Chariho School Parents’ Forum

February 13, 2008

Feb 12 meeting

Filed under: meeting notice,Unions — Editor @ 10:58 am

The meeting will be aired tonight (channel 18) at 8 and on Friday at 12 noon.  During the public forum I tried to outline the details on the NEA complaint filed at LRB.  It turns out there has been a hearing and the school’s attorney has been in discussions with the NEA – but I have never been contacted nor presented with any information. 

I outlined the numerous attempts  I have made to find out what I did wrong.  I have asked the NEA and they refused.  I have asked the school and they too have refused – up until last night. 

What I tried to show was that the NEA is using your money to  file frivolous claims – but Superintendent Ricci blamed me for this problem.  Neither has given proof to the allegations. 

During the public forum – when we got to the deal offered by the NEA, the school board went into recess because they feel the information is confidential.  Hopefully the camera kept rolling.  Here is an outline of the information presented.  I will post documentation next week (a deadline is occupying my time right now).

September 20, 2007 – Pete Gingras (NEA) leakscomplaint to Chris Keegan @ Westerly Sun (complaint is signed and dated Sept/21/07).

Sept 21 – NEA files complaint with Labor Relations Board (LRB)

Sept 28 – I asked LRB – they said, per NEA’s “request” it be placed in abeyance “pending issues being resolved.”

Sept 28 – I asked Pete Gingras for explanation – he said he had, “no intention to provide disclosures of my proofs.”

Oct 11 – Pete contacts Barry Ricci – he has “concerns” that I would tell the public and that he believes I have “no intent to resolve the issue.” .

Oct 11 – Pete contacts LRB – refuses to give me info – threatens “additional charges.”


Jan 22 –  Terri Serra asks for a disclaimer

Jan 23 –   Letter from SC asking for disclaimer

Jan 31 – Ricci to Westerly Sun – “Felkner’s website may cost district money”

****  Why not NEA cost the district money

Feb 1 – Ricci confirms that NEA has provided information – I still have not seen anything.

Feb 7 –  Ricci refuses to allow me to speak with lawyer saying the case is against the school committee and not me.

Feb 7 – conversation with LRB – Robyn Golden – \ – NEA pulled complaint from abeyance – had a hearing – LRB asked school attorney if I would be present – the attorney never answered LRB.

Feb 12 – NEA offers a deal – sent via email on 2/1/08  – This email was a reply to a previous email but we were not given the other information.

Here it is verbatim – bold items are my comments.


Andrew [school solicitor] if the School Committee chair (whose wife and son are employees at the school – thus NEA members) is willing to agree;

1)      Felkner, via his blog, has never been authorized to speak on behalf of the Committee:

2)      The Committee requested a disclaimer, to be placed on his bog, at it January 2008 meeting; [note that he asked in past tense that the SC do something in the past – which Terri Serra did]

3)      The Committee agrees to bargain only through chosen representatives of the Association

4)      Felkener is a Giants fan 

We’d be willing to withdraw.

One of the above items is a throwaway.

Pete Gingras


 If #4 isn’t a better example of what the NEA thinks about spending your money – I don’t know what is.  This is a game to them.  They force union members to pay dues – dues financed by taxes.  And they use that money to play these games.  The NEA has all the power and control of our schools – we must take it back.  Public sector employees should be treated the same as private sector employees – no better, no worse.



  1. Not only are you a scholar Mr. Felkner, but you’re a gentleman as well. How you put up with these morons so calmly is beyond me.

    Did any other members speak up and object to our money being spent on an unsubstantiated and frivolous matter? Every member should vow to subtract out the legal fees from the next teacher contract.

    Is Mr. Ricci, Mr. Day, and the lawyer all in cahoots with the NEA? Is this an effort by this group to shut you down?

    I’m not surprised by any of this nonsense, but I would like to hear that at least some School Committee members aren’t corrupt? Did anyone voice the opinion that this whole thing is very shady? Did anyone ask why you weren’t told of the Labor Board meeting?

    As for the four items listed, I can’t understand that part? Are these conditions for Petey dropping his complaint? If so, why does #1 say you are authorized to speak on behalf of the committee while #2 says they requested you post a disclaimer that you don’t speak for the School Committee? This is contradictory.

    Looking at the list, there doesn’t appear to be anything of substance. Obviously this is not an official Chariho School Committee website. Obviously it is inappropriate to bargain with individual union members outside of the process. Since none of these “rules” have been broken, the request is more frivolous nonsense.

    I wonder when Richmond and Charlestown voters might reach the point where they too look at the way Chariho is run and demand change?

    In a way it is a good thing these idiots continue to come after you for being the only one on the School Committee to consistently and regularly share information with the public. Your adventures with these facists must be putting sunlight on how corruptly Chariho is operated? From Mr. Day’s family using Chariho as their golden goose to Mr. Ricci’s disregard for the educational well-being of our children, I hope the other two towns are paying attention.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 13, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  2. Hi!
    This is absurd. If in fact a complaint against Mr. Felkner is filed he and the committee should be informed of the facts as understood now procedurally and to what extent they may or may not have merit.
    I do have a question Bill, are committee meeting members given written rules/procedures regarding such things? I know some labor stuff is in writing but how much and I assume this is not covered? I appreciate that you may not be able to discuss my question.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 13, 2008 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  3. Hi!
    On what basis can a school committee member be denied access to an attorney working for the district and hiring I believe is done by the school committee? Any defendant as far as I know is entitled either in cases criminally or civilly to know of the complaints/charges against them as well as what constitutes the alleged charges/complaints.While Mr. Felkner is the center of the complaint but the whole school committee is being sued or a complaint is being filed against it seems more than reasonable they would have been briefed by now.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 13, 2008 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  4. The key thing being “reasonable”. The School Committee and Chariho’s administration is not familiar with “reasonable”. It is reasonable when you take money from one group of people (taxpayers) to give to other groups of people (school employees) that you would gladly and reasonably share details on how and where the money is spent, but we know how angry the very thought of transparency makes these people.

    I believe they’ve strucken “reasonable” from every dictionary at Chariho (along with several other words – accountability, responsibility, etc.).

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 13, 2008 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  5. Sorry – typo. Should read “never autorized” have corrected. Thanks, CR

    Comment by Bill Felkner — February 13, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  6. If the School Committee has any brains they wouldn’t let Petey withdraw his complaint.

    Since no one has shown one iota of anything you wrote with could be possibly construed as negotiating with a known Support Staff union member, Petey is simply peeing into the wind. Why would the School Committee jump in front of him? He wants to get wet so let him get wet.

    This matter should be taken to its completion and once Petey is chastised by the Labor Board for wasting their time and money along with Chariho’s taxpayers time and money, perhaps he will think twice before filing frivolous complaints? I almost said he would be embarassed, but based on his commentary here, I suspect the clown is too stupid to get embarassed.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 13, 2008 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  7. Ewwww — you’re a Giants fan?

    Comment by david — February 13, 2008 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  8. He publically stated he is a Colts fan.

    Sorry Bill, that I cannot support.

    That is a big Ewwwww!

    Comment by Lois Buck — February 13, 2008 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  9. Wanna hear something worse? I’ve lived in 10 states – kept my High School home (MO) until Cardinals left. Birth state was IN so took colts. Moved to RI late 80s to mid 90s. Became a Pats fan – big Parcells fan. When they cut Parcells I moved to SD (not for that reason) and was so upset at the loss of coach Parcells – I went back to Colts. Worst decision I ever made

    Comment by bill felkner — February 14, 2008 @ 12:01 am | Reply

  10. After that Super Bowl you should thank your lucky stars (and Parcells).

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 14, 2008 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  11. Amazing stuff Mr. Felkner!

    My family just finished watching the Public Forum part of the School Committee meeting. Mr. Day is ten shades of red.

    You should stand up at every meeting where issues which belong in the public are discussed behind closed doors. The fact that the union negotiated with Mr. Day, whose son and wife are members of the union, is certainly something that Mr. Day would want to hide.

    Do we want a Support Staff union negotiating with the husband and father of Support Staff union members? I know I don’t…we give away the store as is…I can’t imagine how much money the Day family would make should Mr. Day become Chariho’s negotiator.

    I’m sure Mr. Ricci wanted it to be kept secret that he is spending our money on silliness like you being a Giant’s fan or agreeing to bargaining rules and disclaimers that already exist. I doubt a lawyer was even needed for something this frivolous. I imagine the Labor Board is having a great laugh at Chariho School Committee’s expense.

    The whole thing was a farce and you are to be congratulated for bringing it to the public’s attention.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 14, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

  12. One would think a counter claim could be filed for punitive damages for a bogus or frivilous suit against the plaintiff for the tri towns to stop such nonsense. This is why it takes 2 years to go to court for a speeding ticket.

    Some would believe that Mr. Ricci strings are still being pulled by the Mr. Pini. Only alleged. Will Mr. Ricci ever decide to be his own man?

    Please Richmond neighbors, we are now paying the highest taxes of the tri town and Charlestown will kill us as they are half of ours if this is our end game. Let’s buy out Hopkinton and later Charlestown. We have too much going on to be stopped by the beachcombers and woodchoppers/cutters.

    I don’t need a dude with a GED from my town of Richmond telling me my business. I know where stupid starts and if I get out a phone book I’m sure its not far from where I live.

    Comment by Richmond Rebellion — February 15, 2008 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  13. I don’t know the history of Mr. Pini, but in watching the meeting, Mr. Day was stuttering and stammering as he tried to explain how Mr. Pini may have implemented RYSE without keeping the School Committee fully informed about disgruntled parents and legal actions taken. Like a good lap dog, Mr. Day was sure to note how Mr. Ricci would never hide any information from the committee. It was comical.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 15, 2008 @ 6:50 am | Reply

  14. It may be of interest to put a little historical perspective on the matter of transparency or lack thereof at Chariho. In defense of Superintendent Ricci, he didn’t invent opacity at Chariho, he is just carrying on a tradition of his mentor, John Pini.

    A point in case; while the details are different. the spirit and intent is the same:

    You may remember the first Chariho Financial District Meeting of 2005. At that FDM the Chariho operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year was reduced by the vote of the people by $2 million. I believe that was the result of people being told that most of the budget cost was for mandated and contractual obligations, but when asked to identify those items the school administration was not meaningfully responsive.

    The school administration said they could not live with the cut and an unusual second FDM was quickly arranged. A school committee budget workshop open to the public was scheduled prior to the second FDM.

    The Superintendent made a list of what he described as possible cuts and gave the list to the school committee members ten days before the workshop; he adamantly refused to make his list public until the day of the workshop.

    It struck me as strange that the school committee, who presumedly had some familiarity with the budget, had ten days to study the changes while the public was handed the proposed changes as they walked into the workshop.

    Those circumstances led me to write the following letter to the newspapers:

    The Editor

    I watched the broadcast of the March 25th Chariho School Committee meeting on TV with both relief and puzzlement. Relief was provided by what I perceive as the realization by many on the School Committee that the cutting of the school budget at the Financial District Meeting was for real and heartfelt and not a capricious act by people who don’t believe in education.

    My puzzlement springs from Superintendent Pini’s continuing refusal to share with the public information about the budget until the last possible minute.

    It seems to me that his repeated refusal before the FDM to identify which items in the budget were related to mandates and signed contracts only served to inflame sentiments that already existed. If the intent was to avoid budget cuts, it obviously didn’t work.

    But the cut has been made. Mr. Pini said at theMarch 25th meeting that $2 million can’t be found to cut, but he has identified the cuts that can be made with the least detrimental impact.

    He promised to get that information to the School Committee members at least 10 days before the School Committee budget workshop so they can become familiar with his recommendations.

    He also invited the public to attend that April 2nd workshop and offer their input. But he adamantly refused to let the public see his list of cuts until the day of the workshop.

    Bizarre is the word that comes to mind. He apparently feels the School Committee needs ten days to study his list, but he invites the public to participate in the workshop and won’t let the public see his list until the workshop begins.

    Could he be sending the message that the public can grasp in 10 minutes something that School Committee members need 10 days to absorb?

    Or is the Superintendent uneasy about giving the public information with sufficient time to examine it carefully?

    Either way, it doesn’t give the impression that the Superintendent is eager to embrace the concept of an open, informed discussion of a problem that the community is taking very seriously.

    Frankly, respectful, open and informed discussion about budget items offers the best chance for us to move on constructively. Mr. Pini owes it to the kids to give it a try.

    Thurman Silks
    Hopkinton City

    The end of this long tale is that the second FDM was held and about about half of the original $2 million cut was restored. I stand ready to be corrected, but I have been given to understand that the District ended up with a surplus from that budget.

    Mr. Pini has moved on to greener pastures, but his legacy lives on.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — February 15, 2008 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  15. As far as I know and can recall, the former Hopkinton Town Councilor that made the motion to cut $2 million from the budget did not provide any idea where the cuts should be made. That wasn’t any better. He said he had ideas but he never provided any idea where he thought they should come from. I felt at that time that his actions were as shameful as what Mr. Pini and the School Committee had done.

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 16, 2008 @ 9:05 am | Reply

  16. It was asked at the school budget workshops why Chariho couldn’t divest itself of some Aministrators – the reply was that all their contracts ended together next year. The suggestion to the board from the public (myself and another) was to staggger their terms.

    The board cannot seem to remove aides either. The only persons they consider expendible seem to be teachers. I have no idea why teachers – especially good ones — don’t take this up with their union or anyone else who will listen to them. Chariho (Westerly, Tiverton, etc) will dismiss teachers not aides, teachers not administrators, teachers not just about anything else – except maintenance. Maintenance is cut first, teachers second. There is a substantial and consistent problem here with any number of towns.

    Obviously students learn better in smaller classrooms with teachers. Smaller classrooms mean more teachers and LESS aides and administrators. Anathema.

    Comment by BarbaraC — February 17, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  17. CharihoParent plays their game so well. Chariho has been running a multi-million dollar surplus, but it is “shameful” when taxpayers are unable to identify specifically where the extra money is being budgeted.

    Think about assinine this is…the School Committee and administration produces a complex and confusing budget which nobody seems to understand. They won’t tell us how much they actually spend. We aren’t even told simple things like how many employees and what they are all doing, but somehow we should be ashamed for not being able to specify what can be cut?

    In CharihoParent’s world, the people denied the information should be as ashamed as the people hiding the information.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2008 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  18. CharihoParent plays their game so well. Chariho has been running a multi-million dollar surplus, but it is “shameful” when taxpayers are unable to identify specifically where the extra money is being budgeted.

    Think about assinine this is…the School Committee and administration produces a complex and confusing budget which nobody seems to understand. They won’t tell us how much they actually spend. We aren’t even told simple things like how many employees and what they are all doing, but somehow we should be ashamed for not being able to specify what can be cut?

    In CharihoParent’s world, the people denied the information should be as ashamed as the people hiding the information.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2008 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  19. My take on it Mrs. Capalbo is that schools usually will make cuts in the areas that are likely to cause the most outrage and thus result in the taxpayers capitulating and giving schools whatever they ask.

    We should be complimented that they cut teachers before sports. Most communities cut sports first because so many parents value school sports, but I guess in Chariho we value teachers and infrastructure so they cut maintentance and teachers.

    This isn’t rocket science. Chariho has been running a multi-million dollar surplus for several years, so they obviously have been over budgeting. Mr. Hirst’s cut could have been made simply by presenting an accurate budget. Nothing needed to be cut. In fact, to my knowledge there has never been a Chariho budget that spent less one year than the year before? If this is true, then there has never been a budget cut. Chariho may not get to spend as much as they’d like, but this isn’t a cut.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2008 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  20. You are so right CR.

    I went to a house-warming party last weekend – a permanent modular two story home. It was lovely and well-built. The modulars at Hope Valley have been there for decades – the two “trailers” at Ashaway (now permanent) have also been there for decades and all 5 modular classrooms/art/music/administration are still being used without issues in Hopkinton.

    Even the buildings Charlestown was considering a couple of years ago for their new schools if they split the district were a variation on modular construction. It has come a very long way since the “trailers” many remember. Even elevators can be modular now – discussed at the School Ad Hoc referenda meeting as an excellent option to solve one of the 1904 building issues.

    Comment by BarbaraC — February 18, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  21. The anti-modular people talk hogwash. All it means to be modular is the structure is built someplace other than on-site. The materials used are the same. If anything, I’ve heard of two big advantages to modular construction:

    1. Often built above codes to withstand travel (potholes).
    2. Typically built indoors where wood and other contruction materials are not exposed to outdoor conditions. This can have positive effects on life of the building materials.

    I’m no construction expert, but over on Hopkinton Speaks you can read some expert opinions.

    After due consideration modular may not be the most suitable for cost or flexibility reasons, but I’ve seen no legitimate evidence that having a structure manufactured miles from the eventual location is inferior to having the structure built on-site. The arguments against modular don’t even make sense.

    I believe opposition is either elitist in nature or from people having a vested interest in construction remaining local. For the latter group, I suggest they start a modular company of their own and compete. (Maybe they can use one of the movie studios before they fill up?) The elitists remain hopeless.

    I posted a link on Hopkinton Speaks to a website which links to pictures of modular constructed schools in the Northeast. I believe Middlesex College in Massachusetts is composed entirely of modular constructed buildings. One of the modular buildings (there are pictures) is a huge, three-story building. There looks to be several two-story buildings too.

    I think Chariho’s administration feels insecure about RYSE as long as they are leasing the buildings. As much as I am disgusted by the way RYSE was brought to Chariho, and as much as I want parents to have other options, I’d still prefer RYSE purchase the building they are in now rather than spend millions more of our money on brand new buildings.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 18, 2008 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  22. Hi!
    To get back to the year that I moved to cut the budget one needs to know then Supt. Pini in an e-mail no less gave me the maintenance of effort requirement but noted they could not afford utilities and other things. When I asked what it would take to do so, i was informed if i wanted to be his boss to run for school committee and why didn’t I go to the budget hearings. I have been to numerous meetings through the years. I made a cut on the number I felt reasonable on what I knew.
    The fact that a Supt. of Schools refuses to answer a direct question speaks for itself. What is not told was the response of the Supt. of Schools before that meeting to me via
    Remember the Chariho establishment avoided the Caroulo Act to take place as they did not have to explain to the state why they could not live with the budget approved. They just did a revote. No examination through the Caroulo Act took place where the Chariho School Committee had to PROVE before state authorities they could not run the schools with the budget approved.
    While I did have a schedule conflict the day or their workshop that Saturday that was continued to another day, I attended neither.
    That Saturday, if I recall correctly is the day Stephanie Brown, then Chariho School Committee Chair, in response to then Hopkinton Town Councilman Gary Williams who much of this budget was mandated replied that if they did or she did that was all they would get to run the schools.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 21, 2008 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  23. Hi!
    Sorry with some typos on my last post. It should be in #22 should be day of the workshop and how not who much of the budget. Please bear with me!
    I find of interest Greg Kenney’s claim about the violation of open meetings taking place which has been in the papers check The Providence Journal . The Westerly Sun you may have to be a subscriber perhaps not as it is a new story.
    Mr .Kenney was Chair of the Chariho School Committee when the unoffcial ruling of the Rhode Island Attorney General sided with me in 1999 in Hirst v. Chariho School Committee. His failure of leadership in handling that situation speaks for itself. The interesting thing is this, this was done concerning arguably the most controversial Chariho Supt. ever John Pini and his contract. A previous town council I was on four of the five members of the 1996-98 hopkinton Town Council signed a petition to get rid of Mr. Pini. Mr .Kenney was on the Chariho School Committee at that time.
    Perhaps Mr. Kenney is technically correct on his claim on recent ruling on discussion of the Chariho building situation at the Hopkinton Town Council meetings.
    If I remember correctly his own wife presided over the Hopkinton Town Council meeting the night before the building proposal vote last November.The town council president Vinnie Cordone had been traveling and was not at that meeting if I remember correctly. I also find it of interest, the behavior of the Hopkinton Town Council President, as he went under the radar screen on his support for the building proposal. Then after it was shot down he noted his support.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 21, 2008 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  24. Another option besides modular is panelized construction; where the walls are built at a factory and assembled onsite. That’s how the Waldorf school in Richmond was constructed; it provided more flexibility in design and allowed for better addressing people’s aesthetic sensibilities.

    It also would have been near-impossible to bring a whole modular building onto that site without destroying the site plan.

    Comment by david — February 21, 2008 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  25. Thanks david. That is another option and like modular the pieces are assembled in a factory and brought to the site, which has already been prepared prior to arrival of the panels or modules. Many of these options can provide a 20-30% cost savings to the purchaser. And these buildings are well built.

    I am somewhat familiar with the paneled approach. The one thing I would question is whether they assemble it then dismantle it. With the modular, they are assembled, the plumbing is even tested, then they dismantle it and ship it to the site.

    Comment by Lois Buck — February 22, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  26. A building built with panelized techniques is a permanent structure, so if one is thinking about buying (but not renting) a modular, panelized is an option that retains some features and provides more opportunity for tailoring the design and adding some design features, for those of you who think schools should be attractive as well as functional.

    Comment by david — February 23, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

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