Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 8, 2008

A rough meeting

Filed under: not sure how to categorize this — Editor @ 11:08 pm

Tonight’s meeting didn’t go as planned.  I tried to speak about false rumors that have originated from the Committee.  

The first false rumor is that the NEA and Chariho are in “litigation.”  Mrs. Serra said we were in a “lawsuit” at a previous meeting.  Bob Petit wrote a letter in the Sun and ProJo saying that there was a “case” and we were in “litigation.”  It is flatly wrong.  But Chariho continues to hide the information in an executive session calling it “potential litigation.”  It is so misleading that it fooled two of our own Committee members.  And they have access to all the “confidential” information.

Mary Botelle wrote an incredible letter that butchered the Chariho solicitor for not recognizing simple law in regards to who and what the NEA compliant could be about (will post soon).  This is the same solicitor that Mrs. Botelle and former Charlestown Council president Deb Carney corrected after he stumbled through three versions of the Chariho Act (we still do not have an updated, current and approved version).   This is the same solicitor who Mr. Ricci suggested we hire.

The second rumor is that I got in a fight with my child’s teacher and was trying to get her fired.  All of which resulted in us removing our child from the District.  It is true that we withdrew our daughter.  However, the teacher could not have been aware of the accumulated issues that forced our decision.  She didn’t seem to understand the serious nature of what she said either. 

She saw nothing wrong with telling me that they report false scores and she made other statements including one that was most disturbing to me personally.  The reaction of the administration was the last straw.

The false rumor came about because Chairman Bill Day duscussed the issue with vice chairman Andy Polouski in public, after I asked Mr. Day to keep it private.  Mr. Day knew the real reason but admitted to spreading the gossip that there was a “tiff.”  I don’t know the full details of their conversation, and gosip does tend to get exagurated over time (maybe that’s why the Bible calls it a sin), but I am not trying to get the teacher fired and nothing was said to her then or at any other time, so there is no way any “tiff” or “fight” could have been reported from the teacher. 

It is an emotional issue and I had difficulty expressing myself correctly, and completely.  There is much more that I wanted to say.  Admittedly, I didn’t want to discuss what the teacher’s opinion of my child was, but Mr. Day started a false rumor and it had to be addressed. 

I need some time to collect my thoughts.  I apologize for my demeanor but I think Mrs. Serra crossed the line when she talked about my family months ago, and Mr. Day and Mr. Polouski have done far worse.  I’m sorry my emotions didn’t allow me to say everything that needs to be said, objectively.

One observer said that Kathy Perry, the Special Education Director, was seen smirking with a look that seemed to say, ‘good, we are getting to him.’

“Education” is far more than reading, math, etc…  It teaches life lessons and morals.  Mrs. Perry is one of many examples of lessons I will not allow them to teach to my child. 


The final point I made was in reaction to Mr. Petit’s letter in the Westerly Sun when he said that I missed too many meetings and then he referenced the stipend we are paid.  I know I wasn’t clear – so here is what I tried to say on that point.

Clearly, most of the board prefers that I come to as few meetings as possible.  Indeed, Mr. Polouski said he wished I would leave the district.  Mr. Petit was probably trying to say the taxpayers aren’t getting their moneys worth.  So here is my pledge:

Anyone who will start a 501 c 4 that advocates for FULL PARENTAL CHOICE in education – I will put that stipend into a matching fund grant for that mission, inclusive of a portion in seed money for a specific project (details can follow).  I am guaranteed $6000 till the end of this term, and another $8000 for each subsequent term.  I will do it as long as it takes.  I bet there are other Committee members in other districts that would do the same.

I have spoken with the director of the Rose and Milton Friedman Foundation, Rob Enrow, and the organization is willing to speak with us in that effort.  I too would gladly share the information I have found on this subject and what resources I may have available.  I would very much like to have an agenda item on the Hopkinton Town Council to begin the discussion of this option. 

In closing, I have to say I hate what happened tonight.  I hate having to defend my family in public (Bob Walsh, director of the NEA pulled this sh** too).  I hate having to always be the one who must prove the point when others go unchecked.  This is why these committees end up with all “like minded” people.   Real reform is run out of town by self-selection.  Nobody likes being under fire.  But they will learn that I will not quit and I will get stronger.  And now I’m getting angry.

Now that I’ve said it sucks – it could be better with more help.  Seats will be available at the November election (must apply by June).  Until we get school choice, we have to operate in the system we have.  We can make a difference.  I don’t want to shift power on the Committee, I want to remove that power and place it in the hands of the parent. 


PS. The new bond vote will go forward without Hopkinton’s blessing.   

PSS.  The NEA has unceremoniously dropped the “complaint.”  The letter from the NEA was not in our packet when delivered and not on the public notice.  It was slipped into our update packet when we arrived at the meeting.  7 months of your tax dollars at work – and Mr. Petit and Mr. Ricci blame me for this cost.





  1. Bill I admitted on this blog in one of my posts that litigation was the wrong word to use and I apologized to the tax payers for using the wrong word.

    It wasn’t litigation, I apologize for using the wrong word.

    I also want it to be known right now. I didn’t bring up the fact of you missing meetings because I didn’t want you there. I don’t think that is right to even throw out on this blog. This is exactly how rumors get started. (I do think you are an intelligent person and can help to change things. As I have stated to you in person, I don’t always agree with the way you go about doing it though.) I was stating a fact. You have missed meetings and the tax payers do pay us stipend to be there. “the biggest fact that I was trying to make iwith that is you comment on meetings you don’t attend. How can you know everything that was said or the meanor of how it was said if you weren’t there.”

    The fact of the matter was NOW THAT IT IS OVER I feel the committee was ready to back your feeling in that is was frivolous. When I wrote the letter and misused the word litigation ( I apologize) the point wasn’t if it was frivolous or not; the point was that you spoke about executive session information. I understand that you didn’t feel it should have been executive session material so you felt you had a right to talk about it. I disagreed, I felt that as a committee we voted tohave it in executive session and as a majority it should have stayed there.

    I don’t know what happened with the rumors about your child so I will not comment on that. I think there is to much being said about peoples families. I agree with you, we are in the spot light here, say what you will about me there is no reason to bring your family, my family, Bill Day’s family or anyone else’s into this political arena. This should stop.

    Comment by Bob Petit — April 9, 2008 @ 7:48 am | Reply

  2. Hi!
    I voted for Abbott,Petit, and Felkner in 2006,. Mr. Petit does not vote or question the district as much as I like but we certainly have worse from Hopkinton on the school committee. Mr. Preuhs still seems to be a mystery for the most part.
    Bill Felkner is a VITAL member of the Chariho School Committee. It is UNFORUNATE the clear majority of the school committee seems not to be able to “hold their own with him”, on debate and dialogue.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 9, 2008 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  3. Hi again,
    The have worse line, I really mean past school committee members from Hopkinton. Lois Russell and Stephanie Brown certainly come to mind. Stephanie particularly had a bold personality. Mr. Preuhs seems to need to ask more questions and needs to be more analytical.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 9, 2008 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  4. I haven’t see the meeting but will tape it.

    Hang in there Bill. I saw a meeting where Kathy Perry was in tears over criticism of spec. ed. curriculum. She has nothing to smirk about.

    I don’t blame you for being angry when your family is brought into the mix. Unlike Mr. Days family your family does not work for Chariho. Your votes on the committee could only benefit your family if your children are able to get a decent education.

    The attacks against you are an effort to get you to conform to the status quo. When you are criticized for your demeanor it really is only because you don’t go along with the status quo. Look at how Day acts yet he doesn’t get attacked. Polouski is the same way. They both side with employees, spending, and Ricci so they are safe.

    Petit accuses you of acting badly but never talks about the others. He even goes along with it like the time he joined the others shutting down debate by using a procedure incorrectly. Did Petit criticize Day for improper use of a procedure? Did Petit ask why a board member wasn’t allowed to speak? No because any way they treat you is fine. You dare to disagree.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  5. Hang in there, Bill! One of these days, Polouski will swallow that damn toothpick, get his hand stuck in his pants as he rubs his belly rocking back on his chair, flop over, and that will be the end of him for at least ONE meeting. What an example he is for our kids! I can’t believe him! He looks like a cartoon character as a chain gang boss dribbling chew whilst astride a horse. And they complain about YOUR demeanor?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — April 9, 2008 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  6. Look at Bobby trying to make nice. What a loser.

    Comment by JR — April 9, 2008 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  7. But why should that surprise us. I heard that the chairman Bill Day doesn’t even have a high school diploma. Got a GED. And he runs the place. Great example!

    Speaking of examples there is a lot of talk about a knife attack last Friday. Any news Mr. Felkner?

    Comment by Truth and more — April 9, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  8. We all make mistakes and if accurate Petit made some pretty bad ones. I assume he paid the price if his mistakes are in the Sun. I’m more concerned with his mistakes effecting the community. I would disregard his family relationships if he consistently was on the side of the kids and the taxpayers but he is almost always voting to keep the status quo and that is a mistake our kids and our wallets can’t afford. Even when he tries to get Chariho to positively move he fails and immediately gives up. He voted against the contract, he voted for a management study, and he voted to cut administrative positions to reduce the budget. Every one of his positive efforts failed and he meekly allowed it to happen. Wouldn’t want to upset the power players or make life difficult for his cousin. Funny how he doesn’t dare defend the few good things he tried to do but he has no problem attacking Felkner when he tries to do good. Why does Petit want Felkner to keep quiet? Why doens’t Petit go after the others board members when they go against him? Does Petit only stand up against Felkner? Sure seems that way. Bob Petit does not care more about our kids than us. He’s shown he cares more about Chariho employees. This is the mistake we can’t be silent about. Bill Felkner’s kids have come under fire by school employees and Petit wants us to give our names? Since he’s too much of a coward to stand up to Chariho himself then I guess he kids are safe, huh? Attacking Felkner means Petit kids will be safe. Attacking the status quo at Chariho means Petit kids could suffer the consequences. How dare he question us when he is a coward. Hopkinton voted against the budget by a huge margin and Petit is too afraid to speak up for us. Courage is going against the majority and telling them when they are wrong. Hopkinton is a courageous town and Felkner is a courageous man. Petit is not worthy.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  9. Mr. Petite wants us to believe that if Mr. Felkner would just be quiet the school board would have supported his attempt to call the teacher’s union for what it is – a bully. Ok, Mr. Petite, please do it then. Do something to make sure the NEA doesn’t waste our money again. Or do you expect Mr. Felkner to do everything?

    Comment by Richmond Parent — April 9, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  10. It is funny to see how some of you come on here and make the comments you do. I have and hold no faith in any of you that come on here, make jokes about any of us that try to do something for the district, cut down everything anyone says or does iif it doesn’t meet your agenda and to top it all off you don’t even have the “GUTS” to sign your name to it. You hide behind some fake names and throw stones.

    I am not making nice here again stating facts. If you can’t handle the truth don’t comment. Bill and I have butted heads a few times since being on the committee, we don’t agree on everything, we won’t agree on everything BUT hopefully in the long run, when our time is up we have made a difference in this district. Some might like what is done and some might not. Thats the way it is.

    Comment by Bob Petit — April 9, 2008 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  11. I agree there is no need to bring the FAMILY of any member of anyone into any argument. THAT should be off limits. Public members of the committee are fair game when we do not agree with them. But a family member? They are already either blessed or cursed with the person we currently like or dislike or disagree or agree with, and have no place in this discussion. Why don’t we all play fair and leave family out of this???

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — April 9, 2008 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  12. Dont waste your time RP. Do you remember when Bob ran for the committee and the newspaper articles that came out about him? He beat his wife and drank too much. Now we let him decide how we educate our children. He is just a helper for his cousin, Brian Stanley and the other Chariho lackies.

    Comment by Truth AND consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  13. I think it is appropriate to discuss family members who make a living at Chariho through our taxes. Having family personally benefit from Chariho contracts and policies should be part of the public record and open for discussion. Minor children should be off limits.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  14. Hi!
    Both Bill Felkner and Bob Petit both submit letters to the papers under their own name. Other school committee members can do so if they want to explain their position. They seem the only ones that do this. Unfortunately a number of residents neither get The Chariho Times. “South County” version of The Providence Journal, or The Westerly Sun.
    I need to contact Maria Armental about traditional protocol on submitting legislation to The General Assembly and those required by the Chariho Act. Her article in today’s “South County” edition to The Providence Journal is confusing. See ,.
    Politically speaking, if indeed the Hopkinton Town Council, plans to oppose the resubmission of the bond referendum(s) for this year, this time split three ways, they seem to be on strong political grounds because of yesterday’s budget vote. It is highly unlikely the Rhode Island General assembly will approve another building plan without the approval of the Hopkinton Town Council.
    It is interesting the Hopkinton Town Council plans to tell local area legislators directly and in person they don’t the referendum(s) resubmitted and setting up a meeting/workshop to do so.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 9, 2008 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  15. Ok Bob. Then stop attacking Bill and do something. Stand up against the union. And we don’t post our names because our children are in the school. If you treat Bill that way, I don’t want to see how you would treat my child if you knew who we were.

    Comment by Richmond Parent — April 9, 2008 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  16. Hopkinton TC is wise to make sure they don’t give legislators political cover by claiming they were unaware Hopkinton opposed another vote for the same thing. I’m led to believe that local legislators used this excuse once before and if the TC meets with them personally they won’t be able to use it again.

    Politicians love to spend state money locally – buys them votes. State politicians like to bring home Federal money because it buys them votes. When Hopkinton rejected the bond and then the budget I would think the politians realize we don’t want what they are selling!

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  17. Scott, why are you going to contact a news reporter about that? Shouldn’t you be contacting your local legislator, Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy? You claim to an active participant in the Republican Party, surely any of the 12 state reps or senators that are Republicans could answer that question also. A news reporter, espcially Maria Armental, would be the LAST person I would ask. She can’t even get a news story right, never mind something that would pertain to the legislature. Smarten up, Scott, no wonder Hopkinton had double digit tax increases while you were the council.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 9, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  18. I commend Mr. Petit for at least trying to work with the other school committee members in a non-adversarial manner. Yes, things need to change but continuely getting people’s backs up against a wall does not work. Mr. Petit is also correct in stating that if the committee voted that something be done in executive session and then voted to seal the minutes, majority rules. Just because someone doesn’t like the outcome of the vote it does not give them the right to go against the wishes of the body. We are suppose to be living in a democratic society. This isn’t about Bill Felkner and his pulling temper tantrums when he doesn’t like the vote. As I’ve also said before, if he feels that something was done in violation of the law, he has every right to file a complaint with the Attorney General. How about doing things the right way?

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 9, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  19. CharihoParent must have one-way tatooed on her forehead.

    The board also can file a complaint with the AG. Petit does not need to throw a temper tantrum in ProJo. He and the board have the same paths as Felkner. How about the board doing things the right way?

    The board has no problem upsetting Hopkinton. Why are they allowed to behave in an adversarial manner against the wishes of the Hopkinton majority? Why does Petit have to kiss the ass of board members while giving the middle finger to his constituents?

    We live in a republican society.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 9, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  20. Be happy when the bond sinks in November and Charlestown and Richmond unite and buy out Hopkinton. 50 years of history in legal reality should sink a few spin doctors.

    Comment by Larry — April 10, 2008 @ 12:30 am | Reply

  21. Very simple, the Hopkinton majority is not the majority of the council. Aren’t you able to count? I have one-way tattooed? How about Hopkinton? You only want things done one way, your way or according to you it’s not right. You don’t want to hear about anything else, you figure since you thought of something it has to be right. No wonder nothing gets done in Chariho!

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 4:58 am | Reply

  22. If I was in Hopkinton, I wouldn’t proclaim any greatness about the budget vote. A little analysis show that it was a very low voter turnout as should be expected in this day and age of voter apathy.

    Town Eligible Total Pct.
    to vote Votes

    Charlestown 5,744 369 6.42%
    Richmond 5,877 257 4.37%
    Hopkinton 6,283 429 6.83%
    —– —- —–
    Total 17,904 1055 5.89%

    What would happen if we could get 70% or more of the voters to actually pay attention to when they need to vote? Pure speculation, no one can really answer this question but it’s something both sides need to think about.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  23. I prefer the uninformed voters remain apathetic. I do wish more citizens would educate themselves on the issues. I agree with CharihoParent once in a blue moon, but at least she takes the time to dig into the issues. She reaches unjustified and emotion based conclusions, but at least she tries.

    Who doesn’t like education? It’s a good thing. So if you are ignorant of how Chariho performs and how it takes more of your money then it needs and generously gives your money to employees; you probably would support any level of spending based solely on a positive view of education.

    Charlestown and Richmond are good examples of the results when voters go to the polls without the knowledget to make an informed decision.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 10, 2008 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  24. I just want to make something clear. I do not know what happened with Bill and his child, nor do I feel it is any of my business. I did know Bill took his child out of the school and that was all I was aware of. I don’t care what anybody thinks on here, school committee, administration or public. I do not think our families should be dragged through the mud for your personal satisfaction. If your family works for the district than commenting as a whole is one thing but to personally bring them out is another. I am related to Brain Stanley, no surprise there, most people know that. Also know this, I cannot legally nor did I vote on his contract. So the comment made above about helping him is absurd. There is nothing else that I can do to make it better for him. IF something was said about Bill Felkners family and it is not just hear say, than something should be said or done about it.

    As for my past, I came forward before I ran for school committee and put my life in the papers for all to see and know. I do not hide from it, nor am I proud of it. But, I did learn from it and have moved on, YOU should too. Funny how now that I don’t totally agree with a few people in the district my past has clouded my judgment and my decision making as a whole. If I were voting down everything my past wouldn’t be a problem? I think this is a problem, but not on my part.

    As for me giving up on things I try to do……

    Voted against the contract…..majority voted for it
    Proposed cuts……majority voted against them
    Tax payers wanted us to bring down the budget; you can be assured the first thing going either way was the Management Study.

    I am one man, one vote for the district. I don’t have a problem with letting it go and working a different avenue when I am voted against…..Democracy. If the majority votes to do something or votes something down then so be it. I need to move on.

    The majority voted for the budget it is approved, we need to move on. Look at the minutes, I voted against bringing it to the public, I felt $300 thousand more from surplus would not break the bank. Again majority voted to approve. The district has spoken and they approved. See a trend here…..I can bring things up, we can discuss and then vote. If I am out voted I am out voted and I move on. There is too much work to do than to cry over spilled milk.

    As for comment 19 by truth or consequences….I didn’t throw a temper tantrum. I stated facts. It is ok for Bill to say what he wants, how he wants, when he wants…..but I state facts and I am throwing a temper tantrum, I am kissing butt? Get real.

    Let’s look back
    Hopkinton asked for 3 way split on payment for bond…..they got it
    Hopkinton asked to split the vote in 3 ways….I voted for it right from the beginning…majority voted it down… they want to do it that way to at least get some things done before the reimbursement rate drops….ultimately Hopkinton received what they wanted.
    Hopkinton wanted us to revise how we receive payments from them, if the other towns agree…….they got it

    I don’t see where we are upsetting Hopkinton….seems they ask for something and “THEY GOT IT”….you were saying.

    Ok Hopkinton didn’t get their way with the 1904 building…what else didn’t Hopkinton get? A lot of people I talk to say rip it down….and yes they live in Hopkinton and are my constituents. See there are more people in Hopkinton that do talk then just the ones on here, I have to listen to them too. And saying that…..

    In comment 19 you talk about MAJORITY rules… this true only when the vote is in your favor? The point I tried to make about Mr. Felkner was that majority ruled…..the bond, majority ruled????? NO bond would have passed. Budget majority ruled???? Did in the district but because it didn’t in Hopkinton than there is a problem. I am not against Hopkinton; I am just stating more facts….

    the comment by Chariho Parent #22 should be looked at very carefully…..over 6,000 thousand voters in Hopkinton…..only 429 vote but majority rules( I am curious to know what the number was before the all day referendum) a strong case can be made that most of Hopkinton residents are happy with Chariho and how things are going with it.

    Comment by Bob Petit — April 10, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  25. Hi!
    I will contact Maria, CharihoParent as things published have credibility as it is generally assumed the media is less biased and did their homework than politicians with agendas perhaps.
    Save this e-mail address for Governor Donald L. Carcieri it is ,. The Governor normally allows “local bills” to become law without his signature.”Local officials” as a courtesy are allowed to take positions on legislation effecting only them and if they don’t support it legislators normally don’t pass it. I recall years ago State Rep. Brian Kennedy submitted a bill concerning the Ashaway Fire District that got passed by the General Assembly. When then Governor Almond’s office checked with the district and was informed that they did not put in the legislation it was vetoed.
    The political reality is this: I assume neither Rep. Kennedy, an influential House Democrat, who represents all of Hopkinton and part of Westerly and Sen. Breene are likely to submit legislation opposed by the Hopkinton Town Council. Sen. Breene represents all of Hopkinton and and Richmond and a small piece of Charlestown as well as Exeter and West Greenwich. Sen Algiere represents most of Charlestown and all of Westerly. The other legislators may sign on but the ultimate question is this the legislative leadership will not likely put forward legislation that the Hopkinton Town Council objects.Other legislators covering part of the Chariho district are State Reps. Joe Scott and State Rep. Donna Walsh.Donna is a Chariho teacher.
    The Chariho School Committee has only one Democrat on it (Terri Serra), BTW out of eleven, unless numbers recently changed, over half are Republicans:Felkner,Abbott,Preuhs,McQuaide,Polouski, and Day and four unaffilated: Cichetti,Eaves,Jennings, and Petit. All three Chariho Town Councils have Democratic majorities but with the resignation of Tuthill in Richmond they are 2-2,. I do not suggest party politics will have a great influence on bond submission, but Brian Kennedy would seem to be able to talk with the House Speaker easier to block the legislation or the committee Chair it is referred to if it gets submitted. I assume it is possible one or more of the non Hopkinton legislators will submit bond legislation but how can it really fare? Brian is Chair of the House Corporations Committee.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 10, 2008 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  26. T OR Q gets it right. Petit moves on from the matters that Hopkinton voters care about yet he lingers and writes letters to newspapers against Felkner. Why no letters about the budget he voted against or the positions he tried to cut or the management study which is now gone? Why letters about a person on the board but no letters about issues that really matter to the public? Why no rants on the internet about those opposing his efforts yet endless rants against Hopkinton citizens who want Chariho to educate the kids at a decent cost? Why does disagreements with citizens and Felkner upset Petit to the point of letters and internet tirades but disagreements with board members and Chariho’s managment and he cheerfully wants to move on?

    Petit says he’s not trying to protect his cousin but for some reason when he disagrees with Chariho he quickly moves on but when he disagrees with Felkner or Hopkinton voters he becomes very vocal. If it is not his cousin causing this strange attitude difference then what is it?

    I find it weird that Felkner is attacked for being vocal in efforts to save families money and improve education for the kids. The attackers are silent though when Chariho plays games with budgets and chooses curriculum that doesn’t teach kids enough to pass tests. Chariho hurts children a bunch of ways and everyone but Felkner is quiet. Why is it okay to rudely oppose Felkner’s attempts to turn Chariho around but it is not okay to rudely question why Chariho is in this mess in the first place?

    Petit should understand that the town council isn’t always in line with the citizens of Hopkinton. He needs to also pay attention to the citizens. The town council did not understand the objections to the bond until we voted. They origninally thought that a bond split was a good idea but at least some of them have changed their thinking after the vote and upon learning of the budget games played by Chariho for years.

    Sylvia Thompson has been front and center providing us all with evidence of Chariho’s budget games. The latest budget vote by Hopkinton is further proof that our town no longer wants to tolerate Charho’s bond and budget games. Petit doesn’t have to agree with the large majority in Hopkinton, the town he is supposed to represent, but when he disagrees and sides with the other towns then should realize he is basically telling the Hopkinton majority to go eff themselves.

    Comment by Real Question — April 10, 2008 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  27. Scott, Maria Armental is far from a credible source! Media is less biased? Who are you fooling? Only one person, yourself! The print media certainly does have an agenda. Scott, what weed have you been smoking lately? Please let me know, I sure do want some because it will make this a whole lot easier to handle.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  28. I’m not sure how the parties split on Hopkinton’s Town Council but I’m fairly sure at least one or two must be democrats. If your town council is truly worthy of their positions then they are the ones who should be getting in touch with Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy. I’m sure he’s part of the “rub and tug club” with the House Speaker and the Majority leader. If Brian does enough rubbing and tugging and is as influential as what you think he is with those two, I’m sure he could get it so that the bond doesn’t get the light of day. Let’s see how unfluention the Hopkinton Town Council really is.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 10, 2008 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  29. […] Botelle defeats NEA Filed under: Corruption, Unions — Bill Felkner @ 2:30 pm In the last post, I referenced a letter from Mary Botelle that destroys the teachers’ union’s bogus […]

    Pingback by Mary Botelle defeats NEA « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — April 10, 2008 @ 10:05 pm | Reply

  30. There are a number of issues the school committee is discussing that affect us. The budget was voted in by less than 100 votes out of 1,000 votes. I do believe Richmond is waking up to the problems inherent in the way taxes are computed for the district (171 to 87 – means that 1/3 voted No – better than in prior years). Yes, Hopkinton made the case, but we need the taxpayers in Richmond to support our efforts to find a way to create a more equalized tax base for the school system. They are very important to us and their foreclosures are much worse than ours. Encourage the discussions between towns. We all need the support of each other.

    Other agenda topics from Tuesday — the NECAP State assessment scores were not very good (I believe abysmal is the correct term). At least, it seems, the teachers and the staff are concerned and quickly trying to adjust and correct the problems. Granted that it is the first year for the test and it seems to have been problematic, but if all of you hadn’t been so adamant about the disastrous math curriculum, I doubt the administration would have even considered moving as fast as they have. Kudos to all of you.

    Bill brought up Article 36 to encourage transparentcy in all school and municipal budgets – it says that a three year fiscal study must be done and presented to the citizens before any union or non-union contract is signed. The school board approved supporting this legislation.

    Hopkinton’s request for a fiscal payment schedule change was approved subject to Charlestown and Richmond reviewing and agreeing to the request. I think this will be fine as it serves those municipalities and their citizens too. We shall see.

    The building plan suggestion from Richmond was addressed (and voted on) partitioning the bond into three parts. Of course, the primary problem for Hopkinton (and Richmond) is still some form of fiscal equalization and that has not been addressed. The bond split “evenly” in three does not address citizen taxpayers equally, only towns equally. Towns being an abstract, citizens being flesh and blood.

    The undesignated fund balance was discussed by the Chariho Finance Committee which included all financial officers from all three towns as well as school persons. They suggested (a first reading only) a fund balance of 2% – 4% or approximantely 1.2 – 1.5 million. The 680,000 number was determined by very vague means over ten years ago. I, and I’m sure many of you, are business owners. We try to keep a fund balance, usually fail, but 2% (maybe up to 3%) is a reasonable number. The larger problem Bill Felkner brought up is the way you would get to that number – effectively when is a fund balance a fund balance. This needs to be addressed as well as the percentage considered – perhaps even more importantly than the actual number determined.
    But it is a good start. A school bills the towns. It doesn’t need to actually raise the money as a municipality must.

    All of this intense argument and often calm and reasoned discussion too does make people sit up and listen. Sometimes the only thing that works to roil waters to affect change is not everyone playing nice. It takes hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and tsunamis as well as slow and stately erosion to affect change. It’s not just one way.

    Comment by BarbaraC — April 10, 2008 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  31. Barbara, thanks for the recap. My fingers get raw – I appreciate the help.

    One additional point on the tax EQ I would repeat was presented by George Abbott. Each town pays a different proportion to the school – 38%, 36%, 26% – or something like that. But when we have a surplus, the money is distributed back against what each town owes equally – 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. (and please correct me if I’m paraphrasing your point wrong George). Essentially, Charlestown pays 26 percent but gets refunds in the amound of 33 percent.

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

  32. I, as a Richmond taxpayer, will never, ever go along with Hopkinton’s scheme of tax equalization. It is inheritently wrong. Hopkinton wants one town to pay the majority of the burden for the other two towns. There are many, many people in Charlestown who are in just as much of a tough time as anyone from the other two towns. I know I’m not alone in how I feel about this. I’ve spoken with other Richmond taxpayers and they all fee the same way. Hopkinton residents talk about scheme and plotting at the school district but yet when it comes to this tax equalizaion crap Hopkinton is just as bad of schemer, if not worse, than anyone in the school district could dream of being.

    Some Hopkinton taxpayers talk about school choice, school vouchers and charter schools, if you sent your kids there, how would you be paying for them then? Wouldn’t it be per student? You’re fine paying for them then but not now? And don’t give me the crap that then you’ll be getting what you pay for, it’s a lame line and it does not explain why you would OK one way but not another. To quote a town councilor in one of our towns, “It’s patently absurd” what you’re thinking about.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 11, 2008 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  33. It has been the stated goal of the CHARIHO Administration to divide capitol expenditures evenly among the elementary facilities which are located in the 3 towns. This will result in Charlestown taxpayers paying in to the surplus at 27% and receiving a 33% share when the funds are redistributed.

    This practice is counter-intuitive to the language and spirit of the proposed bond,which shares construction costs evenly amony the three towns.However ,Charlestown would also end up paying much less than under this scenario due to their massive $2,200,000,000 property tax base.

    The only way to straighten this whole mess out would be to create a taxing district or move towards a form of tax equalization whereby each household in the district would be assessed a proportionate share based on the value of their properties could be implemented over a period of several years.

    I support the Hopkinton Town Councils efforts to at least explore tax equalization options prior to supporting any new bond proposal.

    Comment by george abbott — April 11, 2008 @ 7:37 am | Reply

  34. Tax equalization is fair as every individual taxpayer will carry an EQUAL burden for educating the district’s children. With equalization every voter will feel the impact of a bond or budget EQUALLY. As it stands now, Charlestown voters decide to accept or reject budgets and bonds which will cost them around 1/3 the cost of what it will cost Hopkinton and Richmond voters. Of course they approve spending that Hopkinton rejects. Who wouldn’t be more likely to buy something at a 67% discount?

    I’m sure that many Richmond voters are fine with the current tax situation. They are also fine with Chariho’s terrible job educating our kids. They are also fine with inflated budgets where excess money is taken from families so Chariho can keep it themselves (but not spend it). The majority of Richmond voters are fine throwing away their money. I’m not impressed.

    Parents being able to choose schools is preferable for those of us who put more faith in parents making the choices for their children than in government making the choices. Even if it costs the same (parental choice lowers costs) any person who values parents over government would understand why many support parents choosing schools for their kids.

    Glad to George Abbott is open to tax equalization. I’m disappointed he voted to approve another bond vote.

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  35. CHARIHO is facing HUGE budget increases for heat, electricity and transportation over the next few year’s.The proposed modifications to the shared facilities in Richmond wont improve energy efficiencies according to the lead architect for the project.

    We should begin the tax equalization process by having the three towns share the cost of heat , electricity and maintenance equally across town boundaries.

    Comment by george abbott — April 11, 2008 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  36. There is a big difference between town equity and taxpayer equity.

    Town equity is each town paying 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. This will have little impact on voters as Charlestown taxpayers will still educate their children at a huge discount compared to Richmond and Hopkinton taxpayers.

    Taxpayer equity is each town’s taxpayers paying the same for education as taxpayers in the other towns. This would dramatically impact voters as budgets and bonds would have the same economic impact on taxpayers regardless of which town they live in.

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  37. I agree,but how would you suggest that we implement taxpayer equity?The CHARIHO Administration doesn’t have a dog in the fight. They don’t care where the money comes from as long as they get to spend it.

    Comment by george abbott — April 11, 2008 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  38. Chariho administration does have a dog in the fight. They know that right now they have a town full of taxpayers who only have to pay 1/3 the cost for Chariho as the other two towns’ taxpayers. The administration must know this is to their advantage when trying to spend more money. 1/3 of the voters don’t really care how much they spend because they barely feel it. The administration also knows they have another town of taxpayers who never reject Chariho spending. Whether this is because the town in heavily populated by government workers or some other unexplained reason, it is clear to the administration that anything goes with the Richmond citizens who to choose to vote. It is to Chariho’s advantage to have two towns reliably letting them do whatever they want at any cost.

    Chariho can shrug off Hopkinton as long as the status quo stays the same. Our only leverage is denying Chariho bonds. Even then they look for ways to manipulate the process. From creating misleading flyers at taxpayers expense to subvertinng the traditional process by attempting to get legislators to approve another vote, Chariho arrogantly dismisses Hopkinton concerns.

    I’m not sure tax equity can be implemented George. How do you convince Charlestown taxpayers that they should pay as much as their Hopkinton and Richmond neighbors for education when it will cost them twice as much as they are paying now?

    What I do know is that Hopkinton will continue to get stuck with wasteful budgets and dismal educational results as long as Charlestown taxpayers have no incentive to care. Let’s face it, if our tax bill was half what it is now we might not be motivated to change anything. We might not care if Chariho acted responsibly or taught other people’s children well. That seems to be the attitude of Charlestown.

    I’d love for Charlestown to wake up and see our perspective. I doubt it will happen. The best Hopkinton can do is refuse to approve any bonds until every single taxpayer in the district is taxed equally for the exact same educational product.

    If you like the status quo where Charlestown and Richmond control spending, curriculum, programs, etc. then go ahead and support a bond that joins us together for another 20 years. Hopkinton children suffer because of the current arrangement and they will continue to suffer if we don’t make a stand.

    The real solution may lie in Charlestown getting fed up and going on their own. They can well afford it and they probably would still pay less in taxes than Hopkinton and Richmond pay now for Chariho. I’d hate to see them go after being part of the same educational community with them my entire lifetime, but then I realize we actually aren’t an educational community if we are treated differently as taxpayers.

    There is no easy answer but rolling over and playing dead isn’t something I will do.

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  39. Hopkinton could refuse to contribute under the current formula and force the CHARIHO Administration to initiate a court action.Hopkinton could then use the crisis as an opportunity challenge the funding aspects of the CHARIHO Act before a judge.The CHARIHO Act is a Hodgepodge of a document.It probably has many aspects that are challenge-able under the act itself and/or Rhode Island General laws relating to education funding.

    Comment by george abbott — April 11, 2008 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  40. Now we’re thinking. I’ve heard from a little birdie that some Charlestown officials are scared to death of a lawsuit with tax equity in play. I hear that courts have ruled in similar situations and those seeking equity have fared very well.

    Should Hopkinton get locked into the current funding scheme through the passage of a bond, then I would ask the Hopkinton council to immediately stop contributing under the current formula.

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  41. Recently, I sent a note to Bill (Felkner) before I watched the CHARIHO school committee meeting. I need more time to gather my thoughts and produce a readable comment and proposed solutions to this mess, but I do believe the following is true.

    AND, one other thing, Bill. Have you noticed that we no longer (as a society) value education? Look at the wages plumbers, police, firefighters make. Many make as much as the doctor who has been educated for an extra 12 years, and makes decisions that very much impact your life and that of your loved ones.
    Have you also noted that even our teachers are no longer self actualizing individuals on fire with a desire to teach and inspire? Instead they are lead by “Team Leaders” “House Leaders” or some other form of inner government meant to subdue any attempt at individual styles of teaching. No longer do students remark on the “weird but lovable” old crotchety teacher who inspired them, but instead are treated to a pulverized, digested, pap that is considered education. Students are learning more about sex education, good and bad touching, “alternative life styles” and “acceptance”, while the whole system turns a blind eye to inappropriate behavior, disruptive behavior, and plunging test scores. They learn more about harmony, “working together” and “groups” while individual achievement seems to be discouraged and replaced with “group projects” where those who excel must bear the burden of those who do not.

    We all seem to be less involved, more afraid of social comment and less willing to expect individual achievement and accomplishments. We talk of rewards for better test scores when it should be an expectation of life to do the best we can. We discourage the “burden” of learning, but encourage “play dates”, popularity, and “diversity”. Parents and teachers defend indefensible behavior, preferring to “treat” rather than remedy, to reward rather than correct, and cajole rather than expect.
    So there you have. MY opinion on the sad state of education.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — April 11, 2008 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  42. One reason Chariho might need its fund balance is to cover costs while Hopkinton’s cash flow problems prevent its meeting the payment schedule. If the other towns decide to try this too, then Chariho will really need a larger fund balance.

    Comment by david — April 11, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  43. You know darn well what will happen if Hopkinton would happen to get tax equalization and the state takes away the regioanal bonus. There goes Chariho and Hopkinton will be in just as much of problem if not more so than it is in now. There is no way I can see Richmond voting to go along with Hopkinton on any kind of regional school district. Besides, who would want to be called the RichHos?

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 11, 2008 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  44. We’re on a roll today. Hopkinton can recover our money in the surplus account by subtracting it from the payment. Then when we get sued by Chariho we can countersue Richmond and Charleston for tax equity!

    Comment by Real Question — April 11, 2008 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  45. “RichHos” – thats good

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 11, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  46. Hi!
    What seems to be missed is the VEHEMENT DESIRE to keep Chariho intact without addressing the problem of the financial differences that cause the problems.
    The issue is more than tax equalization. Those people who ardently wanted to keep Chariho intact NEVER addressed the fiscal problems which has impeded the district’s success and came up with a solution. Besides tax equalization it is allowing Charlestown to withdraw. Then you do not have the disparity between the towns which currently Charlestown is well more than Richmond and Hopkinton combined in assessable bases.
    Which I obviously find interest is the why some in Richmond would consider a Richmond-Charlestown School district with Charlestown’s assessable base approaching three times that of Richmond!
    Using the current per pupil methodology the town with the lowest assessable base Richmond spends the most as they have slighly more students than Hopkinton. This is misleading as Richmond has had a higher median family income than the other two towns.The assumption would be partly Richmond is more able to vote for school budgets as they are the most affluent in income levels. Charlestown’s asset is having the least students,the largest assessable base, and one of the lowest tax rates in the state. Not also they are able to spend more on general government than school funding.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 12, 2008 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  47. Charlestown should have withdrawn years ago. The district started out with us all having pretty evenly matched tax bases but Charlestown’s tax base zoomed as beach property value exploded.

    Charlestown has another thing going for it with out of town money tax collection resulting in fewer kids living year round in town. They could offer so many more programs for their kids if RichHos (I like that too!) weren’t holding them back.

    Scott Hirst is right Richmond would continue to be a drag on a ChaRi school distric and why would Charlestown want to do that to themselves again? Charlestown was once our financial equal but not anymore. They aren’t doing their kids any favors staying in Chariho.

    As for Richmond and Hopkinton I can take it or leave it. Richmond’s urge to spend like crazy would be tempered by Charlestown being gone. Budget and bond issues would be dealt with more thoughtfully. Voices like Bill Felkner would be more powerful.

    On the other hand if Hopkinton was alone we wouldn’t ever have to worry about the spending habits of people we didn’t vote for. Richmond could spend itself into oblivion.

    Comment by Real Question — April 12, 2008 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  48. to answer post #11 – yes. Something happened a week ago last Friday (April 4). The School Committee was told that on Friday night a “student was scheduled to be summoned to the police station for carrying a knife in school.” I have asked several times for more information but Mr. Ricci has not supplied it. If half of what I hear on the streets is true, this is very disturbing. I’ll wait and see if Mr. Ricci does his job and answers my questions.

    But don’t get confused. There have been 6 arrests in the past week. Although, according to the email from Ricci the knife incident only resulted in a “scheduled” sommons. If something was done, Mr. Ricci has decided not to share it with us. Maybe I should go down to West Bakery and find out what happened.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 13, 2008 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  49. Reference #32. CharihoParent says:

    “And don’t give me the crap that then you’ll be getting what you pay for, it’s a lame line and it does not explain why you would OK one way but not another.”

    To hold onto what little credibility you have left, please explain why expecting to get the best education for our children because we pay some of the top rates in the country is “lame”. Do you honestly expect me to believe you do not want any value for the money you spend? You’re just another poster without cause.

    Comment by RS — April 13, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  50. Hi!
    I think CharihoParent brings more to the table than CharlestownParent who seems only to have wah,wah, waah, down! I realize I am somewhat complimenting someone who is not a fan of mine but CharihoParent brings up some interesting points and derserves a higher standing in this blog than CharlestownParent.
    Some of posters on this web site are very intereseting to read and clearly show deliberative effort!
    We need facts and an actual reflection on why things happen. You can try to ignore the facts but you are still impacted by them.
    The real unfortunate thing about Chariho: The financial situation has not been addressed and it is POLITICALLY and LEGALLY difficult for local officials to deal with. Unless something DRAMATICALLY changes it is more than reasonable assumption the school districts problems will continue.
    Here’s is a question for this blog what would be your choice for Chariho future? Pick only ONE!
    1. Keep Chariho intact with same structure financially with veto power of towns on Chariho Act Changes?
    2.Keep Chariho intact same as is but remove the individual towns veto power on bonds and Chariho Act changes and no equalized tax rate?
    3. Run it like a fire district with equalized tax rate, its own district officials,tax collector,tax assessor,moderator,and clerk and school committee elected, with an elected moderator,possibly clerk, elected at large regardless of town?
    I will likely post other choices in the near future.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 16, 2008 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

  51. Hi!
    Addition: Number #1 choice veto power on bonds as well as Chariho Act changes.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 16, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  52. How about the ultimate choice of parents choosing? No political games but whoever delivers the best education within defined financial parameters gets the business? How about starting with that choice? No moderators…no special districts…no additional politicians…just the money followng the kids.

    Comment by Real Question — April 16, 2008 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  53. RS,it’s the same old line that Hopkintonian’s bring out to try to stymie anything to do with the district. Until the unions are stopped dead in their tracks nothing will change. I firmly believe that much of the poor quality of education has to do with the union stronghold, not the administration. We, and by we I mean every single Rhode Islander who’s not a member of the teacher’s union, have to find a way break the choke hold the unions have around our collective necks.

    Stop with the school choice, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. It’s pie in the sky dreaming. The decision of school choice will have to come from the state, not the district. As long as people keep on voting in the same old hacks into the legislature, nothing is going to change where the change is most desperatly needed. We have to work with what we have here in the district first. Let’s straigthen out our own house and work within the confines of what’s real and stop dreaming. Focus on what we can change and I don’t mean Hopkinton’s screwball idea of tax levying.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 17, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  54. Scott,
    I would change the Chariho Act so that no one town has veto power. Majority rules, plain and simple. If we’re going to be a district then it’s time to start acting like a district. I’ve been doing some travelling lately and have seen many school buses indicating that the schools are by county and I’ve noticed that the schools are much more modern than any of the schools in the district. With the number of students at the elementary level, we could probably consolidate into one or two modern schools. The middle school and high school also need the modernization. No wonder our students are falling behind with sub-par schools to learn in. We, as a district, should be ashamed of the schools that we are sending our students to. Between the union and the schools, our students will keep falling behind more and more.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 17, 2008 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  55. Ignore CharihoParent. She has no clue. School choice already exists in numerous school DISTRICTS. We are a school DISTRICT. For whatever reason CharihoParent is against school choice and makes up excuses like only the state can control school choice. This is NOT true.

    The one sure way to stop the union nonsense is to make them compete. School choice creates competition. If the union teachers are able to educate they will survive. You want to turn around public schools? Put in school choice – quick, easy, and less expensive.

    CharihoParent isn’t happy making up garbage about school choice. She also wants the towns to give up the veto power and she cites county school districts around the country. She either doesn’t know or is making stuff up again because county school districts levy taxes equally. This is Hopkinton’s argument! We want tax equity just like county school districts. Get a clue.

    No student fails because of buildings. Why do people make these stupid assertions? Does the modernity of your home determine how good you do in school? What we should be ashamed of is having neighbors dumb enough to believe kids can’t learn unless we spend our food money on schools. I wonder how our country survived when so many previous generation were educated in one room school houses?

    Chariho apologists need to stop the excuses and show us some results!

    Comment by Real Question — April 17, 2008 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  56. A town can institute school choice with it’s Act. The town has no control over the state funds, but local funds are theirs to do with as they please. All you need is a town council willing to give the parents the go ahead.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 17, 2008 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  57. If you remove state aid, Hopkinton pays Chariho about $8,800 per student. How many parents would gladly take $6,000 and find alternatives to Chariho? I’m betting a large percentage. My family would do it in a heartbeat!

    Families would get to decide where and how they want their children educated and the community would save a bundle as a bonus. The public schools would feel the pressure of competition and stop operating as an arrogant monopoly which they are now.

    I’ve yet to hear a legitimate reason to oppose school choice. Most of the countries around the world have education dollars follow the kids and these countries are kicking our asses academically. It’s no wonder because they have competition.

    Comment by Real Question — April 18, 2008 @ 12:20 am | Reply

  58. Hi!
    Whatever the merits and legal standing of ideas., there is a political dimension.
    We are a little over two months from filing for town offices and likely not many want to run for office.
    In June, 2008; School Committee terms expire this year, others have two years to go:
    Hopkinton: Ronald Preuhs,Jr., (R)
    Charlestown: Giancarlo Cichetti (U), can’t run because of federal employment. I understand Preuhs may also have that situation.
    Richmond: William Day, (R) and Deb Jennings (U)

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 18, 2008 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  59. Bill, if Hopkinton residents want school choice and it’s so great, how come Hopkinton hasn’t instituted it yet?

    Real, if school choice is what you want, how come you haven’t petitioned your town council to begin doing that?

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 19, 2008 @ 5:17 am | Reply

  60. I have.

    Comment by Real Question — April 19, 2008 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  61. I believe that the Hopkinton Town Council has requested an honest and open discussion with Richmond and Charleston concerning tax equalization or a taxing authority for the Chariho DISTRICT.The response from the other towns has been a series of insults, disdain and more of the same old tired selfish political rhetoric.

    What is so unreasonable about the concept of SHARING instructional, maintenance ,utility , and transportation costs based on a grand list of property values for all three towns?

    Comment by george abbott — April 19, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  62. I’d be okay with school choice.

    I have yet to hear a strategy of how to get it, given that (in Chariho, anyway) it would require having kids leave the district to to go school, and contracts are negotiated on a district-by-district basis.

    For small towns, I think this would be hard to do in a practical way without some regionalization agreements.

    Comment by david — April 19, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  63. Simple David, If I choose to enroll my child elsewhere, then I am given a voucher equal to the amount Hopkinton sends to Chariho for the education of my child. Then I take my voucher and shop where I want. If you ask then what happens to Chariho if most parents do this? Not our problem…..getting the best education for our children is our problem and priority.

    Comment by RS — April 19, 2008 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  64. Exactly RS! To allay the fears of those who wish Chariho to survive, most parents choose to keep their kids in the poorly performing public schools even when given a choice. Not sure if this is disinterest or what, but public schools do exist when parents are given choice.

    Public schools will fail eventually if they don’t adapt to the competition and start delivering results.
    Shutting down is rare because human nature kicks in and suddenly bad teachers are no longer tolerated by their peers. Even unions become intolerant of teachers who drag down the rest of them. As we know now, unions will go to the wall for a teacher no matter how badly the teachers harms the future of children. Parents choosing schools for kids will save public schools not destroy them.

    Comment by Real Question — April 19, 2008 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  65. One more thing. With parents choosing schools a terrible curriculum like constructivist math would never even be tried unless it had a proven record of success. School choice will make every school choose a curriculum which delivers the results parents want. Schools like Meadowbrook Waldorf would be embraced by parents who like that kind of curriculum. Parents who think the government should teach their kids about sex will find a school willing to do that. Parents who want to teach their children about sex will find a school who won’t take over that role.

    We live in a country built on the concept of individual liberty and freedom yet so many of us are now afraid of these very same liberties and freedoms. School choice is not a monster. School choice is symbolic of our history. We’ve done pretty damned good! Why are we afraid?

    Comment by Real Question — April 19, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  66. CharihoParent.
    I’m sure you know the answer to that – political pressure and bureaucratic inertia. How long does it take to change anything in a system like that?

    Think of the Overton Window – what is acceptable in society goes through a series of change – Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible, Popular, Policy

    As an example, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1948 that allowed states to institute Right to Work legislation (employees don’t have to. The Mackinac Center (the late Joe Overton – Overton Window – was their VP) has been working on shifting “Right to Work” into the policy realm for 20 years. There are now (60 years later) 22 states with Right to Work legislation.

    You can find other examples throughout academia. Think of the transformation of sex ed over 30 years.

    Twenty years ago school choice was “Radical” in America, but Sweden was just moving into Popular. They are in ‘policy,’ we, with a spattering of choice around the country, are at ‘acceptable-sensible’.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 19, 2008 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  67. Love your example, Real, you give the parents $6,000 to spend at the school of their choice but they still have to come up with the difference. Now what happens if the parent chooses to send their child to Chariho, who makes up the difference? What if they choose to send their child to a school other than Chariho that’s much more than the $8,800 that would have been spent for Chariho? Who makes up that difference? From what I’m seeing here it only increases the differences between the haves and have nots. Great if you can afford to kick in an extra two, three or four thousand dollars, but what if you can’t but truly want the best for your child? I’ve heard from the citizens in Hopkinton how they can’t afford an increase of a $1 or $2 on the tax rate but they’ll be able to afford the extra educational costs? Oh, another question, who’s going to pay to transport the students to the schools?

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 20, 2008 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  68. CP,
    The law allows local gov’t (town councils, mayors) to control local funds. In Hopkinton that’s about $8500 per student. The additional $4500 from the state is controlled by our friends at the State House. As currently set, that $4500 could only be used for a public school.

    So the town gives the voucher for $8500 to the parent. If the parent wants to stay at Chariho, the parent uses the voucher and the town sends the $4500 passed through from the state. If the parent goes out of Chariho they can only take the $8500.

    That is how it could be done with only local authority. It is possible to get that $4500 into the voucher as well, but that decision must be made at the State House.

    As for transportation – RI is unique in that all transportation (public, private, charter) is handled by the state. The inefficient part is that those duties are segmented by district. That’s why we have a small bus with one student going from Chariho to Providence (to the tune of $442 per day) while Westerly also sends a small bus with one or two to Providence.

    There is legislation working through the State House right now that consolidates all transportation. The proposals for ‘choice’ options allow ‘mega district’ open transportation. In other words, if a parent wanted to go from Westerly to Chariho, that’s paid for. If they lived in Westerly and wanted to go to Barrington, that would be the responsibility of the parent.

    However, in areas where choice was available, small specialized schools sprout very quickly. Image 3-4 new small schools in the Chariho and Westerly area. Read back to the Edmonton example most recently reported on here.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 20, 2008 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  69. I was only throwing around hypothetical amounts. I’d be very favorable toward the town picking up the tab up to what they already spend at Chariho. Better education at the same cost is okay with me. I expect elementary schools would be priced below the max and perhaps the town could pay more for high school.

    These are the details. We know parents are given the opportunity to choose schools all over the world. We know that there are districts in the U.S. wtih parents choosing. We also know the kids get a better education when parents choose. Take your pick of the choice systems already being used successfully CP. Or we can continue harming our kids’ futures to protect adults’ jobs.

    Comment by Real Question — April 20, 2008 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  70. Bill, RQ, and others,

    Vouchers seem to be an interesting possibility for the future of Hopkinton students, parents, and the state.

    1. What happens in other communities, if a parent sends their child to a private school, and because they are unhappy, then pull the child out, midstream and wants their child back into the public school system?

    2. What kind of burden does that place on the town?

    3. How does this affect reimbursement from the state?

    4. As I don’t know how private schools work when it comes to billing, do they charge up front, or throughout the year?

    5. Would the town, if it agreed to vouchers, have to pay the amount up front or is it like the district where they pay by the month?

    6. If they have to pay up front, what kind of burden would that place on the town?

    7. Are books included with private school tuition, or are they purchased by the parent? If not, is that a burden that the town would also have to pick up?

    I’m sure I’ll have more questions. Will let you know when they come to mind. If you smell something, you’ll know that is happening. (Ha, Ha)


    Comment by Lois Buck — April 20, 2008 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  71. On #3: This is in addition to question #2, if a parent changes his/her mind midstream.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 20, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

  72. sniff sniff – burning wires

    Answers below – there are probably different answer for different areas that use vouchers, but I’ll use Edmonton as an example for the answers.
    1. What happens in other communities, if a parent sends their child to a private school, and because they are unhappy, then pull the child out, midstream and wants their child back into the public school system?
    The decision has to be made at the beginning of the year. However, even today parents change schools all the time (moving, student conflicts) so there are probably requirements for mid-stream changes.
    2. What kind of burden does that place on the town?
    A system of accounting would need to be created in the beginning. Once done, there would be some additional processing. We send kids to different schools now and that accounting is done somehow (probably at Chariho) so its being done at some level now. But yes, there would be some adjustment of the accounting process.
    3. How does this affect reimbursement from the state?
    It shouldn’t – reimbursement is determined on our district status (although, say we would get more if we were not in the District). But vouchers wouldn’t necessary exclude us. I don’t think we need to leave the District to offer vouchers. This I’m not sure on though.
    4. As I don’t know how private schools work when it comes to billing, do they charge up front, or throughout the year?
    They take payment plans from parents so I’m sure they would make any arrangement with a town – they should have good credit (?)
    5. Would the town, if it agreed to vouchers, have to pay the amount up front or is it like the district where they pay by the month?
    Just guessing on this one, but knowing how badly the non-public school community wants vouchers, they would probably do just about anything the town wants them to do. Image a company that actually acts like it wants the customer!
    6. If they have to pay up front, what kind of burden would that place on the town?
    7. Are books included with private school tuition, or are they purchased by the parent? If not, is that a burden that the town would also have to pick up?
    I don’t think they come from the public school as I’ve never seen or heard of a budget item for it. And I don’t think parents are asked as we have not been asked. I assume it is paid for by the school. Home schoolers are allowed to get them from the public schools but it is often difficult to actually get them (not reported in Chariho to my knowledge).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 20, 2008 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

  73. The town would set the rules not the schools. The schools would either follow the rules or not be eligible for town money. Of course for it all to work the towns would have to have reasonable rules. We can’t expect to get something for nothing.

    I’m amused by the questions as they remind us why allowing government to take over so much of lives is dangerous. Only with government would schools take our money and also tell us what they are going to do with it. Consumers have limited power when we allow government to take control.

    With competition we get to decide what we want from the supplier. With parents choosing schools we pick the rules and the suppliers comply or they don’t get our business. Government makes the easy difficult. If Hopkinton pays $8500 per student there will be plenty of schools willing to compete within the guidelines we give them.

    Comment by Real Question — April 20, 2008 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  74. No, the gears in my brain are slowly turning. Don’t you smell it? Ha Ha

    Anyways, a couple more questions and comments, as I feel this debate is an important one.

    1. Bill, you mentioned Edmonton. Am I right to assume that is Edmonton, Alberta, Canada?

    2. If it is E., A., C., then is it fair to compare a large city like that to a small rural town like Hopkinton? I say this because the state is caught up in its own mess, and I wonder if they could get past this mess at the present to deal with the notion of vouchers and its need to support local communities in the effort to initiate them. Perhaps that is a question as well.

    3. Are there any rural communities, with populations like Hopkinton’s, within the U.S. that currently use vouchers?

    4. If so, can they provide information on how they implemented such a program?

    5. I also ask, how many kids from Hopkinton are in private and charter schools? Are there numbers anywhere regarding those figures?

    6. If we were to begin a voucher program, what would be the fiscal impact on Hopkinton to include children who are already in the private and charter school system? (Mainly the private schools, as the charter schools are already paid for through the district, right? Fair is fair, so we would have to treat them the same way as children who are not currently in the system.

    RQ, I don’t disagree the impact government has on complicating things. If you could generate your own questions and solutions on how to solve that, that would be great. It really begins from the top, because laws would have to be changed. That is also complex because many of the laws were created to protect and make “fair” the rights of all children to receive a public education. This to me is another debate, and is perhaps beyond the control of one small rural town. If the state could put people in office that could take on that challenge, then yippee, I’m all for smaller government and fewer taxes and yes, less mandates.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 21, 2008 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  75. Parents choosing schools works everywhere. A better question would be to name a place where true school choice hasn’t improved education? It’s not as if choice is a novel concept.

    I understand the question about current private school families reimbursement, but while the number of them is important, keep in mind that the town will decide the dollar amount to offer.

    Public schools don’t disappear with choice. They get better.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  76. “In 1955, a forward-thinking Milton Friedman foresaw the result of this monopoly and encouraged a return to liberty through the introduction of school choice. He argued that it would be much better and more equitable if the government would “give each child, through his parents, a specified sum [voucher] to be used solely in paying for his general education.”

    The benefits of this idea, which has come to be known as school choice, are numerous. Studies show that school choice leads to better test scores for all students and higher graduation rates. They show that parents are more satisfied and involved with their child’s school, and that school choice saves taxpayers millions of dollars. And they show that public schools respond positively to competition.

    But beyond the theory, what lies at the heart of school choice is a family’s freedom to choose. It is about the child in the back of the classroom who is not getting what he needs in his assigned public school. It is about the student who just doesn’t feel comfortable at her current school. It is about the family that simply wants a different option.

    In the end, the goal of education is to ensure learning and guarantee a free society and stable democracy. These goals are better met when all parents are free to choose the school that works best for their child.

    So, why school choice? In a word, liberty.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  77. I find a lot of answers at The Friedman Foundation.

    Does school choice make public schools better?
    A large body of evidence says yes. If all schools compete for students, public schools will not be able to take students for granted, as they do now; they will
    have to improve to prevent students from walking out the door. In practice, it is becoming clear that this is exactly what is happening. NOT ONE empirical study
    has ever found that outcomes at U.S. public schools got worse when exposed to school choice, and numerous studies have found that they improve.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  78. The amount of money spent on the voucher or scholarship for each participant in a school choice program is less than what would have been spent on that student if he or she had remained in public schools. That means states save money that can be plowed back into their education budgets and spent on the students who remain in public schools:

    • While the average public school spends about $10,000 per student, the average private school charges about $5,000 in tuition. That’s the fundamental reason school choice saves money – private schools
    do a better job at about half the cost.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  79. RQ,
    I am only generating questions, as I believe this, vouchers and school choice, is a worthy goal. You don’t have to convince me that it is. The questions will be asked at some point. I felt since they were popping into my head, that we could discuss them now. This isn’t a cut and dry thing. Perhaps through generating questions, the process of changing things will be easier.

    I appreciate your information. If the Friedman Foundation has info on the effects on small communities who converted to a voucher system and how it impacted them, that would be useful to answer some of my questions. Anything you or anyone can find out would be great. Links are great.

    I believe in fair trade and democracy, and I do not believe that monopolies benefit us. There should be more choice. It’s the “how to get there” that I am questioning. I was hoping, with yours and Bill’s and any other person who would like to provide their insight, we could be a part of a wonderful change for our parents and children.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 21, 2008 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  80. The government school monopoly has done a fabulous job scaring Americans when we are unable to see that a system based on individuals liberties is far superior to a system based on government control and mandates. We’d rather have government beauracrats tell us what is best for our kids then decide for ourselves.

    Explaining why individual choice is preferable to the government forcing all our kids into a one-size fits all system seems pointless. For me it is the difference between freedom and fascism. For those too afraid to be free I don’t think anything we can say will convince them. For all the problems with government control at least it delivers predictable results.

    Here’s one thing we can count on. If Hopkinton should find the courage to choose freedom over security we can expect to face legal challenges from the unions and the politicians. Dictators never give back liberties voluntarily.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

  81. RQ, you may be right about the unions, but I believe most of the local politicians that Hopkinton currently has could logically debate the issue in a public forum and would come to a consensus towards school choice.

    The details would have to be ironed out, and as it is their jobs, the council would have to recognize and note the fiscal impact on the residents. Then the town, with a plan in hand, could vote on it. A decision like that should be voted on.

    I would still like to see evidence from other communities, where it has benefited them. Not to doubt you, I’m sure you probably have your facts. I do feel that it is important to look at the evidence. I don’t think Hopkinton would be going into uncharted territory here. So, it is important to provide the citizens the evidence to back up our claims.

    As I find moments, I will try to post links.


    Comment by Lois Buck — April 21, 2008 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  82. I wasn’t referring to local politicians but the state and federal politicians in the pockets of unions and the educational establishment.

    I understand the need to shake voters awake. As I said there is security in government control even if we are certain to get inferior results.

    I’d prefer to see evidence that the goverment is better at running schools than the free market? We have our country’s history as evidence that individual liberty creates greatness.

    I don’t doubt you have to prove free markets are better than government monopolies. This is a sad statement about the direction of our country and how far we’ve declined as a freedom loving people.

    Comment by Real Question — April 21, 2008 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  83. 1. Bill, you mentioned Edmonton. Am I right to assume that is Edmonton, Alberta, Canada?


    2. If it is E., A., C., then is it fair to compare a large city like that to a small rural town like Hopkinton? I say this because the state is caught up in its own mess, and I wonder if they could get past this mess at the present to deal with the notion of vouchers and its need to support local communities in the effort to initiate them. Perhaps that is a question as well.

    There are smaller examples, but its usually a state initiative. Edmonton is fresh on my brain as it’s a comparison for the entire state. It has about 80,000 students and RI has about 120,000. Edmonton was operated as a single district with a single formula (funding formulas are in the works for RI).

    3. Are there any rural communities, with populations like Hopkinton’s, within the U.S. that currently use vouchers?

    Normally it is initiated on a statewide level. I’m not familiar of any others but if there are, the Friedman Foundation would know about them. If Hopkinton got to the point where they would want to talk to them about it, they would come to do that. I’ve spoken to the Exec Director about it. He helped me track down the legal ins and outs.

    4. If so, can they provide information on how they implemented such a program?

    See above – but you might find many answers here;jsessionid=5612E7011DFA6BF6E842AFBCBB4DACFD

    5. I also ask, how many kids from Hopkinton are in private and charter schools? Are there numbers anywhere regarding those figures?

    Not sure. Chariho might know – but please don’t ask me to find out. I seem to have a limited number of things I can ask before they start getting grumpy.

    6. If we were to begin a voucher program, what would be the fiscal impact on Hopkinton to include children who are already in the private and charter school system? (Mainly the private schools, as the charter schools are already paid for through the district, right? Fair is fair, so we would have to treat them the same way as children who are not currently in the system.

    That’s a good question. I had resigned myself to the possibility that student already enrolled would be grandfathered. But assuming not, it would depend on how many there are. We have about 1200 students from Hopkinton. If 20% of them (240 students) went to private school, using St. Pius as an example, the town would save $960,000 (240 X 4000) from what we spend now (the state would save about the same – which we might expect some type of quid pro quo – that’s something for the town to consider). If we had to pay for students already in the schools – the savings would depend on how many there are. In this scenario, we could afford 240 before it started costing us money. However, I would be shocked if this is really an issue because its never been mentioned by the opponents. If there is anything bad that could happen, it would be highly publicized.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 21, 2008 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  84. I have not checked out the Friedman Foundation, but I have checked out some sites. All were negative for them. I will check out the Friedman Foundation next.

    I wonder if the voucher decision would make sense for charter schools only. Have you heard arguments towards both?

    Personally, I was thinking about this tonight, and then I read a similar argument on-line about private schools and their desire to not be controlled by the government. Would they even be willing to accept money from towns if the money comes with restrictions? I could not see the state giving any money to private schools as they are not regulated by the state.

    I would be thrilled to be able to send my kids to the Christian Academy, but I would not want them to be dictated by the state or anyone about what they can teach. (They have religious freedom to make the right choices based on their faith. We see the influence the state has had on religious freedom in schools.) It would really depend on each individual school to decide whether it is a good choice for them or not.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 21, 2008 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  85. Your getting to the root of the 2002 case. And one of the problems with Charters. Some states (RI being one of them) heavily regulate charter schools. RI is unique that the legislature is in charge of providing “an adequate education.” Normally this is the function of the Department of Education – a part of the administrative branch.

    There should be three branches of government. Administrative (runs the show), legislative (writes the rules for the show) and judiciary (interprets laws). In RI, the legislature controls the Dept of Ed but the administrative branch (Governor) appoints the board. That means that the legislature can make a law that says a school must provide a step payment structure for teacher contracts (which they actually did). And even if the governor appointed everyone that would be against that, they couldn’t do anything about it because they can only manage the system they are given. They don’t write the laws.

    This is a classic example of RI’s problems with separation of powers. Don’t get me started on the Costal Resource Management board. But I digress..

    Your concern about the Catholic school can be avoided if the state is taken out of the process – or the state decides to join with the voucher.

    The second option, the state joining with the voucher, isn’t as far fetched as you might think. We have the highest per capita Catholic population. RI passed a law that allows corporations to donate to private schools and get a tax deduction. This made national news (in those circles). Heck, I pay $4000 for each child and I don’t get a tax deduction – but I still have to pay my property taxes for Chariho. But I digress again..

    The first option is the easiest. We take the state out of the equation. Hopkinton says, “for each parent that wants out of the system, it can walk away without the state’s money. It just gets the town’s money.” That way the parent doesn’t have to answer to the state and neither does the private school.

    Also, this is where the 2002 case comes into play. The Supreme Court ruled that if a voucher where made such that the parent had 100% control of the decision, then there was no “church and state” to separate. The state plays NO role in the decision.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 21, 2008 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

  86. In Vermont and Maine, school vouchers have been in use for over a century through town “tuitioning” programs, which serve students living in rural areas of the New England states. According to the report, the programs have increased school performance in regions where they have produced competition among providers. That competition appears to benefit all students it reaches, without regard to racial and economic differences.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 22, 2008 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  87. Since 1873 Maine has financed the education of thousands of kindergarten through 12th grade students in private schools.

    Data from the Maine Department of Education suggest that the tuition program costs roughly $6,000 per student, or 20 percent less than Maine’s average per pupil expenditure for public education.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 22, 2008 @ 12:55 am | Reply

  88. Thanks for the links. I look forward to the reading. Perhaps, if what you say is correct, this is a good road to travel. Likely, you will have a harder time convincing other people to change on their opinions.

    As far as the legislative and judicial branches. There still is the avenue whereby the judicial branch could argue that a law passed is unconstitutional, correct? So, even though the branches of government are slightly lopsided or preferential towards our legislative branch, they don’t have complete control, right?

    The other option is for the voters of Rhode Island to get brave and vote the legislature out, and get a legislature that is more fair and balanced in there, perhaps to change the laws. Since you say that the legislature voted in laws for steps for teachers, this points to their continued support of teachers unions. They are only just a segment of the population, and I am extremely disappointed in regards to that decision. Is there a link to that law?

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 22, 2008 @ 5:57 am | Reply

  89. If we are going to wait until Rhode Islanders throw out the bums you can forget any positive changes in education. Turning local education around is up to us. Hopkinton has led so far and I hope they take it all the way. If the town gives parents the choice for their children’s education we will be not only lead RI but also be national leaders in reforming education! Globally we’ll still be behind but better late than never. At least this generation of kids would be able to compete globally. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how much courage our TC really has.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 22, 2008 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  90. Well, I’m extremely biased about one member of the TC. But, I believe to date they have been extremely courageous. They have also taken a great deal of time to research their topics, evidenced by Mrs. Thompson’s research.

    I do agree that the state is not likely to change its colors real soon. I also agree that Hopkinton will have to continue to take control of its own destiny. If vouchers is a part of that, and it can be proven that they are effective, then so be it.

    I’ll be honest. I’m not sold on vouchers yet, but I will remain open minded about it and will continue to read up on it.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 22, 2008 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  91. I could tell you’re not sold. You’re not alone.

    Most support for school choice comes from those who believe in the power of free markets and cherish individual liberties. The other major supporters are urban families whose children suffer the most because of the government monopoly on education. The average white, liberal/moderate is afraid that school choice will end public education. They are afraid that special needs children will be left behind. Lots of fear is generated whenever school choice/vouchers is discussed.

    Utah recently rejected school choice. This was surprising as Utah is very conservative and conservatives usually align with individual liberty. In reading the reporting from Utah it seems to me that there was one huge scare campaign waged by teachers unions and others. Who doesn’t know a public school teacher? Most of us have family members who teach. It’s easy to feel good about teachers and many of them deserve our praise, but we can’t continue to protect teachers at the expense of children.

    The good teachers survive school choice. The really good ones are better off. The bad ones hate it. The union protects the least of its members (the bad ones) and the rest go along with it because they too are afraid to be independent from their union.

    School choice will come. The U.S. will have to relent eventually as more and more countries produce children with skills far superior to our children. Kind of ironic that other countries will be teaching America how to operate a free market system. Historically we have been the leaders proving that nothing works better than free markets. We have abandoned our legacy when our children need us the most.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 22, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  92. I don’t believe that school choice will end public education. I’m not sure it will even dent it. How many spots are available in local private schools? Would these private schools actually agree to vouchers? There is a moratorium on Charter Schools. When will that be lifted? Not a lot of choices for Charter schools around here. Most are up North.

    I don’t trust the state to do anything for South County. Since a teenager, I’ve always believed that the state line stops at Exit 6. What we do here, we will have to initiate ourselves, and I don’t believe that we currently have enough resources to accomplish what you dream.

    I would love to be able to dictate where my children go. But, with limited resources, school choice will take years to initiate.

    Meanwhile, perhaps, our continued efforts to improve the current situation is more likely. Changes have occurred. To me the most prized for me is that the math curriculum is changing. It is because the parents took a stand.

    Other things can happen too. School choice is an option, but we must continue the fight to improve our public schools, as well.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 22, 2008 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  93. School choice will not end public education because school choice IS public education.

    School choice could be enacted tomorrow by Hopkinton. There are schools already which could take in Hopkinton kids and more would start up quickly. Most parents don’t switch schools. Many parents, as we see with Richmond and Charlestown, are happy with the education their children are receiving.

    Do the research and you’ll find that public school improve and don’t disappear. Doesn’t take much to get the public schools off their behinds and improving education once the employees know their jobs may depend on it. These are smart people. Public school monopolies make them fat and lazy, but like the rest of us, when motivated by competition they change their stripes.

    Like I said, school choice will come because of global competition. It really boils down to whether Hopkinton is led by visionaries or reactionaries? Time will tell.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 22, 2008 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  94. We have a moratorium and a cap. The moratorium runs out in June. The legislature must vote to extend it. This is unlikely. We currently have 9 charter schools. We have a cap of 20. So when the moratorium is lifted that will allow 11 more to come in.

    Mayor McKee has about half the state signed up for his Mayor run district (it bypasses the school committee and unions). His program is a single district with several schools that act independently. This is good as it doesn’t use up the charter allotment.

    The cap probably wont be extended – at least not until we get closer to it.

    As for private schools, you would see a lot more come into the area if vouchers were present. Vouchers are like cash that can only be used at a school – private, public, charter, any. That’s why they say vouchers make all schools public schools. So when schools see a bunch of parents with $8000 vouchers, believe me, if the market has a need (and the money to pay for it) the private market will fill that need.

    And I agree with you Lois, I’m not trusting of the government in general – let alone a RI State House that has 2 politicians in prison, one shoots himself, and 14 investigations are still ongoing. All that in the last year. Oh yea, and our secretary of state went to a mobsters funeral – and won the election. No, I’m not trusting of that bunch either. Vouchers put all the control in the parents hands. If the parent doesn’t like the school, they have total control. Many of the schools are private enterprises – government has limited authority there too.

    Just like a grocery store – government tells them certain things (meat safety, etc..) but they run their business in the private market. Since all the stores take our cash, they compete for our business. Think of it this way – we have been fighting for at least 8 years (the first poll) to bring our 5th and 6th graders back. If we had options, don’t you think the school would have found a way to do it? Without that threat of loosing the customer, nothing happens (or at a snails pace at best).

    Watch the meeting tonight – another example. We have been talking since the last contract negotiation that we were going to be all done treating public employees better than private employees. I made a motion that we make all employee contracts last only 1-yr (talking about administration contracts tonight). This way if we are at budget time and we want to cut a position, we can do it. We don’t have to worry about if they are in contract or not. It got turned down. Heck, we just signed 3 year contracts with Ricci and the Assistant Super. If we had to cut a position we would still have to pay them for the entire contract. Insane. I have a contract – but it’s year to year. How many people out there get contracts let alone 3 years locks.

    But I digress.. And Im afraid I don’t agree that it would take years. It is my understanding that the town could do it with a change of its act or charter. For their money, not the state, as previously discussed.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 23, 2008 @ 12:09 am | Reply

  95. Thanks for your comments T or C. I will consider your opinions and do my research. I urge others to do the same.

    I would say that a lot of questions still need to be asked. I trust that our current leadership will do the same. T or C, if this is something you truly believe in, then you should send a letter to the TC. It is important that their constituency speak in support of this if they are to act. It is my opinion that blogging it here is not enough support for them to change the current policy. Perhaps, it can be added to a future agenda or agendas, as it is an important topic that needs a great deal of deliberation.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 12:14 am | Reply

  96. The issue is not just about vouchers. If the moratorium is lifted, and I will leave it at if, they still have to build the schools, if private schools were to come in.

    The issues are where will they be built, and are the laws, zoning, and other issues in place to allow this.

    Keep in mind that non-profits are also removed off the tax rolls. Certainly, the 11 aren’t going to magically appear in Hopkinton. They will likely be spread across the state. And, the start-up costs for private schools are usually funded by donations and non-profit entities. Will there be enough of them to come forward with the upfront money to build the schools? Will they be able to get financing?

    The vouchers are useless without the structures in place.

    I do not doubt that over time the structures could be built, but it is not an overnight thing. There are a lot of hurdles to cross for any entity to build in any community.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  97. There are laws and restrictions within every community. How will the community surrounding the area feel regarding that development? I am trying to be realistic here. If it is a direction that this council or any other chooses to make, it will be a long term, comprehensive change that will have many obstacles, including public hearings, zoning and building issues, tax implications, community impacts. Something this drastic would require community input and support.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 12:32 am | Reply

  98. Not me. I may be visionary but I’m no leader. As Bill F. says there are other efforts underway. I have a strong itch to get my family out of RI before it implodes anyway. Not sure if I can swing it but whether Hopkinton wants to give parents choice or not we still have other options available. I pipe up now because I’d like to see better days for the kids. Whether I get out or not you can bet I’ve done nothing but tell my kids to go south where the taxes are lower and where most of them don’t count on the government to hold their hand through life. The day I have to deliberate whether to trust government or to trust parents is the day I jump off a bridge.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 23, 2008 @ 12:39 am | Reply

  99. Nobody could have a meeting of the minds and come to a compromise on the contract issue, huh? Two years is better than 3 for you, but 2 is better than 1 for them.

    A question/scenario: A parent pulls a child out of public school in January to send her child to private school. The parent wants a voucher. I would assume that the parent only would pay for services to the private school from January to June. How does this affect the reimbursement to the district? Is the amount set in stone as to the funding to the district for the entire year? Or in other words, is the town required to pay for that student for the whole year because that child was registered when the budget was passed the previous year, even though the child was pulled out in January? What happens when the parent changes her mind during the summer and reregisters the child for public school for the next year? The budget is passed in April, but the child is registered during the summer following the budget passage. I would assume that the tax rate is set in April or is it fluid enough to allow for increases or decreases in student population, and the monthly reimbursement check is changed accordingly? Personally, I would think that the fee is rigid and set the previous school year during the budget process, but I do not truly know such things. Bill, do you know that one?

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 12:45 am | Reply

  100. Not sure what is required? Hopkinton just offers the vouchers with whatever restrictions you want to put on them and get out of the way. Schools will either materialize or not. Most parents would probably hold back waiting to see what happens. The schools that do exist – Meadowbrook, St. Pius, St. Michaels, Prout, etc. will take whatever amount of students they can fit. I’m betting there will be enough room at existing schools for the first couple of years anyway. Once parents begin to see how successful choice is for kids they’ll join in as schools start up. Chariho won’t be idle while this is all going on. Within a year or two test scores will rise. Teachers will start teaching math basics regardless of what they are told to do. Competition will infiltrate the mindset of the Chariho teachers (some of whom are amazing) and they will defy union rules and start teaching like there is no tomorrow.

    I do not know how the TC feels about school choice. They’ve done a good job defying Chariho and the neighboring towns and sticking to our guns on budgets and bonds. Maybe they are happy stopping there and now they think Chariho will start to come around. As Bill F. tells us from tonight’s meeting they status quo is hard to change. Does anyone in private enterprise who is not a professional athlete get a three year contract? My boss could fire me tomorrow but we can’t fire anyone who works for us at Chariho without paying them a fortune.

    Glad the bond may have died a deserved death but it will be unfortunate for the kids if Hopkinton stops here.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 23, 2008 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  101. I don’t know but assume families move in and out of the towns all the time? How is it handled now when kids enter or leave during the school year?

    Liberties come with responsibilities. If a parent has the liberty to choose the best school for their child then they should have the responsibility of sticking with their decision or paying if they want to change their decision part way through the year.

    The town can set its rules. If the town wants pro-rated reimbursement then I guess they can place that requirement on the schools. The schools can then choose to participate in the voucher system or bow out.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 23, 2008 @ 12:58 am | Reply

  102. Exactly, the town needs to set its rules. But, to do that, a lot of questions need to be asked and addressed. Whatever gets done will have to consider both the children and the financial burden on our taxpayers. In the long run, I believe that there would be considerable savings for families. I believe there will be benefits to our children. In the short run, probably for a very short term, there potentially is a higher price to be paid. It would be irresponsible to not address these questions before a major change in Hopkinton policy is initiated.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 9:32 am | Reply

  103. Hopkinton is very nervous about letting parents choose. Works for me but I understand the caution. We are so used to letting government run our lives that there must be a million government hoops we have to jump through before exercising our God giving liberties. Maybe Richmond and Charlestown will provide the boost in courage we need. We’ll have to wait and see.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — April 23, 2008 @ 11:22 am | Reply

  104. I’m a huge supporter of choice but don’t think the town should be putting all kind of restrictions before paying. I trust parents to make the right choices for their kids and while I support government funding of education, I don’t trust government to make the right decisions for our families. Parents should make the most choices possible.

    I also don’t see Hopkinton leading the way on school choice. Unions are powerful and Hopkinton has shown with other groups that they can be intimidated. I agree Hopkinton TC did the right thing is rejecting a revote on the bond but the TC does not show the same determination for all issues. Globally parents choosing is the norm for countries kicking our asses in education. We will get to choice too if we are to compete. Hopkinton isn’t likely to be leading the way when it happens. Still worth fighting for.

    Comment by Real Question — April 23, 2008 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  105. Just so you know, Tom is for choice.

    My opinion, if the town of Hopkinton wants it, then make it known. Send your letters. Let the council know how you feel. Blogging it here is not enough. When a committee is formed to look into it, please volunteer.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 23, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  106. yes and no. Vouchers don’t replace schools – it just replaces the way we pay for them. If everyone wanted to stay at Chariho, we would see no difference at all other than Chariho being paid via a voucher rather than via a check from the town. Check out Friedman Foundation – you can see several examples of areas it is being done.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 23, 2008 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  107. What you don’t realize is that Ricci is the main source of all of these problems!! If you don’t have a leader in a superintendent’s position, then the whole district suffers, no matter how many times Ricci tries to make points by saying things that make you think he has your children’s best interest at heart. Ricci and RYSE are draining your budget dry. Does he really think building a building for RYSE is going to help the students and (ha) the administration in there? Read the Richmond Police log from last summer. You will see who Ricci puts in charge of the students! That principal got a ride to school everyday for the first few months; and now Officer Vaughan is gone. Hm. Makes you wonder.

    Comment by tinkerbell — May 28, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  108. […] employee who has previously given us interesting insight on what goes on at the school.  He commented today but it is on an old post and I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle – so here it is.  […]

    Pingback by More insight from the inside « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — May 29, 2008 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

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