Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 31, 2007

Superintendent Ricci – failing memory or questionable integrity

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 8:09 am

Superintendent Ricci has a daily column promoting the bond.  In last night’s edition he wrote,

“Those councils have overwhelmingly supported Campus 2010 as seen through their approval of memorializing resolutions for the project.”

Hopkinton Town Council member Tom Buck wrote a letter dispelling this misinformation.  He also attended a recent school committee meeting and told them that the HTC not only did not endorse (or support) Campus 2010, but he was voting against it.

Maybe Ricci either missed that meeting, and the letter, or he is being dishonest.  I’ll let you make that call.

Back in March, Ricci illegally called for an executive session to discuss why I would challenge his integrity when he falsely presented the grade configuration research in the papers.  He might as well start the whine machine again – cause’ in my opinion, he has flat out lied.  Make sure you tell as many people as possible what he has said – let their own actions and words make my point.

Speaking of lying – Ricci, Day, Polouski and McQuade said I broke open meeting laws because I posted info about an agenda.  I spoke with the AG’s office and it is NOT illegal to do so (I suppose they don’t bother to check before they make allegations or they would have discovered this – or perhaps they did and just ignored it).  But, just to be clear, I have posted the material and original letter to the press here.  If its illegal – file charges.  I double dog dare ya!

PS.  Please make the charges more than the dog and pony show from the NEA – which has never been substantiated – but I will have more on that coming soon.  And yes, I will have a contract analysis coming – you will not like it.

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October 30, 2007

RYSE saves us “hundreds of thousands of dollars”

Filed under: 1,bond — Editor @ 11:17 pm

That’s a pretty heady claim from Superintendent Ricci in yesterday’s Westerly Sun.

The only data presented to the board is located here.  I will re-post the images below.

The first page is supposed to be an outline of costs – but we can easily identify several expenses not present – administration/hr/payroll, nurses, transportation, infrastructure (and other shared expenses) and unexpected costs such as the lawsuit ($78,000) when Chariho was sued because it forced a student into the program.  This is different from the “forced placement” told to us by Elaine Morgan.  Chariho lost that suit by the way.

Since enrolment and disabilities may be fluid, treatment costs and numbers served varies – even within the school year (according to Kathy Perry).  

Notice on the expenses page (first page linked below), bottom of the page, “in-tuitioned” placement at $52,000, this is what the one out-of-district student was valued at.  Its a good bet that we would charge at least what we spend.

The last page is from DOE – it shows RYSE has a per pupil cost of $57,000.  The $57k (including transportation) average RYSE cost reported by DOE and the “in-tuition” fee of $52k (not including transportation) are similar figures.  Lets say RYSE per student, average expense is $55k.  (The Education Option Committee had a chart at a Hopkinton Town Council meeting showing RYSE at $53k – if you are reading this, please email it to me).

The second page is, I assume, where they get the claim that RYSE has saved us “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”  What they did was took the list of current RYSE students and told us where each one of them would have gone if tuitioned out of district.   Notice that the tuition fees are much less than $55k – somehow they now calculate the RYSE  tuition as much less.

I’ll admit that I’m not the smartest guy around, but I have had occassion to look at a 7 billion dollar budget so I would think I could get this – but I don’t.  Look at line #5 on page 3 below – how did we save (estimated saving yearly (ESY)) $7400 on a $9500 bill?

I just don’t get that – how does the in-tuition fee and the DOE reported average cost appear to be very similar but the calculated expense when compared to the hypothetical tuitions of current students, is much less?

Let’s say I just don’t get it and am a little dense – so lets make it easy for me.  Why don’t we look at the 2002 budget (year before RYSE) and find the “out-of-district” placements.  Then find out where each student was sent and find current tuition fees.  Then figure the average % of students going to each type of placement, then compare that to current population and costs. 

I have emailed Superintendent Ricci for that information and I’ll be sure to let you know what I find.

ryse-expenditures-1.jpg

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The Chariho Act

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 9:18 pm

Charlestown resident and former chair of the Charlestown Town Council Deborah Carney (3rd letter here) makes two excellent points regarding the upcoming bond vote.  The first is on the new 1/3 split for bond expenditures.

This “one third” language will be inserted directly into the Chariho Act. This change will set a precedent that could be problematic for Charlestown in the future. It will be easy for Hopkinton or Richmond to make the argument for future capital costs to be split in thirds, and they could easily extend the argument for operating costs to be split in thirds as well. The precedent will have been established for this bond, and the language will be permanently reflected in the Chariho Act.

In the past, each town contributed to the budget based on the # of students they sent to the school.  If your town had 40% of the kids, you paid 40% of the costs.  As noted by Thurman Silks, this worked out fairly evenly long ago but it has grown inequitable. 

There is a social compact that we will all pay for our own community.  Any property owner, with or without kids, contributes for education as it is deemed beneficial for the entire community.  But with a funding formula based on enrollment, things can get out of balance. 

As an example, if one town has a lot of business or expensive summer homes without children enrolled in the school, they have a very low property tax.  Theoretically, if one town was full of wealthy residents who sent all their kids to private schools, or home schooled, they wouldn’t have to pay ANY taxes (on a side note – we have had at least 10 students withdraw to be home schooled so far this year – but I digress). 

The question comes from our regionalized nature.  Most of us gristle when we know how much of our taxes go to schools in Providence.  Similarly, I don’t believe its Charlestown’s place to fund my child’s education.  So, honestly, I see her point and tend to agree.  After all, where do we draw the line?  Why not include Westerly?  Exeter?  Perhaps the entire state.  Really, the only solution is the entire state or complete deregionalization. 

Ms. Carney’s letter goes on to identify a more serious problem.

The second issue voters should be aware of is the current state of the Chariho Act. There is not a complete up-to-date version of the Act. The district is currently working on one, but a complete document, including revisions made over the last 21 years, does not exist. The version available on the Chariho Web site is from 1986. How many amendments have been approved since then? What are they? Where are they? How could they affect this proposed change? We don’t know.

In November of 2006 three amendments to the Chariho Act were approved. One of these amendments approved by the voters was deemed to be illegal. Why? Does it violate state law? Was it based on the incorrect version of the Chariho Act? Is this current proposed amendment for the one-third split based on an incorrect version of the Act?

When the voters go to the polls Nov. 6, we are not only being asked to vote for a $26-million bond proposal, but we are also being asked to amend the Chariho Act. How can we really know what we are changing in the Act if we don’t even know what the current language is? How can we truly know the consequences of our vote? 

I don’t even know what to say about that.  When Superintendent Ricci was asked, he said that the last solicitor couldn’t complete it because of his illness.  With all due respect to the solicitor, if he was too sick to complete the job, he should have been replaced.  Besides, we are talking about a document that is 11 years out of date.  The excuse doesn’t hold water. 

Hopkinton Town Council member, Barbara Capalbo reminds us of the importance to get the Act updated.  Call your councilors and committee members – get this done!

With so many people visiting or talking I would like to suggest or recommend that no matter what happens with the bond, please call your town councillors and ask that the Chariho Act be reviewed and revised. It is crucial to Hopkinton and Richmond homeowners, it is less marvelous for Charlestown’s citizens but the money for a school system used by everyone equally needs to be funded equally. Then we could make the bonds pass or fail by a majority of homeowners instead of by town.

In this same comment – Councilor Capalbo notes the fall-out of the funding inequity.

My home will personally pay over $2,000 more per year than the same home in Charlestown using the identical educational system. This has got to stop. It may need a grass roots tax revolt to tear down and rebuild the structure of the act. Vote NO and begin the process. Just like your home, rot doesn’t get better the longer you ignore it.

For years we have seen the result of this inequity (and I hate using that word like its a litmus for “social justice” but I digress – again).  Hopkinton doesn’t want to spend so much money – we are still hurting from the 18.9% tax increase.  But that increase was nothing for Charlestown.  

Charlestown has plenty of money due to its resources (ocean front property).  It should be allowed to have really nice schools – but it can’t because doing so will break Hopkinton’s back.

Richmond is a little bi-polar on the issue.  Their taxes are also high, but since most of the infrastructure is located there – they don’t have the disconnect the other communities do.  Besides, it has long been “rumored” that many Chariho employees reside in Richmond – George Abbott has tried to confirm that, but has not been able  to get the info. 

October 29, 2007

Thirst for transparency

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 8:50 pm

The effort of this blog has always been to share information.  Obviously, it contains my views and opinions, but it also includes the documentation so you are free to form your own views and opinions.  I was always happy if 10-20 people per day would visit – whether they posted comments or not.  I knew they were here for the information.  Thanks to all of your contributed comments and interest, readership is much more than 10-20 people (or “2 to 3” as Bill Day has suggested).  Thank you again for being involved.

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CR – explain please

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 8:34 pm

“Curious Resident,” as anyone visiting this blog or Hopkinton Speaks knows, is a prolific writer and appears to be pretty savvy finding date online.  He/she posted this on a previous chain:

With all the faux concern over the cost of the RYSE building, how could I have forgotten to add that cost to my calculations???

Revised –
In 2003-2004 estimated special needs costs to be $9,923,740 (without leased buildings).
In 2006-2007 I estimate special needs costs to be $12,493,355 (with leased building).

Special needs costs have risen by $2,569,615 or 25.9% the last three years.

CR, I’m going to put you on the spot.  Please explain how you got those numbers – no rush, just be thorough.  Considering that our special needs population has been reduced by approx. 28% during that time, a growth of 26% in total costs would mean per/pupil expenses had increased much more than that.  Let us know when you can- thx

The LTE in question

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 8:18 pm

I have received a few emails asking what I had written in my letter to the editor (LTE).  I guess it has been referenced in a few pro-bond LTE’s.  The letter is linked below in its original form.

your-tax-dollars-at-work.doc

October 25, 2007

Inflation – Chariho style

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:55 pm

Barbara Capalbo has been busy – God bless her.  Looking at the $99M bond (which presented the RYSE building plans based on 2007 projected estimates) she has noticed some funny accounting for the current RYSE building plan.

Right now the $2,876,000 RYSE building from the 99 million bond is now at $3,920,000 — that’s 1.1 million more in less than one year for the identical building, identical footprint, identical program. Why? What happened? The $2,876,000 was listed as ‘escalated 2007’ cost in the 99 million bond. Last I checked, this is 2007. 1.1 MILLION MORE FOR THE SAME BUILDING.

Must be that “new math.”

Your tax dollars at work – again

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:43 pm

Hopkinton Town Council member, Barbara Capalbo serves her community in one of many ways by helping with Meals on Wheels.  During one of her visits, she learned how some of your tax dollars are being used to promote the bond.

“Well, the 2010 flyer certainly endorses the bond which is patently illegal — so unfortunate. But now, today, I discover that Mr. Ricci is meeting with the senior citizens at the invitation of Mrs. Dolan of the Building Committee to discuss the bond at a lovely lunch at the Career and Tech Center. I am sure this will be a thoroughly neutral conversation.

We know the students who are in culinary are very good cooks and we know the lunch will be delicious. Since this is another marvelous opportunity to receive information about the bond at no cost (except for the school general budget funds) I firmly intend to request a similar reservation at the table. They were serving stuffed shrimp, steak or a chicken wrap (if the other two didn’t entice you). I absolutely want the stuffed shrimp and my husband opted for steak — I am planning to call the administration tomorrow to reserve a seating.

Now, I have spoken to several other people (approximately 24) so seating may be limited. I will let all the rest of you know after I have the new date. Is this not a wonderful opportunity!

Excellent food, a charming conversationalist, wonderful companions and information about the bond. We are indeed a lucky community to find such helpful school personnel. And at no cost! Stuffed shrimp at no cost!! I love it and may go twice.”

I think her suggestion is an excellent one – I would strongly suggest calling or emailing Superintendent Ricci and asking him if you can have one of those fine shrimp and steak dinners.  After all, its your money.  Phone: (401) 364-7575 or email Barry.Ricci@Chariho.k12.ri.us

PS.  The school has produced signs promoting the bond and asked local libraries to display them.  The Ashaway library refused to post the sign as they determined it is an opinion piece and not simply educational.   The more they try to BS us – the more they show their true colors.

October 21, 2007

RYSE legal – but is it logical?

Filed under: bond,RYSE — Editor @ 9:52 am

The Westerly Sun published the opinion from Hopkinton Town Council solicitor Patricia Buckley that RYSE services are legal.

I was quoted but a published letter to the editor provides more details.

I need to acknowledge that I was wrong. On April 20th, 2007, Mary Botelle wrote a very intelligent and thorough letter to Attorney General Lynch suggesting that the development of the RYSE School was a violation of the Chariho Act. I supported the assertion and posted her letter on my website (https://cspf.wordpress.com).  

Research provided by Patricia Buckley, Hopkinton Town Council solicitor, has convinced me that Mrs. Botelle and I are wrong. As a matter of fact, services currently provided by RYSE are not only legal but they are also only the tip of the iceberg. But that doesn’t mean we have to do it. 

RYSE (Reaching Youth through Support and Education) is a school within a school located at the Richmond Chariho campus. Originally designed to service special needs students from throughout the state, now it includes students who have been removed from the regular classrooms because of weapons, drugs or other policy violations. 

When a student has difficulty in school, an evaluation is performed to identify what could be done to alleviate impediments to the child’s success. Once these issues are determined to be necessary for education, the school has legal authority to use its budget to provide appropriate services. 

If the school determines a child needs anger management therapy, they provide it. Substance abuse counseling, they cover that too. A myriad of services are now provided at Charhio, even diabetes treatments and home-based therapy services.

These property-tax-funded activities are not only provided to students but they can also be applied to the parents.  When a parent has a substance abuse problem, the school can provide therapy. If parenting or marriage counseling is deemed necessary, the schools supply that too. Charhio has even spent money from its budget to find an unemployed parent a job. All of this, and more, is legal because it is deemed necessary for the child’s education. 

Districts that don’t have a RYSE-type program pass the responsibility to the State or parents (who purchase the appropriate insurance or pay for the services directly). Non-profits, churches and community organizations are also a source of support. Most of those options allow the parent to choose services and allows the public to be selective in its philanthropy – the school does not. 

It’s unclear if RYSE provides better or worse services compared to the private market and its unclear if it operates at a cost saving. I’m opposed to RYSE simply because I don’t believe in monopolies or charity at gunpoint. That’s one of the three reasons that I’m voting “no” on the Charhio bond.

October 18, 2007

Hopkinton Parent’s view of Chariho 2010

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 9:30 pm

There’s a pretty good moch-flyer over at Hopkinton Speaks from someone named Parents & Kids.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Parents and Kids Says:
October 17th, 2007 at 10:09 pm

My husband and I recently received the literature asking us to approve the Chariho bond. I’ve done some research with tons of good information from others and we put together our own literature in response. Please share this with your neighbors!

  1. It’s time to…

    Maintain Chariho High School

    Chariho High School was built in 1960 for students in grades seven through twelve. Today the facility only serves grades nine through twelve with projected declines in enrollment. Voting no on the bond will:

    • force Chariho’s management to properly budget on a yearly basis for maintaining the schools infrastructure
    • reinforce the rights of citizens to be fully informed about how their tax money is being spent
    • acknowledge that enrollment is decreasing, NOT increasing.

    It’s time to…

    Reconfigure Chariho Middle School

    Chariho Middle School was opened in 1989 when fifth and sixth graders were removed from elementary schools. Chariho’s 5th and 6th graders are exposed to the normal, but age inappropriate behaviors of teenagers. Voting no on the bond will:

    • send a message, for the third time, that parents and the community want 5th and 6th graders educated in the elementary school environment
    • create additional space for the community and school needs at the middle school

    It’s time to…

    Get community approval for the R.Y.S.E. program

    The R.Y.S.E. program was housed in temporary buildings skirting the Chariho Act which requires voter approval for permanent buildings. R.Y.S.E. claims to save money, yet Chariho administration remains elusive in providing any real numbers. Even the number of students housed at R.Y.S.E seems unclear, except to the extent that it is much less than the capacity of the building (100 students).

    Voting no on the bond will:

    • Keep R.Y.S.E. as questionable until the community is given the chance to vote on the program
    • reject the one size fits all approach to special needs education
    • stop spending local tax dollars for medical and psychological services

    It’s time to…

    Understand that state assistance is unreliable. Voting no on the bond will:

    • Recognize that funding from the state is still money out of our pockets
    • Reject unnecessary spending regardless of whether the spending is subsidized or not

    It’s time to…

    work together!

    Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton have been very generous with tax dollars to the Chariho District over the years. Yet, Chariho’s per student costs are among the highest in the country, while educational results are among the lowest. The three towns must work together to end business as usual and demand superior education at a reasonable cost. Voting no on the bond will:

    • send the message that we demand accountability and results oriented education
    • break the cycle of careless spending

    It’s time to…

    Put an end to unrestrained spending

    The proposed bond does nothing to address the problems at elementary schools. We can expect to spend substantially more money on elementary school infrastructure going forward.

    The proposed bond may make R.Y.S.E a ‘voter approved program’ simply by specifying a permanent building for R.Y.S.E.

    The proposed bond virtually assures that our 5th and 6th graders will remain in the age inappropriate middle school environment.

    The proposed bond increases space while student enrollment is projected to decline over the foreseeable future.

    The proposed bond raises the cost per student higher still, yet fails to recognize that new and improved buildings will not better educate our children.

    NO to Campus 2010

    It’s time to…

    Consider financially responsible alternatives

    VOTE NO
    November 6, 2007

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