Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 13, 2007

Leak follow-up

Filed under: Hopkinton,Maintenance — Editor @ 2:24 pm

Water emergency ■ Students moved from two classrooms at Ashaway School. By Chris Keegan

The Sun Staff

 

ASHAWAY – School officials evacuated two second- grade class­rooms at the Ashaway Elementary School on Thursday, after heavy afternoon rain found its way though leaks in the Hillside Avenue facili­ty’s roof.

 Ashaway School Principal Linda Perra said 35 students were moved into the school gymnasium after water began streaming through the ceiling, along a wall and into a classroom in the school’s first-floor wing. It would later spread to other parts of building causing large standing pud­dles in both second grade classrooms. 

Following dismissal, school officials assessed the damage: numerous ceiling tiles were removed to allow water to drip from metal roof reinforcements into garbage cans. Up on the roof, a maintenance employee used a water pump and snow shovel to move several inches of rain off the rooftop ­which is flat and cov­ered with stones.

 Chariho’s Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds Dan Cook said the leak was likely caused by a small, local­ized hole. Maintenance workers would stay through the night to ensure that water did not spread into the rest of the building, he said. “Today qualifies as an emergency situation,” Cook said. “It’s the first time we’ve had a leak of this magnitude in the building.” 

School Committee Chairman William G. Day of Richmond later pledged that the district would do “whatev­er necessary” to address the conditions. Second-grade stu­dents would likely attend classes today in the school library and art classroom as part of a pre-established contingency plan.

 

The water emergency comes one day after independent con­tractor Richard A. Doyon told The Sun that rips in the roof’s rubber membrane had compro­mised the integrity of the roof. Doyon’s company was recently hired by the town of Hopkinton to repair gutters at the school campus’s vacant 1904 building.

 

A foreman working on the vacant schoolhouse also said that the membrane on the campus’ 1967 addition had been incorrectly adhered to a metal strip that runs along the perimeter of the entire facility ­creating what Doyon viewed to be an “emergency situation.”

 Chariho Superintendent Barry J. Ricci said earlier this week that he did not consider the roof’s condition to be an emergency, though the district would continue garnering bids from three local contractors to fix any roof problems in accor­dance with district policy.

Recent water leaks at the school caused about $900 worth of damage to books on a shelf, though the items have been replaced, he acknowl­edged.

 

“Clearly, yesterday’s event was far more significant than it has been in the past,” Ricci said. “It (the leak) was proba­bly attributed to the severity of the storm. We have a roofer there this morning to look at it and assess the needs. We will make a decision this morning on how to go forward.”

 Ricci – who has been superin­tendent since July 2005 – said he is unaware of any leaks at the Hillside Avenue facility within the last year. “I’m not recalling any, but I’m not say­ing anyone hasn’t told me about a leak,” he said. Chariho Finance and Administration Director Brian Stanley confirmed this morn­ing that school administrators authorized $4,975 in emer­gency roof repairs in February 2006 to address conditions at the Ashaway School.

The repairs – which were completed during a time of excessive rains and high winds – were made after Director of Buildings and Grounds Dan Cartier determined that the work needed to be done “right then and there,” he said. According to Stanley, two other district elementary school roofs were also repaired under the auspices of emer­gency conditions at the Hope Valley Elementary School on Thelma Drive, and Charlestown Elementary School on Carolina Back Road.

But Chariho School Committee member George Abbott – who represents the town of Hopkinton – said he does not recall any of the emer­gency repairs made to any of the schools named by Stanley. “I don’t recall that specifical­ly,” he said. “I wasn’t aware of that.” Abbott – who visited the Ashaway School on Thursday to confirm Doyon’s assessment that the facility would leak “big time” during the next rain­storm – said he considers the roof’s condition to be an emer­gency situation.

Repairs should be made immediately, he said. “It was pretty bad,” Abbott said of the affected classrooms. “It (water) was coming down the walls like a little waterfall, in one room in particular. You can’t just let that go without repairs. I think there’s another storm coming on Sunday.”

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Thank God for today’s sunshine

Filed under: Chariho,Maintenance — Editor @ 10:06 am

Up on the leaky roof – Contractor: School roof critical By Chris Keegan The Sun Staff

ASHAWAY – An independent contractor hired to repair gutters at the original Ashaway School has determined that the roof of the school’s 1967 addition needs to be repaired immediately.

 Or worse, replaced. 

But Chariho Superintendent Barry J. Ricci is disagreeing with the Roofing Unlimited Inc. owner Richard A. Doyon’s assessment that the leaking roof is an “emer­gency situation” – and will pro­ceed with the repairs in accor­dance with a district policy that requires three companies to bid on the patch work.

 

On Wednesday morning, a fore­man with Doyon’s company showed The Sun and Hopkinton’s Educational Options Study Committee member Dorothy Gardiner several rips in the roof’s upper layer – which is comprised of a rubber membrane. The mate­rial was incorrectly adhered to a metal strip that runs along the perimeter of the building – which appears to be warped in some places due to stress, he said.

 

“My feeling is that it’s not nec­essary to go out to bid,” said Doyon, noting that several ceiling tiles in a classroom had already been removed due to water damage. “The integrity of the roof is gone.” Asked by Gardiner if he considers the leak to be an immediate safety concern, Doyon said: “If water is coming in, what would you call it? An emergency.”Though she approved a review of the roof’s condition, Ashaway School Principal Linda Perra declined comment through a school clerk this morning.

 Ricci, however, acknowledged that the roof is leaking and that water has spread to three classrooms inside the Hillside Avenue school. In accordance with district policy, school officials are currently garner­ing three bids from compa­nies to repair the leak, he said.

Doyon’s company – which is based in Hope Valley – is one of the contractors that submitted a bid to complete the roof work.

 

“There’s a difference in opinion about whether this is an emergency or not,” Ricci said. “It is not an emergency. But we do acknowledge there is a roof leak, which I became aware of at the end of last week.

 

We’re getting three quotes in accordance with policy.”

 

“I think that sometimes the media gets used by cer­tain people who paint the district in a poor light,” Ricci added. “To imply this problem is being ignored is totally untrue.” Ricci could not confirm when roof work on the 1967 addition was last done.

 

Members of the Educational Options Study Committee have recently criticized the district for a perceived lack of upkeep at the original Ashaway Schoolhouse – known by most as the “1904 building” for the year it opened.

 

Both Gardiner and Hope Valley business owner Georgia Ure – who serve on the committee – have chided school administrators for allegedly removing furni­ture from the building when the school’s fifth graders were moved to Chariho Middle School in Richmond last fall.

 

The school district stopped using the 1904 building in June due to state fire code and federal American With Disabilities Act requirements – but con­tinues to use a separate addition that was built in 1967.

 

The town is currently in negotiations with the regional school district over the Ashaway campus’ $1 annual lease. At issue is whether the district should continue maintaining the 1904 building in accordance with the contract – which technically covers both town-owned buildings on the school campus.

 

Hopkinton Town Manager William DiLibero confirmed Wednesday that the town has hired Doyon’s company to repair gutters and down­spouts on the 1904 building – which have been cited as being “ineffective” by Gardiner and Ure.

 

The Sun learned of Doyon’s assessment after a member of the Educational Options Study Committee contacted a news editor.

 

In related news, school officials at the Richmond Elementary School recently faced similar roof problems at the Kingstown Road schoolhouse. Within the last few weeks, a leak in one of the classrooms caused a damaged ceiling tile to col­lapse – causing water dam­age to the floor beneath it, Ricci said.

 

“There was significant leakage,” he said. “They had to move kids out of room to get the repairs done. Now we’re waiting for a rain­storm to determine whether the repairs were successful.” A 100-percent chance of rain today will likely resolve the matter.

 

Town officials in Charlestown, Hopkinton and Richmond have long called for improvements to district elementary schools ­though voters in Charlestown and Hopkinton rejected plans for $99.8 mil­lion worth of district-wide facilities improvements in 2005.

 Last year, tri-town voters approved a $123,560 budget warrant item for roof repairs at the Chariho Middle School in order to fix leaks and resulting water damage at the Switch Road facility. Voters approved $148,000 for the first phase of the repair work in 2005.

[update] Yesterday, two classrooms in Ashaway had to be evacuated due to leaks.  Richmond also had a leak.

The hits just keep on coming

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 9:15 am

From Westerly Sun Peoples’ Forum, April 7.

Success of RYSE, other Chariho programs not measured in dollars

 

As the chairperson of the Chariho Special Education Local Advisory Committee, I felt compelled to respond to comments made by School Committeeman William Felkner, especially those in regard to the RYSE program.

 

Mr. Felkner, the students at Chariho, including all those in the RYSE program, are our children – they have not been imported from some far away place. They live in your neighborhood, my neighbor­hood. They all deserve to be educat­ed with their peers, friends and neighbors.

 

RYSE is an asset to our district. When students do not attend school in their own district they have lower rates of participation in after-school activities and/or sports – often the very things that keep kids in school, or give them incentive to work harder.

 

The LAC takes extreme offense to your comparison of the RYSE pro­gram to Columbine. These students may need more supports to make their way through their education, but to insinuate that any of them is capable of such horrific violence is a scare tactic on your part.

 

RYSE was not proposed as a money-saving measure. I remember when Kathy Blais first suggested such a program, and the sole intent was to bring our students back to the district so they could get their edu­cation close to home, go to school with their friends and participate in the many programs offered by our district. It was merely coincidence that the program saved some money, especially in transportation costs.

 

According to the Chariho School Committee budget for 2007-08, the RYSE program and the ALP will cost $1.78 million. The same budget proj­ects that it would cost $2.35 million if those same students were tuitioned out to other schools and programs.

 

In your comparison of per pupil costs, you cited 2003 projected costs from Chariho and 2004-05 figures from Information Works. You cannot take a projection for one year and compare it to an actual cost from a year later!

 

The main benefit of the RYSE pro­gram is that our district has control over the academic programs for the students. Most of the programs these students were in did not have rigorous academic standards and we had no way of really knowing what academic programs were being taught. If students are going to grad­uate from Chariho, they should be educated in Chariho schools.

 

Why are you so willing to send “these children” out of district, but so very reluctant to send our fifth­graders to the middle school – with the rest of their peers and siblings? The middle school is only a few miles away from each of the elementary schools, and it will be their school for a full four years.

  

The RYSE students who were sent out of district were often bused to South Kingstown, Cranston and even Providence – 15-40 miles away from their peers and siblings. Why should “ these children” endure extremely lengthy bus rides when their own school can provide a better education?

 

Those bus rides are also very cost­ly. If Chariho were to send out the 29 students in RYSE, the district proj­ects that for the 2007-08 year, it would cost $679,822 just for the seven busses needed. The tuitions would total another $1.56 million.

 

Reading financial statements, dry reports and statistics from the RI Department of Education does noth­ing to give a true sense of the Chariho community. Yes, community. It is largely through the schools that I have met many of the friends I have today and hold dear. These schools are the heart and soul of Chariho, where friendships are forged and nurtured; our children develop a sense of self, learn their academics, and find their own way in the world.

 

Schools are not something that can simply be broken down into dol­lars and cents – education is an expense – and the community’s investment in our future – yours and mine.

 Jean Pacillo Chairperson Chariho LAC (This letter was also signed by Yvonne Noel, Kim Wilson and Ann Marie Louzon, members of the Chariho LAC board.)

April 12, 2007

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant” – Justice Lewis Brandeis

Filed under: Chariho — Editor @ 10:04 pm

We had a victory for transparency Tuesday night at the School Board meeting.  Actually, two victories and one defeat.

In the past, when the Board voted to go into Executive Session, part of the declaration of that vote included the requirement of keeping the minutes sealed.  Essentially, every time we went into Exec Session, the minutes were withheld from the public, forever.

Normally, a Board will vote to enter a closed session, then after the meeting, they go back into the open meeting and vote to seal the minutes, if it is so desired.  This gives the public the opportunity to see who wants the minutes sealed and the information necessary to ask their representative why they did what they did.  Last night, we voted to change this long-held practice. 

As I have written before, just because something is done in Exec Session that doesn’t mean that the public can’t know what happened.  After all, we are doing the peoples business you know.  Once an issue is resolved, and at least 30 days after the meeting, the information becomes public. 

The Board also voted to keep a video archive of the open meetings.  We can simply purchase a tape from Cox Cable.  This also takes the pressure off whoever is transcribing the meeting.

But we did have one defeat.  I made a motion to audio record the Exec Sessions and keep that as a record of what transpired.  This motion was defeated. 

In defense of those voting against this, it could be said that if we recorded the meeting, it may keep people from being completely honest and candid.  I personally don’t agree with that idea, and by virtue of this website, I clearly don’t have a problem broadcasting my views to the world. 

The down side is if you have a majority on a Board that has an agenda different than what is best for the people.  Let’s say a discussion was had where the people’s business wasn’t served.  And let’s say that the minutes did not accurately reflect what happened.  If a majority of people voted to approve the minutes, those inaccurate minutes would stand as the sole record of what transpired.  In my opinion, a possible restriction of candor is worth eliminating any possibility of corruption.  But that’s just my opinion.

 

Of course, even with an audio recording, it doesn’t mean that foul play could not be present.  Take, as an example, the NJ case where the tape came up blank.  Then again, a blank tape can be more damaging than the actual record (Re: Nixon).

    

April 10, 2007

Vote results

Filed under: Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 10:47 pm

h/t Barbara Capalbo

The Chariho School budget passed. 700 for and 386 against
The town break-downs are as follows:
Richmond — 218 for and 81 against
Charlestown — 296 for and 77 against
Hopkinton — 186 for and 228 against

Thank you all for voting.

Editor’s note – I am very pleased to see that Hopkinton had the most votes.  It shows our passion about these issues.  Especially considering our populations are so similar.

Charlestown – population (2000)  7,859.

Hopkinton – Population (year 2000): 7,836.

Richmond – Population (year 2000): 7,222.

PS.  I also want to thank and acknowledge the participation on this website.  Increasing parent involvement in the education process is what it is all about.

[update] I should note that I voted against the budget.  In my opinion, there has not been enough attention given to our excessive labor costs (including benefits).  At some point, the people need to say, “enough is enough.”  I have openly stated that excellent employees should be compensated accordingly, including pay above and beyond current levels.  However, across the board raises, not based on performance, are in my opinion, counterproductive to producing excellence.

April 9, 2007

VOTE!

Filed under: Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 9:08 pm

You may, and should, vote on the school budget tomorrow (April 10th).  You may vote at your local town hall any time between 8AM and 8PM.

Please tell everyone you know to vote on the budget.

How did we get in the financial mess?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Editor @ 5:03 pm

Someone asked me a simple question recently.  If our enrollments are dropping, how did our budget rise by over 30% in the last 5 years? 

 Simply put – its all in the contract.

 For those who have not done so, I would suggest that you read the analysis of the Chariho contract done by the Education Partnership.

Here is a very telling quote that answers the question I received.  “Any teacher with less than 10 years of experience has and/or will receive a raise of between 6.7% and 21.2% per year until they have completed 10 years of service.”

And remember, all of these 164 teachers who fall into this category (47% of the total teacher population) will receive this raise – there is no performance evaluation necessary.  As a matter of fact, we had one teacher who missed 80 of 185 school days and still got her contracted raise (at least in the year before she left the school).

April 5, 2007

“Cocky and dumb” versus “unsure and good” – which would you prefer?

Filed under: National,Student Performance — Editor @ 1:06 pm

The article linked below speaks directly to our public school’s effort to increase self-esteem – an effort that trumps actual accomplishment.

 Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students. Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy. 

Unfortunately, we’re in that position of unskilled self-satisfaction by design. For those in American education with an aversion to competition, an aversion to the thought of winners and losers, the idea of putting self-esteem ahead of academic performance was an easy concept to adopt.

 

Rather than seeing self-esteem as something that flows from good performance, they made self-esteem the first priority, assuming that good performance would flow from an inflated level of self-satisfaction.

The sad reality is that in our global economy, where any engineering job (and most other jobs) can be done from any computer in the world, our children will be competing with the Koreans for jobs.  At least our children will feel “good” about their failure.


See the entire article here.

Taxpayer funded advocacy

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,Unions — Editor @ 10:29 am

The Chariho NEA has sent out postcards to all NEA members (not just Chariho NEA members) asking for them to vote yes on the Chariho budget.

The current contract requires that we pay for a NEA representative to leave their job at the school to do union business.  That means we pay the NEA rep’s salary and pay for a replacement for them while they are gone.

Maybe if we didn’t allow such misuse of our taxes we wouldn’t have such a high per pupil cost for education.  Remember, RI’s per pupil expenditures for teachers’ compensation is the HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY.  Unfortunately, our student performance is among the LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY.  And of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has given RI a Grade Point Average of 0.9, THE ABSOLUTE LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY.  And as seen in the post below, Chariho can’t even compete with our neighbors in North Kingstown in either efficiency or effectiveness.  Our per pupils expenditures are far more than theirs yet our student performance is far lower.  How low must we go before we say enough is enough.

nea_postcard.jpg

I too urge you to vote on Tuesday (April 10) but I would ask that you vote NO.  The School Board needs more pressure from taxpayers to get these runaway costs under control.  See the post below to see how out-of-whack our expenditures are.

April 4, 2007

North Kingstown vs Chariho

Filed under: Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 12:42 pm

This was posted at Hopkinton Speaks – the author tried to post here but for some reason it didn’t work.  But the info has merit and I want to make sure everyone here got to see it.  

One point that must be made is that this comparison is based on the budget, not RIDE numbers.  So there can be no arguments about the validity (unless they want to claim that the budget is inaccurate).  Also, keep in mind that NK has about 4700 students, Chariho has about 3700. 

One descrepancy would be RYSE.  We would have more of certain services doing it in-house rather than out of district, but that should also mean less costs.  And it wouldn’t explain maintanance, administration and other differences.

After reading this information, ask yourself this question – is your money being well spent? 

We should also compare NK to Chariho on student performance.   Using NECAP scores for 8th graders, the percentage of students who score in the highest level (4) for NK were 14% reading, 21% math and 21% writing.  For Chariho the numbers are 7% reading, 16% math and 8% writing

Now lets look at the lowest performers.  NK has 5% in reading, 13% in math and 6% in writing.  Chariho has  8% reading, 22% math and 22% writing. 

I refuse to believe our students are not as smart as North Kingstown students.  There HAS to be another reason. 

If you believe that our students are not as smart, or as capable, then just continue to support the current situation.  If you believe they are capable of more, then do something about it. 

I’ll ask again – are you happy with the way your money is being spent?  Are you getting what you paid for?  Remember, RI per pupil spending on teacher salaries and benefits is the highest in the nation, and Chariho is amongst the highest in the state.

 From Curious Resident –

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 Superintendents; 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 thinks its mission is 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?

[editor’s note] Not only should CR come out of anonymity, he/she should run for a political office!  We need more analytical thinkers.

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