Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 30, 2007

Response from a RYSE parent

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,grade spans,Student Performance — Editor @ 8:06 am

 March 27 Westerly Sun People’s Forum

Residents, officials have every right and reason to question past, future moves by Chariho schools

This is an open letter to Chariho School Committee member Bob Petit, in response to his People’s Forum essay of Friday, March 23: I respectfully disagree with many of your comments. 

First, I whole-heartedly support the Hopkinton Educational Options Committee. They are trying to gener­ate a course of action to best suit the children, parents, and taxpayers of the town of Hopkinton. Inevitably, their recommendations will be left to the voters to decide, not the adminis­tration and the school committee. They are open-minded volunteers. They represent our town, which includes our children, no matter what propaganda people may throw at them. Also, they are free to think out­side the administration box. My guess is the previous council saw fit to appoint these people because our previous school committee would not listen. 

Until the last week, I did not know a survey had been done asking resi­dents of the three towns what their wishes were. The survey said that all three towns want their fifth- and sixth-graders back in the elementary schools. So why is there resistance to this?

 Shouldn’t the School Committee and the administration work to make these things a reality, since the voters in the survey are speaking for their own children? 

Another observation is that the survey of Feb. 7, 2004, also stated the three towns would like to see the sev­enth- through ninth-graders in the middle school and the 10th- through 12th-graders in the high school. Makes sense to me. Then there would be no need to expand these facilities, only repair them. 

Bob, do you remember when we left Hope Valley School to attend the sev­enth grade at Chariho? Didn’t Hope Valley feel like home to you? It did to me. At Chariho, we had to make new friends because we were lucky if we had more than three kids we knew in class. We had to adjust to the new classroom structures, deal with time changes, crowded lockers, carrying books, and don’t forget the long bus rides home. We went to being with one teacher for six hours a day with specials as an exception, to being with a teacher for 50 minutes a day. 

From my perspective, I was lonely and scared, and my grades suffered that first year. Seventh grade was a nightmare. Yet, we now ask our 10 years olds to start this transition two years before we did. Why? Yes, we adjusted. Many of them will too, but at what cost? What about the stress involved? Shouldn’t we make every effort to make our kids’ lives less stressful?

The year, before our kids entered 5th grade, the 4th grade teachers spent time preparing our kids for the transition. They understood the stress involved. I know the middle school works under a grade-loop configuration, meaning the teachers move up a grade with their kids and then loop back. This helps to form a tighter bond between teacher and child. They understand the stress involved. Furthermore, your letter compelled me to do some of my own research.

There is significant information to suggest it is better for sixth graders, even eighth graders, to be placed in the elementary schools. They men­tion increased student achievement, as well as, fewer behavioral problems for sixth graders when they remain in the elementary setting. So, why are we not pushing to expand our ele­mentary schools?

Also, stop trying to scare the resi­dents of Hope Valley. The Hopkinton Educational Options Committee is for all of Hopkinton. So, isn’t it in our best interest to weigh all our options? Investing $2 million in the 1904 building is one option, isn’t it? I believe it’s an inex­pensive one. That is what the Hopkinton Educational Options Committee is all about. Let them do their appointed job and support them with your every breath. 

As far as the RYSE program goes, I’m all for the students in this pro­gram. I have been touched by it in many ways. But, residents still have a right to ask questions about this program. Why do we need a building that has 9 classrooms and 11 offices for 44 students, which is a drop in enroll­ment? Why the disparity? Mr. Ricci has stated the building would gener­ate revenue. From where? Is this a business venture for the three towns? To fill this massive amount of space, will we be importing children from other communities? Will there be more administrators on the pay­roll to fill these 11 offices? If not, why do we need all this space? I’m sorry to say, the building’s structure and statements made have raised my eye­brow. Also, room by room, what are the district’s plans with the referendum? Where is our money going? What is the process to complete the project? If it is published, where can we find it? Is it on the district’s website? On Cox Channel 18? Is there 24/7 access to this information? And, why does the referendum for the bond issues have to have every­thing lumped together?

It’s time we allowed the voters to choose what we need and don’t need. What are they afraid of? The voters might make the right decision? And Bob, why would we poll the fifth- and sixth-graders currently at the middle school? Let’s be realistic. They are not mature enough to make such decisions. Besides, sending them back would be unrealistic. The research is clear on multiple transi­tions. A gradual change for those cur­rently in the elementary school would be necessary. 

I urge everyone to research the issues. Check out Bill Felkner’s Website, https://cspf.wordpress.com. I did. There are many links that will save you time in your quest. Kudos to Mr. Felkner.

Also, trust the Hopkinton Educational Options Committee and your Town Council. We have many individuals who are working for all of Hopkinton. 

Finally, check out the recent study pIerformed by the prestigious Duke University. It is located at http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2007/02/sixth_grade.html.”They reference the following research; “Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior.”This report is available at www.pubpol.duke.edu/research/pap ers. 

Lois Buck Hopkinton

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5 Comments »

  1. I was thrilled to hear that Ms. Buck visits this site and finds it informative. I hope everyone who cares about Chariho issues visits here, regardless of where they stand on issues. Too bad Ms. Buck hasn’t written here, or maybe she has but chooses to remain anonymous…why would anyone do that? 😉 She makes some excellent points in her letter and I would enjoy seeing more of her perpective. (If you’re reading this Ms. Buck, that was me begging!)

    I am not familiar with Hopkinton Educational Options Committee, although I would guess it is the group that Ms. Ure belongs to? Ms. Buck hits the nail on the head when she writes, “they are free to think outside the administration box”. The jury is still out on Mr. Petit, but so far, it seems he has capitulated to the administration on a host of issues, and may have found himself locked inside the “box”. It is a natural tendency to defer to authority, and of course, Chariho’s administration is loaded with authoritative voices. They can be very convincing and comforting if one takes their eye off the ball. The administration seemingly could care less what parents and voters want for our children. The administration is wrong on the bond. Wrong on grade configuration. Wrong on the math curriculum.

    I also join Ms. Buck in reliving my traumatic transition from 6th grade to Junior High. Like her, I was terrified and I had some very bad experiences being harassed by older students. In 7th grade, I spent 3 months hiding in the morning as a group of older bullies decided I was fair game. Not until I befriended a large “bodyguard”, did I enter school without being worried about what was coming at me next.

    Obviously, my story is not the outcome for all students, but I know I was not alone in being a young kid terrified by older kids. I can’t even imagine going through this transition in 5th or 6th grade!

    I’ve agreed to drive my neighbor to the bond referendum. In exchange, I get another no vote on the bond and a yes to doing right by Chariho children.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 30, 2007 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  2. {I tried to post this as a comment under Mr. Felkner’s last post. It didn’t show up when I submitted it, so I’m trying here.}

    I simply can’t believe we are mandated to have $1,300,000 worth of psychological and social workers’ services and salaries? Maybe one roaming psychologist and administrative assistant, which would still be irritating, but I’d be stunned if we were mandated to have all these employees and services.

    Looking at North Kingstown, with 7 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 1 high school, and a proposed budget of around $55,000,000 for 2007 – 2008; their Social Service and Psychologists salaries combined were less than $360,000. There are 2 social workers and 4 psychologists proposed by North Kingstown.

    Chariho has 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school and a proposed budget of around $50,000,000 for 2007 – 2008. Here are some comparisons of note (dollar figures are rounded off):

    North Kingstown – $640,000 Social & Psychologist Services; Chariho – $1,300,000.

    North Kingstown – $518,000 for principals and asst. principals; Chariho – $842,000 (with 4 less schools!).

    North Kingstown – $2,300 for Dept. Head Stipends; Chariho – $95,300.

    North Kingstown – $120,000 for Superintendants; Chariho – $243,000

    North Kingstown – $0 Dean of Students; Chariho – $320,000 Dean of Students

    North Kingstown – $484,000 Maintenance salaries; Chariho – $210,000 maintenance salaries

    I could go on…but you get the gist. Apparently Chariho sees its mission to employ as many people as possible…except for maintenance because our school are in such great condition. Keep in mind I’m just some person looking at two budgets with different formats, but some of the discrepancies are pretty obvious and very disturbing.

    When is that management study being conducted?

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 1, 2007 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  3. Hi!
    This is my first post here.The Hopkinton Educational Options Committee has only two members as I recall:Georgia Ure and Dorothy Gardiner.It is not a large committee.
    Regards,
    Scott Bill Hirst
    Chariho’71
    Member,Hopkinton Town Council,1996-2004

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 6, 2007 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  4. I’d like to know more about this committee? I watched Ms. Ure and Ms. Gardiner give an update on the 1904 school on cable a while back. If I recall correctly, they were concerned that the Chariho administration had let the 1904 building fall into disrepair and were now trying to get out of the lease.

    I thought they made some very good points, and I was hoping that Hopkinton would hold Chariho responsible for the neglectful damage to the building. Does anyone know how that turned out? Is Hopkinton holding Chariho liable for repairs on the building that are necessary because of neglect?

    What else are Ms. Ure and Ms. Gardiner involved in? They seem like tough cookies, and I like that in a person (if they are on the right side of the battle)…in this case, the right side would be ensuring that our community and kids aren’t being railroaded by Chariho. Does this committee take a stand on issues such as school configuration, curriculum, bonds, budgets, etc.?

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 6, 2007 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  5. In response to Scott Bill Hirst’s brief point, I would like to make the following points.

    Scott, if you had read my letter, I mentioned not just the educational options committee, I mentioned the town council, school committee member Bill Felkner, plus valid research and a Chariho survey taken in 2004.

    Scott, you’re picking on 1 thing, and because of this, you are taking away from the main issues here. We have structures that are sound. There is grade configuration research that is sound. We have NECAP testing scores that are sound. (The NECAP testing I dis-covered after my article printed.) And we have a survey that should send soundwaves across this district.

    And don’t forget the parents. I have 2 children in school, and with this contact, I have talked to many parents. They’re upset. And rightfully so.

    We have a school administration and a majority in the school committee that refuses to hear our cries. I say “enough is enough.”

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 10, 2007 @ 9:16 am | Reply


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