Chariho School Parents’ Forum

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.

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10 Comments »

  1. “Misunderstood?” Or misleading?

    In the highlighted part of the text you do not use quotation marks. Did The Rag use quotation marks?

    If not, then they were paraphrasing Mrs. Capalbo and very well could have gotten it wrong. What they write indicates Mrs. Capalbo would agree to lock Hopkinton into years more of an inequitable tax situation and that doesn’t sound like the Mrs. Capalbo I’ve seen comment here.

    All three newspapers have detailed and emphasized the pro-bond slant on the issue. They have glossed over the call for transparency, accountability, and responsibility. Would The Rag purposely misreport Mrs. Capalbo’s position on tax equity and the bond?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 27, 2008 @ 12:57 am | Reply

  2. I am not surprised at all – Mrs. Capalbo’s comments are often misleading, disjointed, and fairly foolish. Some people think she uses fairly intelligent vocabulary – but often if you ask someone after she has spoken, what she had actually said – they couldn’t tell you!

    Comment by not a fan — January 28, 2008 @ 6:20 am | Reply

  3. If you ask someone what she said, and the someone is unable to tell you, then perhaps someone lacks the intellect to follow along?

    Based on what’s been written here and on Hopkinton Speaks, Mrs. Capalbo is clear, concise, and easily understood. She has told us that Hopkinton should not agree to a bond until tax equity is in place. This is wise, and not difficult to understand.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 28, 2008 @ 6:42 am | Reply

  4. Let me try to clarify my suggestion.

    Both Richmond and Charlestown want a re-vote on the bond. The bond as originally presented, lost. Since the American public does not believe in do-overs the bond must be changed if it is to be brought forward and it must be as a new bond. But it also must be brought forward under the original scope of work if we don’t wish to begin completely over again – which would be the High School, Middle School, RYSE building, Campus and Track. It cannot include the elementary schools (as much as I would prefer that).

    I proposed several alternatives. The one I prefer is the High School and the Campus portions alone – no Middle School, RYSE building or Track. The kicker being a fully equalized bond by taxpayer not by town. It allows all of us to see what a truly equalized tax rate would be like in a small dose. How much money do we all really pay for a common cause? Sylvia has said the same thing in different words – it may not be as bad as Charlestown thinks it would be – especially in reference to funding your own school system.

    We cannot change the operating budget or bond arrangements overnight – whether Bill or anyone else wants equalization, which must be through a change to the Chariho Act (as I also prefer). This will take time and we have demanded this over and over. Let’s see how it looks in real life by trying it.

    I don’t believe that passing a fully equalized capital expense bond (Admin is correct it is effectively a miniscule portion) would negate the discussion and determination of our town to negotiate budget disparities. It may show Richmond citizens the value of our point of view as it helps their tax issues as thoroughly as it helps ours.

    Certainly I agree that the High School proposal has problems, but no one can disagree that the building needs a lot of renovation and newer and greener construction for this century. Perhaps that construction/architectural overseer from RIDE will actually do his due diligence and change some of the present architectural plans or at least make better objective recommendations. I see no problem with more oversight (CR is right again). It is thoroughly needed.

    Comment by BarbaraC — January 28, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  5. I’m disappointed to read Mrs. Capalbo supports the passage of any bond without legal agreement on tax equity. I was wrong. Hate to do it since they misreport so often, but The Rag got this one right. I do hope Mrs. Capalbo rethinks her new found position. Compromise has its place, but this wouldn’t be compromise, this would be capitulation.

    Unless a bond is only a couple of years in length, then Hopkinton is stuck with an inequitable tax situation for years to come.

    I’ve admitted that if I were from Charlestown I would be as adamantly opposed to tax equity as anyone. I would never, ever voluntarily agree to tax equity. This is the same position of every current Charlestown leader, and most likely the position of the large majority of the Charlestown electorate. Why would we ever think Charlestown would agree to tax equity simply out of the goodness of their hearts? No way…never will happen.

    If we agree to any long term bond, we are agreeing to Charlestown and Richmond dictating to Hopkinton how much will be spent at Chariho over the life of the bond. In other words, the status quo remains. We will be getting tax equity for $8.4 million, but we will ceding any chance of tax equity for annual budgets in excess of $50 million. Hopkinton will have little chance of controlling Chariho’s huge budgets as history has proven time and time again.

    Hopkinton has one opportunity to get this right. Mr. Tuthill in Richmond has pushed for Richmond to also analyze Chariho’s budgeting practicing. Perhaps this will be the first step in Richmond joining Hopkinton in requiring fiscal responsibility and restraint before habitually giving Chariho whatever monetary demands it makes on taxpayers? Hopkinton can and should stand firm until Chariho is brought into line.

    I’ve asked about tremendous increases in Teacher’s Aides salaries. No answers. I’ve asked about surpluses which would take care of the High School needs within 2 to 3 years without a bond. No response. Is this level of accountability acceptable to Mrs. Capalbo…because this is what we will get and deserve should we pass a bond now.

    Now is not the time to cave-in. If we agree to a bond with tax equity, we are not only dooming ourselves, we are dooming any of our children who might be able to afford to live in Hopkinton in the future. Please reconsider.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 28, 2008 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  6. How right you are, CR. Seems like everyone is going into the Land of Alice…down the rabbit hole again! Wonderland again…Off with their Heads! Mr. Ricci, as the Cheshire Cat is grinning again!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — January 29, 2008 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  7. I have a child in the school system, but I do not support renovating the infrastructure in exchange for leaving my child with the consequences of unrestrained and unaccountable spending at Chariho. Green technology can wait until the green in our wallets no longer gets wasted and misspent by Chariho.

    Frankly, I’ve have a lot of repairs and improvements to my own home that do not get done because of finances. My home was built decades ago with little updating since. Anyone want to take up a collection for my family? If not, why not?

    My poor, poor child is being raised in substandard conditions afterall. We built a desk from scrap wood left over when we tore apart an old bed frame. How does my child survive this ordeal?

    I don’t care if it takes another ten years before the Chariho issue is resolved. Safety issues can be addressed in the operations budgets, and renovations through a bond can wait however long it takes if it means that Chariho gets the message that business as usual is no longer acceptable.

    If any bond is approved without tax equity being implemented Charlestown will continue to disregard Chariho’s failure to educate our children and Chariho’s failure to be fiscally responsible. If we accept anything less than tax equity, Hopkinton loses. Are we losers? I hope not.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 29, 2008 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  8. Mr. Pini sent a letter to the editor regarding state, federal mandates and contracts dictate much of Chariho budget.

    The article was published Monday May 2, 2005 in The Westerly Sun.

    I will get to ‘meat of the article’. Starting with paragraph 4.

    I will try to provide a list of the mandates, laws, regulations, contracts, or other binding agreements that comprise the skeleton upon which the budget is built. I am sure I will not make the connection for every budget item, but I believe they all do connect.

    From the Rhode Island Board of Regents, we get:

    BASIC EDUCATION PLAN: (referred to as the BEP): comprises the basis for all school districts in Rhode Island.although somewhat out of date, it remains the benchmark for decisions on what is required in school budgets. Every other mandate, law, regulation, contract, or binding agreements builds on what the BEP requires. The plan defines everything from what is taught to the number of librarians required.

    HIGH SCHOOL REGULATIONS: define the changes that are required in high schools to compy with greater levels of accountability, smaller units of organization, more personalization, and increased requirements for graduation. There are also impacts at other grades (e.g., All students, beginning in grade 5 are required to have Individual Learning Plans. All students reading below grade at the elementary level and significantly below grade at the secondary level are required to have Personal Literacy Plans.). those requirments significatnly increase the need for resources.

    VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL REGULATIONS: require that we make career and technical education available to all of our students who request access. They also define the responsibilities that Chariho has as a host district with a career and technical center on site including the need to have a director and counselors.

    TEACHER MENTOR PROGRAM:requires all diistricts have a mentor program for new teachers.

    FROM THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
    we get:

    TRANSPORTATION LAWS: define the requirements to transport not only all of our public school students, but also all students attending certain private and charter schools. We are also required to provide a monitor on all buses that transport any students in grades K-5.

    CHARTER SCHOOL LAWS: require that the District pay for a majority of the tuition for each student from Chariho who attends one of the two charter schools in our area.

    PRIVATE SCHOOL EXPENDITURES LAWS: require that, besides transporting students to private schools, the District must also pay for textbooks for those students.

    LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY: requires that services be provided to students who speak English as a second language (ESL).

    FIRE AND SAFETY CODES: require compliance. Recent changes in fie codes require significant expenditures of funds, but there are also recurring costs for code compliance.

    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: required by state law.

    OPEN MEETING LAW: requires extensive and very expensive advertisments for public meetings.

    EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR SUSPENDED STUDENTS: requires that students suspended for more that 10 days must be provided with and educational plan and services.

    HEALTH REGULATIONS: require significant resources be allocated for a variety of heatlh matters. New regulations propose that every student with a medical issue (e.g., allergy, asthma, etc.) would have to have an Individual Health Care Plan developed and monitoed for him/her.

    FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
    we get: NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB): provides clear direction for assessment, servies, maintance of a safe enviroment, support services, etc. the most extensive and costly provision of the law is that all students must be proficient all areas by 2012. Again, significant support programs are required to reach that goal. there are also requiremtns in this law to maintain a safe enviroment which is the reason for deans at the secondary level.

    INDIVIUAL WITH DISABLITIES EDUCATION ACT (IDEA): Requires that we provide very specialized services and protections for children between the ages of 3 and 21 who are identified as having a qualifying disablity. These services are expanded by additional Rhode Island requirements.

    SECTION 504: Prohibits discrimination against individuals with handicaps. It ensures that that any child with a handicap has equal access to an education, including access to facilities as well as programs. The child may receive accomodations and modifications. It also requires modifications for all handicapped staff as well.

    MCKINNEY HOMELESS ACT: Requires that we provide education and transportation to anyone who is deemed homeless, and whose last residence was in Chariho.

    TITLE IX: Requires balanced access by gender to all educational activities with special focus on athletics. Both sexes must have equal opportunities, facilities, access to practice time, and coaches must be paid on the same levels regardless of whether they coach boys and girls.

    CONTRACTS, COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS AND BINDING AGREEMENTS: We have all sorts of contracts, bargaining agreements and binding agreements, Among others, those cover:

    Certified staff; educational support personnel; adminstrators; leases for portable classrooms; leases for copiers; service agreements for copiers and laminitoars; a calling service for substitute teachers; liablity and property insurance, workers compensation, unemployment benefits; audit services and transportation.

    Others include agreements for telecommunications; computer maintenace on major software systems (e.g., peronnel, financial systems, and student information); Internet services; licensing agreements for certain software; food service; medical and dental services.

    While I have given thumbnail descriptions of these mandates, laws and regulations, the complexity of the actual item and wide range of impact cannot be captured in a brief description. There are connections that go from all of those items listed above to virtually all the line items in the budget.

    Please consider all of these requirements when deciding on your vote at the May 5 Chariho District Financial Meeting.

    Your View, Monday May 2, 2005 edition of the Westerly Sun. (This article is preceded by three paragraphs).

    If the School Department knows of these ‘mandates/requirements’ and was noted in another comment on this blog that a former school committee member noted when they served, numbers were put to mandates and now no longer done it shows a total lack of respect for those that pay the freight.

    It was also noted that Hopkinton’s former Chariho School Committee Chairperson noted that (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘its hard to put numbers to mandates as they are so subjective’. I would think with what was mentioned above it doesn’t seem the least bit subjective. Especially millions in surplus after the cut of 2005 was ostracised when nothing could be cut. Money was added back due the ‘special meeting’ and scare tactics were allegedly employed. There must be a ‘paper trail’ and the Town Councils should demand accountablity. Maybe Mr. Almonte from the Auditor Generals office in unision with the Attorney Generals office can find or encourage those to get it together.

    Time for all school committee members and town councils to request a district audit and if some form of criminal malfeasance is found then those accountable should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Comment by James Hirst — February 1, 2008 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  9. It is not really complicated. If the budget was inflated strictly due to mandated items, then I have no doubt that the administration would identify each and every mandate specifically along with the cost.

    Instead they blame mandates, but make no efforts at transparency, nor do they speak in the plain, simple language of those of us paying the bills. They want to keep us as confused as possible so we can’t figure out where and why they spend as much as they do.

    Teacher’s Aides is my most recent beef. We’re spending literally millions and the budget for aides is increasing by double digit percentages, yet there are not aide mandates for mainstream students, are there? Apparently Vo-Tech students do fine without aides as this coming year will be the first time in recent years that Teacher’s Aides salaries are budgeted.

    Chariho plays games. I can figure out my own budget and where I spend money. Chariho can easily clarify spending for the public. They don’t and that says everything.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 1, 2008 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  10. Hi!
    Did you see today’s Providence Journal, “South County” edition http://www.projo.com , a letter by Craig Johnson a student at North Kingstown High School who along with his teacher multiple times contacted the RI Dept. of Education on issues dealing with finances and schools? I think it should have been published state wide in The paper not just one edition.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 29, 2008 @ 12:57 pm | Reply


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