Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 7, 2007

The hits just keep on coming.

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 1:07 pm

The Westerly Sun (reprinted in the Wood River Press) had another hit piece against me and my comments regarding RYSE.  They are clearly designed to pull heartstrings and ignore the true issues.  There is no need for me to respond to them directly.  But the concerns about out-of-district enrolments is still relevant and I have tried to address them. 

In a recent school board meeting, I addressed the now famous (made famous by 5 response letters) “Columbine”comment I made regarding the dangers present when out-of-district kids are brought to the Chariho Campus. 


Keep in mind that violence is a reality on our campus, and more so in large schools than smaller ones.  As a matter of fact, we had 2 knife incidents on a Friday a few weeks ago (still under investigation but it looks like they involved 8th graders).  The incident at Virginia Tech, an area where guns are completely banned, indicates that simply making rules against having weapons is not the answer. 


In the meeting, Andrew McQuade made a motion to ban all out-of-district placements but he made the caveat that it could still happen with approval from the Board.  This is exactly what we currently have in the policy.  So it was withdrawn.


One thing to remember is thatthe previous Board voted to start the RYSE program without voter approval.  In my opinion this is a violation of the Chariho Act (Section 9(6)).  Nothing personal, but simply to require Board approval is not something that gives me confidence. 


In the last Board meeting (which I was not present for), a vote was taken to eliminate any possibility that someone from outside the district could tuition into RYSE, with or without voter approval.  It was voted down and the current policy will remain in effect.


The admin has said it is not their intent or desire to bring in out-of-district students.  I’m not sure why the vote went this way. 


Related to this topic is a point made by board member George Abbott.  Mr. Abbott used to work at DCYF and said that it is that department’s intention to locate group homes in rural, “safe” areas.  If we build a mental health facility (which RYSE is) with a 100 person capacity, yet only have about half that enrollment, wouldn’t it make sense that DCYF would see the potential in placing a group home for behavioral kids in the Chariho area? 


On another related topic – 

As far as the efficiency and effectiveness of RYSE – we reviewed figures from Insight that showed per pupil cost at over $57,000 per year. 

However, the current cost if someone wanted to tuition a student into RYSE from outside the district is approximately $53,000, not including transportation.  This figure came from the Spec Ed Director and was derived from an estimate of per pupil costs, not including transportation.  So this $57k figure seems to be in the ballpark.  But Mr. Ricci said that he does not know if this figure is or is not accurate.


The question I have always had is if there is so much confusion about the per pupil cost of RYSE, why do we continually hear in the press that it is saving us money.  It seems that no one really knows.

This, to me, is a clear example of why the Chariho Act requires new programs to be approved by the voters.  Only through a thorough evaluation can we determine the truth.  And since this evaluation was never done, we may never know. 


Not to mention the fact that we have no way to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.  Councilperson Capalbo and I asked for some kind of baseline and performance measurements (graduation rates, college enrollment, job placements, etc…) but it has not been produced. 

I only have two questions with most business ventures – are we efficient and are we effective.  Efficiency at RYSE continues to be debated but there are numbers out there.  RYSE may or may not be effective, but without looking at some kind of performance measurements, who knows.  The big problem that has been created is –  since it’s up and running, why bother doing any of these evaluations.





1 Comment »

  1. You do the evaluations because the RYSE program can be eliminated. It is not too late. There is not currently a permanent structure. We are not bound to be an employee of every social service professional in the tri-town. We can issue pink slips.

    I’m sure none of this will happen. The power structure is too entrenched and taxpayers are too disinterested, but theoretically, we can still back out if RYSE is indeed a boondoggle wasting our money and not serving the best interests of our children.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2007 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

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