Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 7, 2008

Tuesday’s meeting

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 10:19 pm

There is a School Committee meeting tomorrow night.  There are several interesting agenda items.  You can find the public agenda at the Chariho website (see link on right).

Item D

Approval to submit legislation authorizing referendum on building plan (moving forward with a new vote on the bond). 

this is expecially important considering a phone call I just got from Mr. Scott Hirst who said that the Hopkin Town Council will be telling the local legislators that they do not want the bond going forward.  In our packet, there is a letter from Senator Breene that says the legislation must be prepared by the town’s bond council. 

So can we assume (someone with more history please help me out here) that if the Hopkinton Town Council does not want the bond going forward, it can simply refuse to allow its bond council to write the legislation.  Or is the bond council employed by the three towns collectively and would Hopkinton have veto power?  We can assume Richmond is supportive as this agenda item originated with a Hopkinton resolution.  Not sure where Charlestown sits.

There is also an item for my request to support the Govenor’s initiative to make contracts more transparent.  An item on Hopkinton’s request to change the payment schedule (this deserves more attention than I can give it right now, please feel free to expand).  And a discussion to support House Bill 7108 which would not allow health care providers a monopoly through contract provision (this shows the connection between unions, specifically the AFL-CIO and Blue Cross Blue Shield – google Frank Montanaro for both).

Test scores and a few other items will also be discussed. 

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21 Comments »

  1. Hi!
    I won’t be at the Chariho School Committee tonight, but it was nice to see Bill when we both voted this morning. I assume unless all three Town Councils are on board on a building revote it won’t go forward. So it would appear to be a “dead issue” for this year. The Hopkinton Town Council seemed to want to tell the local area state legislators directly not to resubmit the bond at a mmeting or workshop last night.
    I hope if the budget is defeated today the school committee will look at taking serious consideration to the Hopkinton Town Council’s suggestion on using part of the surplus for building repairs and a management study.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 8, 2008 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  2. The budget passed by less than 100 votes. I don’t have the exact tally though. Only Hopkinton rejected the budget but since this was a majority vote, the other two towns out voted Hopkinton.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 8, 2008 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  3. Great news about Hopkinton! If they rejected this budget I think any bond vote would have a similar fate. Once again Hopkinton shines!

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 8, 2008 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  4. The democratic processed work, that’s all that matters. Very much unlike the bond which should also follow the same democratic process. Majority rules, not one town rules.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 9, 2008 @ 6:15 am | Reply

  5. We live in a Republic. If we lived in a Democrary then we wouldn’t need representatives. We could just vote on everything and the majority rules. The Gallup Poll could rule the world. The reason the system was set up as a Republic was to stop the majority from being able to have complete control over the minorities.

    At the level of Chariho, without the protection of town veto, two towns could gang up on one town. Theoretically, Charlestown and Hopkinton could vote to have Richmond pay for everything at Chariho. Not a bad idea but I’m sure the voters of Richmond would be happy to have the town veto then.

    Charlestown and Richmond show time after time they don’t care how much Chariho spends (I think I read Richmond has never voted against a bond? How about a budget?). They don’t care if Chariho effectively teaches the kids. Good thing for Hopkinton and good thing for the Republican form of government!

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  6. Nicely worded Truth or Consequences.

    Comment by RS — April 9, 2008 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  7. Good thing for Hopkinton so nothing gets fixed? You have to laugh at that one!

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 6:47 am | Reply

  8. Things are being fixed now. If more must be done immediately the board will spend the millions still available to them. They have the money so they make the decision to hold it or to spend it. Once the surplus is reduced to a reasonable amount and Cariho has proven itself trustworthy I’m sure Hopkinton will support legitimate spending. We always have.

    Comment by Real Question — April 10, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  9. $1.5 million isn’t a reasonable amount? What is reasonable in your opinion? That’s the whole thing, what is a reasonable level to one person may not sound reasonable to another person.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  10. If the communities agree that money needs to be spent, then it is reasonable to first spend the money available before asking families to pony up more money so Chariho can keep money in escrow. The surplus money belongs to the taxpayers and the money requested comes from the taxpayers. If the surplus is depleted then one way or the other if the communities decide more money is needed it will come from the taxpayers. It really boils down to who should keep the money until it is needed – Chariho or families?

    Comment by Real Question — April 10, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  11. Dear CharihoParent,

    I would be happy to have majority rule (the democratic process) if all persons in that voting block paid equal amounts into the school. As long as I pay over two and 1/2 times what a Charlestown parent pays for the same house, I want my town veto intact.

    Comment by BarbaraC — April 10, 2008 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  12. I liken the district as the child and the member towns, represented also by the taxpayers, as the parent. If the child needs some money, then she can go to the parents and ask. That is why the parents are suppose to be saving for the child’s future, so that when the child is in need, the money will be there for them. (Just an analogy.)

    I remind people that the member towns are the taxing authority. They collect the taxes. Based on that, they are suppose to have a fund balance to cover an emergency. I would agree that there should be a little cash reserve. I do not believe that it should be a substantial amount as it really belongs to the taxpayers in the member towns, not to the district.

    Personally, I would rather see the money in the hands of the towns, so that any interest earned on it goes to the towns instead of the district where they hoard it.

    I also agree with Barbara. Nothing has been done about the tax issue. It is not equal.

    If it’s based on tuition, then why are people without children paying tuition on these children. It is only about tuition when it is convenient for Charlestown.

    Keep in mind, if there is a family in Charlestown with the same number of kids in an household valued at the same as ours, they aren’t paying the same tuition for the same services. We pay 2 to 2 1/2 times more. Yet, it is about tuition, again, only when it is convenient.

    I would never sacrifice our veto. Look where we are with the budget. No matter how hard we try, we are stuck paying because of people who really don’t know what tightening ones belt really means. They will never know until they are on equal footing with us.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 10, 2008 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  13. What emergency could possibly happen at Chariho that would cost us even $500,000? Name me one emergency that ever happened at one school in Rhode Island that cost anywhere near $500,000?

    Short of Katrina II coming up the coast I can’t imagine why Chariho (or the town for that matter) needs to take millions of dollars from families so they can put the money in a government account.

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 8:23 am | Reply

  14. Isn’t the fund balance required for the bond rating as well?

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 12, 2008 @ 1:36 am | Reply

  15. The fund balance is required for bond rating. The fund balance needs to be at least at a certain percentage for a good bond rating. What the percentage is, I’m not quite sure of.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 12, 2008 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  16. Well since we’ve had one or two bonds in the past, did they multi millions in surplus funds? To my knowledge Chariho does not have a history of keeping million of surplus. This is a new thing since John Pini and Stephanie Brown. Before their arrival did Chariho accrue so much taxpayer money? I don’t remember ever hearing anything so extreme.

    What is telling to me is that these surpluses exist but no one in the administration has been open about them. Quite often they acted as if the budget was as tight as can be. We have to look no further than Hirst’s the budget cutting incident to see to what lengths they’ve tried to hide the surplus from taxpayers and voters. Polouski was running around threatening to cut sports programs. The sky is falling the sky is falling. Richmond and Charlestown went running for cover and years later we discover they had even more than was proposed to be cut.

    If huge surpluses are normal and necessary, why not tell us and point to other regional school systems with similar surpluses?

    Comment by Real Question — April 12, 2008 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  17. EWG has a policy online specifying their unrestricted fund balance should be no more than 2% of total budget. For them, that’s $540K (much smaller district). Here, that would be around $1.1 million, and within the guidelines the commitee is considering for the new policy.

    Comment by david — April 12, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  18. A bond rating would look at the district – not the school. And 5 – 10 percent is normal for that. We would have to tally up the total surplus of all towns plus the school for that to be calculated. We would probably need to include the self-funded health insurance account as well.

    EWG should do the same. How much is the surplus for the towns?

    That’s the fallacy of this issue. The school doesn’t have that liability. If something came up that drained our surplus and we needed more $, we could always go back to the town for cash. We have to – the school does not generate revenues – its the town. The school is a part of the town (only in district form here). The school’s surplus is meaningless beyond normal operating fluctuations.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 12, 2008 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  19. Bill,
    How can you say that the school’s surplus is meaningless? If the towns don’t want to or can’t come up with immediate funds should a need arise, what happens then? Of course the district needs a surplus!
    I make the comparison to my family, my daughter currently gets what she needs for money through us, her parents. She also has a savings account. Shouldn’t the district also have it’s own fund balance? Also, since the towns pay the school district in smaller amounts for the first two months, doesn’t Chariho need something to meet their bills for those two months when funding from the 3 towns in smaller amounts than the other 10 months? I don’t see how you can say that the district’s surplus is meaningless. The more I see what you say, Bill, the more I think you’re trying to throw the district into disarray.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 21, 2008 @ 4:36 am | Reply

  20. Putting aside the absurdity of Bill “trying to throw the district into disarray”, I wonder if we should even call Chariho a school district? I think it is more accurate to call it a regional school with each town tuitioning its children to the shared school.

    This is from Wikipedia –

    Public education in many communities in the USA has been made the function of a school district serving one or more towns. A school district is a unique body corporate and politic, usually with districts being coequal to that of a city or a county, and has similar powers including taxation and eminent domain. Its legislative body, elected by direct popular vote or by appointment by other governmental officials, is called a school board, board of trustees, or school committee, and this body appoints a superintendent, usually an experienced public school administrator, to function as the district’s chief executive for carrying out day-to-day decisions and policy implementations. The school board may also exercise a quasi-judicial function in serious employee or student discipline matters.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

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