Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 2, 2007

My apologies for the absence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Editor @ 1:08 pm

I’ve been very busy with some home matters and a deadline for work.  But there are many things I want to discuss –

1.  Board members Petit and McQuade filed charges against the Education Options Committee for not filing meeting minutes, even though they are not required to (they even called OSHA against the roofing contractor for letting Dorothy Gardner on his lift to photograph the leak at Ashaway, which resulted in a $1000 fine).  This seems like attacking the messenger to me. 

2.  More school violence.  Not the Virginia Tech incident but 2 knife incidents involving 8th graders.

3.  A failed vote to keep “out of district” people out of RYSE.  If the admin really doesn’t intend to bring them in (as they say) then why the failed vote?

And more that I just can’t think of now.  I promise to have some posts and articles up by the end of the weekend.  If you can think of any other issues I should catch up on, please post the suggestions.

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11 Comments »

  1. Welcome back Mr. Felkner. You and Ms. Capablo are so far ahead of other local politicians in communicating with citizens, that if you never tell us another thing, you’re head and shoulders above the rest!

    I’m sad to hear Mr. Petit has aligned himself with those attempting to keep secrets from parents and taxpayers. Nice to hear that one government entity (OSHA) was willing to help another government entity (Chariho) deny information to citizens. What is our country turning into?

    Two knife incidences by 8th graders? Now why would anyone be concerned about educating 5th and 6th graders with the teenagers? We all know that teenagers pose no risk to our children.

    When you say “failed vote”…you are referring to a school committee vote? Are you telling us that the school committee refused to limit the RYSE program to residents? Was there discussion of the issue? Did the opponents have any justification?

    The more I hear about our local government, the more disgusted I become. And so few seem to care…

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2007 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  2. Yes,CR,

    At the last school board meeting (not aired because of technical difficulties) the School board voted to allow out of district clinical students into the RYSE program at the discretion of the School board. Mr. Petit, Mr. Day and I believe Mrs. Serra (or it may have been Mrs. Eaves) were the only three people to dissent – Mr. Felkner was not present. I mentioned that earlier in the Hopkinton blog, but I don’t believe anyone understood the ramifications of the vote.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 3, 2007 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  3. When I hear this type of garbage, it brings home the reality that these people are discussing issues outside the public meeting forum. What kind of discussion occurred before this vote? Did the school administration offer their opinion? How about RYSE administrators?

    If there was not in-depth discussion prior to the vote, and I’m not talking about commentary from the public, then it is obvious to me that these people all knew what they were going to do coming into the vote.

    I’m close to just walking away from my campaign to become better informed. I’m literally sickened when I hear about public officials acting like this and I realize how utterly powerless the ordinary citizen is in face of such institutional control. I felt better about my town and community when I was an ignoramus…just like most of my fellow Hopkintonians.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 3, 2007 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

  4. I have to agree. The more details you learn the more angry and frustrated you become. It is so much easier and simpler to live our lives without concern for everything that seems outside of our control. But it is so encouraging and truly helpful when people support those of us who can speak out ( I am being thoroughly personal here because my children are no longer in school and all 5 of them had different experiences and therefore points of view — all truthful).

    Your comments are also useful as my opinion can be changed or adapted with new or interesting points of view or information. Several citizens have concurred that parents place is often just as important as curriculum and needs to be addressed as well — especially the strength of NO or turn off the technology – all of it. Comments, questions, discussion is the path to the good. It just seems like it takes forever.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 4, 2007 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  5. Congratulations on getting 5 children to adulthood. I hope it was successful.

    I am still parenting minor children, and I would have to say that my parental philosophy is much different than most other parents I interact with…my computers are all in the family living area so my children are always monitored. My children acquire their computer time by reading. An hour of reading for a half hour of computer time. Even with that, there are limited activities they are allowed on the computer.

    We have one television, also in the family living area. No TV in my room nor their rooms. So far, my children have done pretty well under these very strict (and I say that sarcastically) conditions. My biggest concern is that they will have to function in a society where many children are not being taught respect, hard work, and consideration of others.

    I do not envy my children for the world they will be inheriting. I wish our generation would do a better job, but I don’t see things changing any time soon.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 4, 2007 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  6. CR and BC,

    I love reading your comments. I find them informative and very well thought out.

    Bill F., thanks for the website.

    1. I feel people ought to be reminded of a few things regarding the RYSE program. I again read Bob Petit’s letter to the Sun from late March. It stated the following: “The building (RYSE Proposed School) is not bigger to bring in children from out-of-district; this cannot be done unless approved by the School committee.” If I’m understanding Barbara C. that during the last untelevised school committee meeting, that’s exactly what they did. They voted for out-of-district children to be bused in.

    What is the school committee’s reasoning for this?

    Also, referencing another letter from the April 7th People’s Forum, the RYSE children are “our children – they have not been imported from some far away place. They live in your neighborhood…”

    This probably quieted a few people down and they went back to sleep. WAKE UP!!!!

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I question one thing. If we are the only community in this state that educates our own RYSE students at such a great savings with such a quality education, why aren’t the other communities in RI providing the same services in their communities for their RYSE children? What’s wrong with them? Don’t they care?

    This is my observation. At this point, I am not convinced. Are you? Convince me this is good for our kids? Convince me this is good for taxpayers?

    Also, thanks to those that dissented.

    2. I advocate bringing the elementary schools back up to grade six. Where is this debate going? Did the last school committee meeting address this? What was said about the 1904 building?

    3. What’s going on with the Math curriculum? Why are our teachers currently taking the existing curriculum and expanding it to include basic math facts? Was there any further discussion on the TERC curriculum at the recent meeting?

    4. Was the Ashaway School’s 1967 building’s roof been repaired? What was the cost of the damage?

    I hope these comments generate more debate and information.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 5, 2007 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  7. Hello Mrs. Buck,

    Thank you for your comments, your support and your real interest in the Chariho district. There are some answers and some ongoing answers.

    The Ashaway School 1967 building has been repaired at least temporarily. I do not know the cost but there are bids requested for a more thorough fix I believe.

    The school committee hasn’t addressed the 1904 building at least in public ( I am not in attendance at their executive sessions) is all I can tell at this time. The referendum question for Hopkinton will be on the June budget vote – please vote yes. This will allow us to research bringing the 5th and 6th graders back to Hopkinton for their education. It will include looking at the renovation of Hope Valley Elementary, Ashaway Elementary and the possible renovation of the 1904 building. We will address this both in and out of the Chariho district.

    Dr. Thornton and his staff (math teachers) had a meeting on Friday to address the possible changes or adaptions to the math curriculum. Mr. Silks was in attendance (my work went overtime and I could not attend as I had hoped) and also George Abbott. Perhaps they will write a comment. At least we know it is being discussed and is on their front burner. I believe the serendipity of the Chamber of Commerce School report and the NECAP scores coming out at nearly the same time, the internet publishing of these cores sand then with a lot of citizen comments and concerns really helped to bring this forward. I don’t know about the TERC curiculum in particular though, perhaps Bill Felkner knows more about this.

    In reference to the RYSE program, that is exactly what they did. Their discussions – should be in the minutes — centered around the ignorance, misinformed, misjudgement of dissenting citizens. They have always allowed any student from out of the district to attend Chariho subject to the School Board agreeing. They wished not to single out one program (or new school). I informed them that I personally (and others) were not ignorant, misinformed or misjudging the seriousness of this proposal. We believed strongly that no student from out of district should be allowed at all into the clinical program of RYSE. Period. If they chose to make it a full district wide decision they were quite capable of doing that as well. I asked for one school only, RYSE – if the Board feels they must have all or nothing, that is their choice. They chose to ignore those (intense) comments and vote to allow the Board (in executive session – so you won’t know) to approve out of district RYSE students if they so chose. Bill Day wanted to restrict the RYSE program because he felt that there was misinformation ‘out there’ and he wanted to nip it in the bud. Mr. McQuaide felt there was ignorance in the community concerning the wonderful RYSE program. I am only writing this because no one in the public got to see these discussions on public television.

    Sorry, this was so long. But I hope this helps. Like you, I also hope more citizens, either anonymously or in person, would be kind enough to respond or discuss.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 5, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  8. Hi Barbara

    My understanding of out-of-district students is how it relates to the vocational school. These communities pay a tuition to send a certain number of students to the vo-tech. And because they attend the vo-tech they are required to take other classes within the high school to obtain the required classes and credits to graduate. If there are other children in our schools for any other reason, than yes I am ignorant of it, and I would like to know where.

    I don’t see the comparison to this and the RYSE program though. I feel that the district is heading down a path to make the RYSE program a revenue generating, clinical hospital. When they bring these kids in and it reaches its capacity, they seek more monies to expand it further.

    And where will the state be in all of this? We see how they support the vocational school, when Davies gets more funding than we do. Down the road the district taxpayers will be funding more money into it than the state will be willing to give. There go our taxes again.

    My opinion on the ignorant residents of this district is that that’s what they want us to be. You can see it in the budget. How does one really know how much the RYSE program really costs? The costs appear to be scattered amongst a hundred different line items. Ignorance is bliss from their perspective. They don’t want us to know.

    I would like to know all the overhead costs as it applies to the RYSE program. Any good business should know these figures because when they create a product, they want to do it in the most inexpensive way, while giving the consumer a quality product. Where is this applied to the school department? This is why ignorance is bliss. They want us to be ignorant.

    Again it’s my opinion that from accounting point of view, the budget should be broken down further into subcatories within the existing accounts, so the taxpayers can see how much fuel, lights, etc. is used for each building. They won’t do this though. They’d make some excuse.

    I also think that before they expand the RYSE program the towns should vote on whether this should be a permanent thing. The district ought to be required to create a business plan, outlining where the program will go in the next 5 years or so. Any 50 million dollar business would have this kind of plan. And then give it to the taxpayers who will fund it, so we are no longer ….ignorant.

    Why do we have to go through so many outside links to get information about our own district? Shouldn’t this be on our districts website? If they’ve analyzed things in the past, post them for all to see.

    I only recently started researching info, and I find it frustrating. Quite frankly, it angers me. The more I hear, the angrier I get. This is why they want us ignorant, don’t you think? They want us quiet and complacent, then they can go on with the status-quo.

    As a side note: My parents moved from RI to NC. Do you want to know why? TAXES. They retired there on a fixed income and pay under $500 a year on property taxes. Can you imagine that kind of savings?

    ACCOUNTABILITY is a must. When we get that, perhaps our ignorance will disappear.

    Am I understanding you correctly, that the vote to allow the district to bring out-of-district children into the RYSE program was done in executive session? If so, it did not affect the character of an individual, or any one student in particular. I want to know the reason for going into executive session over that vote. And if it was voted on in executive session, it was a decision that affects the whole district, and I believe based on the information that it may have been an open meetings violation. What do you and Bill think?

    I wish that meeting had been taped.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 6, 2007 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  9. Hello Lois,

    No, the vote was not in executive session. It was part of the normal agenda and voted on in public.

    Which is why the technical difficulties problem is even more infuriating. The written minutes of each meeting (and Donna really does do a very good job) can be less specific and much more generic than the original discussion. Many of our citizens (especially the elderly and those of you with small children) cannot go to meetings that last longer than 10:00 PM – long work hours, driving at night, early rising, etc. I don’t know if the video portion didn’t work but the audio portion might be available. At Hopkinton town council meetings and at Planning Board or Zoning Board meetings the discussions are taped as well as written by our clerks.

    When students are discussed they are discussed in executive session. This protects the privacy of a minor. The Vo-Tech is tuitioned and the main campus can be tuitioned if the parent and student go through the school board for approval. At present, my understanding is that the RYSE school does not have any students from out of district. There are, I believe, 53 students both in the clinical program and in the ALP (Alternative Learning Program). I think the clinical program may have 28 or 29 at present. The new building is for 100.

    I also believe you are perfectly correct. If the RYSE school is made a permanent program (I would assume this would have to be by a district wide vote – as per the Chariho Act) I guarantee it will grow and therefore the demand for more monies for expansion will continue to occur in every budget.

    We spend $12588 per student (from the Chariho Annual Report to our Communities – Insight report 2006). The state also reports that we spend $57,000 on each student in the RYSE program – the Chariho district debates this point, but they can’t separate all the monies used for the program. Mrs. Perry said the school was never proposed to save money, just to give the students a better education that could be determined by the Chariho district educators. However, the tuition rate for out of district students (if any were approved by teh school board) has been set at $52,000 or $53,000 plus transportation.

    Tuitions at private facilities are between $27,000 and $70,000 (I would assume the $70,000 is for the most severely disturbed kids – Bradley Hospital) plus transportation. These numbers have been stated at school board and council meetings where I have been in attendance. I am not picking them out of the air. These children may be our kids, but the numbers are astronomical.

    The other issue is that the parents of RYSE kids no longer have any options as to the best school for their particular child. If they feel their child would do best at Meeting Street School or Bradley Hospital or wherever they believe is best, they have to fight the district. They can’t demand the ‘better’ placement, they have to discuss and argue with the RYSE program to remove their child. We pay for this regardless. Truly disabled or disturbed children need a large support mechanism of parents, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, speech pathologists, etc. for the lifetime of their child, not just for a few years. And once they are 18 or 19 and have ‘graduated’ from Chariho’s RYSE program they can’t come back for help or services.

    The Chariho district cannot, except through arrogance, consider itself a clinical program. We do not have medical staff, nurses, permanent psychologists and psychiatrists, therapists of many vocations, etc. The district is supposed to teach. That’s it. You would think that after five years some other town would think this program was a great option. Not one other town has chosen this path. Silence speaks volumes.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 6, 2007 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  10. Excellent questions Ms. Buck. I share your frustration over the lack of concrete numbers, and the inability of administrators to speak in clear language with solid data. If not for Ms. Capalbo and Mr. Felkner, none of the shennanigans would be available for public view.

    Mr. McQuaide, and others, may claim that those opposing RYSE secretive mission and muddled costs, but these numbskulls are the ones in charge, so if we are “misinformed” they are failing as public officials. I suspect they prefer the voters to be “ignorant”, because the more we know, the more rank the smell becomes.

    As evidenced by Mr. McQuaide’s initial entrance in this forum, he is comfortable with misleading and diversions. I thought he might stick around and grow-up a bit, but alas, he quickly disappeared once he had to be accountable for his views.

    I’m not optimistic about things turning around any time soon. I wonder if Ms. Buck’s parents have a spare room in NC?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 6, 2007 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  11. Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for your timely response. I’m happy to know that the meeting was done outside of executive session.

    How does one get a copy of the minutes. I know Tom has requested them at least twice with no response.

    Perhaps, students in the business program can practice their transcription skills on the taped meetings, or do they not do that anymore with all the failed technology we have.

    Chariho would not agree to let the RYSE parents decide where their children attend school because they may be unhappy with the results. Could there be a mass exodus? The cost to letting them decide might be astronomical because we have become committed to the costs already applied to the RYSE program. Plus, admitting that you may be wrong is hard for most people to do.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the intentions of the people involved are to provide these kids a better education. But, does it? The only real test may be the thoughts of the parents and children that have gone through both programs. Out of fear, they may not speak out.

    Also, I’m not convinced that they began this program on the premise of providing a better education only. Somewhere in its initiation the anticipated cost benefits were brought up. I just don’t think they’ve realized them.

    A support network is in place at the other clinical programs. In creating our own, did we not have to provide the same supports? I can’t imagine that this kind of care was already built into the district before its inception. But, who could tell from the vague budget we are given.

    Furthermore, if this building referendum goes through, has it been determined a “yes” vote would bypass the need for a vote to amend the Chariho Act to include RYSE as permanent?

    And CR, you are right. It is not “ignorance” we suffer from; we are “misinformed.” And yes my parents do have a spare room, but they would be unable to take in all the overtaxed, overburdened residents of this district. Plus, I’d hope they’d save it for me.

    Bill, I’m looking forward to more posts. Thanks for all your info. You currently have my vote for life. You didn’t know you were going to be sentenced to serve for life now did you?

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 7, 2007 @ 7:07 am | Reply


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