Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 28, 2008

ESP contract

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:47 pm

The newly approved Support Personnel contract is posted on the right hand column under “Contract – Support Personnel 2007-2010

Superintendent contract

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:51 am

Per request, the Superintendent’s contract is posted in the permanent pages on the right column – “Superintendent Contract 2007-2010

January 25, 2008

A missed opportunity

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:06 pm

This evening’s Westerly Sun reported on  the Hopkinton Town Council meeting.  Most as expected but I was surprised by the last line.

Hopkinton councilor Barbara Capalbo proposed other ways to present the bond, some of which would include tax equalization funding: ….  Only present the high school and campus mainte­nance construction to “bring out the most importation portion” of the bond. It could be financed with each town paying one-third of the cost, or with a tax rate for individual taxpayers.
Capalbo said that since Charlestown and Richmond want another vote on the bond and Hopkinton wants tax equalization, then financing a bond by an indi­vidual tax rate would satis­fy all municipalities

I am surprised because if we were to get true equalized funding just for the bond – we wouldn’t be able to get it for the operating expenses for probably 20 years.  And bond payments are minuscule compared to operating expenses.  Besides, all those items she discusses are in the current budget – we don’t need  a bond and we are still scheduled to get the 56%.

I hope this was misunderstood by the reporter.

Sylvia Thompson presents options to Chariho

Filed under: Budget,Hopkinton — Editor @ 10:52 pm

Hopkinton Town Council member Sylvia Thompson presented some information to the board during the last budget hearing.

The first document is a letter asking the board to consider her proposal that is credited to provide funds for all capital issues requested yet not include a budget increase.

cover-to-sch-comm-re-08-09-budget.doc

The next document is a budget summary

07-chariho-audit-09-budget-sum.doc

Also included is a spread sheet showing how a 4% increase in the Chariho budget can actually be over 7% for a particular town.

 towns-contribution-after-state-aid-2007.doc

And finally is a motion made at the Hopkinton Town Council meeting requesting the Fiscal Director to “examine the fiscal condition of the town” (including Chariho).

motion-state-of-town-fin-questions-part11.doc

January 24, 2008

My “Duh” moment (#2)

Filed under: bond,Budget — Editor @ 11:47 pm

I’ll admit that school committee involvement has a steep learning curve.  An earlier “duh” was when I realized that 1/3 split was not really any where near 1/3 when it comes to what an actual taxpayer pays.  Today I had another.

During the bond campaign, the sense of urgency was expressed because we had to get that 56% reimbursement.  It was also reported in the Chariho Times that all of our Reps and Senators “encouraged passage of the bond” for that same reason. 

As we were debating the budget this evening, it occurred to me that we get that 56% whether we use the money in a bond or in the budget.  Yes, if we passed a bond we would lock in that reimbursement rate, but we would also lock ourselves out of any chance for equitable funding until that bond is retired.

The only changes that we are currently aware of (and these were reported by Mr. Ricci) are those designed to avoid excessive construction and encourage maintenance.  As an example, they will only allow space based on a per pupil ratio.  This could be a very important issue for a RYSE building as the specs claim  it is for 100 students yet we have about half that enrolled.

So the urgency for the 56% doesn’t seem to have the same zip. 

As an aside – I did ask each Rep and Senator a question after the Omnibus meeting – (paraphrased) – ‘with over a half billion deficit, why would you be encouraging the school committee to pass a “band-aid bond” when we are finally getting to the point that they are looking at (not yet doing) real contract reforms?   Senator Algiere explained that he was not taking a position on the bond and simply reporting the condition at the State House in different scenarios.  Senator Breene explained that he represented all three towns and as such was there as a facilitator to what that body requested (not an enviable position).  Representatives Walsh and Kennedy did not respond. 

I also asked John Craig to clarify the incongruity with his historic opposition to equalized funding and his comments made at the Omnibus.  He too did not respond but I think there has been subsequent reporting that indicates we could have misunderstood his intent making those comments. 

January 22, 2008

Einey, Meanie, Miney Mo

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 2:44 pm

This evening is chock full of good meetings to attend. 

The Hopkinton Town Council will be meeting for the first time since the Omnibus meeting.  I suspect an equalized tax structure and splitting the bond will be discussed. 

No need to waste too much cyber-ink repeating my stance on the issue – splitting the bond is a good idea, but in my opinion, if a town wants the taxes equalized (and for the entire budget, not just the bond) they will not even consider a bond until that is done. 

Some may think that we should take the bond now and get an equalized funding formula later, but anyone who thinks that that is possible has no understanding of Chariho history. 

 Another meeting taking place this evening, of course, is the school board.  The updated Chariho Act is on the agenda.  The board received a letter recently from Mary Botelle who points out that the Act is still a mess (my word).   I have yet to meet this woman but I must say I am impressed with her understanding of legal issues. 

Also on the agenda is the bond.  Nothing more to add here.

And Terri Serra has requested that this blog be put on the agenda for discussion: “School Committee Position Regarding the Chariho Parent’s Forum” 

Finally, the governor will be presenting the State of the State speech up at the State House – I will be there.   Enjoy

January 19, 2008

UPDATE on request and Omnibus meeting

Filed under: transparency — Editor @ 10:10 pm

Just a quick update on the request I put in for the meeting minutes – I did receive the contract and the minutes from the exec sessions that related to the negotiations, but I did not get the negotiation minutes themselves.  I have put in another request to Mr. Ricci.

And I am sure there is much to discuss about the Omnibus meeting – and feel free to make comments.  But I am holding off until I receive some answers to emails I have sent out. 

January 16, 2008

Contract and minutes

Filed under: Corruption,transparency — Editor @ 10:33 pm

I finally received the new support personnel contract and negotiation meeting minutes in digital form.  There was no explanation as for the delay.  Not sure if Bill Day and Barry Ricci decided not to block it, if they realized they didn’t have the authority to deny, or if someone else spoke to them – it just came in an email.

I can understand that not everyone knows the laws – but why is the default position to hide the material?  I’ll post it this weekend.

January 14, 2008

The powers that be

Filed under: Corruption — Editor @ 10:20 pm

On Monday, January 7th I asked Superintendent Ricci for a digital copy of the new support personnel contract and negotiation meeting minutes.  Some  of my constituents have asked that I post them on this site.  After five days, 16 emails and one phone call – we got down to the meat of it…

From Superintendent Ricci:

“Both Bill and I agree that the Committee should have knowledge of and consent to the electronic publication of the contract.”

My understanding of the law suggests that Chairman Day and Superintendent Ricci have exceeded their authority.  I will not ask the board for permission.  

January 10, 2008

back online

Filed under: Budget,contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 4:09 pm

My apologies for the extended absence. 

 Much to catch up on –

1) the support personnel contract has been passed.  Not much changed – got 15% copays across the board but that only had an impact on less than half of the employees – it was a slightly (1%) give away to the others.  For this we gave them an increase in longevity (went from $2 to $2.25 and $2.50 depending on seniority) and, of course, the normal raises they always get.  3.5% each year plus steps or longevity.  Steps for support personnel are slightly less than teachers.  Teachers average 10.6%, I think support personnel is about 9.8%.  Still a pretty good raise in this economy – especially since its only based on seniority and nothing to do with performance.  How many of you got a 9% raise and copay under 20%?   

We also gave a big raise to Fiscal Clerks and Secretaries – the value depends on the year but as an example, a Fiscal Clerk in his/her fourth year of employment during the third year of this contract will receive a 24% raise.  And, again, solely based on seniority – not performance. 

There are a few other give-and-takes but that’s the bulk of it.  Same raises and same low copays.  I’ll break it down when I get a copy of the contract I can post (in digital format) – Superintendent Ricci hasn’t sent it to me yet – said he “prefers” I ask the board but I have not been able to make it to too many meetings lately. Besides, I wouldn’t think the access to public information was a board decision but we will see.  I promise not to fall for the “move to question” trick again!

2) budget season – yippee!  What to remember about the budget is that (and this is statewide) 85-95% of the budget is consumed by labor costs.  Chariho didn’t do anything substantial in the contract so the only other way to cut spending is to cut positions.  Bob Petit proposed a couple of options but they all got shot down. 

We have 4.1M in surplus (yes, this is twice as much as last year and 4 times as much as some previous years – why?  not sure…  but Giancarlo did point out that if we include the surplus in the budget – we can ask for more money from the towns  because 5% of $52M is more than 5% of $48M).   $1.5M is being used for capital improvements – someone tried to increase that amount but it was rejected. 

A constituent suggested that we give the money back to the towns and let them use it for their own buildings as they see fit.  This is interesting and could help build rapport between Chariho and the towns.   

 3) and speaking of contacts – the NEA has said they will move forward with the complaint against me– another yippee!  Can’t wait to see what they say I did wrong.   Superintendent Ricci asked me to identify it – but I can’t since I don’t think I did anything wrong.  He asked me to guess so the attorney could look into it.  I explained to him (something the attorney should have done) that it is the duty of the NEA to tell us what the complaint is based on.  You will know when I know…

Finally, I saw a post on this site that deserves to be highlighted.  It’s a good compilation of data – from “Budget Cruncher”

My number one question is why teachers aide salaries increase almost $311,000?!? Aren’t aides monitors? How much do they earn for monitoring students? This is just the salary increase for aides. Total salaries proposed for aides is $885,360! Add to this nearly $800,000 for teacher assistants. None of this counts sick days, healthcare, retirement, etc. Vo-tec is only spending $8,667 for aides this year. They spent nothing $0 for aides before this year. Why does the rest of the school need so many aides but Vo-tech doesn’t need aides?

Trying to make heads or tails sense of the budget can be difficult. Special Ed students must be in decline because Spec. Ed teacher salaries declined $191,700 (19%) and teacher assistant salaries for Spec. Ed declined $175,313 (18%).

The superintendent said that Spec. Ed teacher assistants were shifted to teachers aides, but this doesn’t seem right.

First, Spec. Ed teacher salaries went down and less teachers means less assistants. Why shift teachers assistants to aides if there is declining needs?

Second, Spec. Ed teachers assistants are specialized and certified. They should earn more than teachers aides who monitor classrooms, study halls, recess, bus loading, etc. These are low skill, low paying functions – at least they should be low paying.

Third, teachers aides (not assistants) salaries increase $310,733. Assistants only decrease $175,313 and the decrease is due to student decrease, not job shifting. The assistants were all at the main campus, but that aides also increase at all the elementary schools. Something is fishy here.

I went through the budget and ask that someone in power consider the info. There lots of money to be saved!

Unnecessary Positions?

Middle School House Leader – $32,482

Deans of Students – $325,798

Middle School Guidance Counselors – $284,368 Social Workers – $296,226

Unreasonable Increases?

High School Teachers Aides – $35,872 – 78% increase Middle School Teachers Aides – $140,639 – 116% increase Elementary School Teachers Aides – $134,222 – 49% increase Charter School Tuition – $112,114 – 24% increase Middle School Clerk – $25,955 – 25% increase Richmond Secretary – $6,120 – 19% increase Teachers Retirement – $511,288 – 17% increase Maintenance Salaries – $35,779 – 17% increase Custodial Salaries High School – $28,869 – 9% increase Custodial Salaries Middle School – $30,749 – 11% increase Middle School Librarian Salaries – $43,860 – 33% increase Professional Development Textbooks – $73,385 – 77% increase