Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 10, 2008

March 10 School Committee meeting

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 6:27 pm

Tuesday’s meeting will have a motion to approve the budget, a discussion on executive session votes and a statement from the Committee regarding my actions.  Starts at 7 at the Middle School library.



  1. A statement on your actions? Are they finally going to commend you for being the only member who consistently keeps the public informed?

    I have a statement about the School Committee’s actions that has led to irresponsible spending and inferior education for our children…”pathetic”. Please have them read my statement into the minutes.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 10, 2008 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  2. Pathetic? Are you talking about yourself CR? All I ever hear from you is complaints on the blogs but a total failure to voice your opinion in public at Chariho School District meetings where it could have a much better impact. Now that is truly pathetic.

    Comment by CharihoParent — March 11, 2008 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  3. Explain how my speaking at School Committee meeting will have impact? I couldn’t speak any better than Mr. Felkner and they try to harass him into silence. Why would I have better luck?

    You certainly put a lot of value into attending meeting CharihoParent. I do watch a fair amount of meetings on cable and have yet to see public participation make one iota of difference.

    Regardless of who attends, the following remains consistent: Mr. Day is a horse’s ass. Mr. Polouski wastes our time with irrelevant tales from 30 years ago. Mr. McQuaide pops out of Mr. Ricci’s behind long enough impress his “mentor”. Mr. Petit says something tough before voting to do whatever everybody else wants to do. Mr. Abbott tries vaiiantly to make a point before the rest of the committee steamroll him. Mr. Cichetti will ask the committee to act reasonably (he’ll be ignored). Mr. Preuhs will look dazed and confused before voting against the interests of children, parents, and taxpayers. The three ladies will be cackling and nodding in unison and will say something nice about children and wonder why we can’t all just get along. Mr. Felkner will battle for transparency and the rest will vote to hide behind closed doors.

    The School Committee is nothing if not predictable. Predictably pathetic.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 11, 2008 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  4. Yes I do put stock in attending the Chariho School District meetings. When you go to something like the Budget Hearing and we can barely get a quorum, there’s something wrong, and CR is what it truly pathetic more than anything else. No wonder the School Committee does what it feels like doing. The best thing that could ever happen is that the auditorium was filled by the voters of all three towns and they heard our collective voices go up against them, then they just might wake up. If there’s little or no attendance, they take it as voter apathy and do what they darn well please.

    Comment by CharihoParent — March 11, 2008 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  5. Hi!
    Through the years I have been to a number of school committee meetings. I will not be going tonight.
    The school committee in some ways is arguably better than it was as some personalities have left. In its best sense education should encourage dialogue and debate on ideas and not attacking the messenger. Intellectually both Bill Felkner and Giancarlo Cichetti among current Chariho School Committee members bring thought to the table and know doubt some others on the committee do.
    Bill Felkner has nothing to prove really. His think tank has great credibility in Rhode Island for what would be called a conservative perspective.Notable people have lent their name to the Ocean State Policy Institute. Giancarlo Cichetti always appear to be analytical in his decisions and speaks well.
    It is quite apparent you see no real intellectual and philosophical debate on the school committee because it would appear many if not most members can really be seen as up to it perhaps.That criticism might not be entirely fair but the committee too often does not ask logical questions. You notice Mr. Felkner is usually attacked but his detractors do not try often to make a case to rebut his ideas which is what debate is all about.
    I will be voting against the budget as I suspect a management study will not be included.I might be against in anyway, but I do not wish to consider it without that study done and included in the budget.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 11, 2008 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    In the third paragraph it should be ” cannot not can, really be seen up to it”,. It is my understanding Bill Day’s mother-in-law has died. I am sure his wife, family, and him, are under pressure and personal concerns, so we should be understanding of his personal situation at the moment.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 11, 2008 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  7. I do agree that voter apathy is an issue, but I don’t measure it by how many citizens attends meetings.

    Frankly, I think this website and Hopkinton Speaks is a better gauge of vote apathy.

    Go to a meeting and you are pretty much sitting on your hands. There isn’t much point. If you do get to talk, they don’t pay any attention unless you are confirming what they’ve already decided.

    Here you can speak your mind and we know the site is monitored, yet we only have a couple of dozen people who contribute regularly. As much as I like arguing with CharihoParent, it can get monotonous. I’m almost thinking about insulting Mr. Hirst myself just to have some fun.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 11, 2008 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  8. They don’t pay attention because not enough people speak out. Plain and simple. It’s monitored but it’s only a handful of people on here. A handful out of approx. 15,000 voters in the 3 towns. This has little, if any, impact. Besides, the sky is falling method that you take, the wild and unproven allegations that you make, do not impress people except for the Hirst brothers and maybe a few other Hopkinton residents. It only makes people wonder what is in your drinking water. Are you sure you’re not a relative of Charlestown’s James Mageau?

    Comment by CharihoParent — March 12, 2008 @ 3:54 am | Reply

  9. One of the actions we have all been asking for was brought up by Holly Eaves, Andy Polouski, encouraged by George Abbott and GianCarlo Chicchetti. Putting actual spent numbers on Chariho’s budget requests rather than comparing to prior budget bottom line approvals.

    There will be a new accounting process being instituted by the state and this will be created relatively soon. The committee put the request for information, dialog, process on the agenda for July. Of course, when we get to July, the administration will not be prepared (it will probably take more time, etc). However, if the school board can continue to press for this true break-down of spent costs compared to budgeted amounts (like everyone in all towns and corporations and families do) perhaps we will see a new and more transparent budget process next year.

    And, of course, the budget was approved as presented at the district meeting (with the subtraction of 131,061 – health ‘savings’ – which was already a 0 amount for the year because of GASPE). The school budget was raised 2.49%.
    The undesignated surplus is 1.589 million.

    Deb Jennings, Bill Felkner, George Abbott and Bob Petit voted NO to the budget – wanting another 300,000 or so reduced from either the operating budget or surplus addition to lower the budget further. Of course, the most ludicrous position created by No Child Left Behind are the Deans of Students – cut three of these positions and you have 300,000.

    Comment by BarbaraC — March 12, 2008 @ 6:25 am | Reply

  10. Thanks to Deb Jennings, Bob Petit, Bill Felkner and George Abbott for voting against another inflated Chariho School budget. The next step is to get the word out to the rest of the responsible voters to follow suit.

    Comment by Scott Irwin — March 12, 2008 @ 6:35 am | Reply

  11. Very encouraging that 4 out of 11 School Committee members would reject irresponsible spending by Chariho. Of course we are still left with the reality that 7 out of 11 are more than willing to support the status quo.

    This time Hopkinton voters alone will not be enough to hold Chariho accountable and force them to provide superior education at a reasonable cost. Richmond and Charlestown voters will also have to step up to the plate. We’ll have to wait and see if they have it in them?

    Chariho has been playing games with budgets for years. Transparency is the key. When everyone has the opportunity to review contracts and budgets to determine actual costs, then the union sycophants running our shcools will not be able to hide what they have done.

    Transparency is an issue which everyone can agree on. Unless you are directly involved in trying to hide information, why would anyone be against transparency? I agree Mrs. Capalbo…the upcoming year could be a very good one for open government. Time will tell.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 12, 2008 @ 8:50 am | Reply

  12. Hi!
    To benefit all concerned we need to raise the level of debate on Chariho.
    While I plan to vote against the budget, I think the Hopkinton Town Council deserves credit for addressing building maintenance concerns with their recent suggestions. Apparently that was NOT seriously entertained by the school committee. IT was NOT the Richmond or Charlestown Town Councils that came up with that or the Chariho School Committee.
    The RI General Assembly or least some of their members have figured out local officials have gone to the legislature even on relatively small items for bonds to avoid to being held under the budget caps.Bonds as you might know are not considered in the cap requirements.
    It is my understanding Andrew McQuaide is Jimmy Mageau’s nephew. As far as wild allegations they should be easily proven or disproven. Information is power. The concealment of information and not attempting to find it is not good.
    Politically speaking it is difficult for the public with those with children in school to question the school. The privacy of an all day referendum goes tremendously a long way in accomplishing of parents voting the way they feel.
    It is interesting that school committee members complain about mandates and rules.These do not come out of thin air. How often do they speak out on them? Do they testify at the State House or at least send a letter on legislation or personally call their legislators or the Governor’s Office on bills, or the commissioner of Educations Office? What do they accomplish with the Rhode Island Association of School Committees which I believe they hold membership?
    I read The Providence Journal today regarding the meeting last night. Ron Preuhs was absent. The biggest surprise was perhaps Deb Jennings abstaining on the vote in the end for the budget.

    P.S. Curious Resident, insult me if you like.It would be at least a change! To CharihoParent, could you really keep up with the Hirst Brothers?

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 12, 2008 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  13. Hi!
    The Chariho budget referendum is April 8TH,. Not sure of hours but polling will be in every town.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 12, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  14. Scott, who would want to be in the same basement league as the Hirst brothers? By the way, for reasons know to me, I never would have dated you if I had lived here before I got married. You’re really not my type.

    Comment by CharihoParent — March 12, 2008 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  15. How can one be expected to go to a committee meeting and present their case when information is kept in secret? The committee members want us at the meeting…… our time is wasted.

    Comment by RS — March 12, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  16. Good point RS.

    What do we hear at a meeting that we can’t ascertain from taping the meeting? Plus if we tape we can fast forwarding through the nonsense (like any time Mr. Polouski says something)?

    I’ve learned more about Chariho issues here from Mr. Felkner, Mrs. Capalbo, Mrs. Buck and even Mr. Petit than I could learn from 100 School Committee meetings. The meeting can be entertaining as Mr. Ricci manipulates his finger puppets on the committee, but the meetings are hardly informative. Maybe all the useful stuff is discussed in the secret meetings?

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 12, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  17. Only caught the end of the School Committee meeting (plan on taping Friday noon), but a couple of questions.

    1. Ms. Jennings attempted to place an item on the agenda for the next meeting. I believe it was in regard to math curriculum. Mr. Ricci confused the situation by insisting that Ms. Jennings tell him exactly what she wanted to discuss. He alleged that it was too late to change curriculum because students are picking classes. I was assuming Ms. Jennings was talking about math curriculum for Elementary and Middle School (do they pick classes in Middle and Elementary?). Anyway, Mr. Ricci took over the meeting and it didn’t seem appropriate. I’m not even sure if Ms. Jennings ended up getting the topic on the next agenda. Hopefully she adds curriculum to the agenda before the agenda is published.

    2. The meeting concluded with a discussion of a Federal mandate requiring approval before changing Special Education staffing. Mr. Abbott said that the Federal government only provides about $250,000 in funding. Mr. Ricci responded that it was “more” than $250,000, but predictably Mr. Ricci chose not to tell the committee nor viewers how much the Federal government contributes.

    Mr. Abbott’s point seemed to be that the Federal government costs Chariho much more than they give us. I’d like to hear discussion about rejecting Federal monies and Federal mandates. We might save a small fortune and do a better job deciding where our money should be spent rather than politicians in Washington, D.C.?

    Mr. Ricci was extremely terse and his lips were severely puckered during this conversation. He claimed that Special Education staff and Special Education students’ parents would determine the mandated services through IEPs. The rest of us have to pay up and shut up. At least that’s the impression I got. If true, we are effectively letting teachers and administrators dictate to us what we must spend for Special Education programs and staffing. Please tell me I misunderstood this proposal/mandate (or whatever it was)?

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 12, 2008 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

  18. To those interested, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the governing law in which schools across the country are suppose to follow. Below is a link that may help you in your search for information regarding special education laws.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 13, 2008 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  19. As far as school committee meetings, when they continually shut out people from speaking from the audience, which again apparently happened at the recent committee meeting, people become disinterested. Perhaps, this is the plan for some.

    But, come election time, these same people better explain why they continually don’t let us speak. It is up to all 3 towns to truly look at there current representatives and ask this simple question. I, for one, am going to look long and hard at what Mr. Preuhs has been doing, as his term, however short it was, will be up this year.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 13, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  20. The kids do not get to choose their math classes at least through the 6th grade. After that, I do not know.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 13, 2008 @ 7:02 am | Reply

  21. I believe there are no choices in math until High School starting in the 9th grade

    Comment by Scott Irwin — March 13, 2008 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  22. School Committee members routinely run unopposed or write-in. I’m not sure what recourse we have? Voter apathy is one issue I kind of agree with CharihoParent. While I don’t think it can or should be measured by attendance at meetings, there does seem to be few people who truly care about how badly Chariho teaches our children.

    Mr. Preuhs has been a major disappointment. He routinely opposes any efforts at transparency, and his vote is usually in line with Mr. Day. I can only wonder why our Town Council picked him? Was he supported by Mrs. Kennedy? If so, then he probably is in Mr. Ricci’s back pocket just like Mrs. Kennedy and her husband.

    If there is no choice for math until 9th grade, and constructivist curriculum is really an Elementary and Middle School catatastrophe, then there is really no excuse for keeping it another year, right?

    I say bring in a curriculum that is known to work and commit to changing by the beginning of the next school year. Then look for some way to compensate all the poor children who have had their math potential damaged by constructivist curriculum. Even if we have to run math tutoring programs at night for a year or two…we owe this to the children. We can pay for it by getting rid of every Chariho employee who supported this horrible math curriculum. They are not fit to be educators. How dare they experiment on other people’s children.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 13, 2008 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  23. I went to the Special Education link you provided (thank you) Mrs. Buck, but there wasn’t anything about an impending law? I could have sworn Mr. Ricci was talking about a new Special Education law or rule or something where reductions in Special Education staffing will require approval by government employees rather than taxpayers.

    Maybe the new law was from the state? It was discussed around the time that Mr. Abbott commented about how little the Federal government provides in funding. I’ll try and pay close attention when I watch the meeting on Friday to see if I can figure it out.

    Comment by Curious Resident — March 13, 2008 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  24. I believe the state is changing things. The law I provided is the basis for every state in the country to follow. I suppose the RI Board of Regents and the Dept. of Ed can make recommendations to the legislature and the governor for additional items.

    I do know that Special Ed laws in the state are changing. I read something about 3-4 months ago about some of the changes. One thing was the tight restrictions on the number of kids to teacher ratio. Vaguely, I think transportation may be an issue. If I can locate that information, which has probably long since been deleted, I will post it here.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 13, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  25. A new school policy was discussed at the meeting, not a state law.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 13, 2008 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  26. Mr. Polouski’s comments near the end of the meeting concerned high school math sequence. I happen to agree with him – the math sequence presently in the high school is Algebra I – Geometry – Algebra II. These are mandatory for all students.

    When I was taught it was Algebra I – Algebra II – Geometry. Now I was definately on the ‘B’ track in math so keeping I and II together assisted my learning since I had only 3 summer months to forget everything instead of a full year plus summer. Also Algebra is two dimensional reasoning and Geometry is 3 dimensional. I struggled in Algebra (C student) but after that Geometry was easier (B student).

    Mr. Polouski also commented that my generations grades and SAT’s in math were better. He is right and I wasn’t a star pupil by any means. It is a better sequence and I have no idea when it was changed. It doesn’t make common sense.

    Comment by BarbaraC — March 13, 2008 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  27. Hi!
    The Hopkinton Town Council had multiple choices with filling Lois Russell’s school committee vacancy. I do not know what went into their decision because are far as I know he was an unknown quantity and still really not know by the community.
    Mr.Preuhs is a registered Republican like myself. However I acknowledge I have a reputation of being tough on Chariho. Most of the candidates who I recall apllied were not particularly known in the community. Robin Cardinal, wife of former Democratic Town Council member Peter Cardinal and an educator in Westerly may have been a controversial choice as well as myself. I don’t know Robin Cardinal or Mr. Preuhs, BTW.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 14, 2008 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  28. I’m not sure if this is the article I was referring to. I do believe there are other articles on changes to spec. ed. laws. As I find them, I will post them.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 14, 2008 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

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