Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 14, 2007

Nov 13 meeting

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 8:29 pm

A rather uneventful meeting last night, all things considered.  Hopkinton Town Council members Barbara Capalbo and Sylvia Thompson spoke about moving forward.  Mrs. Capalbo presented a few ideas such as to allow each town to use district reimbursments for individual Elementary school repairs/expansions and to change the Chariho Act to achieve an equalized tax (district wide tax base).

Doreen Dolan was present with other members of C.U.R.E (the political action committee created to promote the bond).  She expressed displeasure with the outcome of the vote and said it was a vocal minority mostly speaking for Ashaway and not Hope Valley, that opposed the bond. 

Andy Polouski said some interesting comments.  He suggested that Hopkinton work to improve Chariho (I guess he means another bond) or leave and he personally hoped that Hopkinton would leave the district.  He went on to say that he wanted tax equalization too, and that Charlestown currently pays more “per pupil” than the other towns.  

Mr. Polouski looks at the ‘equalized contributions’ much like Mr. Hosp – they consider what the town contributes (net of state reimbursements) to be the “contribution” – not what the taxpayer contributes.  The problem with this philosophy is that taxpayers vote – towns do not vote (well, maybe in North Providence).  

The Campus 2010 flyer showed the effect of the “equal thirds” split from this bond.  An owner of a home ($X value) in Charletown pays $1200, an owner of a similar valued home (same $X) in Hopkinton would pay $3600.   In Richmond it would be $3900.

All that being said, there are arguments related to (equal?) taxation with/without representation.  Thus the veto each town obtains.

We have a similar situation here in Hopkinton – on a smaller level.  There are differences between the taxable property base in Hope Valley and Ashaway, but we tax the town as a one whole.  So a $300,000 home property owner in Hope Valley pays the same tax as someone with the same home in Ashaway.  The idea being we share the resources equally.   But, the towns don’t have veto power over each other.  If we evaluated Hope Valley and Ashaway separately, and one of the towns had more industry (producing taxes), those residents would pay less taxes. 

There are arguments for both sides but the current town veto ensures that the low tax area doesn’t spend the high tax area into bankruptcy.

Overall, the board was eerily silent.  Why would the school board not want to find a solution to the failed bond, or at least talk about it? 

There are ideas being floated about in the rumor mill and press –  1.  Hopkinton is somehow convinced to voluntarily leave the district (obviously, the veto would bar a forced removal).   2.  A district wide tax base is created that would result in majority voting (no more town veto power).  3.  They try the bond again. 

Number 3 was hinted at in the Westerly Sun.

“To discuss only with the town of Richmond is not going to resolve the problem,” [Charlestown Town Council past president] Waterman said. “I think you start out with the hope that you can resolve (the problem), and if you find you can’t, then you move on. I have a feeling Hopkinton has received the message that they didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they shot us… and Richmond in the foot.”
 

How to get it back on the ballot was proposed by the new president, John Craig:

[Craig} will ask both Chariho Superintendent Barry J. Ricci and councilors from Hopkinton and Richmond to meet prior to January’s annu­al Omnibus Meeting to dis­cuss disagreements over school funding – and possible solutions to the problem.
 

But Superintendent Ricci doesn’t seem to think its going to happen.   

Though Ricci is not anticipating a new bond anytime soon, he did explain for a bond to get underway — a building committee must be  formed at a special district meeting.

 

In talking with Ricci and going over the Chariho Act, there are two ways to call for a special district meeting, (1) at the order of the school committee, or (2) by residents of the district collecting at least 200 votes.

In that same article, I’m quoted as saying I would support the section of the bond for the High School if the bond was split.  This was certainly my position when I was first asked  by fellow board member Giancarlo Cicchetti months ago (you would be surprised how few people actually ask).  My problem with the High School work was that much of it should be handled in the budget – but if the budget was addressed (i.e. union contracts) and money was budgeted for maintenance, I would support the HS work.  But that was before I realized what the impact of the “1/3 split” would be.  It just doesn’t make sense.  A family in Charlestown who makes the same income and lives in the same house as someone in Hopkinton, but the Hopkinton resident pays three times the price.  That is not a 1/3 split.

Furthermore, if I was in  Charlestown, I would want to build a very nice school – after all, Charlestown can afford it and Richmond doesn’t seem to mind the tax inequity.    The idea that Richmond and Charlestown would form a separate District is a perfect world for Charlestown – for every dollar contributed by homeowners to the District, it breaks down such that Richmond homeowners will pay 74 cents while the Charlestown homeowner (of similar valued properties) will only pay 36.  I would take that deal too.

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38 Comments »

  1. IF Mr Ricci meets with members of the town council, WHERE will that take place? I’d like to go, and I hope that many others would like to go also! I know that a letter from Mr Ricci asking for a meeting was read at the Charlestown Town Council meeting, and as a taxpayer, I would like to be there to protect MY interests, which are not the same as Mr. Riccis.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 15, 2007 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  2. I just have one question, if we:Hopkinton go out on our own and do our on school system does it save us money? AFter we build a new high school and fix up our own schools, go and hire all new staff and figure in transportation. Does this cut our taxes or at least keep them at the SAME cost not any higher than they are right now?

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 15, 2007 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. Bob,
    You need to contact Tom Buck. He has an analysis of the 1904 repairs and upgrades. You and I toured that school together. If you recall, we were told the repairs and upgrades would cost about $3.5 million. Tom has the report that puts that figure under $1 million. This is another example of why the voters don’t trust Chariho. Now we hear Mr. Ricci is trying to do an end-run for another bond proposal (if it is true that he has initiated this movement). It’s just got to stop. Voters are going to get more and more disgruntled as more of this stuff is exposed.

    So to ask if de-regionalization saves us money is the wrong question. The question is, do you trust Chariho with your money? Do we trust them to start this new school that provides social services to parents (RYSE), do we trust them to bring back 5th and 6th if we allocate money to expand the Middle School, do we trust them to give us value for our education dollars? I think we found that slightly more than half of our residents do not. Considering the number of Chariho employees in the area, and the fact that both papers came out for the bond, and a political action committee was developed to promote the bond, AND the building committee used more money to promote the bond with flyers and signs (but, of course, those were “information only”), with all of this opposition, the un-funded people still won.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 15, 2007 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  4. I agree with Mr. Felkner. With all the accusations about opposition to the bond being all about our greediness, personally my biggest problem is with Chariho’s inferior results at a very high cost. If Chariho was delivering superior results, I could probably afford to be quiet.

    I know I have neighbors who can’t continue down this path of unrestrained growth and spending at Chariho. With Hopkinton being tied to Charlestown, with a much, much lower tax burden, we simply cannot sustain the year after year unrestrained growth in Chariho’s spending.

    Even if it costs us a little more to run our own school system, at least then we would have control over spending and we would not be responsible for the irresponsible spending of Richmond. Plus, we could get rid of social services, terrible curriculum, gold plated contracts, etc. Maybe most of our teachers would continue to live in Richmond and vote for their crazy tax increases?

    I suspect that a Hopkinton School system could be run at less cost, but either way, if we could have a Hopkinton system which was even close to what we now spend on Chariho, we’d be better off in the short term, and in the long term our children would reap the huge benefits of local control.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 15, 2007 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  5. By the way, if “hiring new staff” means we can start from scratch with teachers, I have no doubt that a Hopkinton School system would be less expensive. If we have to maintain the irresponsible contracts of Chariho, we’ll probably have to wait until Hopkinton gets control of contracts before we’ll have savings. After all, most of our school spending is for labor…that will be the key.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 15, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    We must realize that Richmond and Charlestown BOTH have fiscal advantages that Hopkinton does not have:
    Richmond by many thousands of dollars has a higher median family income than the other two towns.This assumes they are better able than Hopkinton and Charlestown to absorb the costs of the bond.Charlestown’s advantage is that while they have the lowest median household income of the three towns they have an assessable base that is more than Richmond and Hopkinton COMBINED.In addition they have among the lowest tax rates in Rhode Island and STILL have a VERY ADVANTAGEOUS VOTING POWER on school budgets which a veto power is NOT required.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 15, 2007 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  7. Kaestle Boos Associates, April 2, 2003

    1904 Building:

    Short-term Recommendations with probable costs:
    $609,900

    Long-term recommendations with probable costs:
    $655,900

    1967 Building:

    Short-term recommendations with probable costs:
    $509,900

    Long-term recommendations with probable costs:
    $843,950

    Total: $ 2,619,650

    The pump station for both buildings is $105,000 and is figured into the short-term recommendations for the 1967 building.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 15, 2007 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  8. Gossip says that Mr Ricci will meet with Hopkinton Town Council tomorrow morning (Friday)at 7:30am in the Administration Building at CHARIHO. Could someone confirm for me? I sure would like to go to the meeting, but this is the only non confirmed information I have heard.

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — November 15, 2007 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  9. no Bill my question is and will be if Hopkinton pulls out will it save us money on taxes or will they stay RIGHT where they are now? This is what everyone keeps talking about, if the taxes are going to go up by pulling out than how is that helping anyone in this town. They can’t afford the taxes now is the reason we heard that the bond was voted down.

    I want to see the proposal that MR. Buck has I have a really hard time beleiveing that he has an estimate for under $1 million dollars and it is apples for apples to the stimate that we were shown. If it is, than lets move on it and bring the 5th and 6th graders back. There is no reason to not fix that building if it is less than $1 million. I figure $1 million on Ashaway school and $1 million on Hope Valley school and we have to great and updated elementary schools in our towns. Lets put in for a bond (I would beleive it would have to be a municipal bond) and fix our buildings.

    Funny thing about the 1904 building if I remeber correctly, I was the only one who fought against the school committee and adminstration during the time that we were in negotiations over sending it to litigation or to continue with the contract to give Hopkinton time to come up with a plan for this building. I pleaded with them to continue when Mr. Cordone approached with the TOWN COUNCILS offer. If the town councilors or yourself felt so strongly about what was happeing with the 1904 building than you all could have taken it to court and see what would have come of it.

    Cr I agree with you on this one, if it is close to what we are spending now than it needs to be moved forward, lets do our own school system. As far as the inferior results I beleive we are putting more pressure on them and I beleive that Barbara would agree that we as a school committee are trying to make them more accountable and improve on the cirriculum.

    Bill Scott,
    I don’t think the fiscal advantages of Richmond or Charlestown can even be considered or brought into this equation. If we are going out on our own and the cost is about the same ( which is ok with most or at least CR) than we are going to have to figure out a way of paying for this expense on our own. Richmond and Charlestown and their fiscal advantages will not come into play.

    Lois is that the cost analysis that Bill was talking about that Tom has? If it is then we are looking at a lot more now as that was a 2003 analysis, before the Station Fire. I realize that it does include both buildings but I don’t see how the 1904 building would be under $1 million 4 years later, when in 2003 it was $600,000.

    Dot I have heard nothing through the school committee or administration that there is a meeting today. I maybe out of the loop because I have no idea about it, but I will say this that the administration and or the school committee cannot go to the towns and ask for a re-vote that must come from the towns. The presidents of the councils or the councilors themselves would have to initiate the meeting. I hear a lot of rumors about different things with the bond and a Charlestown/Richmond pull out but I won’t voice anything until I start to see something happen or know it is a fact.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 16, 2007 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  10. Bob,
    Didn’t mean to misrepresent your point – i was just saying that I find it frustraiting that we were TOLD the 3.5M figure. It came from Kastle Boos in an estimate between KB and Ricci. Ricci passed it to us when we toured. Overall saving could be another issues but I would content that if the town controlled the school better, we wouldn’t have all those layers of layers of services that are SUBJECTIVE in need. Like RYSE, its within the law to provide all thsoe services but no other school does it.

    I would go out on a limb and say that if the town ran the school we would integrate our community and churches more into the system as the governor has recently suggested. Look at the offers of carpentry, painting, etc… all offered on the blog (granted, real action isn’t as easy to find) but it is encouraging to see a town wanting to fix things and not asking the state to do it.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 16, 2007 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  11. I agree with you that a lot of people offer but the summer before last they had a paint party (if you will) at the school to paint classrooms. There was a good turn out but nothing like what was expected and you know what the biggest complaint was, “IF we pay to have the buildings worked on why should we volunteer our time too?” so while I agree with Lois with helping hands, it has been tried and thrown back. With that said I am willing to help with the painting,scraping or whatever needs to be done if that is what we need to do.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 16, 2007 @ 11:47 am | Reply

  12. Hi!
    Bob,I prefer to be called Scott.Scott Bill Hirst when printed.
    The relevance of the fiscal differences is important, in realizing that a very important if not virtually decisive point in votes in Chariho is the AFFORDABILITY factor in towns voting for building referenda.
    BOB,DO YOU SUPPORT THE REMOVAL OF VETO POWER FROM INDIVIDUAL TOWNS IN REFENDUMS DEALING WITH CHARIHO ACT CHANGES AND BUILDING PROPOSALS?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 16, 2007 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  13. Be careful with the answer to veto power. Although I’ve offered tepid support in exchange for tax equity (on a per capita basis), Mrs. Gardiner raises a point that makes me retract any possible support I would give toward eliminating the town veto over bonds.

    Without the town veto, any two town’s could form a coalition which could seriously damage the economic situation for the third town. So, if Richmond and Charlestown wanted to vote for upgrades to their elementary facilities while excluding Hopkinton, we would be powerless to stop this without a town veto.

    Tax equity is a must if Chariho is to remain viable in the long term, but we can never give up our town veto. Sorry, but Charlestown and Richmond have shown little regard for their own citizens living on the edge of poverty. I wouldn’t ever expect them to care about what happens to Hopkinton citizens.

    We cannot give them any control over our fate. They don’t care about our fate.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  14. Scott Bill Hirst, first let me apologize for calling you Bill Scott, that was another person I used to work with.

    What I am saying about the fiscal difference is that if we pull out there will be no other town to compare to and the taxes would be about the same how does comparing Charlestown and Richmond fincial analysis help or hinder us with our own school system.

    As for the second question of veto power as you call it,majority, YES I am for it.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 16, 2007 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  15. Mr. Petit your response regarding the town veto is confusing to me? Are you willing to give up the town veto? If so, under what circumstances? If not, I’m glad you understand the dangers of Charlestown and Richmond being able to dictate spending for Hopkinton.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  16. I’m not trying to step on Mr. Hirst’s toes, but from my perspective, analysis of Richmond and Charlestown’s financial situation is crucial if we are to remain locked into a school district with them.

    Whether in the short term or long term, if one or more parts of an educational community has more resources to spend, and they have the power to force another part of the community to spend just as freely, then the part of the community with less resource can be economically damaged with no concurrent damage inflicted on the “richer” members of the community.

    In simple terms, if Hopkinton is not as wealthy as the other two towns, then when they force us to contribute above and beyond our means, Hopkinton citizens will suffer.

    Charlestown and Richmond’s financial situation and future is very relevant.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  17. I agree if we continue to be a district than it is cruical. But What I asked originally was

    I just have one question, if we:Hopkinton go out on our own and do our on school system does it save us money? AFter we build a new high school and fix up our own schools, go and hire all new staff and figure in transportation. Does this cut our taxes or at least keep them at the SAME cost not any higher than they are right now?

    I don’t see what Richmond and Charlestown have to do with the cost savings or increases of our taxes if we pull out or if they go their own way.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 16, 2007 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  18. Bob,

    For purely hypothetical discussion – lets say we de-regionalized. We could still operate K-7 maybe K-8 in current buildings – there is room for them if HV came to the 1904 and we got rid of a couple of offices for “helpers.”

    We could still tuition high school students to Chariho (which would cost the same as before) or we could let the parents take that $13,000 and go where ever they wanted. They might go to Prout or St. Pius and save us over $5k per kid.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 16, 2007 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  19. Really, Mr. Petit’s question can’t be answered without knowing what the taxpayers favor. As Mr. Felkner notes, clearly there are savings to be had if we choose certain paths.

    On the other hand, if Hopkinton taxpayers accept platinum plated contracts, administrators in every room, and other foolish spending, then a Hopkinton system could cost more.

    Personally, I have faith in the financial wisdom of Hopkinton citizens much more than I have trust in Charlestown or Richmond residents. If my financial future is between Hopkinton or the other two towns, I choose Hopkinton.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  20. I’ll try one more time on why Charlestown’s and Richmond’s economic situation is relevant.

    Even if the initial cost of Hopkinton is somewhat more onerous than staying in district, we can project that Charlestown and Richmond will continue to spend educational dollars frivolously because they apparently can afford to do so…this is there recent history.

    If we get out now, even if it costs a little bit, 5 years down the road we will be much better off as Richmond’s and Charlestown’s educational costs far exceed the more rational spending future of a Hopkinton school system.

    Of course, this all depends on Hopkinton taking a different educational direction than the other two towns. Obviously, if we want to spend as foolishly as they do, we might as well stay together. The recent bond vote suggests that Hopkinton is about evenly split on whether to join Charlestown and Richmond in an education spending spree.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  21. By the way, I’m not advocating for Hopkinton to unilaterally withdraw. My recommendation would be for Hopkinton to continue to reject bonds until Richmond, Charlestown, the School Committee and Chariho administration proves that they can spend our money responsibly. By using our veto, and with the mandated budget cap, Hopkinton can forcibly hold the line on spending until the others join the effort. We can demand educational results for our children before we give Chariho millions more in funding.

    This means accountability, private sector equilavent contracts, open records regarding spending on programs, reasonable administrator to pupil ratios, reasonable employee to pupil ratios, etc. If Richmond and Charlestown can’t live within the parameters established by Hopkinton, then they can make us an offer to withdraw.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 16, 2007 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  22. Bob,

    If we had our own school district – 1) we would get a reimbursement rate closer to 74% for building and renovating our elementary schools; 2) we would have to be bought out of the district at a lovely large sum that would effectively build our own 7-12 school over a 15-20 year bond (Charlestown was simply going to walk away from the district – we can’t afford to do this); 3) we could initiate our own contracts and our own administration; 4) special needs students would get the best education we could find for them, but our transportation costs would be larger; 5) smaller schools may not have football but all other sports are open; 6) arts and band and music would be able to be chamber sized to allow intensity if not quantity; 7) computer advanced classes would have to be mandatory to use our facility and our teachers time to best advantage; 8) maintenance would be checked by our own building inspector to insure quality work and frugality; 9) etc.

    Do I still think that right now we should stay in the district. Sure.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 16, 2007 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  23. Bob,

    To answer your question, please note post #7 above. This is just a summary of the probable costs for the short and long term for BOTH buildings. The total for both buildings was (in 2003 dollars)…..$2,619,650. I can only make assumptions as to where the 3.5 million figure came from, but I believe it is safe to say that it is not just for the 1904 building.

    My personal opinion is that many things in this report are recommendations …(ie…building loading zones) As these are not necessary for the education of our children, each recommendation should be looked at. If we could reenter the building after installing a sprinkler system and renovating the fire escapes, then that is a quick fix and perhaps the cheapest short-term option. Addressing the other concerns could be done over a period of years.

    And I also think we have to look at the basement, as an opening into the structure could be firestopped to delay the spread of fire. (I do not know exactly where the firestops start.) Firestops only delay the spread of fire to help the kids get out safely and buy some time for the fire department to extinguish the fire.

    You know I am no expert regarding construction, I’m just making an educated guess as to what I’ve read. We will have to talk to town officials (ie…building officials and Chief Williams ).

    Additionally, if I recall, Tom told me that 95% of the problems would be solved with a sprinkler system installed. He is sleeping so I can’t confirm this. If I recall correctly, he told me that Chief Williams had stated this to him.

    In reading the many documents I have, they seem to get warnings from the fire marshal, but they get variances for them. Case in Point: The height of the stair railings in the 1904 building are not up to code. They requested a variance for this because they are at the correct height for children.

    Additionally, the individual that spoke to Barbara about the option to move the building stated that he has moved many buildings of this era, that in every instance they had firestops in them. Often, they are brick. So, it is safe to say that the building has firestops, and that it would be easy to find out.

    The ad-hoc committee is trying to get info to the council sometime in January, but our time is limited.

    Suing them would not have made a difference. The lease agreement was vague enough to make it difficult to benefit the town’s argument. Plus, the expense was our cost on our end and more than 1/3 on the Chariho end. We would be suing ourselves.

    Also, if the option is to issue our own bonds, we need to find out what our reimbursement rate would be compared to our current reimbursement rate with the district. Anyone with knowledge on that, please offer your assistance.

    All avenues should be considered, even the cost of full withdrawal. Charlestown created a document when they discussed withdrawal. Their options were many, and it involved a great deal of expense. We pay so much into Chariho now, we may actually come out on top. But, the costs need to considered.

    The ad hoc committee could certainly use the knowledge base we have here in Hopkinton to generate these kinds of options.

    And as far as the painting party, I never heard of it. I heard about it after it had happened. I assume that many people did not hear of it, so they did not know to come.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 16, 2007 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  24. Barbara I ust question the %74 reimbursement rate you are quoting. Again I believe Westerly only received round 33% so I am a little shocked that we would get that much.

    Lois, I did read Jim’s comments on the other site and agree I don’t think moving the 1904 building is wise in any case. I also do not know construction that well, at least not in buildings of that magnitude. I couldn’t say if or were the fire stops are. I agree we need to start to get Mr. Williams involved in some of these conversations at least to know his prespective on the situation. As for what I was saying about the 1904 building, I don’t mean you should have sued the district for the building, that is why I fought so hard to get the school committee to agree with the maintenance for this year so Hopkinton could decide what they wanted to do with it. I am not looking for a pat on the back but I do want all of you that blog here that I do voice my opinion Hopkinton when there is a reason to voice it. I was for the bond, many here were against it. The bond was voted down, I am ready to move on to new ideas. If one of those ideas is to do a re-vote through the town councilors than I am for it. If it doesn’t than we need to make outher decisions. I also agree that all avenues need to be considered and I will consider all avenues with you. As far as the painting goes it was well advetised, and I am sure you would help Lois as would I, this is just some of the thngs you might hear. I realize help are upset with Chariho that is obvious but even if we had are own schools people would complain about things that is the nature of the beast. This doesn’t mean we don’t go forward.

    Comment by Bob Petit — November 17, 2007 @ 7:24 am | Reply

  25. Hi Bob,

    We are rural and Westerly is a city with a much larger tax base. Providence, Central Falls, Woonsocket, and West Warwick and some other towns near Prov get between 83% – 93% reimbursement rates. These should be reduced and the rest of the state raised especially with the low and moderate income housing mandates – if we take city families we should receive city monies for their education.

    I have two comments on a possible ‘re-vote’. One is that Chariho does not seem to understand a two letter word – No. Period. Constitutionaly – Democratically – Correct. 1000 people voted it down, 1600 people voted it up. 40% of the citizens said No -and the majority of those were in Hopkinton which is the LAW within the legally created Chariho Act. Veto power is the basis of a tri-cameral legislature/executive/judicial government set up by brilliant men a long time ago.

    The second thought is that they can change the structure of the bond monies – within the framework of the bond – to create a second and more reasonable building request. For instance: cut the middle school except for fire suppression; delete entirely the RYSE building (if the 5th and 6th return to the elementaries where they belong – an entire set of wings open up in the middle school); and give the high school all the monies. Rebuild the library where it is, add a second floor of classrooms – on steel beams, effectively a cantilever so no support is on the first floor building, renovate the first floor as determined; correct the gym area; address parking and the well. Just ideas and musings. I’m sure everyone on this blog will have their own ideas including Do Nothing.

    The only thing that cannot be done is to direct any of the money to the elementary schools. The bond, as written, does not include any possibility of that. It would need to be an entirely new bond.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 17, 2007 @ 9:17 am | Reply

  26. I am not against spending a reasonable and justifiable amount of money to make up for the lack of maintenance over the last few years. I am against anything that would lock Hopkinton into the Chariho Act as it is now written. Hopkinton cannot afford to continue to keep up with the spending of Charlestown and Richmond. Any bond that locks us in with those towns under current conditions is a huge mistake…regardless of how reasonable and justifiable the bond may be.

    Please remember that Charlestown and Richmond as a voting bloc have control over annual budgets. These two towns can determine how and where annual monies are spent. As we’ve seen with the 1904 building catastrophe, they have been willing to neglect Hopkinton. Do we want to leave Hopkinton’s educational fate in their hands?

    Hopkinton should not pass any bond until the Chariho Act has been rewritten to protect everyone’s interests equally. Hopkinton’s only leverage to get this done is through the bond process. We pass a bond and our leverage is gone. Bank on it.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 17, 2007 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  27. Here’s a novel idea. Why don’t we stop thinking about ourselves for once and think about the kids? That IS what schools are geared towards, are they not? Instead of worrying about taxes and money why don’t you worry about the suitability of the campus for those who intend to use it? Though we realize there are those who don’t believe the children to be important above all and to be our future, it shouldn’t affect them much because by the time the new campus would be built they won’t be around to do anything about it!

    Comment by Voice of Truth — November 18, 2007 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  28. Welcome Voice of Truth,

    The children I am particularly concerned with are the elementary students. These are children who need the assistance of adults to have a safe and inviting place to learn and grow. Older teenagers can fend for themselves quite often – through guidance counselors or computer programs or extra-curricular clubs or sports – the little ones cannot. And the suitability of their present schools need work – it also helps that the teachers and administrators in the elementary schools seem to have higher national and state scores for their charges with less money going to assist their work.

    No one is arguing the high school doesn’t need work – it probably needs all of the 26 million.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 18, 2007 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  29. While the illusion is that schools are “for the children”, the reality today is that schools are as much about the adults as the children. If schools were “for the children”, then we’d all be knocking down the doors at Chariho to ask why we spend more than most, but our children receive less than most?

    But no, here at Chariho we make sure our teachers are paid well. We make sure that we employ as many administrators as possible. We help employ psychiatrists and social workers and “aides”…we do this while our children under perform because they are under educated.

    Voice of Truth rates the suitability of a campus based on the quality of the paint. I rate the suitability of a campus based on the quality of the education. We pay top dollar and get nowhere near top education in return. Throwing good money after bad is not “for the children”. It is for the adults waiting like new born chicks for the morning worm. Chariho needs to close its mouth and get the job done.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  30. I believe the high school needs work. If what Barbara says is true and that it really needs 26 million, then I’d rather see my money go to a new school. It would be probably cheaper. I am not convinced that they need a new school or that they have 26 million in repairs. I don’t even believe they need what they say they need.

    If they were to have created a bond just for the bare bones needed to make the school meet fire codes and ADA requirements, then I would have voted for it.

    My gripe with the additions is that they wouldn’t need the additions if they’d return the 5th and 6th graders into a more appropriate learning environment. They wouldn’t need a new RYSE school if they’d return the 5th and 6th graders into a more appropriate learning environment. They wouldn’t need the additions in the middle school if they’d return the 5th and 6th graders into a more appropriate learning environment. They could remove the portable classrooms if they’d return the 5th and 6th graders into a more appropriate learning environment.

    I once read that for people to remember information that they need to hear it 10 times. Sorry for the repetition above. Only said it 4 times, though.

    And as far as the track goes, the original track was installed by the generosity of a graduating class in the 80’s. That is what a recall. When I was in school, we didn’t have a football team. And the lack of money that sports suffered from budgetarily was raised via donations. At some point, people can approach the more wealthy people in the tri-towns to make donations on these extra items if they feel the need, so the people who can’t afford their taxes to go up won’t be paying for it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed playing for Chariho teams when I was at Chariho. I believe that sports are an important part of the growth of a child. Where are the sports boosters? Raise money for a new track. Or maybe, we can go back to dirt. It might be cheaper to maintain.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 19, 2007 @ 7:32 am | Reply

  31. Somehow Mr. Ricci would convince the fools in Charlestown and Richmond that dirt requires $200,000 in renovations…buy it now before the funding goes away! Some of these people are so gullible that Mr. Ricci could truly sell dirt to them.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  32. The RISC-Y newsletter had info from Kansas complaining that their teachers salaries were 38th in the nation (Rhode Island’s are 5th).

    The NAEP scores in Math for 8th graders – Kansas was 5th in the country; Rhode Island was 40th.

    Comment by BarbaraC — November 19, 2007 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  33. Okay then, our search for a new superintendant should start in Kansas. Maybe if Mr. Petit clicks his heels together he can save on airfare.

    I wonder if RISC-Y realizes that no matter how much we pay teachers, somebody will always be on top and somebody will always be on the bottom?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  34. Hey, using Investigations/TERC math 38+8=46 and 5+40=45 so therefore we must be doing as well as Kansas in educating children and controlling costs, right?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  35. I believe bonds should be for upgrades and new construction. Give us the bare bones for the high schools and the bare bones for the elementary schools. Give us equalized taxation, and I’m sure we will have something to give them.

    I’ve said in the past if the district is to ever be a district, then we need to share in it together. That goes for the state aid. If they are willing to sacrifice then we should too. As far as the veto goes, I don’t think that would need to be considered. Most of the time, Hopkinton rejects things because they think they are carrying the load. That’s why they’ve needed the power of a veto to protect their citizens. If things were equalized, I doubt that they would use it. One reason why a veto power should not be removed is because of each town’s vested interest in their own schools. But, if things could be put in place to protect each town’s assets, then maybe the right to a veto could be removed. Let’s consider everything before the veto right is ever on the chopping block.

    From Charlestown’s perspective, if what Mr. Polouski says is true, then Charlestown keeps rejecting the bonds because they don’t want equalized taxation. I believe this because I lived there for 11 years. They interpret that if the taxes were equalized, then as a town, as a whole, they would be carrying the load.

    But, I have grown to have a different perspective since then. I have seen and felt the unfairness of the current tax scheme we have. It is not a district philosophy. It pits one town against another. How is this current arrangement ever going to work. It hasn’t for decades. Mr. Polouski contains it has been going on since 1958.

    I would hope Charlestown would realize that they have had the best possible arrangement, that it is unfair to Richmond and Hopkinton, and that until they are willing to begin negotiations, things will likely not change for the better.

    Again, let’s compare one segment of our population. Let’s compare 2 elderly couples, one living in Hopkinton and one living in Charlestown. Both couples are retired and are living on a fixed income. Each owns a house valued at $300,000. One couple is paying around $2200 , the other couple is paying close to $4000. I’m sure the one paying more doesn’t see that it is fair. And they don’t even use the school system. They willingly pay their taxes to support the children because they know that this is the responsibility of a community. Are they being treated fairly?

    So until all parties involved realize that we are a district-wide community and that we are all responsible to take care of providing for our children’s education, then nothing is going to change.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 19, 2007 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  36. Well, “Curious Resident”, not only do you not seem so curious (as you seem to have all of the answers, however wrong they may be), you also seem to be gravely misinformed. When was the last time you were in the high school or talked to the students? The 1930’s? Most are much more educated than given credit for. Of course you dont care that Chariho has some of the highest test scores in the state because that, of course, proves nothing…

    The money is well spent for what is truly important, the education of our children. The teachers who are “paid well” should be paid more than what they currently are because they have the HARDEST job in the world. Do you honestly think that all of the administrators and psychiatrists and social workers and aides employed have no bearing on everything that our kids accomplish? They are the key reason for our children going into this establishment and coming out well-rounded, well-educated, and all around incredible adults. So how dare you call our kids uneducated.

    Comment by Voice of Truth — November 19, 2007 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  37. Voice of Truth,
    Chariho test scores, compared to those around us (not Providence, Central Falls) are very poor. Compared to Exeter/WG, NK, SK, Westerly and Coventry, we have the highest percentage of students in the lowest scoring quartile and the lowest percentage of students in the highest quartile (NECAP scores). This data has been linked on this site previously – it can be found through the links on teh right

    Furthermore, looking at demographics that would indicate student success (poverty, spf, parent ed, employement) Chariho should score better, not worse- this data is also linked.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 19, 2007 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  38. Mr. Felkner provided the facts. I’m sure Voice of Reason will ignore the facts.

    I said that Chariho students were “under educated”, not “uneducated”. The facts prove my case.

    I respect good teachers, and they probably work the hardest of their kind to be the best, but while being a good teacher may take a certain skill set (I couldn’t do it), it is not “hard work”.

    Hard works is what is done by the people whose income academics live off. Hard work is done in factories and on roof tops. Hard work makes you tired in the morning and tired in the evening and tired while you’re sleeping. Hard work requires more than 30 hours per week, 180 days a year.

    Effective teaching is admirable and noble, and not everyone can do it, but it isn’t hard. Good teaching is in short supply at Chariho as indicated by our children’s educational performance.

    As for your administrators, psychiatrists, social workers, aides and assorted other government leeches, you can have them. I’ll take good parents every time. We want schools to educate children. We don’t want to pay you for creating “incredible adults”. That’s our job. You stick to education and maybe if you focus on education you might actually get it done and it won’t cost us an arm and a leg. We’ll take care of the rest.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 19, 2007 @ 11:47 pm | Reply


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