Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 16, 2007

My response to Ricci letter

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,grade spans,RYSE,Student Performance — Editor @ 1:57 pm

From the Westerly Sun (citations linked within document)

“Absent facts from school debate” 

Superintendent Ricci is correct that the debate over the Chariho building plan should be based on facts so I would like to present some information that was absent from his letter (March 12). 

Mr. Ricci claims that the U.S. Department of Education “erroneously reported” the number of administrators and guidance counselors.  When this issue first surfaced I asked him to contact them and correct any errors.  He said that they didn’t respond to him so I contacted them.  The person who reviewed the teacher certifications replied and he maintains a count of 51 administrators and 74 guidance councilors. 

However, the numbers are really beside the point.  Efficiency is determined not by counting administrators but by comparing Chariho’s administrator-to-student ratio to other districts.  But the school has been opposed to this evaluation.  Their reluctance presumes that the Department of Education evaluated every other district correctly while Chariho was done incorrectly.  If the same instrument measures everyone, isn’t a comparison relevant? 

Next he points out that the Building Committee is restricted from improving the elementary schools.  But that doesn’t mean they should disregard 71% of parents surveyed who want their 5th and 6th graders brought home.  By expanding the Middle School, they are ignoring the parents. 

Mr. Ricci then defends this action by repeating statements made during a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Phil Thornton, which claimed that research on the benefits of the K-6 model were “inconclusive.”   

Within the studies, but not in the formal presentation, was the following information:  Schools containing both elementary and middle-school grades may be most appropriate for meeting the educational and social needs of young adolescents.”  And, “results indicate that in all subject areas the performance of sixth-grade students at (K-6) schools was better than the performance of sixth-grade students from (K-4 or K-5) schools.”  I wonder why these weren’t mentioned. [Website Editor’s Note: More information on K-6 and K-8 models can be found here]

 But remember, Mr. Ricci’s assistant made that presentation.  Mary Anne Raywid, Hofstra University Professor Emerita and Past President of the Society of Professors of Education, has said, “The value of small schools has been confirmed with clarity and a level of confidence rare in the annals of education research.”  So whom do you believe? 

Next he claims that repairs to the elementary schools “will not allow the return of students in grades five to six to the towns.”  Where there’s a will there’s a way. 

Hopkinton could easily bring grades five and six home by using the schoolhouse that Chariho abandoned last June.  It is true that Charlestown would need space but if we are spending $371 per square foot for the Middle School expansion, does it matter if its in Richmond or Charlestown? 

Once those students have left the main campus that leaves plenty of room for the Richmond children.  Remember, the main campus is in Richmond and while they pay for only 38% of the budget, they get 100% of the buildings when we leave.   

Next Mr. Ricci defends the RYSE program, a facility offering “twenty four hour a day/seven day a week mental health services” for student “from other districts” with “serious mental and emotional health issues.” 

In today’s world of Columbine and other acts of school violence, is placing this facility near our children a good idea?  Clearly they expect a large influx of troubled youth from outside the district because our enrolment is dwindling yet they are planning a building with a 100-student capacity, nearly 250% more than current enrolment. 

Mr. Ricci also said that RYSE costs us “far less than if these students were placed elsewhere.”  Really?  In 2003 a presentation was made by the administration stating that we spent $45,127 per student sending them out of district.  They claimed that RYSE could meet those needs for $35,340.  But according to Information Works our 2004-2005 RYSE per pupil costs were $53,561.   

There are things that need to be done at Chariho, but RYSE and the Middle School expansion are not among them.  And with a capacity of 4088 and a dwindling enrolment of 3679, soliciting support from the town councils to solve the “overcrowding problem” was an exaggeration.    

So let’s focus on creating the school that parents want and what research suggests is best for the children.  Let’s stop debating and just do our job. 

Bill Felkner
Hopkinton representative on the Chariho School Board
Citations and parent comments welcome at http://www.cspf.worpress.com

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6 Comments »

  1. You continuously impress me with your focus on the important issues! Mr. McQuade may question the wisdom and effectiveness of broad based internet communication, but when I read your perspective here, and realize that you are representing Hopkinton on the School Committee, it provides great comfort knowing the well being of our town and our children are being served by your presence. Great letter!

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 16, 2007 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

  2. {Also posted on Hopkinton Speaks}
    Singapore Math has a placement test on their webiste. You can use this to determine where you need to begin to compensate a child for the math skills lacking using the TERC curriculum.

    I’ve read that TERC puts children approximately two year behind students who learn math algorithms. My wife gave the test to a TERC educated student and sure enough, his math knowledge was 2 years behind his grade level.

    This student had one teacher who incorporated algorithms into her math class (defying TERC advocates), so children without any exposure to anything but TERC curricular may be even further behind than two years.

    We have ordered several Singapore Math textbooks. As my wife tutors students, I will let you know how the kids make out.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 17, 2007 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  3. […] school board member, Robert Petit, has published a letter in Friday’s Westerly Sun disputing my earlier letter.  I have offered to post his letter with any documentation that supports the comments he made.  […]

    Pingback by Responses to my letter in the Westerly Sun « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — March 24, 2007 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  4. […] in the media.” The following items will be discussed.  They appear to be a reaction to my letter in the Westerly Sun.  Comments in italics within the numbered outline are mine.  Only items 1 and […]

    Pingback by March 27th School Board Meeting « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — March 26, 2007 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

  5. […] I will insert the links for documentation this evening.  You can find most of them in the previous letter. […]

    Pingback by Is Change on the Way? « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — March 30, 2007 @ 8:48 am | Reply

  6. […] recent school board meeting, I addressed the now famous (made famous by 5 response letters) “Columbine”comment I made regarding the dangers present when out-of-district kids are brought to the Chariho […]

    Pingback by The hits just keep on coming. « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — May 7, 2007 @ 1:07 pm | Reply


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