Chariho School Parents’ Forum

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

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25 Comments »

  1. Well I have to disagree wtih Bill on this one. I think splitting the bond is good. But I also think it is time to move on it. Bill sat in the same room as me the other night and heard the same information I heard. If we don’t move now on this bond we will lose the backing from the state. Some will sit here and say they are blowing smoke, just trying to get us to vote this bond through. I say open your ears and your eyes, the state budget is in big trouble. The Town Finance Officers, from all towns,had a meeting to look at how the towns can come together with equalizing. I asked at the omnibus meeting for this to continue and the response was that they would to figure out a way that will work for all three towns. What I am getting at is people are working on concerns that have been mentioned. Some will take time, time we don’t have for the bond. Lets get this done and get this done NOW.

    Comment by Bob Petit — January 22, 2008 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  2. The bond should not be split. If we approve any long term bond then we are locked into the current status quo for years to come. Mr. Petit is to be credited for attempting to cut the most recent outrageous and excessive budget, but not one member from Richmond or Charlestown voted in support of his cuts. Does anyone think these people are serious about controlling spending at Chariho or improving educational outcomes? Have they ever shown us any indication that they can be trusted to act in anyone’s best interest other than the interests of the adults who work at Chariho?

    Mr. Petit would have Hopkinton make a tragic error simply because the state is willing to subsidize our mistake. Does it make any sense to spend money foolishly even if the state is going to help us spend it foolishly? We are selling our souls and our children to the devil if we agree to another bond because of money. Forget the money and think about a future where nothing changes and future generations are left fighting a battle we could have fought and won.

    The School Committee will vote to support a bond split tonight. This is a forgone conclusion. With Mr. Felkner absent, the vote will probably be unanimous. I ask Hopkinton citizens to remember that this is the same group that routinely wastes your money and doesn’t even blink as they do it. Their vote is meaningless. I pray that the Hopkinton Town Council has the guts to stand up against the political pressure and they reject any moves towards a re-vote. If they should be too weak, then it will be once again up to the voters of Hopkinton to send the message that Chariho no longer can waste our money and poorly educate our children and still expect the gravy train to run on schedule.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2008 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

  3. It is true that if we do not move soon, we might not get the state reimbursement. And I’m ok with that. The state is in an incredible mess because, year after year, we increase spending. If we put a band-aid on this problem (by passing this bond), we will not be properly motivated to 1) get an equitable tax formula, and 2) fix the true cost driver, labor contracts. Besides, if we had an equitable funding forumula, Hopkinton and Richmond would quickly recoop the lost state funds with the lowered contributions.

    Of course, everybody loves spending other people’s money – but that money from the “state” does not grow on trees – its still our money and we will still have to pay for it – we just extend the due date, thats all.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 22, 2008 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  4. I remember years ago attending a local candidate forum where every politician blamed the state for local financial woes. None of them proposed cutting local spending but they all wanted to get more money from the state to pay for spending increases. I remember sitting there thinking I that I pay taxes to both the state and the town. It really doesn’t matter to me which pocket they steal from when they take my money.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2008 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  5. Hi!
    I plan to stop by the Hopkinton Town Council meeting tonight in a few minutes. BTW the Governors State of The State’s remarks should be rebroadcast on Capitol TV and local channels?
    Terri Serra’s decision to place this web site up for discussion is based on what? She is free to participate in this web site or have her own web site.She certainly does not use the local media to express her views at least not much.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 22, 2008 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  6. I’m kinda disappointed that Mr. Felkner is bagging out on his commitment to the school district to go to the state house tonight.

    Comment by david — January 22, 2008 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

  7. David’s attitude is one of the reasons why positions on various local boards are so hard to fill. Mr. Felkner’s real life job is with the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. I imagine that it is imperative for his career that he attend such a high profile event considering OSPRI’s push to be a main player in Rhode Island’s development.

    I am very happy with the time Mr. Felkner’s donates to the community. He does more with his time to help children, parents, and taxpayers then the rest of the board combined.

    I am amused that this website will be discussed at the meeting though. No wonder they are unable to share much information with the public. They have much better things to do, like talking about an internet website.

    I’m kinda disappointed that Ms. Serra is bagging doing something useful for the district tonight.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2008 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  8. Maybe Mr Felkner is tired of the committee putting up procedural roadblocks when they don’t get their way.

    Comment by RS — January 22, 2008 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  9. Okay, I’ll retract my comment. If the research institute is Mr.Felkner’s job and not an avocation, then he simply has a conflict between commitments which he has to decide how to resolve.

    My mistake.

    Comment by david — January 22, 2008 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  10. Do you hold all council and committee members to the same standard? Or is it you just have a bone to pick with BF?

    Comment by RS — January 24, 2008 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  11. I’d prefer to have members who have something useful to offer and sometimes miss meetings rather than clowns like Mr. Day and Mr. Polouski who make every meeting, but do nothing to improve the school.

    Apparently being related to Chariho employees is considered a useful qualification in the land of Chariho.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 24, 2008 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  12. Hi!
    Whether people like it or not at the present time Mr.Felkner seems to appear to be the one of the most influential members of the Chariho community outside our borders.He has the infuence bcause the Ocean State Policy Institutute is on the move and he is spearheading it.He knows the players upstate or certainly getting to know them better.He previously interned for Gov. Carcieri. Whether you agree with him or not Mr. Felkner is intelligent, a doer, and a strong willed person!
    How many on the Chariho School Committee at the present time or any of current 15 Chariho Town Council members have his connections, will power, and his search for ideas? He can hold his own with the best of them. What does Terri Serra really bring to the table? Deb Jennings is a Richmond Finance Board member and Richmond School Committee member.When will she really understand the relationship of how Chariho impacts Chariho finances and the operation of its town government?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 24, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  13. Hi!
    Second Resend with minor adjustment:
    Whether people like it or not at the present time Mr.Felkner seems to appear to be the one of the most influential members of the Chariho community outside our borders.He has the infuence bcause the Ocean State Policy Institutute is on the move and he is spearheading it.He knows the players upstate or certainly getting to know them better.He previously interned for Gov. Carcieri. Whether you agree with him or not Mr. Felkner is intelligent, a doer, and a strong willed person!
    How many on the Chariho School Committee at the present time or any of current 15 Chariho Town Council members have his connections, will power, and his search for ideas? He can hold his own with the best of them. What does Terri Serra really bring to the table? Deb Jennings is a Richmond Finance Board member and Richmond School Committee member.When will she really understand the relationship of how Chariho impacts Richmond(this word changed and CHariho deleted) finances and the operation of its town government?
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 24, 2008 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  14. Richmond’s mission is to have a bond pass so they can circumvent the budget cap. Sadly, Richmond politicians are more interested in manipulating spending than in controlling spending. They are more interested in hiding the amount spent than informing the public of how much is spent.

    Because Richmond has such a high percentage of citizen feeding at the government trough, the majority are tolerant of the games used to spend more tax money. You do have to feel badly about the citizens who work in the private sector and pay through the nose to employ the their neighbors.

    I don’t know how much influence Mr. Felkner has at the state level, but locally he is an advocate for children, parents and taxpayers, and that is good enough for me. God bless him in his other endeavors.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 24, 2008 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  15. I’ve read on this site the allegation that Richmond has lots and lots of school employees living in it, so when I saw that Mr.Felkner had a spreadsheet of all employees with salary and other data I checked that assertion.

    The spreadsheet includes not the employee’s town but their mailing address, which causes ambiguity, but the data does not support CR’s statement about the “high percentage of citizens feeding at the public trough.”

    According to the data, here is where the full-time employees live (zip code, not town):

    Charlestown 75
    Westerly 63
    Hope Valley 52 (note that some Richmond addresses have this zip code)
    West Kingston 37 (straddles SK and Richmond), but mostly in SK)
    Wakefield 36
    Wyoming 26
    Narragansett 26
    NK 20
    Carolina 19 (includes portions of both Charlestown and Richmond)
    Ashaway 18
    Bradford 17 (Westerly, but aren’t there some Hopkinton residents within the Bradford zipcode?)
    Wood River Junction 16

    Further down the list we have
    Hopkinton 7
    Rockville 5
    Shannock 4 (both Charlestown and Richmond)

    In any case, the numbers, while not conclusive, don’t seem to support the idea that Richmond has way more Chariho employees than the other towns.

    David

    Comment by david — January 24, 2008 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  16. To RS: I don’t think I’m picking on Mr. Felkner, but I do expect members of the school committee to make its meetings a priority. As a nonprofit board member for eight or nine years, I have missed only board meetings over that entire period.

    Comment by david — January 24, 2008 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

  17. Mr. Felkner may be one of the better known locals upstate, but I think before he can be called influencial he has to influence something. Thus far he has been unable to infuence much about the school committee, nor offer much other than solutions which are politically impractical probably for several years (radically changing contracts, changing Chariho funding).

    Heck, we couldn’t pass a bond before Mr. Felkner showed up, so really what’s new?

    Comment by david — January 24, 2008 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  18. Yes, the forces opposed to reform are entrenched – but I am confident substaintial contract changes will be made. When the majority of voters realize all the things public sector workers get that private sector does not- that is when reforms happen. And yes it does take time.

    Comment by bill felkner — January 24, 2008 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  19. To be clear, I said “government trough”, not “Chariho trough”. This would include local, state, and federal level employees. I have interactions in Richmond and there does seem to be a large number of residents who work for the government. If you can find a listing of where URI employees live I wouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of them reside in Richmond.

    I appreciate your trying to determine where school employees reside. Tough to do when zip codes overlap. I’d need to see part time employees as well since I understand many of the aides and assistants aren’t full time. Based on the salaries we are paying for aides and assistants, this is a sizeable contingent. Unfortunately, staffing numbers are one of the many things Chariho’s administration keeps close to the vest, so who can say for sure?

    I freely admit that my evidence is anecdotal. I simply have a sense that Richmond has a high number of citizens with a vested interest in government spending. This could also include family members of government employees. For instance, Mr. Day of Richmond has two family members earning a living at Chariho. Mr. Petit’s cousin is the Finance Director at Chariho likely earning six figures. I imagine with the generous retirement benefits taxpayers fund, Chariho retirees could also be a factor in Richmond. Mr. Polouski from Charlestown is an example of a government retiree who remained in the area and seemingly is willing to support anything Chariho does.

    If Richmond’s historical record of approving just about all spending at Chariho is based on something other than self interest, I can’t imagine what it is that motivates them to accept a poorly performing school with little fiscal restraint?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 24, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  20. Addressing Mr. Felkner’s impact on the School Committee, he is so villified by the leadership that I doubt we would be told when his actions have changed how they conduct themselves. Just this week a Chariho student was arrested for drug dealing. Prior to Mr. Felkner’s arrival arrests at Chariho were frequent, but parents and taxpayers weren’t likely to be told anything. Maybe or maybe not, but Mr. Felkner pushed for more information about arrests, and voila, details of an arrest at Chariho are made public.

    I have little doubt that the latest bond would have passed if Mr. Felkner had not challenged the lies, misrepresentations, and distortions. Even with his efforts to inform the public, the bond still nearly passed in Hopkinton. I have no idea why past bonds failed, but I believe this horrendous bond would have been approved without Mr. Felkner’s influence.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 24, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  21. Hi!
    Bradford Zip Code takes in part of Westerly and Hopkinton.Wood River Jct., actually takes in part of Hopkinton for postal matters.
    I am not upset about Mr. Felkner’s lack of attendance at the school committee last Tuesday. I think attendance is very important but considering mr. Felkner’s position with Rhode Islamd’s right leaning think tank he likely should have been there at the State House.
    In recent decades Hopkinton had two town Council members one a Democrat and another a Republican who absences were really noticeable and drew down the town council.
    In Mr.Felkner’s defense he brings more to the table than the average Chariho School Committee member and he takes that resonsibility seriously.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 26, 2008 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  22. I’m with you Mr. Hirst. What would any of know about the comings and goings at Chariho if Mr. Felkner was not on the committee? Even if you disagree with him, you have to admit he makes the discussions lively. It’s good to have a “no man” among all the “yes men” on the School Committee.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 26, 2008 @ 11:18 am | Reply

  23. It doesn’t hurt to have someone on the committee with ties to the statehouse, so the people up north do not forget us woodchoppers, potato pickers, and others to the south.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 26, 2008 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  24. At the school board budget meetings a staff number for Chariho of 600+ was mentioned (it might actually have been in the low 700’s). David lists a total of 421 full time employees. Perhaps there may be more unlisted or listed as part time employees – although I don’t see Mr. Ricci listed – he lives in the Foster/Glouster area and we know he is a full time employee.

    This is the first school board to speak up and differ in opinion often. No one can count on a slam dunk vote. I think that is the result of Mr. Felkner’s arguments and thoughts. It is a very lively thing and good for all of us. Although the ‘do-over’ of Mr. Poulowski’s motion at the last school budget workshop does show Mr. Ricci’s constant disregard for the meaning and determination of a vote – and the board’s agreement is unfortunate.

    Comment by BarbaraC — January 29, 2008 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  25. How many employees? The list of Chariho information which is unavailable or difficult to ascertain is amazing. I wonder if Chariho is actually a front for the CIA?

    While we can count on at least one vote being cast for parents, children and taxpayers, those voting to protect Chariho employees’ interests over the interests of the community still overwhelmingly dominate the School Committee. If the votes aren’t a slam dunk, they are usually aren’t more difficult than a lay up.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 29, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply


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