Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 30, 2007

“There’s no reason tri-town taxpayers shouldn’t get to see deal they’re about to pay for”

Filed under: contract negotiations — Editor @ 11:07 pm

I am sure most of you have heard about Tuesday’s meeting by now.  Specifically, how the board killed discussion of the email Superintendent Ricci sent out after the bond failed.   Simply put, Bill Day told me to make a motion and then we would have discussion – once I made the motion, Andy McQuaide “moved to question” seconded by Andy Polouski, and no discussion was allowed.  It all happened very quickly.  It looked planned to me, but maybe I’m biased.  Plus, planning is not illegal if not done with a quorum.  Fool me once… 

But what you didn’t hear is also important and it was mentioned today in the paper.

“There’s no reason tri-town taxpayers shouldn’t get to see deal they’re about to pay for”  That was the title of today’s editorial in the Westerly Sun.  The editor called for the Chariho Board to release details of the support personnel contract to the public before the board approves it (once ratified, it is a legal contract).

 As it’s now scheduled, the new contract will not be made public until after the staffers have ratified it and the new deal goes to the school board for final approval. That should leave … oh… a half hour or so for any interested taxpayers or town officials to read it, digest it, decide whether it really is a good deal – and then pre­pare to offer comments and concerns to a board that, by Tuesday’s votem, is really already committed to approving it.

That, folks, is an absolute travesty – and it is a format that, once and for all, should be changed within the Chariho Act, and on a statewide basis.

It is indeed a travesty.  God forbid the people paying the bills get to have a voice in the process.  But its not a matter for the Chariho Act or even a statewide issue.  It is a choice made by the school board.  There are no laws requiring us to withhold the information and there are no laws requiring closed meetings for negotiations.  Just as it should be.

You elect representatives to represent you.  You don’t need someone in Providence saying how someone should represent you.  If you want to watch them negotiate a contract or just see it before they lock it in, why don’t you let them know. 

They have heard my voice – have they heard yours?  Why don’t you contact them?

Back to the editorial: 

 What makes this scenario all the more maddening is that the School Committee has 11 days to let the taxpayers of Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton see the contract they’ll likely be paying for over the next three years, yet is essentially choosing not to do so. Last month, when we urged the board to let taxpayers see the school district’s offer – to see precisely what the union was turning down – the committee could at least use the excuse that talks were still ongoing, even beyond the tentative agreement. Now, even that excuse doesn’t hold water.

During Tuesday’s Executive Session, I made a motion to release the contract to the pubic while we waited for the union to vote for ratification.  Only George Abbott and I voted yes.

You didn’t even know this vote happened because we don’t report what we are voting on, or how individual board members voted.  We should.  Here is the law:

§ 42-46-4  Closed meetings. – (a) By open call, a public body may hold a meeting closed to the public upon an affirmative vote of the majority of its members. and a statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed, shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting.

(b) All votes taken in closed sessions shall be disclosed once the session is reopened; 

But at least we announce the vote right?  We say, “a vote was taken, it was 2-6-3”  But that’s not exactly proper either.

 § 42-46-7  Minutes. – (a) All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all their meetings. The minutes shall include, but need not be limited to:

   (b) A record of all votes taken at all meetings of public bodies, listing how each member voted on each issue, shall be a public record

Of course, as with all law, a term like “specify the nature” is subjective and must be tested. 

PR 06-16 Parks v. Cumberland School Committee

 and it suffices that the Personnel Sub-Committee’s agenda violated the OMA by failing to provide an adequate statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-6(b). 

880 A.2d 784; Tanner v. The Town Council of East Greenwich 

we hold that the requirement that a public body provide supplemental notice, including a “statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed,” obligates that public body to provide fair notice to the public under the circumstances, or such notice based on the totality of the circumstances as would fairly inform the public of the nature of the business to be discussed or acted upon. Although we recognize that this standard is somewhat flexible and we decline to provide specific guidelines or “magic words,” such an approach accounts for the range and assortment of meetings, votes, and actions covered under the OMA, and the realities of local government, while also safeguarding the public’s interest in knowing and observing the workings of its governmental bodies.(fn15) 

But good lawyers know the law and don’t let their clients get into trouble.  Unfortunately, Chariho has been in trouble before.  Who remembers Hirst v Chariho School (1999) – we should all be thankful for people like Scott Bill Hirst who go through the effort to hold public officials accountable.

And if memory serves (but I’m sure our attorney knows this) Chariho was told that if it violated the law again it would be considered a “willful violation.”  But I suppose one excuse could be ‘I didn’t violate the law the same way.’

Although, I’m not even sure a vote like the one on Tuesday is an executive session item anyway.  That’s not their fault – they didn’t know I was going to make the motion (unless they read this blog).  But perhaps the discussion could have been moved to the open meeting.

§ 42-46-4 Closed meetings. – (a) By open call, a public body may hold a meeting closed to the public upon an affirmative vote of the majority of its members. A meeting closed to the public shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by § 42-46-5

§ 42-46-5 (2) Sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation, or work sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation.

Although, this is the tricky part.  Is someone wanted to restrict access to information, they could cover a lot of information as being open to “litigation.”  But an administration and board that wanted to be “proactive” with transparency would probably err on the side of the public.  Right?

Since the bargaining was over, a vote to release the information might not fall under this section.  But, I suppose this is minor. 

I would assume that Superintendent Ricci passed this by the solicitor (I know he consulted with the solicitor before calling for the March 27 exec session – which makes me wonder, does the solicitor work for the board or the superintendent?  but I digress). 

Apparently, we interpret the above information differently.  I suppose they might consider this posts a violation of the Open Meeting Act.   Is it? 

All executive session minutes are public documents.  So if you want to see them, just ask the school.

§ 42-46-7  Minutes (c) The minutes of a closed session shall be made available at the next regularly scheduled meeting unless the majority of the body votes to keep the minutes closed pursuant to §§ 42-46-4 and 42-46-5.

We did NOT vote to keep the minutes closed.

All that being said (and sorry for the long read), it just seems that our administration and board that claims to be “proactive” in transparency doesn’t seem to ‘err on the side of the public’ when it comes to interpreting the law.

I will give the board a few props for making a small step in the right direction.  On Tuesday we approved a letter to the Board of Regents giving suggestions for future contract negotiations.  The Chariho board approved sending a letter supporting the release of a fiscal impact statement prior to contract ratification.  The board did not approve support for open meeting negotiations.  One out of two is not bad.  But we will have to wait and see if Chariho actually does it or just gives the suggestion to someone else.

PS.  Now that you know the law, go back to the March 27 meeting and read what the school was saying.  Remember, I was accused of violated the law by Andy McQuaide, Andy Polouski and Bill Day but no charges were filed.  And the post that was supposedly a violation is still up.

Oh yea, there was something else in that closed session on Tuesday.  What do some on the Chariho board and the NEA have in common?  Anyone want to ask for the minutes?

Chariho Act oops

Filed under: Chariho Act — Editor @ 11:41 am

The Providence Journal today reported on the “obvious omissions”in the updated Chariho Act, as pointed out by Mrs. Carney.

Comparing the proposed document with the 1986 version, Carney said she first noticed the deletion of a clause that provided job protection for employees if any member town decides to withdraw.

Reading further, Carney said, she then noticed that sections 16 through 19 had been eliminated.

Section 17 pertains to the admission of other towns into the regional district and section 18 deals with withdrawal and the creation of an entrance, expansion, and exit committee.

I have asked Mr. Ricci to provide me with the response from the attorney.  This attorney is being interviewed to replace John Earle as the Chariho solicitor.

The obvious solution to all of our problems

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 11:26 am

I have long been a proponent of school choice – just let the parents make those buying decisions just like we do with clothes, food, cars and just about everything else.  Give parents the power to remove their child from a school they do not believe provides an adequate education.

American normally abhors a monopoly, but for some reason (an obvious reason), the education monopoly is protected. Today’s ProJo editorial tells you how school choice was defeated in Utah –

Perhaps it was the fear that it would have worked — badly shaking up the status quo — that led the entire education establishment in Utah to oppose the reform, including the Utah Education Association (the teachers union), the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Associations, the elementary- and secondary-school-principals’ associations, and the Parent-Teachers Association. Those supporting vouchers included Utah’s legislators, who had studied the matter carefully and passed legislation, and the governor, who signed it into law — until the unions obtained enough signatures for the referendum overturning it.

Some of these arguments we have heard before.

Another ad said there would be “no accountability” in the private schools. That, too, was false, since students in those schools would have been required to take standardized tests that would have helped to demonstrate whether the voucher system was working.

The Chariho School Board had an opportunity to open up a little choice for parents by supporting legislation that would have removed the cap on Charter Schools (public schools not bound by union contracts).  Our Chairman Bill Day fought successfully against that measure because he didn’t think those schools had enough government regulations to ensure that they were operating properly.  Mr. Day does not seem to think that parents are able to make those choices or capable of knowing whether or not their child is being educated properly.   

Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that his wife and son are both on the Chariho payroll and he understands that if parents were given a choice, many probably would not attend Chariho and his family members might be out of a job.  Of course, schools that perform their job well have nothing to worry about – why would a parent leave a successful school?

November 29, 2007

Chariho Act update

Filed under: Chariho Act — Editor @ 5:31 am

Deb Carney, former chair of the Charlestown Town Council sent an email last night expressing concerns about the updated Chariho Act.  Here is her letter.

Good Evening Chariho School Committee Members,

I was watching the School Committee meeting on Channel 18 and I downloaded a copy of the proposed Chariho Act revision from the Chariho website.  After a quick review of the “New Act” versus the Chariho Act of 1986, there are a few HUGE problems.

During the meeting, Barry indicated that this document was, “Not an amendment to the Act.”  He further stated this document was, “A compilation of what was approved,” and that the lawyer was asked to, “Compile one single updated version with all the amendments.  That’s what this is.”  After an initial review, I can tell you, that is NOT what this is.  This is a REWRITE of the Chariho Act. 

This rewrite is evidenced in several areas.  If you note all the “strikeovers” within the document, those are CHANGES from what is in the 1986 Act.  These “strikeovers” have NOT been approved by the voters.

The bigger problem occurs (in the “New Act”) with the OMISSION of sections 16, 17, 18 and 19.  If you reference the 1986 version of the Chariho Act, you will note section 18(1) and 18(2) specifically deal with the process for withdrawal.  In the “New Act”, the process for withdrawal has been ELIMINATED.  This elimination is further evidenced in section 14(2) of the 1986 Act.  Notice in the “New Act” Section 14 (1) has been renumbered to read 13(1), yet the old 14(2) just ceases to exist.  The old Section 14(2) also references withdrawal.  Where did it go?  What happened to Sections 16, 17, 18 and 19?  Why were those sections eliminated?

The second to last paragraph of the “Explanation” on the last page of the new document states, “This Act would compile the legislation affecting the Chariho Regional School District into one uniform Act.”  My interpretation of this statement would be that this document, as it exists, would be the “New Chariho Act” and any language not contained within this document would no longer exist.  Therefore it would be critical that (old) Sections 14(2), 16, 17, 18 and 19 be returned to the Chariho Act.

It was my understanding that this document was to be a compilation of the amendments to the Act that had already been approved by the voters.  That is NOT what this document is.  This is a REWRITE of the Act that eliminates, among other things, the process for withdrawal.  Elimination of this provision was NEVER authorized by the voters.

Did the School Committee authorize a rewrite of the Act or a compilation of previously approved amendments?  After watching the meeting and reviewing the “New Act” I have serious concerns with this document.  I felt the need to share my concerns with the committee so you can all review both versions of the Act (and the amendments that were approved in November 2006) prior to the discussion to be held at your January meeting.

If in fact the School Committee’s motion was to, “Compile one single updated version with all the amendments,” then I respectfully submit that the “New Act” is NOT a compilation of what has been approved by the voters.  I ask that you please not forward this version of the Act to the General Assembly.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss this prior to your meeting, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for taking the time to review my concerns.
Deb Carney

[update] Superintendent Ricci has removed the Act update that was located on the Chariho School website pending review from the attorney.

November 27, 2007

School Committee meeting – Nov 27

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 11:02 pm

This evening’s meeting will be aired on Channel 18 tomorrow night (Nov 28, 8pm) and Friday noon.

Of particular interest was the discussion over the email from Superintendent Ricci to the Town Council presidents.  Notice how debate is stifled by a motion made by Andrew McQuaide.  Actually, it was quite a masterful use of Roberts Rules, especially for someone so new to this.   

I also brought up the quote from Bill Day where he said opponents of the bond had “lied” and I gave him an opportunity to identify the individuals and specific “lies.” 

Finally, Holly Eaves brought up some health inspection concerns.  I will try to find more info.

Try to catch the broadcast – will post details later.

Accountability before bond

Filed under: bond,Student Performance — Editor @ 4:21 pm

I see that my letter was published today in the Westerly Sun – earlier than expected.  Here is the letter – and links below.   Sorry for the poor formating – time is short.

“Increase accountability to get support for future bonds”

 There were many reasons for voting “no” on the Charhio bond.  One of the ongoing frustrations is the feeling that parents are not getting value for their education dollars and Chariho is not forthcoming with the information.   

A recent letter from a Chariho employee said, “Teachers are lucky to get a 1 to 4 percent raise… for being among the highest performing. You don’t believe me? Look at the books.” 

I personally respect this individual for the job he has done at Chariho, so I will assume someone else gave him that information.  Here are the facts: 

The current teacher contract has two structures of pay: “steps” and “longevity.”   A teacher is on steps during the first 10 years of employment.  About half of our teachers are on steps and the raise amounts vary.  The largest raise this year was 13.4 percent and the average raise was 10.6 percent.   

Teachers not on steps received a contract raise of 3.5 percent plus longevity.  Longevity is a lump sum payment added to the salary and varies based on years of employment.  Adding longevity to the contract raise produces a total raise between 3.6 and 10 percent, depending on pay and seniority. In other words, teachers get raises between 3.6 and 13.4 percent. 

It is inaccurate to say teachers are “lucky to get a 1 to 4 percent raise.” 

Now lets examine the claim of “highest performing” by looking at the 2006 NECAP Results Report comparing Chariho to our geographic peers, Westerly, Exeter/West Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Coventry.   

There are 15 comparisons for the eighth grade (five schools and three disciplines – reading, math and writing).  In 14 of the 15 comparisons, Chariho has the lowest percentage of students in the top-performing quartile (Level 4, “proficient with distinction”).  In other words, Chariho produces the least high-performing students.  Chariho did beat Coventry for last place in one category. 

Next look at the lowest performing quartile (Level 1, ”substantially below proficient”).  In all disciplines (reading, math and writing) we find that Chariho has the highest percentage of students who fall into this lowest-performing category.  In other words, Chariho produces the most low-performing students. 

The results for grade 3 are similarly depressing.  No matter how you look at it, Charhio performs much worse than our geographic peers. 

The usual response from proponents of the status quo is that those towns are better prepared (due to family conditions) to have successful children.  I disagree and the data supports my claim. 

A child is evaluated as being “at risk” of poor student performance by looking at four metrics:  1) the child lives in poverty, 2) the head of household is a high school dropout, 3) the head of household does not work full time, 4) the child lives in a single parent family.  Living with three of the four criteria would categorize a child as being “at risk.”  While there are variations, these measures of “risk” are universal and used by Kids Count, the Casey Foundation and the U.S. Department of Human Services.  

 Reviewing these numbers we see that the Chariho towns, on average, provide equivalent, if not better, environments for our children than do our peer towns.  Most distinctly, Chariho has the lowest poverty rate compared to all our geographic peers and only Exeter/West Greenwich has a lower rate of single parent families. 

Looking at these numbers, one would assume that Chariho students are better equipped to succeed compared to our neighbors.  However, as we saw from the test scores, the data tells a different story.  Why should we accept this low level of performance and why should we pay so much for it? 

Student performance is a very real problem that we can’t ignore.  A 2003 UNICEF study on international education ranked America at 18 out of the top 24 industrialized nations.  Rhode Island ranks 37th in NAEP test scores and according to the recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on education RI received a combined GPA score of 0.9, ranking us dead last in the country. 

So in review we see that Chariho ranks last in student performance compared to our demographic peers and RI ranks between 37 and 50 in the nation.  And America ranks near the bottom of our world peers.  So, where does that put our children in a globally competitive market?  Certainly not what I would call “high performing.” 

Today, when many jobs can be performed with a computer and phone from anywhere in the world, we must compare our children’s’ performance to the rest of the world, not just Providence. With these scores in mind and the documented exorbitant labor costs based strictly on seniority with no incentives for achievement, all Chariho residents should be intolerant of the high price of below average performance.  This is where the frustration is coming from. 

There are a lot of problems at Charhio and I haven’t even discussed the problems with the bond and Chariho Act.  Lets focus on the kids first and stop ignoring the problems.  Then maybe the voters will feel an allegiance to Chariho.   To use chairman Bill Day’s words, there are too many “lies” about Chariho.  Just tell us the truth.   

[in CT edition] As long as parents are forced to send their children to Chariho (those not wealthy enough to afford options), they only have one way to insist on efficiency and effectiveness – and that is to reject requests for more money.

I have provided links to sources for all claims made in this email at https://cspf.wordpress.com 

Bill FelknerHopkinton representative on the Chariho School Board     

2006 NECAP Results Report.  http://reporting.measuredprogress.org/NECAPpublicRI/select.aspx  

“risk” as defined by Kids Count, the Casey Foundation and the U.S. Department of Human Services.   http://aspe.hhs.gov/HSP/fampres94/index.htm 

Single Parent Family data.http://www.rikidscount.org/matriarch/documents/Indicator2.pdf 

Poverty datahttp://www.rikidscount.org/matriarch/documents/Indicator11.pdf 

nationwide testinghttp://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/statecomp/.   

U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Leaders and Laggards” report, (http://www.uschamber.com/icw/reportcard/default). 

The teacher contract is located here (http://edpartnership.org/failid/Chariho_2006_2009.pdf).   

An evaluation of the contact performed by The Education Partnership and approved as “accurate” by the Chariho administration is located here (http://cspf.awardspace.com/education_partnership_chariho_co.htm). 

A prior analysis of the same material (with NECAP scores so you don’t have to mine them) is here
https://cspf.wordpress.com/2007/06/07/academic-achievement-an-overview/

November 25, 2007

“Middle schoolers do better in K-8 setting”

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans — Editor @ 1:03 pm

Just another report supporting the shift away from the Middle School model.

The only disappointing item is that it appears some people still don’t understand that a large part of the success of K-8 is the environment and not the behavior of the staff.

“The report tells us that outcomes are better for kids in K-8s, but it doesn’t tell us why,” Lindsey said. “It doesn’t tell us that the reason kids do better is because they are in a K-8, and we need to look at the practices in K-8s and middle schools to see what we can learn.”

There are many many reasons why it works.  Continuity during puberty, continuity with support, connectedness with community, etc, etc… 

Bottom line is it works.  Let’s do it.

November 24, 2007

Maybe we need a little humor to lighten things up

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:44 pm

From the Rhode Island Diogenes

GETTING THE “HO” TO LEAVE

Charlestown – For decades Charlestown and Richmond have sponged off the high level of state aid that Hopkinton had brought to the dinner table, but now that New Yorkers and other rich folk have gobbled up the land and pay record taxes, these two towns are looking to get out of the Chariho system.“Let’s face it, people like to have a Ho when there’s nothing else, but when you become respectable, the Ho has to go” said one Richmond council member.

Still upset with the vote

Filed under: bond,Hopkinton — Editor @ 3:04 pm

Today’s Westerly Sun ran a letter from Doreen Dolan who appears upset with the vote in Hopkinton and asks for an “explanation” from the Hopkinton Town Council.  Her frustration seems to come from her belief that “every attempt was made to comply with, or at the least, to seek compromise to, their (opponents to the bond) concerns.”

She also says,

not one of those 3 opposing town coun­selors attended an informational meet­ing held by the Building Committee, not one of them attended a Building Committee Meeting or sat on a Building Committee Subcommittee.

I can’t speak for the TC members, but Mrs. Dolan ignores the fact that I did attend a Building Committee Meeting.   I told them that they should expect the 5th and 6th graders leaving the main campus and set the plans accordingly.   Greg Kenney, the boards chair said that the rejection of the $99M bond meant that the parents did not want the kids back.  Fast forward to a Building Committee Meeting on Oct 2 – someone expressed concern about the grade reconfiguration and Mr. Kenney said that there are many people in Hopkinton who do NOT want to return the kids.  So, it doesn’t seem that they were very tuned into what the parents want.  Which is really odd considering I was recently given a flyer from 1998 when Mr. Kenney was running for the school board and one of his platforms was the return of the 5th and 6th graders.

After the earlier meeting, Mrs. Kenney spoke with me about the issue and said that she taught 6th grade and that ‘you don’t want those kids around the younger kids.’

Of course, that makes my point – there is nothing inherent in turning 11 that makes a child make bad choices.  In other words, its enviornmental.

Mrs. Dolan goes on to say,

 I have one comment to offer this council as well as to this community.
Mr. Cordone, in our phone conversation, you mentioned how difficult it is to find volunteers willing fill seats on town committees, how frustrating it is to find people willing to run for council or school committee.
I think, given the climate in this com­munity, you will continue to have that problem. In fact, I can see that problem becoming worse.

Actually, I strongly disagree with this statement.  I think the lack of involvement from the community is because they don’t feel like they are a part of the school.  Their views are ignored.   To prove that point, look at the Hopkinton ad hoc committee to research the return of the 5th and 6th graders.  I don’t know about Mrs. Buck, but all the others had never volunteered before. 

Maybe those complaining that people aren’t joining boards might think that the board’s mission does not gel with the mission of those they wish to participate.

Chariho has known since 1999 that parents want their 5th, 6th and some want 7th and 8th grade brought back to the town level.  Chariho has ignored them.

Why does it take outrage from parents before something is done.  How long have we had Investigations Math? 

Mrs. Dolan also goes on to say,

Who wants to subject themselves to the hostility? You have a handful of peo­ple in this community with an agenda of their own. Anyone willing to express an opinion different from their opinion is subject to personal attack. They have no qualms about using inaccurate and deliberately misleading remarks, aimed at discrediting anyone who disagrees with them.

Bill Day also accusing someone of telling “lies” and he also did not say who it was or what was the lie.  We all know they read this website, perhaps they could provide some details.

I do recall that I pointed out that information about RYSE was not complete by not including the legal fees attributed to the program, among other things (although, the finances of RYSE are a side issue to me).   You can review the letters yourself but I think those of us who are most vocal opposing the bond did so based on our problems with the school and not with “personal attacks.”

November 18, 2007

Councilperson Capalbo reports from meeting

Filed under: bond,meeting notice — Editor @ 10:41 pm

From Barbara Capalbo:

George Abbott told me about this ‘meeting’ – I didn’t receive an invitation either – but if it’s on, I’m game! Told George I’d meet him there. We would either be told to leave or sit quietly in the back. Mr. Ricci ran the ‘Superintendent’s Meeting’ (which he has been known to call occasionally, I learned from Mr. Ricci) joined by the ‘invitees’ – Mr. Cordone, Mrs. Kenney, Mr. Reddish, Mr. Oppenheimer, Mr. Craig, Mr. Poulouski and Mr. Day. The other eight of us sat quiet as mice (almost) in the back – that would be Maria Armental from Projo, Emily Dupuis from the Westerly Sun, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Brown (I actually don’t know her, so I could be wrong), myself, Mr. Abbott and Mrs. Dolan.

No one was allowed to comment or talk at all except ‘invitees’. This was OK with me. I realize most of you won’t believe this but Mr. Cordone spoke up for Hopkinton. He informed the group that he spoke for himself not the council since the majority of the council were against the bond and he could not/would not speak for councillors not present. He also stated that we (everyone) has the right of individual vote and he would not speak against Hopkinton’s vote or anyone else’s.

Vin continued his discussion thinking this ‘meeting’ was about the reasons for the bond failure and how we should move forward. He had numbers concerning the tax revision issue and presented it so that the three councils could begin the discussion to solve the problem – money, taxes, equalization. Charlestown’s Mr. Craig was not going to discuss this issue. Richmond’s Mr. Oppenheimer said this was an on-going issue for decades and he had been on both sides of the question.

Then they got to brass tacks – how the bond failed because of ‘lies’, misinformation, ‘certain’ people – this took Mr. Craig, Mr. Day, Mr. Poulouski, Mr. Oppenheimer and Mr. Reddish some time to vent (there were no specifics). All present spoke to the cost of the bond versus the cost within the operating budget and the town 5% budget cap. Hopkinton raised taxes 1.8% this year and we only have two small bonds which were included in the 1.8% – we weren’t even close to the 5 and 1/4% allowed this year.

Then the creme de la creme of the meeting was Mr. Reddish informing Mr. Cordone that he should ‘control his council better’ – I almost gagged – I thought this was illegal controlling elected officials points of view to keep a pleasant council (also probably an open meeting violation), but then Mr. Craig actually had the audacity to concur. It was a Kodak moment.

Mr. Ricci retrieved the conversation by changing the direction to bring up the bond again – Mr. Oppenheimer wanted the ‘re-do’ as did all others present (in fairness to Mr. Cordone, I’m not sure he agreed). They do not want to change the bond, split the bond, review the bond. They want to ‘meet’ to annihilate the misinformation, lies, and ‘certain people’ to find the truth so that they can re-vote the bond and it can be endorsed 100% by all members of the councils. Because this is the best bond to fix all the problems at the main campus and they need to get the reimbursement monies (probably good for 3 years) and otherwise it will all have to go into the operating capital budget (the elementary schools were called ‘landscaping’, the high school was more crucial, therefore the elementaries won’t get any money at all).

Mr. Ricci and the group proposed an immediate meeting (Dec 4th) of all three town councils (15 people), the entire school board (12 people + administration) and finance committees, the public is invited and encouraged to attend, persons can ask to write in and put themselves on the agenda to speak their minds – to or at – all present to correct all the misinformation presented before the bond vote.

Can you say ‘auto-de-fe’?

The Omnibus meeting is in January when, hopefully, people are calmer and blessed with the holiday season. Perhaps the Chariho Act Revision committee will have met and begun the process of equalizing taxes; and perhaps the school board will have received a letter from a council or two asking to keep the next 5th graders ’08-’09 in their own elementary schools.

Or not.

*************

auto-de-fe” – The phrase auto de fe refers to the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment (that is, after the trial).

I had to look it up.

Unfortunately, I will be in DC from Monday to Wed that week.  But everyone knows what I want.  I don’t believe any of it is not achievable.  And I know that if we don’t get it now, we won’t for the life of the bond.

1. bring back 5th & 6th.  2. stop RYSE social services  3. tax equalization  4. pull labor contracts in line with private sector pay (the contract has not been approved by the board yet)  5. budget maintenance

Or they could solve all our problems and grant parental choice – let our $13k walk out the door with our children and we will take responsibility.   Might have to settle the investments and cut liability but it could be done.

Next Page »