Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 6, 2007

Unofficial results

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 9:53 pm

Unofficial results. 

437 approve – 490 reject
20 absentee votes uncounted

Congratulations – now the work begins. 


New numbers in –

Charlestown 680 approve, 327 reject

Richmond 540 approve, 254 reject

Hopkinton 447 approve, 494 reject



  1. great job

    Comment by smartiepants — November 6, 2007 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  2. hope you have a plan
    i don’t think charlestown & richmond care to put up with you much longer!
    good thing you have that wonderful old ashaway building – you’ll need it!

    Comment by smartiepants — November 6, 2007 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  3. The plan:
    1. Bring back 5th and 6th
    2. fix the tax inequity
    3. remove social services from the school budget


    1. grant parent choice in education and let the $ follow the child

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 6, 2007 @ 11:09 pm | Reply

  4. Well, since the School Committee in their undying commitment to bend over for the administration has delayed the management study by another year, a clear plan may take awhile.

    Without the benefit of expert opinion, I’d say we need to hold contracts to zero growth until they are line with the private sector; eliminate unnecessary administrators; eliminate “guidance” until High School; welcome the 21st century by relying less on library services and more on internet services (physical library structures will become a thing of the past by the end of this century); share detailed (and understandable) budgets for public analyses; end no-bid contracts for Special Education services; budget appropriately for school maintenance; etc., etc., etc.

    Why the bond was rejected by Hopkinton isn’t rocket science. We’ve been being gouged for years and Chariho’s administration and School Committee refuse to operate in the open. Hopkinton experienced an 18.9% budget increase a few years ago and it was entirely due to Chariho. Individual Charlestown taxpayers simply don’t feel the same impact and a huge amount of Richmond residents and their families use Chariho as their income generator, so they have no self control…Hopkinton does and we must.

    Charlestown could very well remove themselves from Chariho. With their tax base they can afford school facilities which would be the envy of Rhode Island. Hopkinton doesn’t have the same resources…and Richmond would reach their limit eventually. Even school employees have limits on how much they can pay in taxes.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 6, 2007 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  5. Yes, thank you CR. How could I forget –
    4. treat public sector employees just like private sector employees – no better, no worse

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 6, 2007 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

  6. I greatly favor and encourage education funding following students and perhaps that will be the ultimate outcome. When parents are given the choice, schools will improve and cost will come down.

    On the other hand, they could try to cram another bond vote down our throats without changing how they do business. The next annual budget should give us a clue whether they are now ready to change their ways or if they will continue the status quo of secrecy and irresponsible budgets.

    We know this, Charlestown and Richmond will likely approve any budget. Thank goodness for the cap or they’d probably try to put the bond into the annual budget.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 6, 2007 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  7. CR, I wondered the same thing, whether they would try to push another bond through just to cover their inability to control spending. It is time to cut the budget. Increase spending on maintenance and repairs, and cut everywhere else.

    And as far as Hopkinton being evil, they (the school committee) were offered an opportunity to split the bond. They didn’t. Here lies the problem. They didn’t listen to the needs of the taxpayer. Sadly, I bet they would have gotten the high school repairs. But, it is all or nothing. Should we call them evil?

    They (past school committee members) chose to not make enough cuts in past budgets. They chose to underfund maintenance and repairs. They are responsible for the disrepair of the buildings. Should we call them evil?

    I’m not into name calling.

    Now, to the present, the current school committee now must make a decision, either continue with the status quo or make some huge changes.

    When will they ever tell us what the mandates are? Do you know? They don’t want us to know because they don’t want us to suggest where to make the cuts.

    Open communication will solve most of the problems with the budget. A clear honest dialog with the taxpayers is the answer.

    I praise the people who tried to get something done with the high school. Charlestown’s educational ad hoc committee began this with their report. But, other things were added that many in Hopkinton felt were overdone.

    In this blog, people have offered suggestions. Namely, fix the elementary schools first. Reconfigure the 5th and 6th grades in the elementary school, where they belong. This will relieve overcrowding in the middle and high schools, which would eliminate the need to add costly additions to those schools and to build a RYSE building.

    The problem is we are now in a hurry to make a quick fix. Many will do anything to get the high school fixed, even if it means voting in unnecessary and costly additions. Was this their motivation to not splitting the bond? I’ve wondered.

    Charlestown began the process. They almost got it. Let’s make it a tri-town effort now. Reconvene the Charlestown Educational Ad Hoc Committee. Dialog with the Hopkinton School Referenda Committee. Richmond – form an educational ad hoc committee. Go door to door if necessary to get the taxpayers opinion. Use this blog to dialog the ideas.

    Submit an analysis of RYSE, since its inception, from the finance director, not the special ed director. Her job is not financing. Show us all costs associated with RYSE. And be sure to account for people going in and out of RYSE, (personnel). P & L statements for all areas of the school would be nice.

    Open communication and controlled spending are the future of Chariho. When this occurs, the residents of Hopkinton, who rejected the bond, and those that rejected the bond in the other two towns will follow Chariho around like a puppy dog.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 7, 2007 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  8. Did I miss something? Isn’t Mr. Felkner on the school committee? Shouldn’t he be able to fill in some gaps of information? Shouldn’t he know what the mandates are?

    Comment by smartiepants — November 7, 2007 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  9. The point is a past school committee member stated that if they told us the mandates, we would know where to cut. This is an intentional effort on the part of many to keep us in the dark. Do you condone this behavior?

    I certainly don’t see the other school committee members making an effort to blog with their residents. Why? Because they still operate under a shroud of secrecy. Time and again, Mr. Felkner has tried to give and get information. Read through this blog. There are no secrets here.

    And now the committee has attempted to quiet him up.

    Obviously, the public is now getting informed thanks to Mr. Felkner. This is what scares them.

    Also, these things come out slowly. As he inquires, more info comes out. Thank God someone is asking questions.

    Maybe the school committee as a whole ought to ask the Superintendent to list on the budget for all to see the mandates which we are required to budget. This certainly would be much easier than finding out things as they go.

    I’m sure, now that Mr. Felkner has one budgetary process under his belt, we will get more information.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 7, 2007 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  10. Congratulations. Now we can get to work. K-12 at Ashaway schools for Ashaway kids. K-12 at Hope Valley School for Hope Valley kids. Time to move forward and take care of our own. Keep it simple and not stupid.
    Administration should not outnumber school enrollment. And don’t even THINK of using the word RYSE in our district.

    Comment by hopeful — November 7, 2007 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  11. I personally do not believe it is in Hopkinton’s best interest to pull out all together.

    I do believe, if we work together to solve the issues with one future bond proposal, it would be in our best interest. Multiple bonds that included things we didn’t need was doomed for defeat in Hopkinton.

    But, if it is in our best interest to pull out, I would have to consider that too.

    I believe that the Hopkinton Ad Hoc School Referenda committee is intent in bringing our 5th and 6th grades back into the elementary setting. Costs are being looked into. The process has begun. The meetings are the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Crandall House. I hope at some point, participation will be so great that we can meet in a bigger arena.

    I will quote you this:

    “The heart of the issue of the elementary school facilities is the desire of the parents for “neighborhood schools” with pupils staying in town schools for as many grades as possible…. Additionally, we recommend evaluating a change to a K-5, K-6, or K-8 educational model.” Courtesy of the School Options Study Committee of Charlestown. This was submitted to the Charlestown Town Council on 10/2/06.

    They see the need. I think we all see the need. We are closer to a solution than people seem to think. The 2004 survey is an example of how close we are.

    In the meanwhile, Chariho needs to control spending, budget more efficiently, and I do believe that the 3 towns can come to a solution. Otherwise, I do believe the end of regionalization is near. That would be sad.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 7, 2007 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  12. I’m not as optimistic as you Mrs. Buck. I didn’t give it much consideration with all the other controversies surrounding the bond, but the more I think of Charlestown’s tax situation, the less likely I think it is that Hopkinton can co-exist with Charlestown at Chariho.

    Think of it…a Hopkinton taxpayer pays $3 for every $1 spent by a Charlestown taxpayer for Chariho. New track…$12 for me, $4 for Mr. Ricci. AC in the Middle School…$900 for me, $300 for him. Charlestown, and Richmond for that matter, have shown that they could care less about wasteful budgets. In Charlestown’s case, it doesn’t cost individual taxpayers enough to get worked up about. None of them will be forced from their homes because of the taxes created by Chariho.

    This is a fundamental problem. I don’t even blame Charlestown. They entered the regional school on equal tax footing and through the years, based on great geography, their tax base has dramatically risen and they’ve reaped the benefits for some time now. Charlestown taxpayers are able to ignore Chariho. Charlestown taxpayers can accept crazy employee contracts. They can insist on the best facilities.

    Hopkinton has little chance of getting an even playing field. Charlestown and Richmond have shown that they do not care about the impact of Chariho spending on the average Hopkinton taxpayer. As the bond issue evolved, I came across a recent budget vote where, led by Mr. Hirst, Hopkinton voters slashed Chariho’s budget by around $2,000,000. Within a month or so Charlestown and Richmond had managed to get another vote on the budget and restored a large part of the cut. I couldn’t believe it was even legal, but in Rhode Island, they got away with it. How can Hopkinton ever expect to have control of budgets when we can’t even rely on our votes counting? They don’t like our vote…they vote again.

    Hopkinton is not the “evil” one here. We’ve lost citizens due to Chariho. We’ve lost parental rights due to Chariho. We’ve sat by and watched a wonderful old school building fall into disrepair because of Chariho. We’ve done all this “for the children”, and we get crapped on each and every year despite our willingness to be economically abused. We owe no one an apology.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 7, 2007 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  13. smartiepants,

    I have no idea what all the mandates are – but I’m not alone. As an example, Kathy Perry was in the Sun saying the services provided by RYSE are required. Charihio is the only district in RI providing “wrap around services” (providing services to parents etc..) Are we the only ones meeting the mandates? no – its subjective.

    Another example. We were told that we couldn’t use the 1904 building because of the fire-code mandates. But we used it up until June 06 AND not all of our current buildings meet fire code. Furthermore, how many schools in Providence do you think are up to code? Not many – selective enforcement.

    As for getting info – that’s not as easy as it used to be. I must now get Bill Day’s permission to place something on the agenda and there are still questions regarding what I can ask the superintendent. Bill Day, Andy Polouski and Andrew McQuade have said that I can’t ask for info without getting board approval. However, for the most part (not perfect), Superintendent Ricci ignores this rule (probably because he knows its not proper).

    I get overwhelmed with people sending me emails asking for me to get info. It’s too much – so I ask them all to ask Mr. Ricci directly. If he doesn’t provide the information, then I will step in. But I can’t keep up with the requests anymore and would rather do none than have to select.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 7, 2007 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  14. ProJo reported on angry bond supporters earlier today. You can read my comments on that report at Hopkinton Speaks.

    The Rag now weighs in with their report:

    Charlestown Town Council President, Katherine Waterman, is quoted saying, “If Hopkinton really thinks they cast a vote for tax equalization, they are whistling Dixie!”

    Who can blame Ms. Waterman? Why would Charlestown ever agree to tax equity? They won’t and any effort in that regard is futile.

    Ms. Waterman, Mr. Magoo, Mr. Mcqaide and others in Charlestown believe either Hopkinton must withdraw or Richmond and Charlestown must withdraw. This could be good news for Hopkinton. Imagine how much they’d be willing to pay us for the Chariho campus? If they value the replacement of the modular building at $3,900,000, then I would expect the entire Chariho complex to have a value far exceeding $100,000,000. If Charlestown and Richmond want to make Hopkinton an offer, I think we should listen.

    I find the reaction to the bond defeat predictable in its emotionalism. For years Charlestown and Richmond have shafted Hopkinton by overwhelmingly approving unrestrained spending and budgets which disregard mainenance.

    Hopkinton has paid a heavy price with the abandonment of the 1904 building and runaway annual budgets. Even when we voted to cut a budget, Charlestown and Richmond rose up to thwart the legal vote. Now it is their turn to cry.

    I’m with Mr. Felkner in desiring parental choice in education. If Chariho becomes Chari we could all be better off…especially our children. Richmond and Charlestown have acted irresponsibly for years. The bond failed because they are unable to control their desire to throw away money and they never stop proposing more foolish spending.

    Hopkinton must approach all resolutions with an open mind. Personally, you can give me $5000 per year for educating my child and I’ll be thrilled. I’ll make the education choices and Hopkinton will not waste thousands of dollars on my child. I think many parents would satisfied with this arrangement.

    Let Charlestown and Richmond parents and children be held captive by Chariho…Chariho has done a horrible job in recent years and I’m tired of it.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 7, 2007 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  15. With Richmond and Charlestown’s propensity to throw money away with an unaccountable school system which delivers substandard results for children, I have the good name for their new school…Richtown.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 7, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  16. BRAVO, CR !!!

    Comment by Georgies Mom — November 7, 2007 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  17. Hey Mr. Felkner, now that we are feeling good about the defeat of the bond proposal, it might be a good time to tell us about the Support Workers contract? Wouldn’t want us thinking all is right with the world, would you?

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 7, 2007 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  18. I put this in the Ad Hoc Committee section and on Hopkinton RI Speaks, but wnat to see a good turnout so will put it here too.

    I’m glad to hear we are still needed. Next Thursday will be the third Thursday so we should have a meeting at the Crandall House then. I’ll wait to hear from Barabara, Lois, Elaine or Kat on agenda items.

    I’ve read much anger in the news reports of the reaction to the bond vote. I feel badly for those who put in their time to get a bond passed. They were let down by town and school leaders who have known for years that the fifth and sixth grade configuration was not favored by parents or voters. The bond should never have included the middle school expansion for this reason. This is not evil. Those of us who want our young children taught in elementary schools are not evil.

    Mr. Felkner has suggested that education money follow students and I like this idea. I don’t know if it is possible or if it would be approved since Utah voters rejected a voucher system in their vote yesterday but I like making the decision for my children so it has a lot of appeal to me. I’m not happy with the education my children receive in public school but can’t afford any alternatives. I think many parents feel this way.

    Now we can work on making Hopkinton schools the best we can afford. This may include the 1904 building or not but our work can begin in earnest without the bond hanging over our heads. I ask any Hopkinton bond supporters to join our efforts – join the ad hoc committee. We still need all the brain power we can get.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 7, 2007 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  19. Hey Bill,
    I like your “plan”, the items you highlighted are dead on!
    Let me know what can be done in the future to help.
    For the work you’ve done so far, THANK YOU.

    Comment by R S — November 7, 2007 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  20. Yes, thank you Mr. Felkner for your leadership.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 7, 2007 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

  21. Thank you Hopkinton voters for the result I hoped for.
    Thank you Mr.Felkner for this blog, I feel more informed.
    I am sick of throwing away tax dollars to an unaccountable
    school system and I feel bad for my children not receiving
    the education they deserve. I spend time every evening reteaching
    them math because they dont’t understand Investigations.
    Maybe things will change.
    Change is good.
    The only thing permanent is change.

    Comment by A's Mom — November 8, 2007 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  22. A’s Mom…if you don’t live in Hopkinton can we make a trade with your town? We’ll give you one of Hopkinton pro-bond voters and your town can give us you.

    If Hopkinton does get lucky and Charlestown and Richmond decide to boot us out of their school, I can tell you one thing, Hopkinton will do a better job of overseeing curriculum. Investigations will be gone.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 8, 2007 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  23. I do live in Hopkinton-was considering moving to Charlestown though because I only work part-time (12 hrs/wk) and we can’t afford the taxes anymore. I love this town moved back here 4 years ago. I bought my first house here in the early 90’s. The old Ashaway School has potential, I think. We are a community of craftsmen and builders maybe some of them could help. We need to pull together and make Hopkinton a wonderful town to be a part of again. With out going broke trying.

    Comment by A's Mom — November 9, 2007 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  24. I’m pretty much a life long Hopkinton resident. I have fondness for Hopkinton, but I feel I spend my money better than the government spends my money, so I’d move to Charlestown in a heartbeat if I could do it. You wouldn’t lose anything because I have no discernible skills to offer the town. 😉

    I recently was talking to a real estate agent from Westerly. He told me that he advises house hunters to avoid Hopkinton because of the high taxes. I would imagine that businesses look at taxes as part of the their calculation too. Hopkinton can’t afford to continue down a path that guarantees us an ever increasing tax burden. Chariho has put Hopkinton on that path and doesn’t show any signs of changing.

    Charlestown is a beach community and as such, has the tax base that naturally follows a desirable location. More power to them, but as a result of their lucrative tax base, they have many more resources to spend (and waste) than Hopkinton.

    I admire your passion for Hopkinton and your faith in the people to get together to solve our current crisis. We could use a Habitat for Humanity-type effort on the 1904 building, but somehow, I think the government would interfere and make the effort futile.

    Please take a trip over to Hopkinton Speaks and read my most recent comments there. Mr. Cordone, Hopkinton Town Council president, was quoted in a ProJo article attacking Hopkinton’s opposition to the bond. The guy threw Hopkinton under the bus and shamefully disregards the concerns of his constinuency.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 9, 2007 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  25. I think A’s mom is right. I have long believed that we can work together to fix that building up, even those who are not carpenters. I can paint. I’m sure the town could accomplish a miracle. Volunteerism would certainly benefit us financially and we would be investing time in our own buildings.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 9, 2007 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  26. I spoke with an Ashaway resident the other day that works with old construction – very familiar with balloon construction and how to deal with the fire issues. I think it would be great for a town to rally around something like this.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 9, 2007 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  27. Just what I was talking about working together and taking pride in our town and helping the children. Who wouldn’t want to help! Where do I sign up?
    Maybe the ad hoc committee could keep this in mind. Would this Ashaway resident be willing to help? Yes Lois we don’t have to be carpenters, we can paint, clean-up, even feed them lunch – every little bit helps. Are there any answers about the building yet?

    Comment by A's Mom — November 11, 2007 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  28. We recently received copies of the fire marshals deficiencies. It is over an inch thick, but it is years of information. It is just another thing to weed through. We also obtained a copy of the architects report that was done in 2003. It is extensive, but very enlightening. I posted some numbers regarding that a couple of weeks ago.

    I am thrilled people would consider helping out. This is what I love about Hopkinton. It is a great community, and I believe that in the end the community will pull together. I see you believe as I do.

    Join us on Thursday, if you can. We will be at the Crandall House at 7 p.m. If not, we will try to keep the public informed here. Just click on the Ad Hoc Committee link to the right. And by all means, please add your comments, positive and negative.

    I can tell you that Barbara met with an individual regarding the expense of moving the building. That is just one of many scenarios they are trying to get a handle on. Jim LaBrosse and Barbara Capalbo are working on the numbers.

    I am looking into why we need to bring the 5th and 6th grades back. Obviously, many are convinced of this already, but there are those who are not. The nation is calling into question the middle school movement. Often, people react via emotionalism. When it comes to our kids, why not. But, there is a need to prove our case. And if we can convince residents in the other towns that this will benefit their kids and taxpayers, then everyone benefits as a whole.

    Kat Felkner and Elaine Morgan are looking into the special needs area. They have experience in this realm.

    We certainly need more help. If you know of anyone who likes to do research or punch numbers, please recommend they join us. There is so much to do.

    I have posted links on cspf so people can read the research for themselves. Please look them over and comment on them. We will be discussing 2 studies on Thursday.

    I will post the link below.


    Comment by Lois Buck — November 11, 2007 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  29. Here is the link to the ad-hoc committee:

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 11, 2007 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

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