Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 9, 2007

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).

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7 Comments »

  1. With the recent revelation (at least to me) that the RYSE program was snuck into Chariho by leasing buildings rather than leasing to own or building a permanent structure, and thus, bypassing the Chariho Act, i.e., voters were allowed to vote for or against the program, I am left wondering what else we aren’t being told about RYSE?

    For instance, I would be very curious to know many students were considered RYSE-types prior to bringing the program in house? It is one thing to say we are saving money per student, but as is often the case with government programs, they look to sustain themselves by growing the client base for their services. So while it may be true that our cost per student is competitive, I would ask how much has the RYSE caseload increased since its inception? Is Chariho designating student for the RYSE program who would have been mainstreamed or ALP prior to RYSE?

    This could be a very interesting study, and, if we have had a surge in RYSE-type students since the program was brought to Chariho, we should all be very concerned that students are being placed in RYSE who do not belong there. What qualifies a student for placement in RYSE? Is placement in RYSE permanent or can these students be mainstreamed? How does our RYSE-type population compare to similarly situated schools?

    Like many things at Chariho, the RYSE program has a smell about it. From the manipulation of the Chariho Act to the the fuzzy numbers from the current administration, this program started off as a mystery and continues to be shrouded in secrecy.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 9, 2007 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  2. Mr. Felkner I agree that the teachers’ contract is shocking and disproportionate to their workload and the performance of the school.

    Unfortunately, the contractual burden is not going anyplace until the current contract expires. I would ask all current and future School Committee members to pledge to hold salaries at current levels and to reduce benefits in the next contract. I would ask voters to be aware of the connection between School Committee members and school employees. Before voting for a member, ask yourself if they are putting their personal interest first or the interests of our community first?

    As for me, as a parent, I promise not to complain if my children must sit out a year of school as we take th necessary steps to control the out of control school budget. While it is certainly not a good thing for my children to have their education delayed by a year, in the end, it is also not a good thing to have them bear the financial burden of a school system that costs far more than it should.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 9, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  3. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the current contract until 2009. But I think if the people went to the streets with pitchforks (hopefully, not literally), we could implement a change. Yes, we would get sued. But if we went public on a weekly basis, we just might be able to garner enough support to get it done. And I think we would start a crack in the union dam that would eventually release a flood of change throughout RI.

    After Hopkinton taxes went up by 18% a couple of years ago, you would have thought that would have been enough to force a change. But it did not. I blame it on poor leadership (or misdirected leadership) on the Board. Look who was leading at that time, Stephanie Brown. Her husband pleaded guilty to committing fraud against CT schools (with a company (Chariho Associates) that Stephanie was the managing agent). http://newhaven.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/2007/nh021307b.htm

    Perhaps she is an innocent victim, I don’t know. I do know the CT investigation is still ongoing. But from what I saw of her on the board, I don’t think much got past her. She is very bright and has a very strong personality. If she wanted to turn the school around, she could have been the one to do it.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 9, 2007 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  4. Having only recently begun following Hopkinton and Chariho issues, I was not familiar with Ms. Brown. In doing a little research, I came across this from a Chariho Times article –

    [Ms. Capalbo] “We can’t get their cuts and information on what’s mandated and what’s not. If we could, we could go to these meetings as informed citizens and not as second graders,” she said.
    Town councilor Gary Williams interjected to say that a question similar to Capalbo’s was asked at the budget workshop and school board chairman Stephanie Brown had replied that if the mandated amounts were made public, people would then say – okay, then, that’s all we’re going to fund you for.”

    So apparently Ms. Brown felt that an informed public was a dangerous public? I’m not impressed. Is keeping things secret to the benefit of citizens or to the benefit of administrators and politicians looking to hide personal gain, and maybe even illegalities, behind a cloud?

    Sadly amusing, is this subsequent comment from Ms. Brown from a Providence Journal article –

    “These people have no idea, they can’t fathom what they just did,” said Hopkinton resident Stephanie Brown, chairwoman of the Chariho School Committee. “I believe it will [revive talk of Charlestown leaving], because the argument for Charlestown time and time again has been that Hopkinton has been controlling the fate of this district.”

    So Ms. Brown sought to have it both ways? Keep voters in the dark about mandated spending, and then criticize voters when they cut the budget claiming they “have no idea” and “can’t fathom what they just did”. Yes, Ms. Brown is right. Voters do not know the impact of budget cuts when they are not allowed to know what budget items can be cut. She helped create the problem and then is shocked when the problem arises? She obviously took voters for a bunch of idiots.

    I’m glad I was among the ill-informed when Ms. Brown was running the School Committee. Things are bad enough now with the curmudgeonly Mr. Day heading the School Committee. Ms. Brown seemed to be willfully acting against the best interests of our community. I won’t be suprised if it is discovered she was involved in the illegalities at her husband’s sham companies. Based on her rhetoric as the School Committee chairperson, anything is possible.

    These people have no idea, they can’t fathom what they just did,” said Hopkinton resident Stephanie Brown, chairwoman of the Chariho School Committee. “I believe it will [revive talk of Charlestown leaving], because the argument for Charlestown time and time again has been that Hopkinton has been controlling the fate of this district.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 10, 2007 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  5. Having only recently begun following Hopkinton and Chariho issues, I was not familiar with Ms. Brown. In doing a little research, I came across this from a Chariho Times article –

    [Ms. Capalbo] “We can’t get their cuts and information on what’s mandated and what’s not. If we could, we could go to these meetings as informed citizens and not as second graders,” she said.
    Town councilor Gary Williams interjected to say that a question similar to Capalbo’s was asked at the budget workshop and school board chairman Stephanie Brown had replied that if the mandated amounts were made public, people would then say – okay, then, that’s all we’re going to fund you for.”
    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14292198&BRD=1717&PAG=461&dept_id=74264&rfi=6

    So apparently Ms. Brown felt that an informed public was a dangerous public? I’m not impressed. Is keeping things secret to the benefit of citizens or to the benefit of administrators and politicians looking to hide personal gain, and maybe even illegalities, behind a cloud?

    Sadly amusing, is this subsequent comment from Ms. Brown from a Providence Journal article –

    “These people have no idea, they can’t fathom what they just did,” said Hopkinton resident Stephanie Brown, chairwoman of the Chariho School Committee. “I believe it will [revive talk of Charlestown leaving], because the argument for Charlestown time and time again has been that Hopkinton has been controlling the fate of this district.” http://hopkintonfirst.org/Projo/2005/March/030205%20projo%20slashed%202%20mill.htm

    So Ms. Brown sought to have it both ways? Keep voters in the dark about mandated spending, and then criticize voters when they cut the budget claiming they “have no idea” and “can’t fathom what they just did”. Yes, Ms. Brown is right. Voters do not know the impact of budget cuts when they are not allowed to know what budget items can be cut. She helped create the problem and then is shocked when the problem arises? She obviously took voters for a bunch of idiots.

    I’m glad I was among the ill-informed when Ms. Brown was running the School Committee. Things are bad enough now with the curmudgeonly Mr. Day heading the School Committee. Ms. Brown seemed to be willfully acting against the best interests of our community. I won’t be suprised if it is discovered she was involved in the illegalities at her husband’s sham companies. Based on her rhetoric as the School Committee chairperson, anything is possible.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 10, 2007 @ 9:51 am | Reply

  6. Not much available with a Interntet search on RYSE, but did find this from the Chariho Times in 2003 –

    “The addition of six new staff positions including three behavior management assistants, two teaching assistants for the new autism program and both a part time custodian and clerk at the RYSE school have also been proposed.”
    http://www.zwire.com/site/printerFriendly.cfm?brd=1717&dept_id=74264&newsid=10674531

    I understand that RYSE was implemented, after bypassing the Chariho Act, in 2001? We currently have “28 or 29” students in RYSE according to the [n]ever precise Mr. Ricci. In a mere two years, Chariho was proposing increased staffing of 6 or 7 people for the RYSE group.

    Imagine that…even if we had 29 RYSE students back then, we were adding 1 RYSE employee for every 5 students within two years! The alternative is that RYSE students surged within two years of the program being brought to Chariho and additional staff was warranted.

    Which brings me back to the question of whether having the RYSE program results in more students being unnecessarily designated for RYSE placement to ensure cost effectiveness and/or job security for RYSE staff? It would be a tragedy to find out that RYSE’s existence is the cause of RYSE placement.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 10, 2007 @ 10:08 am | Reply

  7. […] if it was all about the children’s safety, we wouldn’t be giving a raise between 6.7% and 21.2% for each and every teacher in their first 10 years of employment.  We would allocate raises appropriately (based on expertise and ability) and putting more […]

    Pingback by Fire code vote « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — May 9, 2007 @ 10:59 pm | Reply


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