriculum. It is certainly not for lack of money.

 We are also a “high performing” school in a very low- performing state. I think that makes us the top of the swamp. Our proposed 2007-2008 school budget is $ 50,327,187. We have 3679 students – which indicates that we are paying $13,679 per pupil – also one of the highest per­ pupil costs in the country. As a town councilor, I have to address Hopkinton’s growing elder­ly population, our hard- working middle class and on-going munici­pal issues. 

The need for good school funding is recognized – that is not the debate, but a superior education should be the result. 

Accountability is not a four-letter word. 

Barbara Capalbo Ashaway Member, Hopkinton Town Council  



  1. how do the other town council members feel? I heard Mrs. Capalbo make comments in support of pulling the young kids back to town but I am curious how the others feel.

    Comment by AshawayRez — March 15, 2007 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  2. I’m curious too, but Mr. Felkner posted a 2004 survey which found that 71% of parents (or residents, not sure which) favor bringing 5th and 6th graders back to local elementary schools. Of all interested parties, I trust parents the most to determine what is best for their children. If a majority of 5th and 6th graders’ parents would like to see their children educated in smaller and less intimidating settings, then barring outrageous and unaffordable costs, parental choice should be respected and acted upon.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 17, 2007 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  3. AR, Politicians rarely take a stand publicly. This is why Mrs. Capalbo should be commended for her comments. Others (politicians, parents and teachers) are afraid to buck the system for fear of their job or that their children will suffer. How the other politicians feel is unknown until a vote is taken. That is why parents need to be vocal about what they want. It is your representative and you need to tell them what you want.

    CR, “barring outrageous and unaffordable costs” Those in power know this and use it against us.

    When the survey was done, then-Superintendent Pini’s solution to bringing the kids home was the $99M bond. The only proposed solution was for each town to build new facilities. Clearly it could have been done without such drastic measures, but that was all the people were given. In essence, the school rigged the process to ensure defeat.

    Worse yet, when the current building committee proceeded with a plan to expand the Middle School, they used the failed $99M bond as a mandate to do so. They said that the people voted against bringing the kids home when they voted against the $99M bond.

    This is how the game is played.

    Comment by cspf — March 18, 2007 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  4. Yes, I suspected that there were no options given beyond the $99 million bond. I think I even posed that question someplace.

    This is a political trick and I wish Chariho’s administration would avoid trying to trick taxpayers. My personal favorite political trick is when a government agency requests a 15% budget increase; get a 10% increase; and then tell taxpayers they cut their budget.

    Most of these political tricks require media complicity and/or media stupidity to pull off. Most often, the media is either too stupid or too ideologically driven to tell their consumers the truth.

    And yes, both YOU and Ms. Capalbo should be lauded for publically voicing concerns about local government institutions! In Ms. Capalbo’s case, I personally thank her as the information she brought forth has had immediate consequences for my family.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 19, 2007 @ 9:32 am | Reply

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