Chariho School Parents’ Forum

December 3, 2007

dec 4 meeting

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 10:41 pm

This post is for people to post comments after the meeting tomorrow.  Please let me know what I missed.

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December 2, 2007

Taxes, taxes, taxes

Filed under: Tax — Editor @ 9:09 pm

One of the decades long conversations in Chariho is about taxes.  People call it “tax equalization,” “equalized taxes,” “district-wide tax” and probably a few other names.  Two meetings ago, Andy Polouski commented on the issue and said the only way he would consider it was for all towns to throw their state reimbursements into the pool and taxpayers equally pay the balance.  The debates over how to do it are many and likely complicated, but the reason for the problem is simple.  Here is the current tax situation:

Municipal tax rates for each town are as follows:

Charlestown – 7.51 per $1000 of property value
Hopkinton – 14.19 per $1000
Richmond – 14.11 per $1000

If you own a home valued at $300,000, here is the property tax you will pay:

Charlestown – $2253
Hopkinton – $4257
Richmond – $4233

Those tax revenues must also pay for municipal services (police, etc..).  Each town contributes a different percentage of those taxes to Chariho.  A Hopkinton Town Council member just called me with this information.  If someone can find it online, please let me know and I will link it.  But the information will be in the next HTC meeting.

Charlestown contributes 64.5%
Hopkinton contributes 77%
Richmond contributes 88.8%

So, the property taxes sent to Chariho for a $300,000 home in each town are as follows:

Charlestown – $1453
Hopkinton – $3277
Richmond – $3725

I’m not an accountant – and there may be something I am overlooking – if so please let me know and I will update. 

All Chariho residents pay the same for gasoline, bread, milk and a Chevy.  We don’t pay the same for education.  Normally, when a consumer finds that he/she is paying more for a product than someone else, that consumer finds another vendor for that product or service.  Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it because Chariho has a monopoly. 

December 1, 2007

So many issues – too little time

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:08 pm

A lot has happened just in the last few weeks – I thought I should recap it here so things don’t get lost in the pile.

 First the bond was vetoed by Hopkinton

Then Superintendent Ricci sent out an email to the town council presidents asking for a meeting 

 During the next school board meeting, I tried to discuss the Ricci email but discussion was shut down  (and a follow up reported here)

Of course they may have been upset because I published the data showing that Chariho pays high salary raises in our teacher contracts (based on seniority, not job performance) and also outlined the NECAP scores showing that Chariho’s ranks last in the area

Then the Westerly Sun ran an editorial slamming Chariho for not releasing the contract to the public.  Worse yet, at the school meeting, we took a vote to release the contract and it was rejected.  Even worse yet again, we didn’t announce who voted yes or no, nor did we announce what the vote was about

Then a Charlestown resident realized that the “updated” Chariho Act was not accurate and didn’t include a section on union protection or town withdrawal

And then the notice for the meeting came out and we see that reintroduction of the bond (or version of it) is on the agenda

I can’t help but think of the comic line – “nothing to see here, please move along”

Dec 4 meeting announcement

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 10:25 pm

Pasted below is the meeting notice placed in the paper. 

There are some interesting items on the agenda.  It is unfortunate I will be unable to attend, but it doesn’t look like the school board will be voting anyway.  But the councils may be asked to vote on something.  Note #8 – “motions”

 4 a & c look interesting.  I’m not sure how people are defining “tax equalization” or “district wide tax base” etc…  To me its simple.  People in Hopkinton and Charlestown pay the same for coffee, bread and a Chevy.  But we pay drastically different amounts for education.    And I said “people” not towns.  Towns can pay equal amounts while individuals pay three times as much.   I think thats what people mean by an equalized tax.  I’ll dig up the tax rates and supply an example soon.

Tri-Town Special Council Meeting

Charlestown – Richmond – Hopkinton

Chariho Middle School Auditorium

December 4, 20077:00-10:00 pm

Working Toward Achieving Common Groundin Providing Education in the Chariho District

1. Open Meeting – Moderator, Ray Lamonte

2. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

3. Council Presidents’ Introduction –Bring Councils into SessionJohn O. Craig – B. Joe Reddish – Vincent Cordone

4. Discussion of bond – today vs. tomorrow
a. 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 financing
b. Phase in 10 – 15 – 20 years for collective support of commoncampus
c. Equalization – what does that mean?
d. Remove middle school from bond

5. What are some options? (Open discussion)
e. 5th & 6th grades back to elementary schools
f. New buildings vs. renovations
g. Variation of bond – does it make sense?

6. What do we need to do “today”?
h. 56% & 60% reimbursement – use it or loose it?
i. What can we agree on …to start the process?

7. Q & A

8. Individual Town Council resolutions or motions

9. Adjourn

A 48-hour notice is required for persons with sensory impairmentsrequiring auxiliary aids by calling (401) 539-9000×9.

(Posted on behalf of the Chariho Regional School District Committee)

And here is the email from Superintendent Ricci that initiated this meeting.  He mentions “another vote” so the above agenda makes sense.  They want to find a way to reintroduce the bond.  Recently, I was asked what it would take for me to support a bond.  I’ll post that separately.

ricci-nov-12-email.jpg

[UPDATE] It appears that Richmond, Charlestown and Chariho have all included “motions” on their agendas.  Hopkinton has not.  Not sure if that means they can or can’t vote – but it seems to imply they don’t plan on voting.

[UPDATE] Hypothetically speaking, Bev Kenney could make a motion on any of the items listed, even if item 8 (motions) isn’t on the Hopkinton agenda.  So if she made a motion to reissue the bond, someone would have to second the motion for a vote to proceed. 

What would it take for me to support the bond?

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 9:54 pm

I was asked that question by Giancarlo long ago – but I’ve learned a bit since then.  I was asked again recently – here is my answer.

Option 1.
A.  End RYSE giving services to parents.  I don’t even want to discuss its efficacy or cost – its just not what I want done at a school.  That can’t be done with a bond – but its the way I would want to go and it is under the board’s control.
B.  Bring 5th and 6th back.  I suppose it cant be addressed in this bond either due to restrictions (at least that’s what we are told) but it should be part of the plan somehow (perhaps with allocated funds in the new budget).
C.  Trim High School work to absolute necessities – and build in maintenance into the budget so we don’t watch it fall apart.
D.  Fix the tax issue.  This has been festering for decades.  Fix it once and for all – and not just for this bond – but for the entire budget.

And I can’t support one part without all of it – I sincerely believe that if we get 3 out of 4, we will never see that last one.  Never.  Hopkinton is finally at a place where we can finally get some of these things we have been talking about for decades.  I know some are board decisions and not bond items, but lets hear them say they will do it and we could move forward.

But in light of it not happening, I gave a second option. 

Option 2
A.  Tally up all the money Hopkinton has paid into Chariho for buildings and land,etc.
B.  Tally up all the money Hopkinton would owe (pensions, etc…)
C.  Give Hopkinton that net figure.
D.  Then the town gives each Hopkinton student a voucher for whatever the cost for that student is (which is different for regular ed (approx $13K), special ed (approx ??K), and RYSE (approx 52K)).  If that parent wants the child to stay at Chariho, they can do so and Chariho would get the money.  If a parent wants the child to go to a different school (public, private, charter, whatever) the money goes to that school.  Since most of those schools cost less than Chariho, the balance goes to the town.

Option 2 is very popular with some, very unpopular with others.  But they asked what I liked – so I told them.  Some fear that there are not enough schools if everyone leaves Chariho – well, if there are not enough schools, they stay at Chariho – no worse off.  (although, I think a charter or private school would fill that market).   Some fear that most kids would leave and the only ones left would be kids with disengaged parents.  True, but again, worse case scenario is they are still at Chariho. 

The only down side to vouchers is that Hopkinton would loose its seat on the board.  And that’s fine.  I don’t tell the gas station or Stop and Shop how to run its business.  If I don’t like how they do business, I go to the other gas station or Shaws.  I will give up the right to tell Chariho how to run its business if my town has the right to walk away (with their money).