Chariho School Parents’ Forum

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. 

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29 Comments »

  1. There has been a bit of discussion about the Omnibus meeting at Hopkinton Speaks for anyone interested. ProJo wrote an article heavily slanted toward the re-vote side of the issue. Very little reported about tax equity or Chariho’s performance. Here’s a link to the Hopkinton Speaks discussion titled “what Happened Last Night”:

    http://hopkintonrispeaks.com/WordPress/?p=108#comments

    I’m betting that in the 10 to 1 School Committee vote supporting a re-vote, Mr. Felkner was the lone member to stand up for parents, children and taxpayers? I look forward to reading Mr. Felkner’s insights and perspective on the meeting.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 19, 2008 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  2. Curious Resident, if you’re as well read as what you proclaim to be then by know you don’t have to bet, you know it was Mr. Felkner that was the lone dessenter. It also confrms in my mind that you, Curious REsident, don’t attend the meetings but would rather sit at your computer and complain.

    In my opinion, Bill Felkner didn’t stand up for the parents. The only time he really spoke about anything during the entire 3 hours of the meeting was about the bond issue, other than that he was a bump on a log, and went off on the contract with the support staff, not about the bond itself. If he’s opposed to the bond, just say so, I can respect that. Don’t bring in other matters that are actually unrelated to the bond, the contract is one issue, it has to fall on it’s one. The bond is another issue that has to pass or fail on it’s own merit. Now I know neither one of you can’t take critizism very well but come up with real solutions to the real problems. What you’re doing is unproductive, gets no one anywhere.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 20, 2008 @ 9:50 am | Reply

  3. Did I proclaim to be well read? I don’t recall saying that?

    Seems you assume quite a bit. Any wasteful spending at Chariho impacts bond issues. Hopkinton taxpayers already pay an extremely high tax rate and granting school employees salaries and benefits far exceeding that of the private sector results in less tolerance for other school spending.

    Ultimately, the bond problem comes down to fiscal and education mismanagement. Plenty of money given with too much going to the adults and not enough to the children. Labor costs at Chariho consume much too much of the total budget. Incompentent administration.

    What I’m doing here is not totally unproductive, but the real heroes are people like Mr. Felkner, Mr. Buck, Mrs. Capalbo and other public officials who fight for students, parents, and taxpayers. They put it all on the line and face down the ridiculous notion that a failing school with inept management should be trusted with millions of dollars more of other people’s money.

    As long as you and other Chariho sycophants fail to understand that the bond vote is all about Chariho’s failure to teach our children at a reasonable cost, then you will continue to ignore the solutions that are right in front of your nose.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  4. Curious Resident, why does Hopkinton have a very high tax rate? Is it because your Town Council (If you’re who I think you are, you were a Town Councilor at one time, so you know the deal) foolishly took from the surplus fund account and then when crunch time came they had to increase taxes by double digit percentage points?

    Also, if you’re not well read then how can you make the statements that you’ve made on here and other blogs? Do you have all your facts lined up or are you just shooting from the hip and making accusations and hope that some of them might stick for a while? Sounds like a Town Councilor in one of the other towns in the district.

    As for Mr. Felkner, Mr. Buck, Mrs. Capalbo, et al, they are NOT fighting for the students and parents. They are only worried about one thing, their pocketbooks. I’ll grant you that the salaries at Chariho are high, there’s no arguing that point and I don’t like the way contracts are settled behind closed doors but still there’s the issue of the conditions of the schools. The schools are not in good condition at all, can you dent that? Do they need to be repaired and fixed up, yes they do! Are you willing to pay penny for penny on the needed repairs? I’m not! Representative Walsh and Kennedy along with Senators Breen and Algiers said at the Omnibus meeting that this is basically our last change for the state to pay 56% to 60% of the building cost, that’s 56 to 60 cents on every dollar, sounds like a good deal to me. Also, by having a school bond, it won’t be in the annual operational budget, that also sounds like a good deal to me. I challenge you, Curious Resident, to make up with a better alternative.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 20, 2008 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  5. Opps, that’s come up with a better alternative.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 20, 2008 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  6. I’ve offered better alternatives. The best of all would be school choice. Let the money follow the children. Enough parents would remove their children from the Chariho system that it would alleviate the need for major repairs and expansion. Competition would motivate Chariho to perform so the school wouldn’t go away, but it would improve the outcomes for the children that remain there. Everywhere school choice is fully implemented it results in far superior educational results.

    Unfortunately I don’t think school choice is likely to happen any time soon because of the power of unions in Rhode Island. My second solution would be to fire the current administration. I would then mandate that a new administration publically share all financial and educational dealings within the system. Schools and municipalities across the country are using the internet to share information with taxpayers. This includes almost immediate posting of financial information such as check transactions. Taxpayers are able to see first hand down to the penny how money is being spent. This is our money being spent and our children being education. There is never a valid reason for hiding information.

    I’d also require that all future contract negotiations be conducted in the public eye. The decision to hide negotiations has historically been at the request of the unions who do not want taxpayers to be aware of the unreasonable demands they make. School Committees have no legitimate reason to want to hide negotiations unless they feel they are being too generous with other people’s money. Tiverton’s School Committee released contract proposals to the public during their recent negotiations. They had nothing to hide as they were doing their best to protect their interests of students, parents, and taxpayers.

    On the other hand, Chariho’s School Committee wouldn’t even share the details of the Support Personnel contract until the deal was signed, sealed, and delivered. They purposely prevented citizens from having the opportunity to voice an opinion on how our money was being spent. I wouldn’t allow this nonsense.

    Until Charlestown and Richmond demonstrate a willingness to hold Chariho accountable for educational outcomes and responsible fiscal management, no bond should be passed. Yes, the High School could use work, but we condemn the district’s children to the current status quo the minute we approve a long term bond without complete confidence that Chariho is ready, willing and able to do the job of educating our children at a reasonable cost. Until we are certain that Chariho is up to the job, no bond should be approved. No sense having new building while everything else about Chariho is failing the children and the community.

    As to your efforts to guess my identify, don’t waste your time. As I’ve said many times, I’m a nobody.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2008 @ 11:54 am | Reply

  7. CharihoParent,

    Nice try trying to turn people on Mr. Felkner, Mr. Buck, and Mrs. Capalbo. Obviously, they are making a positive difference for this community. Their constituents know that they are for students and parents. Many of these taxpayers, who are trying to feed, cloth, and keep warm, are parents.

    Each either has or had a child in the school system at one time. Each is a taxpayer.

    They cried recently about the leak at RYSE. Well, what about the leak at Ashaway School last year? In 2003, the Kaestle Boos Architects found the need to fix the Ashaway Roof. In 2007, it leaks. Why? Nothing was done. 4 years to address the problem, and nothing was done.

    People, with buckets in hand, were trying to catch the water pouring from the roof. It was a river of water streaming down the walls. Yet, we have never seen anything like this before. This is no game. Tiles were falling from the ceiling because they were saturated with water. Thank God, no-one was hurt.

    When Mr. Buck and Mrs. Capalbo inquired about the budget surplus to return it to the towns proportionately as to what the 3 towns had paid into it, Mr. Stanley told them that this would be impossible because they did not know when the surpluses were realized.

    Mr. Buck has since asked Mr. Ricci to include the budgeted figures with the actuals for the 04-05 and 05-06 school years, as the budgeted and actuals already appear for the 06-07 school years. The idea here is to compare the budgeted and actuals for 3 years worth to determine where the school district is overbudgeting, to get a better understanding of the history by line item, and to determine year to year where the surplus is coming from.

    Obviously, this has received resistance. Now Mr. Stanley has informed him that it is too late in the budget process for this year to include it for this year’s budget. But, it could be done for next year. It is my opinion that they would have had time if they had responded to his request when the inquiry was first made. But, it is always effective to delay things if you go through the chain of command. Mr. Ricci to Mr. Day…. Mr. Day to the school committee.

    This is not new information. It has been generated before. I’m sure a computer tech could have done this quite easily. Microsoft’s Access program is a program that could have done this without any real personnel assistance. This is my experience with the corporate industry.

    At the omnibus meeting, Mr. Buck had offered a suggestion about using part of a wing, namely the 5th grade wing, when the 5th graders were returned to the elementary school. This could be realized if the district would deal with parents wishes and return them to the elementary setting. Then the issue of a modular building roof leak on the campus would be a moot issue. Why is this such a major issue? The Ashaway building had to wait 4 years, that we know of. Has the roof been replaced yet as it was recommended in 2003. No, just repaired.

    The problems with the buildings go far beyond the high school. Each of the elementary schools needs work. Each of them needs expansion. Yet again, this would be a moot issue if the 2000 bond vote had been passed and we would have had the high school repaired and a new elementary school. (Hopkinton and Richmond approved this)

    Now, the state has a fiscal crisis. The educational funding will probably, and most definitely, experience a fiscal crisis. Everyone on the school committee must realize that the state’s fiscal crisis is going to trickle down to the town’s. So, it is time to make some hard choices. Do not apply the budget surplus to the operational expenses. This is a big mistake.

    Burying your head in the sand is not going to make this problem go away. Budgetary planning needs to be made for the next 5 or 10 years assuming that the ed. funding will level off or drop. This is not being a naysayer. It is being responsible. The health and well-being of this community is as important as the educational well-being of our children.

    This is my guess about the budgetary process. It is intentionally padded so that if the towns vote to make cuts, the district will still be able to spend their intended amount. The towns have not been able to agree on the cuts, so we now have a substantial budget surplus.

    This is much like what a corporation would do when figuring out their wholesale or retail pricing. Pad it a little, and you will have room to come down and still make money. I was talking to someone who is in a wholesale service. This is what they do.

    Well, have to go. I look forward to your argument.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  8. CHARIHO Parent:

    Am I to believe that only PARENTS of school children should have a say in how their tax money should be spent? If so, that is fine with me, just do not accept ANY of my tax money. Now THAT would be a MARVELOUS idea! Only tax the parents of children attending our schools. You all could then determine EXACTLY how you want the schools run, built, managed, and how courses would be taught.
    THEN, my taxes would decrease by at least 80%, and I would then have some disposable income! That is a GREAT idea!
    Until this happens, however, I intend to have my say in how my money is spent, and how this system is run. There are some towns in Maine where if there are no children in the household, a large rebate is given to those residents. This increases the taxes for those with children, but then of course, those are the people who are using the education, and spending the tax dollars. Seems fair to me!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — January 21, 2008 @ 7:23 am | Reply

  9. Tuition payments for those that use the services! Cutting Edge!
    I and many others laugh at I pay my taxes! My kids deserve the best! What the reality is you pay about 1/3 or a little less why you are subsidized by the rest of us. I would take about 36 years to pay for your one child if you paid for your one childs education. The same parents that complain when their kids go to college then have to pay really for their child’s education. Why does it take the onset of reality to strike so late. Multiple children 3 (108 years at todays rates, etc). Their is a real world out their please join us in it. Fair play Ms. Gardiner.

    Comment by Totally Amazed — January 21, 2008 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  10. I have a question for Hopkinton residents, is ther any truth to the rumor that the Hopkinton Town Council didn’t plan on or put away enough money to cover the workman comp. claim that the police just put in for. I believe it was buying back the time? I have heard a rumor that it was aroun $500 thousand and they don’t have enough to cover it. anyone know?

    Comment by tiredofnefans — January 21, 2008 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  11. Why wouldn’t the numbers on what Chariho actually spends be readily available. This is just one more lie. They know exactly how much they spend on each and every item. If they don’t, they are even more incompetent than I thought.

    No, they have the numbers and giving the numbers to the public is as simple as clicking on “print”. They don’t want us to know how much they spend. They prefer living in the theoretical where numbers can be manipulated as needed.

    Why is this behavior tolerated by Richmond and Charlestown voters? I wonder if citizens in those towns know how much they spend in their personal budgets or if they just make it up as they go along?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 21, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  12. Something tells me that former Hopkinton Councilor Scott Bill Hirst numbers were pretty close to being right regarding the 2005 budget cut of $2,000,000. Two years later we are awash in money and can’t or won’t be given back to the three towns proportionately.

    If I read the former Hopkinton School Committee heads comments correctly regarding that 2005 budget (this is only a paraphrase, no offense meaned), mandates are so subjective). Excuse me, they aren’t subjective, they are in FACT MANDATORY.

    From what you here ‘on the streets’ at least one former school committee member from one of the Towns of Richmond and Charlestown said when they served on the school communittee, post 2000, numbers were put next to mandates to make it seeable what the communities were dealing with. When asked were numbers put to mandates the response was ‘Of course we did.’

    Whose zooming who?

    Comment by Totally Amazed — January 21, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  13. Curious Resident and others:

    You mention school choice, does that mean vouchers, tuition, what? Who pays for these students that want to go to another school other than the one in the local district? I don’t think it would alleviate the need for major repairs at all. My child has a leaking classroom in the high school, I’m sure it’s not the only one that has leak. This is just one example. Just because there are fewer students, you still have to maintain the buildings. You buy a house, have kids, and just because the kids leave you don’t suddenly stop maintaining your home. The same principle applies here. You also say that school choice is not likely to happen because of the power of the unions in Rhode Island. Where do the unions get this power from? Our legislature is where. Until we stop electing the same ones statewide to the legislature, nothing is going to change. The problem starts in Providence, not at the local level. We, the voters, have to get them the heck out of there. And yes, that means Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Walsh, we need to clean house and get a better balance between Democrats and Republicans along with some open minded non-affiliated senators and representatives.

    I don’t see how you fire the current administration, there would be too much of a void. Mr. Ricci is certainly much better than what we had with Mr. Pini. It’s the School Committee as a whole that has the most control, not the administration. So I guess we need to fire the entire school committee, how do we do that? Also, please provide me with a link to one of these school districts that show all financial information along with the check transactions, I would love to see that.

    In regards to contract negotiations being done in the public eye, that’s darn near impossible and I find somewhat ridiculous. I think what needs to be done is that the taxpayers get to have a better say before the contract is adopted. Maybe some kind of voting mechanism, or something along that idea. I know our Town Clerks will love me for saying that one!
    It’s funny that you mention that Charlestown and Richmond hold Chariho accountable. It was Mrs. Deb Carney, Charlestown, who brought up issues with the audit. She was the only person to catch it and had Mr. Ricci scrambling for an answer. It was Councilor Henry Oppenheimer, Richmond, who first brought up problems with the current budget at the Omnibus meeting. Hopkinton was silent until this.

    Mrs. Buck read your posting. 90% of it is about taxpayers, not children and parents. I would expect for you to stick up for Tom Buck but you did well to prove my point. At the Omnibus meeting not there wasn’t one mention about parents or students from anyone there. It was all about money and the pocketbooks. You also said that it’s your guess that the budget is padded, find out the facts, don’t just guess. Guess is another word for assume, and you know what assume translates to.

    To Dorothy Gardiner and Totally Amazed, I never said it was only parents that should have a say in how the tax money is spent. What I did say was that was the only topic was their pocketbooks. We should all be concerned about our schools and we should all help to pay the bill. The schools are a vital part of every community, we all pay for it. If I don’t use police services for a year, should I rebate for that? I live on a state maintained road, should I get rebate from the town because they don’t maintain, plow or sand my road? I don’t use Langworthy Library, should the town reimburse me for portion of what it contributes to that. I’m not a member of the Senior Citizens Association, I should get a rebate for that, too. The list could go on and on about what I use and don’t use from the town. I guess my tax bill would be very low then if I got rebates for everything that I don’t use.

    The amount spent on mandatory items in the budget would be subjective, you would have to estimate what in that line what was part of the state and federal mandates. Yes, the mandates are mandatory but the amount spent is subjective, I do belive that is what he is trying to say.

    Scott Bill Hirst was on your town council when you had double digit tax increases. Do you want to believe any numbers he throws out? I certainly don’t trust his numbers.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 21, 2008 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  14. I’ll post some info here for you CharihoParent, but try to do your own homework. There’s literally hundreds of websites dealing with government transparency. A simple web search will give you enough reading for the next few weeks.

    The bottom line is that transparency is possible and Chariho chooses not to be transparent. Even contract negotiations can be, and should be, transparent. If Chariho is not currently paying its bills and managing it budget on computers, then they are even more pathetic than I think. Assuming they do use computers, then providing detailed information on how they spend our money is quite simple. They know it is is simple, yet continue to obstruct public oversight.

    The real problem is people like you who agree to continue pouring more money into a school system which refuses to be accountable. Emotional rhetoric aside, we do not do children a favor when we allow school administrations to spend our money however they please.

    As for your questions about school choice, there’s even more information available about that topic then there is about government transparency. Clearly it works and clearly it can be done. It hasn’t failed yet in any place it has been fully implemented. Most countries, countries with far superior educational outcomes compared to the U.S., have school choice. You can do the homework on this one or you can continue to ask inane questions and expect other people to inform you.

    Transparency efforts and successes abound throughout the country. You can check out a summary here:
    http://www.atr.org/content/pdf/2007/june/060107ot-transparency.pdf

    In Illinois The Champion Foundation is leading efforts towards transparency in schools and they provide extensive information on school spending. Here’s a link followed by their Introduction:
    http://www.thechampion.org/article.asp?id=1073
    Illinois taxpayers have greatly increased funding to the public schools for decades, yet there are never-ending cries for ever higher taxes to pour yet more dollars into the system. The reason for this is that the schools are terribly mismanaged. No amount of money will ever be enough.

    The Champion Foundation is committed to requiring all Illinois government-run school districts to fully disclose all financial information to the public. Currently, school districts resist efforts to report revenues and expenditures in a clear, understandable standardized format. This is unacceptable, since there is no accountability without transparency.

    Our website http://www.thechampion.org has posted all public school teacher and administrator salaries since 1999. The data, which is from the Illinois State Board of Education, tells an important story. Teachers and administrators pay ranges from adequate to highly excessive without rationality, and their pensions are enormous.

    We are currently analyzing a few hundred Illinois school districts and the findings are startling. Pay increases far outpace those received by workers in the private sector; and estimated pensions for public school teachers and administrators dwarf those received by the very taxpayers who pay the lion’s share of the Teachers Retirement System and other public pension funds.

    Click here to view the list of school districts. We’ll be posting more over the course of the coming weeks and months.

    Every year Illinois taxpayers increase funding to the government-run school system at an average of 6 percent – yet there is a never-ending effort underway to get ever more dollars by both raising property taxes through local referenda and by increasing the income tax via the Illinois General Assembly (which is beholden to the special interest groups).

    Missouri is the first to implement spending transparency for the entire state. It’s called the Missouri Accountability Portal. Here’s a link…quite fascinating: http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/MAP/Expenditures/

    To lead with a good example, the governor has made his office’s expenditures available to view
    online: http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/files/2007Q1_expenditure.pdf

    Here’s more info from Texas:
    by Rep. Bill Zedler would require school districts to post their check registers online.
    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=80R&Bill=HB2560

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 21, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  15. As for the individuals you identify, I do not know what audit you are referring to in regard to Ms. Carney, but I have heard good things about her efforts to have Charlestown start their own school system. Since I agree this makes the most sense for everyone, I view her favorably.

    Mr. Oppenheimer is a stooge. He supported the bond because he knows it circumvents the budget cap and he wouldn’t need to be fiscally responsible with the municipal budget. Richmond is falling over itself because without the budget relief offered by approval of bond, they will see their budget hit the hardest of the three towns by Chariho’s irresponsible spending.

    Mr. Ricci is incompetent and never should have been hired. I’m told by someone who worked for him when he was a principal that he was “great” in that role. We’d all be better off if he took a took a step back. He apparently is over his head in running a school district and assuming he doesn’t have evil intent, he chooses to manipulate words and budgets rather than admit he is clueless on how to do his job.

    The School Committee is out of their league entirely. Mr. Felkner, Mr. Chicetti, and Mr. Abbott are the only ones with any intellectual weight. The rest are a bunch of puppets and it is obvious the school and the School Committee is being run by the administrators. The School Committee is a good example of what government becomes when citizens are complacent. Committee members usually run unopposed and the majority have familial connections with Chariho. They are terrible representatives.

    I have no idea about Mr. Pini as I was among the complacent when he ran things.

    Mr. and Mrs. Buck are probably like most of us. They realize that giving money to Chariho is not the equilavent of giving money to a charity for children. Like me, they probably believe that parents are the ones to determine what is best for their children. Families have varying economic needs. For instance, I do not have dental insurance. During the year we decide if my child’s teeth can go a few more months without a cleaning. My family gives $2,500 of our earnings to Chariho every year so the employees there can have dental plans, yet we have to assess our child’s mouth to decide when a cleaning is due. Don’t even ask the last time we could afford to get our own teeth cleaned. Fighting for Chariho to be fiscally restrained and responsible can be done out of parental duty. If you are able to parent without concern for wasting money, good for you, but if you think everyone lives in your world, you’re a fool.

    As for Mrs. Gardiner and Amazed, I’ve never seen either one deny a community should pay for education. They simply ask for fiscal restraint and accountability. Like most rational people with no personal benefit from Chariho spending, they demand that their money be spend appropriately and within reason. Chariho does neither.

    I find it humorous that you claim not to “trust” Mr. Hirst’s numbers. You tell us all that we should give more money to Chariho without protest yet we know with certainty that their budget numbers have been wrong. Mr. Hirst, who didn’t have access to actual spending, proposed a budget closer to reality than that of Chariho. You don’t trust Mr. Hirst, but you do trust Chariho? Are you sure you don’t have a connection to Chariho other than being a parent?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 21, 2008 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  16. There have been a couple workshops before the omnibus meeting, where Hopkinton residents were in attendance. The first meeting had what appeared to be just Hopkinton residents and reporters. The last one had 3 Hopkinton residents and no-one from the other 2 towns. This was before the omnibus meeting. There the Hopkinton residents, Mr. Buck, Mrs. Capalbo, and Mr. LaBrosse attempted to offer their opinions, but for the most part were ignored. Mr. LaBrosse raised his hands quite often, but he was not called on even once. Was it just professional courtesy that they allowed Mr. Buck and Mrs. Capalbo to speak every once in a while? They have been trying to participate in the process, but with limited success.

    Just as at the omnibus meeting, Mr. Buck was cut off a number of times by Mr. Reddish and Mr. Day. You can watch this on Channel 18 at 3 p.m. this Friday. Tape it and take inventory. Don’t miss it.

    Mr. Buck had a plan, but they really weren’t interested in hearing it.

    The next budget workshop is Thursday, January 24th. You can check the Chariho website to verify. They will have one more after that. There are only 4 listed.

    When we ask for information and we don’t get it, what more can we do but assume. That is their fault, and their intention.

    Want proof of padding, I recall a school committee member who was quoted as intentionally not reporting the mandates because the taxpayers would know where to make the cuts.

    We have 2 kids in the school system. I want the best for them, just as I want the best for my neighbors kids and my neighbors, neighbors kids….. I, like my husband, have taken time to attend meetings, participate in meetings, and have often had to bring our children. It isn’t always easy to find a babysitter during the week.

    I am a member of the Hopkinton ad hoc committee to research returning the 5th and 6th grades back to the elementary schools. I have posted often as to websites for people to visit as to understand that the research, with actual empirical data, recommends the need for 5th and 6th grades to be returned to the elementary setting.

    I have spoken out about the math curriculum, often providing independent links so people can draw their own conclusions.

    What have you done? Criticize those people who are doing the research, and taking time out of their schedules to attend meetings, and do the research.

    Perhaps, you can attend the next 2 Chariho budget workshops.

    And here I am going to report on financial issues. If you don’t like it, oh well.

    Why is Chariho maintaining such a large surplus? Why aren’t they using it to repair the schools? Why are multiple failures being reported in the many facilities in this district? Why are they applying part of this surplus to offset the health insurance this year, so the health care is “flat” for this year, as reported by Mr. Stanley. You can view this at Friday, 3 p.m. on Channel 18.

    The simple fact is, we have to get control of these budgets. There are many residents that just can’t afford to heat their homes. Everything has gone up. But, they have to pay their taxes for fear of losing their homes. Isn’t it obvious that these people need help. Have you noticed the rents in the paper?

    It is so easy for people to want to jump on the bond bandwagon when they pay $1700 a year in taxes, compared to $3900. A sensitive person would try to consider everyone’s perspective, parents, children, single parents, elderly, individuals. Decisions have to be made take all parties into account.

    This country is in a recession. If you don’t believe it, watch the news. There will be a lot of people without jobs.

    So, let’s make cuts, and start using the budget surplus for needed repairs at all the schools. Prioritize.

    In a year, the lease will be up for RYSE. Perhaps we can make a deal with the leasing company. The name of that is Triumph Leasing. A modular building is not a bad thing if you “maintain” it, as there are many residents in the tritown area that own modular homes could tell you.

    I would dispute 90%, but I really don’t care about your math. I do care about the math curriculum at Chariho. I hope my questions will be answered about that someday.

    I speak for myself on these sites. If I speak for Tom, I note it in the body of my letter that this is coming from him. He often lets me know things as I am not always able to attend every meeting, as I have to make sure the kids get their homework done. I interpret them and post my thoughts.

    We are trying to do our part to help all of Hopkinton. Tom and I agree often. We’ve gotten into some heated discussions, as well. In the end, we hope to make a positive difference.

    Everyone has the ability to do the same. Everyone needs to attend these meetings. Get out to vote. Listen to all perspectives. If they can’t, converse with their town and school representatives. Get involved in a positive way. If one doesn’t, then they don’t have any reason to complain.

    Finally, when I respond in these blogs, I try to keep my comments based on the topic headlines and articles. If you go to the Ad Hoc or Math sections, you’ll notice my comments are about them. So, perhaps you ought to redo your math.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 21, 2008 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  17. Hi!
    I will let my public service regard compared to the best of local pols in recent decades. We in fact had double digit tax increases when I was on the town council.That was an unfortunate situation. I will let my record speak for itself. I go the extra yard in politics. Whether being active on the national,state, or local scene.
    In 2005 after losing re-election to the Hopkinton Town Council months before I successfully made a motion to cut the proposed Chariho School Budget of 2005-2006 by 2 million dollars.Of course some of this was restored in a subsequent meeting.The district avoided the Caruolo Act where they would have to prove they could not run the school district with the money appropriated.
    Recently for last year’s( 2007) omnibus meeting I suggested to the Hopkinton Town Council they put the management study on for discussion.Bob Petit to his credit has pursued this.I am concerned about the status of it.We need to be more willing to get information then we have been on finances in Chariho.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 22, 2008 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  18. Sadly, in spite of all of our attempts to obtain information from CHARIHO, we have been laughed at, ridiculed, interupted, lied to, and verbally abused. Hopkinton has tried again and again to obtain information about budgets, funding, building upkeep, and many other areas. We have been stonewalled at every turn! Now, the ONLY thing we have to fight with and for our kids is money. Don’t vote for another bond issue, not now, not later until we have the answers to all of our questions. A quick fix such as a bond will only put us in a position where we will continue to support an administration at CHARIHO which is sneaky, disrespectful, and refuses to allow the taxpayers information. If I had a hangnail removed, I would have to be informed of the risks and benefits of the surgery. I expect the same expectation of “Informed Consent” when I pay my taxes. I expect to know WHO is teaching, WHAT the are teaching, and WHERE my money is going for building upkeep. I do NOT expect to pay more for “Teacher Aides” when there are only 10 kids per teacher. I do not expect to pay for social services (again, since the state provides that), and I do not expect to pay for unproven methods of study. I expect to see the worth of a program such as the RYSE program evaluated ongoing each year, and I want to the benefits and risks associated with such a closed environment for evaluation, treatment, remediation, and education for this group of students. I want to see at least as much oversite of this program, with measures to evauate the cost, treatment, and progress as I could expect from any treatment facility. While CHARIHO may tell us that this is “cheaper”, there is no proof of that, and the normal safety reviews required by a facility such as Bradley are not available, and perhaps are not required in this setting?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — January 22, 2008 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  19. Keep in mind Mrs. Gardiner that transparency isn’t difficult either. These days, everything is on computers and making records available to the public is a snap. There really is no excuse for information being hidden from us other than Chariho purposely chooses to keep us from knowing. As we saw with the bond vote, they know how to get information to the public, even when it is lies, distortions, and misrepresentations.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2008 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  20. Lois Buck, I have one quesiton to ask you. Where do propose to come up with the room to bring 5th and possibly 6th graders back to the elementary as Tom Buch proposed? Richmond does NOT have the room for it. There’s no room for trailers (or mobile units to please Curious Resident) on the property. I believe the farm ares behind the school is protected by Farm, Forest and Open Space so it must remain there. The neighboring property is more wetland than anything and as I’m sure you must know, DEM doesn’t move very fast to be able to even get any kind of waivers or varionces for that. Charlestown does NOT have the room for it, either. So now you have to come up with something else. That was why Tom Buck’s proposal wasn’t accepted very well.

    Scott, honestly, I really don’t most trust any politician, you’re included pin tha category. Most Politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths and you’re one of them. Curious Resident says Henry Oppenheimer is stooge? That’s rather ironic since I’ve heard the same term in regards to you.

    I really don’t think trailers (mobile units) used in this kind of an environment is correct for long term use. If there were so great then why aren’t all schools built using them? Trailers are for temporary use, not long term. As it is, it’s bad enough my child has to use the trailer for her band class. I wouldn’t want her in them every day 5 days a week for the entire school day.

    I’ve also said, I don’t agree with everything about Chariho but by the same measure, I’m not going to make the insane accusations of corruption that you and your little group make about the administration and the school committee. Accusations that you don’t have proof of, you just keep repeating the same mantra over and over again in the hope that it sticks some day.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 22, 2008 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  21. I posted this on Hopkinton RI Speaks. Perhaps, this will answer your question, CharihoParent……

    So, what can we do to educate our kids and provide a safe environment, while keeping control of educational spending so these people can live a safe and healthy life?

    Some ideas:

    1. Equalize taxes

    2. Reduce spending. Everything should be considered.

    3. Apply budget surpluses to the infrastructure. Prioritize based on safety.

    4. Redraw the lines to deal with overcrowding.

    5. Allow for choice (Freedom of Choice): within the school and out of the school. Not every kid wants to take Spanish/French or whatever in 5th-8th grade. Some parents would like to send their child/children somewhere else and just can’t afford it.

    6. Repair the 1904 building (but, sadly Chariho eliminated that as a possibility) and expand the elementary schools. If the Hopkinton schools are the only ones that can be expanded, then so be it. If the lines are redrawn, they could handle an increase from the other towns.

    7. Return the 5th and 6th grades to the elementary schools. Room for RYSE and ALP in either the middle or high schools would be available if this was accomplished. Take the budget surplus and use it to facilitate the removal of the 5th and 6th grades back to the elementary school. Don’t use it to offset health costs. (Guess what, health costs do not go down, so what are they going to do, deplete our budget surplus to zero to offset health costs? When it runs out, then what do they do? Hello, taxpayers.)

    8. The track is not a priority (Return it to dirt or seek out donations). The maintenance building is not a priority. Lockers are not a priority.

    9. Maintain the buildings. Put a percentage (perhaps, 2-5% of the operating budget) in the budget strictly for maintenance.

    The newest part of the 1967 building was designed with some forethought by the Hopkinton Building Committee of the time. They had designed it so an addition could be added to the front of it. There is also space at the side where the 2 so-called portable classrooms are located. They will likely have to be removed because they apparently have a mold/mildew problem. As I can’t say for sure, I only have to trust peoples word on that.

    I also believe the 1904 building could be utilized as well. The building is structurally sound, and it has sizeable classrooms. A pumping station, underground water storage tank, and a sprinkler system would likely have to be installed for the new building. The size would have to be altered to adjust for the 04 building.

    Additionally, I believe that an engineering firm would advise us that with the proper supports the newer part of the 67 building could be built above the older structure if the older structure couldn’t support the added weight.

    This is just the Ashaway Schools.

    With some thought, I’m sure we could do a great deal with the Hope Valley Schools.

    Some thoughts on that:

    Langworthy Field is right next to it. If it was imperative, I’m sure it could be used for the playground for the elementary school. If we had concerns for handicapped children, a smaller handicapped accessible playground could be installed at the top of the hill.

    The building could probably be extended to the back or built upwards, but again an engineer/architect would have to advise on the structural stability of this.

    These are ideas. That’s not to say that they won’t work, but it is possible and they should be looked into.

    To me and many parents in Hopkinton that I’ve talked to, they don’t want red carpets and gold trim, with crystal chandeliers. They want simple and basic, yet aethetically pleasing, without the expense.

    I do believe that if we had to redraw the lines to help overcrowding, Hopkinton would do it in a heartbeat.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 22, 2008 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  22. I recall having art on a cart when we were in elementary school. Many classrooms are used for art. I in no way want to underscore the value of art, but basic classes should utilize this space.

    I also recall the music teacher travelled from room to room.

    They came to us.

    Tough times require drastic measures.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 22, 2008 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  23. Apparently I live in a “trailer”. I better tell my neighbors, who also think they live in a permanent house, that they are living in a “trailer”. My “trailer” has been around since 1972. My neighbor’s “trailer” has been there almost as long. My roof was replaced after around 25 years. I’ve had leaky pipes in the basement in recent years, but I think I’m done with that. Besides, the pipes that leaked were added later so they technically don’t qualify as an original part of my “trailer”. A month ago my well pump died. Not bad for a 35 year old pump. I don’t think my well pump counts as part of my “trailer” either.

    Calling modular buildings “trailers” is nonsense. I was raised in a modular home and I’m raising my three kids in the same home. If Chariho is having problems with their modular buildings it is because they were not maintained. The buildings are built to the same, and quite often more stringent, codes as all other buildings. I read the information Lois posted here from Triumph and these buildings are topnotch. Kathy Perry herself is quoted praising the buildings.

    Resistance to modular structures is emotionally driven. I hope your poor child isn’t friendly with my children because think of the trauma of having to go to band in a trailer and then hang out with your friends in a “trailer”? I can only wonder how I made it through childhood and how my children manage to survive spending their entire lives growing up in a “trailer”.

    If you keep repeating that my home is a “trailer” over and over again it just might stick. I wonder why my home insurance costs me so much? Why is my property value not less?

    I have stated I was against the first bond. I’ll wait to see what happens next, but when I hear things like modular buildings are trailers, it makes my skin crawl and I know from my personal experience that someone is trying to fool people. It makes me very suspicious. Anyone with any knowledge of modular buildings will disregard what you have to say if you keep trying to tell us modulars are trailers. This is wrong.

    Comment by Jim L. — January 22, 2008 @ 10:28 pm | Reply

  24. Don’t sweat the modular thing. They’ll make up anything if it advances their desire to have us ignore the failings of Chariho. I have friends who live in an older modular. It’s bland on the outside, but on the inside its every bit as good as my home. I’ve also heard that modulars are build to the highest building codes in the country because when they build them they aren’t always sure where they’ll end up.

    Mrs. Buck put forth a number of good ideas. Keep them coming, but the Chariho sycophants really aren’t looking for answers. They want our money and they want us to shut up. They’ve been getting away with mismanagement for years and they don’t want to be challenged or questioned. How dare we?

    CharihoParent pretends to not understand our position. He agrees that Chariho has problems, but then expects us to trust these problems will miraculously disappear as long as we turn over millions of dollars more of our money. I’m not buying and urge Hopkinton to resist any thought of trusting these people to fix problems once they have their hands on more of our money. They won’t change.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2008 @ 11:07 pm | Reply

  25. I have an uncle who lives in a modular. Nice house. No wheels. Nice foundation.

    To me a modular home is a “home” that is put together in a warehouse somewhere. It is usually more structurally sound than a stick built house as it has to travel on our wonderfully maintained highways. I haven’t seen one yet that remains on wheels.

    The RYSE buildings are nice looking buildings. They were at least when the lease first began. Is this an option for Hopkinton? I believe this is Jim’s contention.

    Or, as far as expanding Ashaway school, I believe the roof failure occurred on the newest part of the 67 building. I believe that expansion was completed in 72. Anyways, a thought… If an addition was built over that part, then the recently patched roof wouldn’t need replacement. Right?

    These so called “portable” classrooms which I would have to think are permanent, as they were there over 30 years ago, probably can be repaired as well. Perhaps they can be used over on the main campus. RECYCLE. Let’s go “green” Chariho. Pun intended.

    Or are they the property of Hopkinton?

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 22, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  26. http://triumphleasing.com/custom_classroom2.php

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 22, 2008 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  27. http://www.triumphmodular.com/custom_classroom3.php

    Apparently, Triumph has shifted some files around. This link should take you right to the Chariho modular classrooms.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 23, 2008 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  28. Hi!
    I will let my record speak for itself. Through a number of years I have fought to make Chariho accountable. Frankly I have done it when the 26 elected Town Council members of the three towns and the eleven school committee members have remained silent. What some if not most fail to remember is with the maintenance of effort principle schools get the same amount as the precedig year with the only exception of decrease in student enrollment or nonrurring expenses.
    I have arguably run as a candidate more than anybody now on the Hopkinton scene.My immediate election plans now is for delegate in the GOP Presidential Primary on March 4TH,.So CharihoParent if you want to vote against me here’s your chance if you are a Republican or unaffilated voter you will be eligible. Go to http://www.sec.state.ri.us/elections/ppp/ppp08.html ,. Check out Delegate Candidates Listing.
    BTW what examples do you have me talking about both sides of my mouth? At least you know who I am! I am not perfect but I usually just didn’t sit there when I was in office!I rember the 2 million dollar budget cut at Chariho when the Supt. Pini was not cooperative giving me facts beforehand. Chariho surplus issues are particularly interesting now and don’t you see that?
    The situation in Chariho is simple:Very few want to step up to the plate and address the REAL Chariho problem which is FINANCES and those willing to find a solution is larger than it has ever been at least especially in recent decades.
    Regards,
    Scott Bill Hirst

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 23, 2008 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

  29. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Hopkinton Scott.

    Yes I do think modular structures should be on the table for schools. At least until someone proves they are not cost efficient. From what I can tell now they are far and away the least expensive way to expand a school. In looking through websites they do not have to be so “bland” anymore. I know from personal experience that they are safe and well built. My house was never on wheels. It came on a large flatbed truck and they used a crane to put it on the foundation. It’s stood the test of time and to my knowledge has no structural flaws. I lived in Westerly years ago. My home there was built in the usual way. I continously had mold problems. I’ve never had one mold problem in the modular. To my memory my parents never had mold problems or any structural problems. I did notice that the Chariho modulars have a flat roof. My home has a peaked roof and an attic. Not sure if this makes a difference. They have modulars that are more than one story too. This might work at Richmond if there are space limits. They even have modular elevators. I don’t see why it matters where a building is put together as long as it is put together well.

    Comment by Jim L. — January 23, 2008 @ 8:13 pm | Reply


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