Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 11, 2007

Vote to return 5th & 6th graders

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans,Hopkinton — Editor @ 7:02 pm

Tuesday, Hopkinton residents may vote at the Town Hall from 7am to 9pm.   There are 3 issues:

1.  The town budget. 

2. Giving the town the authority to give tax deduction to companies wanting to enter the area, for up to 10 years.

3. Empower the town to investigate bringing the 5th and 6th graders back to the town.  There is no doubt I support this referendum.  The research (linked below) I have seen has convinced me that this change is the better learning environment for our children.  Quite honestly, if the grades are not changed by the time my oldest gets to 5th grade, my family will be looking for a private school.   

Apparently, other parents have similar feelings.  A thorough survey done by Chariho in 2004 showed 71% of residents (average for all towns) want them returned. 

Find more info here, here and here

Please vote on Tuesday – Hopkinton Town Hall, 7am to 9pm.

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9 Comments »

  1. As far as the education of our youngsters, please vote yes on the non-binding referendum to look into bringing our little ones home.

    They are exposed daily to a few bad apples that tell their bus drivers to sit down and shut up.

    They are exposed daily to older kids at the bus stop, most of whom are good kids, but some are not, perhaps selling and dealing drugs.

    Studies have shown that kids who remain in the elementary setting fair better academically. The studies are there. An extensive one was performed statewide in North Carolina by Duke University and was recently published in February 2007.

    Many large cities, like Philadelphia, are returning their kids to the elementary setting. Why aren’t we?

    If the Chariho district consistently refuses to ignore these things, then we should be able to have a choice to which direction our town should go.

    Vote…. YES!

    And send a message, again, as to where we stand. (2004 Chariho survey- 71% of parents want their kids to remain in the elementary setting through 6th grade.)

    Comment by Lois Buck — June 12, 2007 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  2. The vote is in and although mightily disappointed that the budget was approved, I’m thrilled to note that exploring means of bringing 5th and 6th graders back to elementary schools was approved.

    Ms. Capalbo said in a ProJo article that the council may turn to the Educational Options Committee to look into the matter. From my limited knowledge of this 2-person group, I am optimistic that they will do a thorough job. As a bonus, all indications are that they are not in the back pockets of the school or any other government agency. Unlike the Building Committee, which acts as an adjunct of the school administration, maybe this committee will put the children and taxpayers first and foremost as they look for alternatives?

    Here’s my two-cents on where to start:

    1. Why do we currently have a shortage of space at the elementary schools when, according to Mr. Felkner, enrollment is stagnant and maybe even declining? Find out why classroom space that used to accomodate K – 6 is no longer able to hold all the students?

    2. If the classroom shortage is legitimate, then look into building one additional elementary school stratetigcally located in Chariho. We do not need a new elementary school in each town. One should be more than enough. I came across an elementary school proposal in Tiverton a while back, it seems that a school can be built for $12,000,000 or less.

    Comment by Curious Resident — June 13, 2007 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  3. Hi Curious,

    I’m not sure that is the way I would go, but if it relieves the burden on the taxpayers to fund an elementary school and it brings the 5th and 6th graders back to the elementary level, and it relieves overcrowding on the main campus, then I may be for it.

    What’s nice about the Hopkinton schools is that they are ours. If the Hopkinton voters ever decided to partially pull out of Chariho, we still have 2 elementary schools. Problem with a new elementary school is that we get further obligated to the district as a whole. I’m sure Charlestown had this same debate. I certainly wish that they would respond because their experience would be beneficial to Hopkinton.

    The sad part is the old building is in disrepair, and it currently does not meet fire code. Thus, Chariho has chosen to pull the 5th graders into the Middle School rather than make the necessary alterations. Too expensive.

    There is some debate as to the validity of the numbers regarding cost, but my opinion is they prefer new and would rather spend 12 million plus on a new school rather than 2-4 million on repairs to the 1904 building, a building that was inspected at the end of 2006 and considered structurally sound. What does this teach our kids, if its broken, don’t fix it or if its old, throw it away. What ever happened to recycling?

    Personally, I would rather see them repair the existing buildings and add on to them before building new buildings. And unfortunately, it may be necessary for the 3 towns to take care of their own building. This may be the only way to get things done.

    I know how you feel about the municipal budget. I’ve read your comments. I don’t comment because we have differing opinions. I respect your decision to voice your disapproval, and you may be right, but I’m not going to debate you on that. I do feel that the Chariho budget is the one that needs serious attention. This has been my greatest concern. On a personal note, I am greatly offended by this district because my parents are on a fixed income and have had to move away from the towns they loved. And who suffers, my children who see them once maybe twice, if we are lucky, a year. And through my adulthood, the majority of tax increases occurred because of school boards that just love to spend our money. I’m not saying that the municipal budget hasn’t had problems in the past, case-in-point, double digit increases just a few years ago, but from what I’ve seen recently, this Chariho budget is going to be the death of us.

    If Chariho is going to tax us to death, I would like to see more for my money. What I do see is an infrastructure that is falling apart, our kids grades falling off compared to other demographically like communities, a lack of respect for the voters, a total disregard for the 2004 survey, teachers with little or no empowerment to make decisions to benefit our children, and a top heavy administration. If I’m wrong, tell me.

    I remember a post you wrote some time ago about Richmond and Charlestown not being at the stress level for taxation as Hopkinton is. That’s what I comprehended from your statement. I believe you were correct. So, what does this mean? That if things keep going the way they are going, then Hopkinton will suffer for many years to come until the other communities start feeling the pinch.

    I urge Charlestown and Richmond to join the debate, recognize that there are flaws in the system, and to help us change them for the good of all 3 towns, our kids, and maybe our wallets, too.

    And as far as the lack of attendance at the school committee meetings, speaking as a parent, having to sit with my kids every night, including meeting nights, explaining homework, some working 2nd shift and retail jobs, they are just unable to be there. In my case, my husband attends the meetings, when he can, while I help my kids. Maybe, there should be no homework on these nights. Also, we probably have a number of residents who figure that they won’t listen anyways so why bother. Look at Mrs. Morgan and the roadblock she ran into.

    To our current 3 school board members, please continue to ask the tough questions. We will back you. And anyone who reads this blog, please offer your opinion, even if it is anonymous, whether you agree of disagree. Just be honest and say what community you are from.

    Comment by Lois Buck — June 13, 2007 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  4. Mrs. Buck I fully realize that the bulk of our municipal burden is generated by Chariho’s spending habits. This is not an excuse for wasteful municipal spending.

    Frankly, the only area of the municipal budget that is way out of line is the police department. As much as I’ve written on this issue, there is much fear, likely justified, by town officials to honestly and appropriately deal with this budget item. I imagine that the Buck household would come under attack from the police department if you voiced an honest opinion, and I don’t blame you or your husband for the silence, but reality is reality.

    Of all the towns and cities in Rhode Island, Hopkinton has the honor of the highest percent of municipal spending on policing. The other towns and cities are not even close. How the sleepy town of Hopkinton, with few bars or any other criminal attractions, can be the leader in spending on police is beyond me?

    The only other unnecesary big ticket item in Hopkinton is the Town Manager and his department. Other then police and the Town Manager, I’m okay with Hopkinton’s municipal spending. Anyone who would like further details can visit the Hopkinton RI Speaks blog.

    As for approaches to getting 5th and 6th graders back to elemenatary schools, I’m open to anything at a reasonable cost. If the existing buildings can be expanded to accomodate students, that is fine with me. I also agree that they want new. I think it is an ego thing. They get their name on a plaque after all.

    Comment by Curious Resident — June 13, 2007 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

  5. There are many options. The 1904 bldg has room for 5th & 6th for both Ashaway and Hope Valley. Probably even 7th if we were so inclined.

    There is only one temporary bldg used in HV for kids (2nd grade). I would think that could be moved to with an office.

    If HV had a problem with moving the kids from HV to Ashaway for 5th & 6th, space could be built there. But with so few kids, any normal sized bldg would be big enough for 5-8th. If the 1904 only had Ashawy kids, it could hold 5-8 too.

    There are lots of options. Now we get to look at them.

    CR,
    check you email

    Comment by Bill Felkner — June 13, 2007 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  6. My inclination would be to keep elementary school children in the same school from K – 6. Rather than transporting Hope Valley kids to Ashaway in 5th and 6th grades, perhaps Hopkinton could expand the area from which Ashaway students are pulled?

    If between Hope Valley and Ashaway Schools (including the old building) there is enough class space to accomodate K – 6, then it seems the taxpayers could save a heck of a lot of money, and students would be better served not being forced into an inappropriate learning environment.

    Comment by Curious Resident — June 13, 2007 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  7. There are approx 50 kids in each grade, in each school. 50 – 5th graders, 6th, 7th, etc.. in Ashaway, 50 each in Hope Valley.

    In the 1904 bldg, there are 12 classrooms, 3 classroom sized “workshops” 1 office sized workshop, 3 offices, 1 classroom sized “music” room, 2 office sized “storage” rooms, 2 normal storage rooms, and 2 boy 2 girl restrooms.

    Without rearranging anything, our capacity is 400 students. Being the efficiency nut I am, I could see increasing that to 500+ breaking a wall or two, but that’s clearly not necessary just to bring back 5th and 6th (or even 7th for that matter).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — June 13, 2007 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  8. I’ve talked to many people about the 1904 building, many of whom are involved in some way with the district, I won’t say how. I will tell you that of the many people, only one preferred the middle school to educating the middle grades. This person was unaware of the Duke study and stated that the educational resources were better in the middle school. Everyone else wanted the 1904 building up and running.

    Just like the survey, the vote last night showed that the people know what’s best for these kids.

    I hope I am wrong, but the one thing that my heart tells me is that to bring these grades back, Hopkinton will end up footing the bill. Hopefully, this alone will not scare people away from the idea.

    But, we are a district, the other schools have their problems, too. If we are going to remain a district, then we have to decide what our priorities are. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. How can we all work together to put these kids back in the elementary schools. Back to the 2004 survey, didn’t Richmond and Charlestown vote to keep 5th and 6th graders in the elementary setting. And we all agree that the high school needs repairs. These are the things we know.

    We also know that the district’s budget is out of control. So how can we meet these needs in the most inexpensive way possible?

    If anyone cares, I voted against the 99 million bond referendum, not because I wanted 5th and 6th graders in the middle school, but because I for one did not like the elementary schools getting split up by lower and upper elementary grades. It was just another transition, and I am against multiple transitions for children. I was and am for the K-6, or K-8 model. Also, 99 million would have purchased a good chunk of Rome and that was just too excessive. And finally, building a K-2 school near a highway and an area that many people want economically developed did not make any sense to me.

    Comment by Lois Buck — June 13, 2007 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  9. Excellent site, keep up the good work

    Comment by Bill Bartmann — September 3, 2009 @ 2:18 pm | Reply


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