Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 9, 2007

Fire code vote

Filed under: Chariho,State-wide — Editor @ 10:59 pm

More notes on the May 8 meeting.

 We voted to move forward with a contract to make fire code upgrades.  I made the point that there is a lot of talk about changing the codes and perhaps we should wait until the legislative session is done and see what changes may come (the session is usually concluded in June/July).  Of course, this was met with responses such as, ‘we need to protect the kids’, and ‘its about the kid’s safety.’  I find these comments a bit humorous but just to clear any confusion let me say that I don’t want our kids to burn in a fire.  There, now that that is settled, lets talk reasonably.

Besides, 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 money into maintaining our buildings so that our children were protected (say from falling ceiling tiles). 

It seems that every few  weeks we read another story about how legislators are looking at making changes (see articles here, here, here, here and here).  Most are simple changes that reflect the difference between the overly stringent and outdated requirements of the state versus federal laws.  Some are as simple as the type of wire that must be used to construct alarm systems.   As I said last night, its not so much about what must be done but more about how to do it. 

The main reason cited for not waiting was to ensure a $50K grant and that we can’t use the basement in the Richmond school until it is done.  I understand these issues, but it still seems to me that something could be done, such as a contract with stipulations. 

I got a lot of reasons why we can’t do it and no input on how we could.  I even suggested we table the issue until the next meeting (2 weeks) so Mr. Stanley could speak with Contractor’s Network (the contractor) and see if they could give us some input. 

Unfortunately, a motion was made to pass the contract and was passed in a 9-0-1 vote (I abstained).  Keep your eye on the papers to see if we have missed an opportunity to save money while still providing the same protection.

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9 Comments »

  1. I real don’t know how you do it Mr. Felkner. In the face of rampant stupidity, you are often the lone voice of reason. I abhor management that is emotion-based rather than logical. Especially when the emotion is used to screen some other agenda. In the real world, emotional-based management doesn’t last very long. In the world of government, it seems to be everything. I guess when failure doesn’t matter, irrational decisions have no consequences.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 10, 2007 @ 12:21 am | Reply

  2. By the way, as anyone ever heard of a child being killed in a school fire?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 10, 2007 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  3. In defense of some on the board, it is very easy to vote in the go-along get-along fashion. I sincerely believe many on the board are competent but pick their battles. We are presented with a lot of information and most just can’t deal with all of it.

    Then again, there are some on the board that may vote against anything I propose and there are some on the board whose family work at Chariho and they might not want to go against anything requested by the administration. Clearly, the admin did not want to wait as they offered no suggestions on how we could resolve this. All I heard were reasons why it couldn’t be done.

    That being said, it is disappointing that we couldn’t wait 2 weeks to speak with the contractor and include some stipulations in the contract. I don’t think that was too much to ask.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 10, 2007 @ 12:38 am | Reply

  4. I don’t know of those that have family members that work at the schools, but that does concern me. It doesn’t matter in what town they are from. Isn’t this a huge conflict of interest, especially if they are afraid to make waves because of it? Why would they run for school committee? I can’t imagine anyone would put themselves in that kind of position. It boggles my mind.

    Also, I can understand why many will pick their battles. We all do that in our own homes, but when representing the public as an elected official, they need to speak up for their towns and their kids and never mind who they might offend on the committee, doing so diplomatically of course.

    I stand with you on the fire code issue, and I know you have the children’s best interest at heart. I’m saddened that you are often the lone voice.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 10, 2007 @ 7:17 am | Reply

  5. Just some clarification needed. There was some talk about sprinklers at Richmond in the basement and Hope Valley’s old building. Is it possible they are only acting on these buildings and not the 1904 building because of the severe space restrictions? Ashaway school is being punished because the 1967 building has a great deal of space to house the same grade configurations. (ie… If it is not pressing, just abandon it.)

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 10, 2007 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  6. The School Committee has often been loaded with citizens associated with the school. Someone could make the same conflict of interest charge against someone with kids in the schools. I don’t think there is any way to avoid the problem. Until Mr. Felkner stepped forward, Hopkinton didn’t even have enough candidates to fill the vacancies.

    Shoot, Mr. McQauide likely doesn’t have kids in the school, and he is in college, so he probably doesn’t work there, yet he’s one of the biggest yes-men on the committee. I sometimes see Mr. Ricci’s back pocket bulging as he enters the meetings, and soon after, Mr. McQuaide appears out of nowhere.

    The biggest problem is ideology. The media, judges, teachers, and school administrations around the country have cleverly equated quality of education with how much money taxpayers spend. This connection has a ring of truth to it, because obviously we have to spend some amount to deliver effective education, but unfortunately, we are millions of dollars above a reasonable amount, and the argument to spend more remains. We’re turning into a country of fear-mongerers and victims. The surest way to move the electorate is to scare the heck out of them, and Chariho is a good example of how effective this manipulation can be.

    I’m tired of it…shut the school down. I’m not afraid. In the long run, if my children are going to raise their families here, we’ll be doing them a favor.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 10, 2007 @ 9:23 am | Reply

  7. If a school committee member is doing something to only benefit their child, then yes that would be a conflict.

    I believe the school committee should be represented by parents. They know their children. They’re also understanding of the daily pressures our children experience. But they shouln’t perform their duties to lift up their children above other children. That’s not to say that other people can’t be mediators for our kids.

    I would also hope that their opinion to make policy and to guide the school is not swayed for fear their child will be retaliated against by individuals in the schools. That is part of the reason why I held out to speak against things.

    At this point, I don’t see these things happening, but it would be naive to say it hasn’t or it won’t.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 10, 2007 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  8. I don’t disagree Mrs. Buck. I have little doubt that a school committee loaded with members with a vested interest in school spending is a very bad idea and is largely responsible for the out of control spending.

    Mr. Ricci and his cohorts are allowed to get away with fuzzy math, Chariho Act violations, and fiscal mismanagement because he and the majority of the school committee are all on the same team. They make an incredibly formidable group, and they beat up on their opponents (children, parents and taxpayers) without remorse. When a troublemaker, like Mr. Felkner, comes along and asks for answers, they obfuscate, delay and ignore. This strategy works because most of us lead busy lives and don’t demand accountability.

    Unfortunately, people with a personal interest in maintaining the status quo are also the ones most willing to make the time commitment necessary to be on the school committee. When personal benefits override the interests of the community, and especially the kids, we end up with the current situation at Chariho.

    This kind of nonsense has been going on for years. Our educational system routinely fails children. They make excuses and claim it is a money issue. We give them more. They make more excuses. I don’t know the solution, but as Mr. Felkner quoted, “Sunlight makes the best disinfectant”. If you get your organizational chart, that would be a glimmer of sunlight – which is a step in the right direction.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 10, 2007 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  9. […] a previous post I notified you that Chariho is moving forward with a $532,000 contract to make fire code changes.  […]

    Pingback by Fire code vote - update « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — May 10, 2007 @ 8:17 pm | Reply


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