Chariho School Parents’ Forum

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.






  1. With all due respect Mr. Felkner, the information provided to the board is meaningless without knowing how students are identified as RYSE cases. Do we have RYSE students who would remain in district without RYSE? If so, these “lower cost” students should not be included in calculations of RYSE’s per pupil costs.

    I’ve made this point several times, but I think it may be overlooked. The more students placed into the RYSE pool, the easier it is to misrepresent the per pupil cost. The most accurate method for assessing the cost of RYSE is to look at our Special Education costs before and since RYSE.

    Yes, there is fluidity in the Special Eduation population, but I can’t think of any reason for a 300% increase in Special Education students in Washington County. Can anybody tell me why this happened?

    Here’s an example of how this could work…Chariho has a special needs student requiring some in-class help. This particular student costs the system a little, but does not require intensive help. Now let’s say Chariho designates this poor child as a RYSE case. The student continues to need minimal help, but now the RYSE program gets to use the student to dilute their per pupil costs.

    There is something odd going on in the world of Special Education. Special Education costs rose by 11% and students identified as Special Education increased by 300% in one year. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that RYSE is heavily involved in this weird occurence.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 30, 2007 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  2. Special education costs have been and will always be part of the school educational process. I don’t believe anyone doubts this or is against the service. There are, and always will be, students who will need intensive assistance that we pay for – whether that is Meeting Street, Bradley Hospital, the Groden Center or probably numerous smaller groups that serve a specific disabled population.

    Most of our students with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) are totally mainstreamed into the school population – as they should be. These (as CR notes) should not be considered part of the RYSE program, but they may be considererd part of the ‘special needs’ group. At the same time, all students are special and have ‘special needs’ so it is quite a misnomer and becomes even more difficult to figure out costs associated with these students.

    The ALP program (Alternative Learning Program) is much more curious. These students ‘ask’ to be part of the program, it is considered part of the RYSE building, but they do not need to be separate from their entire set of school friends or associates. They need to be educated separately, but I’m not sure why. I think it’s because it is more difficult for them to deal with large groups of people (like being excessively shy) but they also stay within the school confines. I suppose they could go to a smaller, more private school and we would pay to tuition-out if the ALP program didn’t exist. But I am not sure.

    I do believe that the Special Education portion of Rhode Island’s Education is a black hole. Very smart students cannot get teachers who have majored (BA, MA and above) in their specialty (science, math, history, economics, etc) because we force these truly smart people to have a degree in education to teach. We cannot get advanced labs, more computer classes (in school or out of school) to complement standard class time in major subjects and AP classes accept students who cannot do the work and slow down all the others. We can slow track anyone, but we can’t fast track the majority for fear of ‘leaving a child behind’. Welcome to the real world. Not everyone can do everything equally well.

    And the real tragedy here is that you frustrate the teachers too – especially the good ones. Someone who may love their subject and love teaching it, but cannot with joy teach a hungry learner because the other students can’t keep up.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — October 31, 2007 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  3. 1. Yes, CR. But I think what we have seen at Chariho is a rapid drop in special education population (dropped about 28% in 3 years) but a rise in “intensive” needs children that would go to out-of-district placements or RYSE. In other words, pre-ryse we sent (guess) 20 kids out of district and had 750 kids on special need contacts (IEP’s). Today we have 50 kids in RYSE (replacing out-of-district placements) and 550 kids on IEP’s. Thus total cost goes down but cost per pupil for intensive-needs kids goes up (but it is hidden because total costs have been flat).

    2. BC, you are correct in theory but I have heard from a parent that her child who was teased by peers was “placed” into ALP – it was not his or his parents choice. They eventually got him out but he was definately placed there against his will.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 31, 2007 @ 7:51 am | Reply

  4. As I’ve said, I’m not sure what has happened, but the report I linked below shows a 300% increase in one year (2004-2005) in the Special Education population in Washington County. How is this possible? And why? The number of students identified as Special Education in Washington County went from below 1,500 up to above 4,500 in one year! Has this been explained?

    I refuse to believe that Wasthington County’s Special Needs population actually increased three-fold in one year. I suspect that the increase is either a idiotic reporting mistake by Washington County schools or a purposeful manipulation by the Special Education establishment in Washington County. I would be very surprised if Chariho, with a recently implemented RYSE program, wasn’t deeply involved in the mistake or manipulation.

    We are now told that Special Education student population has decreased by 28% in the last three years. Do you know if that is 28% of a 300% increase?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 31, 2007 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  5. The number of special education students went from about 7XX to 5XX (can’t remember and info is at home). There was a drastic reduction in the number of students labeled as such at Charhio – no just in RYSE. RYSE enrolment may have gone up. Until we see 2002 info (which I have asked for) we won’t know.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 31, 2007 @ 9:55 am | Reply

  6. It will be interesting to see when Chariho’s reduction in Special Education population began. They may have inflated the numbers in the years preceding RYSE so they could then come to us and report a subsequent reduction?

    There are only 7 or 8 school districts in Washington County so when Special Education students go from 1500 to 4500 in one year, you’d have to think Chariho was part of this surge.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 31, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  7. […] Update: RYSE saves us “hundreds of thousands of dollars” Filed under: RYSE, bond — Bill Felkner @ 5:08 pm Update to the previous post.  […]

    Pingback by Update: RYSE saves us “hundreds of thousands of dollars” « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — November 1, 2007 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

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