Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 7, 2007

McQuade and Petit file charges against Education Option Committee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Editor @ 1:08 pm

I will be posting on this topic soon but would like to review the news articles.  If someone has some dates please post or email them to me.  Thanks

billfelkner@cox.net

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21 Comments »

  1. “File charges”? What are they the police? We have enough police officers in the area. We don’t need two more!

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  2. I posted the following at Hopkinton RI Speaks, and was wondering if someone here (or there) could clarify whether the salary increase for these two math geniuses is 4% per year, or 4% over the life of the new contract? I’m not sure why I want to know since the deed is already done, but perhaps I’m not miserable enough?

    Chariho has renewed the contract of Mr. Ricci and his sidekick. This from Projo:

    “Under the three-year contracts – set to expire on June 30, 2010 – the salaries of Supt. Barry J. Ricci and Assistant Supt. Philip Thornton will increase 4 percent, to $129,792 and $113,568, respectively. In addition, Ricci will assume the cost of 15 percent of his health insurance premiums. Ricci previously contributed a nominal amount to his health premiums. Thornton was already contributing 15 percent to his premiums.”

    The entire article can be found here: http://www.builderonline.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=27&articleID=486395

    It is unclear to me if the 4% refers to the annual salary increase or 4% total over three years? If the former, then the increase is reasonable (although the base may not be), but if it is 4% increase a year, then we are once again being gouged by government employees. Inflation has not been increasing 4% per year, and the school administration has been closer to inept than superb, so a raise is certainly not warranted.

    Additionally, I remain baffled as to why taxpayers are paying for two superintendents? North Kingstown has a larger school district with a comparatively smaller per pupil budget, and they function perfectly well with only one superintendent. We are obviously top heavy and the beat goes on. Shameful waste of hard earned money!

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  3. Why is it that when it comes to their own salaries, the two superintendents can be right on the number?

    The salaries cited in the April 25th ProJo article are the exact superintendent salaries budgeted for 2007-2008. Somehow, prior to a contract being signed (I think), the superintendents were dead on accurate as to what their salaries were going to be. I’m sure our school committee put a lot of effort into negotiations. I wish I could teach my dog to rollover as easily.

    Also, the ProJo article makes it sound like the salaries were rising to the given amount by 2010, but if the proposed budget salaries are accurate, then the duos salaries are rising to this level in the coming year…not “by 2010”. Assuming that these two number manglers are getting a 4% raise this year, is this common practice for Chariho superintendents to budget their salaries prior to negotiations? Or do negotiations take place prior to the the budget proposal and kept secret from the public?

    There is something weird about seeing the superintendents publish their next year’s salaries prior to any formal notice to the public. In light of this administration’s inability to get any numbers right, it is kind of amusing that they are able to forecast their own salaries down to the dollar! Maybe if they put as much thought into our money as they do into their money, we might get some accurate figures from them every now and again?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  4. I spoke with the journalist and an astute Chariho resident had already contacted her about the article. She stands by her report for now…4% raise over 3 years, but acknowledges that the salaries listed in 2007-2008 budget differ from what she reported. She said if she finds out she was misinformed, she will ask her editor to issue a correction for Wednesday’s paper.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

  5. I believe you will find that Chariho’s assistant superintendent fills the same role as North Kingstown’s director of curriculum, at probably about the same salary.

    Comment by David — May 7, 2007 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

  6. Their salaries are similar, but Chariho Asst. Superintendent’s salary is just over $10,000 more for the 2008 budget year. $102,500 vs $113,568.

    Is this the role of our Asst. Superintendent, as a curriculum director?

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 7, 2007 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  7. Considering the TERC curriculum fiasco, the guy should be paying us for the tutoring we all have give to our children.

    If he fills the same role as a curriculum director, then that should be his title. Given him the “asst.” title apparently costs us significantly. Considering the larger school system and greater affluence of the community, Chariho ponying up more than North Kingstown is unjustifiable.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  8. According to the Certified Salary listing, besides the two superintendents, we pay a Director of Administration over $100,000. We pay a Technical Director just under $100,000. We pay someone titled Director (what is this job?) over $100,000. We pay 6 principals over $100,000. We pay 3 Vice Principals just under $100,000 each. We have a Vice Principal slot that earned over $30,000 for a partial year. We pay around $275,000 for Dean of Students (I think 4, but it is unclear to me). It looks like we also pay 4 stipends over $3,000 for “curriculum leaders”.

    I attempted to revisit North School Dept.’s budget website, but I can no longer find the detailed budget. I could only find an Executive Summary so I am unable to compare salaries and positions.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  9. Of course, perhaps NK was able to run a leaner central administration because they had a highly experienced, long-tenured, highly effective superintendent.

    Now that they’ve driven him out of his job, I’m interested in how things will change there. Could be you’ll be seeing many more middle management types there in a year or two, as well.

    Comment by David — May 7, 2007 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  10. I believe it is 4% per year for the salaries but I was not present for the discussion or vote.

    Regarding Dr. Thornton’s position – it used to be the Curriculum Dir. but it was changed to Assist Super so they had a qualified Super if needed. This was done a few years ago. But curriculum is still a primary responsibility. He does a lot of grant writing as well.

    And lastly – RE “charges filed” – I need to find the articles but a letter was written to the Attorney General. We received a letter in our last packet that rebutted the charges. I’ll post it under a separate heading.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 7, 2007 @ 9:10 pm | Reply

  11. Mr. Felkner were the superintendents’ contract negotiations completed before the 2007-2008 budget proposal? I ask because the 4% raise is exactly what they budgeted, and how could they possibly know what their raises would be before negotiations were completed?

    I’m not happy with 4% raises with inflation being much lower. Why would we reward an administration with an increase in their standard of living while they have been largely responsible for the lowering of our standard of living?

    As David notes in his comments, we apparently are paying many middle management salaries to compensate the current administration for not being “highly experienced”, “long tenured” and “highly effective”. Yet we give them raises? The whole idea of it is assinine.

    As I said in another post, frankly, I’m about fed up with the whole darned thing. Few seem to care how poorly our schools and town are managed. Our political bodies are infected with self-serving types that seek power for their own personal gain. The school system is the worst of the lot, because not only do they put an undue financial strain on the citizens, they also fail at their mission of educating our children. For all the silliness of a 16 officer Hopkinton police department, at least we haven’t hadn’t any crime waves. Why even bother to fight this system…it seemingly can’t be beat?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  12. Curriculum should be the teachers’ responsibilities. They have to teach it. They have to like it. Empower them. Maybe if they had a bigger hand in the TERC program, we’d never be in the mess that we are currently in.

    And what kind of monies are we getting from grants to warrant such a high paid position. Grants like the solar panels that just sit there. What grant money if any helped on that one? How much did we pay?

    In defense of this position, I like to know what grants we’ve acquired for our schools in the last 3 years. I also like to know what part of the district they benefit. Have any of them been for the elementary schools?

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 8, 2007 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  13. CR,

    I know it is frustrating. I’ve felt it. I believe with increased involvement, changes will be made. Keep doing your research. Keep informing the public. Eventually people will hear. You and people like Bill and Barbara, and others are generating debate. That is a good thing, as long as it is based on facts and not spite like our national political debate has gone, how can you go wrong.

    Keep digging up the data. I believe because of people like you, Bill, Barbara and others who are not blogging here, the math curriculum is being dealt with. So, you are making a difference!

    The district needs to take the lesson of the math curriculum and ask, “Where did we go wrong?” “What should we have done differently?” “What, if anything, did we do right?” “How can we fix this error for the children that have had 5 years of this?” “What organizational changes need to be made to prevent it from happening again?”

    These are serious questions that need serious answers. I wonder if they are willing to take them on.

    Besides, if they ignore the mistake, what are they teaching our kids? Oopsy, let’s just sweep it under the rug. I hope not. It’s people like you that make them accountable, so they have to answer these questions.

    Remember, the debate will benefit our children and, hopefully in the process, the taxpayers, too.

    Keep fighting.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 8, 2007 @ 6:35 am | Reply

  14. Lois,
    You posted a few questions under various headings. Could you email me a list. What I don’t know I will forward to Ricci or whomever might know.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 8, 2007 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  15. Hi Mrs. Buck…I found a website titled “Chariho Community Educational Projects Grants Awarded From 2003 to 2006”. Here’s the link: http://www.community2000.org/grants_awarded_all.htm

    The total amount for all the grants listed here is $40,758. I’m not sure if there are more listed someplace else.

    In reading through the grants, they seem harmless enough, but I think it is important for us all to remember that grant money is not free money. Grants are a government trick as they are promoted as if we are receiving something for nothing, but as with all government handouts, ultimately, we are the ones paying the tab.

    Whether it is local, state or federal spending, the government gets all its funding from us. I’d prefer that the government stop giving grants and instead let us keep the money, then we can decide where are money is best spent at the local level.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 8, 2007 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  16. Bill,

    I’ll gather my questions and email them to you. Any others I can think of as I generate my list, I will add.

    CR,

    I will check out that website. If $40,758 is the total for the grants for 2003-2006, that concerns me. If this is based on the calendar school year, that calculates to $13,586 average for the 3 school years, 03-04, 04-05, and 05-06.

    Yes, I agree. Grant money isn’t free. The money comes from the taxpayers, but as the government continues to give away these grants, grant writers should try to get them because we should at least try to benefit from our tax dollars instead of someone else.

    That’s big government at its best. Tax, tax, tax, give, give, give. Makes them look good doesn’t it? All for the mighty vote. But, I digress.

    CR, I also sent a message to you. In a nutshell, keep on digging. Your facts create debate. And that is great. If the message ever shows up, great.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 8, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  17. Do you mean an email message? If so, what email address did you send it to? I created an account to sign up here, but have never used it and don’t remember it. Maybe I should check it?

    As for creating debate, I’ve mentioned before that I only recently begin discovering local issues. I’m open to differing viewpoint and I certainly could have my mind changed on numerous topics. Unfortunately, debate seems to be lacking, as those defending the status quo do not seem to want discuss their views.

    Take Mr. McQuade for example, he came here, objected to a few things that were written, but really never put up much in the way of his own facts to refute the points of disagreement. Those in power seem to think that they are beyond question and do not need to engage in open and honest dialogue with the rest of us. So far, their lack of response seems reasonable as there are only a few of us who seem to care a whit about how our money is being spent. I hope the disinterest changes soon, because I’m beginning to feel like there is no point in continuing to spend my time worrying about our community and schools and how they are managed.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 8, 2007 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  18. CR,

    The way I understand it, you are creating debate. I believe the math curriculum is being dealt with. Changes are being made.

    Unfortunately, some things are going to be harder to change. For so long, the public has been silent. At this point, only a few are starting to make debate. For real changes, more people need to get involved. And they are. One by one people are reading these things and are starting to respond. Why? Because they see value in it. The info you dig up is based on fact. It is not just your opinion; you are bringing real data out in the open.

    So, don’t quit. That’s what they would want.

    I stood out and let myself be known who I am. That was very hard for me. Because my husband is on the counsel, I felt I needed to respond without anonymity. I only hope that my children do not suffer for my lack of anonymity.

    I looked at myself and decided I needed to educate myself and become more proactive regarding issues. And I needed to risk speaking out. If I’m wrong, I will admit my mistakes, but they will have to prove me wrong.

    What’s my agenda here?
    1.Accountability for all.
    2.A greater quality of education for our children.
    3.Stabilization of our tax dollars.
    4.Empowered teachers.

    Everyone needs to look at what their goals are here, if we are to make changes.

    Mr. McQuade needs to look at others’ perspectives. When he does, his retaliatory attitude will change, and I’m guessing he will have a lot of insight to give.

    I’m sure Georgia Ure, and Dot Gardiner won’t give up.

    And I know Mr. Felkner is in it for the long haul. (Poor guy)

    Anyways, don’t quit.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 8, 2007 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  19. Mrs. Buck…Tom Buck…I’m a moron! Didn’t put it together.

    Well, I have to tell you, I went back and forth about voting for your husband, and in the end, I didn’t do it. All I knew is he aligned himself with elements of the council that I did not respect. He was my hardest choice because I had heard many good things, but I couldn’t shake the fact that he was in cahoots with the others. Please don’t feel the need to comment. I’m still unsure about Mr. Buck, but I continue to hope he is independent of the power brokers in the town.

    I’m glad to hear you are his wife because you have impressed me with willingness to challenge the way things are being done at Chariho. I’ve also watched some school committee meetings where Mr. Buck asked tough questions. I was happy to see him questioning Chariho as the school system is the biggest drain on us all. Since this is a Chariho-based website, I’ll save town issues for the Hopkinton RI Speaks board.

    As for me, I choose anonymity because I have seen what happens to many who challenge the local power. Perhaps if I had the time and inclination to seek an elected position, I’d come out of hiding and take my chances, but as an ordinary resident (albeit “curious”) I would be an easy target for anyone seeking to retaliate against me and/or my family. My wise Mom advised me long ago to be careful in this town and state, and she’s not wrong very often.

    Initially, my goal was pretty simple. I wanted to make an informed vote. After years of walking into the voting booth with little knowledge of the individuals seeking my vote, I was told about Hopkinton RI Speaks and went there looking for information. As it turned out, it was not infallible, but I did learn more than I had learned at candidates forums…too little give and take at those things. Ms. Fontes, Ms. Capalbo, Mr. Felkner, and Mr. Petit earned my vote on Hopkinton RI Speaks. Mr. Buck almost got me.

    I now regret my vote for Mr. Petit as so far he has been a major disappointment. I couldn’t be more happy about voting for Mr. Felkner. I think I would vote for this guy for just about any position. Ms. Capalbo has also made me proud of my vote for her. I don’t always agree with her, but she engages with us and explains her positions, so that puts her way ahead of most other politicians.

    Since the election I have remained engaged at Hopkinton RI Speaks. I also drifted over here when Mr. Felkner put this site together. The TERC/Investigations curriculum controversy was frightening to discover, and the more I learned, the scarier it became. If nothing else is accomplished beyond ridding Chariho of this harmful curriculum, I’ll be happy. It is news to me that the issue is being addressed, but I’ll take your word on it. When TERC/Investigations is finally gone, I’m going to buy an ice cream cake and celebrate!

    I haven’t really given much thought to my goals here and on Hopkinton RI Speaks. I guess I want to support those that are on the front lines in battling against the status quo that is failing our children and our community. I don’t mind doing Internet research, and no one is more amazed than me by all the information which is available with a little effort. If I can provide data and facts that help move the town and school in a positive direction, I feel I’m contributing something.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 8, 2007 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  20. Remember, we all communicate in different ways. I choose to read and write. I am much better at communicating my thoughts on paper, where I can read and reread what I’ve written.

    My husband is the opposite. He is a better verbal communicator. When a letter is written, I’m the secretary.

    He does read your comments, as I do.

    One of the questions I emailed Mr. Felkner was what more have we done with the math curriculum? When catching a glimpse of a meeting in April, there was talk about other curricula. But, since I was unable to catch the whole meeting, I was unable to catch the whole discussion. At that meeting, Mr. Thornton was discussing some of the other math curricula he was investigating. (No pun intended.) I wanted my question to let them know that this TERC thing has not been forgotten.

    Just so you know, the following are the questions I submitted to Bill. His email is billfelkner@cox.net

    1. What is the assistant superintendent’s role?

    2. Why do we not empower the teachers to decide on the curriculum?

    3. Where are we with the Math curriculum?

    4. What involvement did the teachers have in TERC’s inception?

    5. What kind of grants have we gotten in the last 3 years? Listed by year.

    6. And what were the amounts of these grants?

    7. How much did we have to contribute to receive these grants?

    8. Have any of the grants been for the elementary schools?

    9. What reports have been done to show the benefits of the RYSE program?

    10. What debate has been going on about reconfiguring the elementary schools back to grades K – 6?

    11. What additional roofing needs to be done to the 1967 building?

    12. What’s going on with the 1904 building?

    At the time, this was all I had.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 9, 2007 @ 1:15 am | Reply

  21. I appreciate your comment about Mr. Buck being a better verbal communicator versus a written communicator. I’ve heard him at school committee meetings, and he certainly communicates well.

    I still encourage him to try to find a written voice (I fight this battle with one of my kids). Oral communication is great and it can win you elections, but spoken words disappear seconds after they are uttered. Written words have lasting impact. They can be risky as they can’t be denied, but if chosen carefully, they are more meaningful and less subject to distortion.

    I especially like being able to revisit words. Prof. Mitkowski wrote something months ago on the Hopkinton RI Speaks board, and I was able to go back and rediscover information that I had forgotten.

    Both written and verbal speech have great value, but written words allow a person to consider their own viewpoints…to discover the strength and weaknesses of their opinions. People should write even if only as a personal exploration of their thoughts…and best of all, written words can be deleted without anyone ever reading them!

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 9, 2007 @ 4:31 am | Reply


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