Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 11, 2007

Westerly Sun editor misses the point

Filed under: Uncategorized — Editor @ 6:46 pm

Wednesday, May 30th, the Westerly Sun ran an unsigned editorial (presumably from the editor) where it was said that RYSE is necessary and said that people should remember that prior to RYSE we were sending the kids out to a number of other locations and were unable to keep tabs on them.  Personally, this sounds like a competency issue but most importantly, the editor misses the problem associated with this bid issue.  The other service provider who bid on the services was also in the district (not to mention the fact that they were nearly half the cost).Here is the editorial.

RYSE program’s shown it’s an important part of today’s Chariho district

Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci is right to seek a legal opinion from the school district’s attorney – and may well want to reach out to the state Department of Education – regarding ques­tions now being raised about the RYSE program.

If there are indeed any questions that a proposed new school building to house the “ Reaching Youth though Support and Education” would somehow not be a part of the school district as outlined by the Chariho Act, it’s essential to have any such questions answered well in advance of a vote this fall on a planned $26-million central campus building project.

But let’s hope that none of those “opinions” or other legal issues are allowed to cloud the RYSE program itself. For the fact is, the Chariho RYSE program – recognized by the Department of Education as a “high-performing school” – plays a vital role in edu­cating students who have special needs, or who have not succeeded in a traditional school environment. That is, as Ricci noted, an important part of the district’s responsibility to “educate all kids” within the towns of Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton.

Some of the questions now being raised about the RYSE program focus on its providing clinical services. And that is indeed a key part of the effort. But School Committee members or residents who ques­tion the validity of the current program should remember how the district handled students with such counseling needs and services prior to the RYSE program’s launch four years ago. Then, the dis­trict was sending students out to a wide variety of privately-run spe­cial- needs schools and other facilities – and had a hard time keep­ing tabs on all of their progress, let alone on counseling and trans­portation costs.

The question over whether the RYSE program should have its own building will clearly be a part of the school building plan debate. But the district’s ability to launch and carry out an alterna­tive program such as this shouldn’t even be up for discussion – and cannot be left to the whim of local politics, or tri-town voters.

 The RYSE program is and should be considered an important, per­manent part of the Chariho School District. We can only hope attor­neys, school and town officials agree.

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2 Comments »

  1. What a bunch of tripe. I can’t believe the last sentence when the editors tell us that RYSE should not be “up for discussion” and “cannot be left to the whim of…tri-town VOTERS” [emphasis mine]. Every single person in the tri-town, for or against RYSE, should be outraged when our local media outlet tells us that “attorney, school and town officials” should decide what is best for our children! The Westerly Rag should move it headquarters to Cuba or some other dictatorial country where the “whim” of voters are ignored.

    If RYSE had been presented to the voters right from the start and administrators and school committee members hadn’t attempted to bypass the Chariho Act, perhaps some of us would be less cynical about its value to our children. To this day the program is shrouded in secrecy and accurate information is hard to come by. If RYSE is so good…proudly share your success. Anything less is evidence of failure. Feel-good rhetoric might fool us for a little while, but ultimately, the truth prevails.

    I haven’t read the Westerly Sun is years, and it is garbage like this editorial that reminds me why it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on!

    Comment by Curious Resident — June 12, 2007 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  2. So, based on this editorial, every other school district in this state is uncaring, and not meeting the needs of their special needs children. I believe the editorial said it is the responsibility of the districts to “educate all kids.” Does that mean because we have a RYSE program and they don’t then they are not fulfilling their responsibilities. Hogwash. Every other district in this state should have something to say about this editorial. And the Chariho residents should not be dictated policy by a newspaper.

    It is an issue of legality.

    It is an issue of accountability, to students and taxpayers.

    If the argument to date is it is saving us money. Then prove it.

    If the program is benefiting our students over other students in the state, then prove it. I would demand this from every aspect of the district, not just RYSE. Case in point, grade configurations and TERC.

    A cost analysis should be done to show the taxpayers that the district is saving money with RYSE.

    The lawyers should look into the legality of the program. Laws are laws. Is the newspaper saying that we should ignore the law? Hymmmmmmm. If a law states that you must get the approval of the voters, then get it. We are reasonable people. If they can prove the validity of the program, then the people will vote for it.

    But, this should be an educational facility, not a clinical and medical facility. Once those boundaries are crossed, then the scope of educating all our kids has been crossed. We might as well provide clinical and medical needs for all in the district. But, I digress. As educators, they can assist the clinical and medical professionals, but that’s it.

    We should not be responsible for the rest of the state either. Although our school board seems to think so. As they have voted on this already and it seems inevitable that they have opened the door to educating and servicing the rest of the state, then tuition better be a part of their acceptance. I see it happening, as Mr. Abbott and his infinite knowledge and experience with DCYF can prove, that we will be catering to future group homes and we will be responsible to educate them. Will the state pick up the tab. I think not. Look at where out state budget deficit is. And even if they did, they would stiff us with less aid, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul as the saying goes.

    I conclude by saying that I will be all for the program if the voters approve it or its legality is no longer in question, it is deemed better than anything else provided in the state, it is cost effective, and we don’t exceed the scope of educating our kids, even if it means it costs a little more. (emphasis: on a little more)

    Comment by Lois Buck — June 12, 2007 @ 9:29 am | Reply


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