Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 19, 2008

Westerly Sun reports on the un-approved admin contracts

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 1:47 pm

It seems that when the Committee voted not to approve the contracts, that didn’t really mean anything.   At least according to Chariho.  This all came about when we tried to work on the budget.  Committee member Petite suggested positions tocut and we were continually told that we couldn’t do that because we were locked into the contracts.   You can fire them but we would still need to pay them until the contract expired (2 or 3 year contracts).  Even if the budget required a cut, we would still have to pay.

So we asked that the contracts be aligned so that we could cut positions when budget discussion was on – but Ricci sent us a memo saying that Brian Stanley wouldn’t do it because of the conflict of interest (his contract is among those discussed).  Ricci also said that if we did that our employees would not feel “secure.”  I responded that that is exactly the idea.  We live in a performance based world and they should be only as secure as their job performance would dictate. 

But they refused – and if what Ricci says is accurate, we lose.  Nothing can be done about the contracts because the employees wont do it and the contracts automatically re-up. 

Now before you start with the “who do they work for” talk – lets remember that it is an 11 member board.  They will continue to do what the majority wants.  Just follow this issue as an example – the Committee asked to change the contracts but it didn’t happen and I’ll wager that it won’t happen.  My guess.

And they wonder why the parents have become so disenfranchised with the school.  Here is the WS article:

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Contracts for 11 Chariho Regional School District administrators have been extended through June 30, 2010 without approval from the school committee.
Approval of the two-year contracts failed in a tie, 5-5 vote Tuesday. Chairman William G. Day of Richmond, Holly Eaves of Charlestown, Terri Serra of Richmond, Ronald Preuhs of Hopkinton and Andrew McQuaide of Charlestown voted to approve the work agreements, while William Felkner of Hopkinton, George Abbott of Hopkinton, Giancarlo Cicchetti of Charlestown, Andrew J. Polouski of Charlestown and Robert Petit of Hopkinton voted against them.
Deborah Jennings of Richmond was absent.
Despite the committee’s vote, a provision in the con­tracts allows the work agreements to automatical­ly renew for one year “if either party does not notify the other, in writing, (by) May 1, of its intent to allow the term to expire at the end of the then current term.”
The contracts were first included in the committee’s April 22 consent agenda under “personnel actions.” At that meeting, the com­mittee voted 8-3 to table the contracts for the non-union employees. Day, Felkner and Petit voted against the motion made by McQuaide.
McQuaide said when he made the motion, he didn’t realize the contracts would automatically “roll over” by the time the committee reconsidered it earlier this week.
“The idea behind tabling was the fact that we were given a significant amount of contracts, and at least personally, I wasn’t able to understand the full com­plexities of these contracts as well as their financial implications,” McQuaide said.
Chariho Superintendent Barry J. Ricci said this week that it was a “routine matter” to put the contracts on the committee’s agenda when they are ready for annual renewal.
McQuaide said the com­mittee typically considers the contracts after comple­tion of the coming year’s district budget (which includes any salary increas­es for administrators) “because if the budget isn’t approved, then those con­tracts would be up in the air anyway.”
He added that he has spo­ken with the superintend­ent about having “the con­tracts in front of us, but not taking any action on them” when the committee is working on the budget.
“It’s a matter of reforming the way the school commit­tee does business so it’s the most efficient, and yet allows us to really make mindful and understanding decisions,” McQuaide said.
Felkner said when the committee was assessing the budget earlier this year “we tried to make some changes. Do we need this position, that position? Well, we can’t do anything anyway because we’re in a two-year contract.”
“How are we supposed to react to something that happens in the budget if our hands are tied with the con­tract?” he asked.
Despite the expired dead­line, Eaves said she consid­ered Tuesday’s vote to be “symbolic” when she approved the contracts.
“By taking the vote, I think we would have been showing the support of our administration,” she said.
Similarly, McQuaide said, “I think that it had been indicated to us that there was a concern [about per­formance] and we had to address that concern, which is why I voted in favor.”
Others didn’t convey the same meaning of the vote.
“Basically my under­standing is that the con­tract kind of rolled over anyway,” Petit said. “… The vote the other night kind of didn’t mean a whole lot.”
District administrators, mostly principals, waited about four hours until the committee voted at its ses­sion Tuesday. Several declined to comment after the decision.
Petit said he didn’t have an issue with the adminis­trators’ performances, adding they “are all doing a great job.” However, “there are things that we need to sit down and look at and discuss,” he noted.
Along with other commit­tee members, Petit said they would like to assess “staggering” the adminis-t­rators’ contracts, so not all would be evaluated at the same time. By doing so, he said, the rollover could be eliminated.
“Again, it’s in no way in my eyes to eliminate a posi­tion right now, but it does give us flexibility with stag­gering contracts,” Petit said.
The committee had requested Brian Stanley, director of Administration and Finance, to evaluate staggering the contracts, but Ricci told the committee in a memo that it would be a conflict of interest because one of the pacts is for Stanley, according to Donna Sieczkiewicz, Chariho’s administrative assistant.
Felkner, however, said he would prefer contracts to be eliminated.
“It’s a performance-based world and our kids would benefit greatly from a com­petitive market for schools,” he said.
Eaves submitted a request this week to create a subcommittee that would examine contract issues, as well as administration staffing. The committee is expected to consider the request at its next meeting. “I really want us to take a look at the big picture and see what we need to do or not to do,” she said.
Petit said the subcommit­tee could also bring trans­parency to such topics.
“I think it brings a lot of information to light for school committee members to have a great understand­ing of contracts and bids,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, the com­mittee unanimously approved two other con­tracts, for Chariho Middle School Vice Principal Gregory Zenion — who serves as the middle school’s interim principal — and Career and Technical Center Director Elizabeth Sinwell. Those contracts, which require Zenion and Sinwell to contribute 15­percent co-pays for health and dental insurance, were listed separately and approved as consent agenda items.
Contracts for the other administrators, who were hired prior to Zenion and Sinwell, outline a phase-in for insurance co-pays, with a 10-percent contribution during the next fiscal year.




  1. The administration contracts are just another example of why Chariho adminstration and the school board can’t be trusted with educating our children at a reasonable cost. They are in it for themselves. All Administrators All The Time. Stanley could have looked at the impact of staggered contracts for everyone but himself. This latest fiasco also shows why an independent management study would have been well worth the monetary investment. Every time something likes this makes it into the public it shows once again the wisdom of Hopkinton voters. The fools in Richmond can’t wait to sign over their paychecks to these self serving clowns.

    Comment by Real Question — May 19, 2008 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  2. I think we have all been hoodwinked (again). Mr. Ricci and his SC cohorts are rubbing their hands in glee. The Stepford wife, the trust fund baby, the college student, could not care less about the impact on education and budget. Add to that mix the toothpick chewer, poor Mr. Bill, quiet George (most of the time, but sometimes he does great), and you have a real battle for sensible management. No wonder they do not want a management study! Good grief, but we are all fools.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — May 19, 2008 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  3. By the way, THIS (unapproved admin contracts)is the best argument for “choice” for education I have seen. You just can’t make up this stuff! Consider vouchers!

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — May 19, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  4. im writing gardiner and ure in for school committee

    Comment by fred sanford — May 19, 2008 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  5. Does anyone expect anything else but shady dealings from this group at Chariho? How many more times can the district be scammed before Richmond and Charlestown begin to get it?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 19, 2008 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  6. I’m stunned this was allowed to happen! Chariho is a joke run by clowns!

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — May 20, 2008 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  7. Again and again I hear many reasons to pass a bond for the district. Schools need repair, portable classrooms need to be removed and replaced with more durable and permanent classrooms. It is true that many of these things need to be done, but until we are able to correct many basic faults in our system, it would be foolhardy to even bring a bond forward.

    As I see it, we have the following problems, and while this list is not complete, it is a start.
    1. Our district operates in a secretive way, and taxpayers are unable to obtain information. For example. I have been told that we are using a new computer system, so current information is not available, and I am directed to a state website. BUT Mr. Ricci informed me that the information there is “not correct”.
    2. New programs are started, and not evaluated. (RYSE)
    3. Curriculum is unacceptable, as evidenced by the poor grades our students attain. By the way, I want OUR students to be BETTER than the best in the state, since our stature ranks among the LAST in our NATION. We should get what we pay for, and we pay well.
    4. Buildings are not maintained, and the maintainence, when done can only be termed destructive in some cases. Consider the water treatment in Richmond, the leaking roofs in Ashaway, and the total disregard for an entire building at the 1904 building in Ashaway.
    5. Questioning by members of the school committee is subject to ridicule and censure.
    6. Information for members of the school committee is misrepresented, and has cost the taxpayers additional, inappropriate expenses such as when Mr. Felkner what told that a matter was in litigation when it was not.
    7. While the school committee was ready, willing and able to censure Mr. Felkner, no such censure was imposed when misinformation was maliciously presented to the public and press against Mr. Felkner.
    8. While the administration seems to “run” the school committee, they lack the ability and honesty to prompt action when needed, as when contracts, which should have been set up on a different basis rather than expiring all at once was allowed to automatically renew. The school committee was informed of this by the administration only after the date had passed.
    9. Too many “executive” And/or “closed “sessions are held.
    10. The chairman of the school committee is not able to maintain the appropriate professional discrete information behavior expected of his position, informing others in public places of behavior of students.
    11. Students have been diagnosed, detained, and transported by the SRO to a mental health facility without intervention of an emergency room physician or other MD. No one seemed willing or able to call an ambulance. If the multiple times this occurred were in response to psychotic behavior, emergency medical evaluation would have been the appropriate action. THEN, after the parents were called, the student could have been transported by ambulance to a mental health facility. OR is it now illegal to have a mental illness at CHARIHO? Certainly, as a parent I would not endorse the transport of MY child to a mental health facility without a medical evaluation for unknown drugs or reactions to medications. Were these students restrained? Thrown in the back of the gated police car? Driven by the police, alone with him in the police car?
    12. What about the 5th and 6th graders? Taxpayers want their children back, but this is not addressed.
    13. If the 5th and 6th graders come back to their respective towns, then the building designs need to be adjusted.
    14. What about the oil? How will this large plume be affected by construction? What studies have been done? What is the continuing and future liability of this oil spill? How much is left, and where is it located?
    15. Is there enough water to supply all building? There was talk about building on or near the current water supply. What happens then?
    16. When will all taxpayers be able to view “live” data and compare that with old data for current and past expenses, current and past expenditures, current and past surplus money, and the exact maintenance done on each building, past present and future needs.

    Until all of the above questions can be answered, there should not be any thought of any new bond. Pushing a new bond forward would be like presenting a child who has wrecked three cars, yet another car with no expectation for responsibility. I can’t afford another wreck.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — May 21, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  8. I strongly agree with the car wreck analogy. Chariho cannot be trusted to educate our kids and spend our money responsibly. They haven’t done it in the past and what has changed? The other two towns should embrace Hopkinton’s call for an open and honest Chariho. If Charlestown or Richmond want to run a school system where anything goes at any cost then they should go on their own.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — May 21, 2008 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  9. Scott said that Thurman Silks had a letter in the Sun. I think he also said that Sun had an editorial about Chariho. Any chance of getting Thurman to put his letter here? How about the Sun editorial? I’m guessing it was supportive of Hopkinton continuing to throw good money after bad?

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — May 21, 2008 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  10. An earlier posting requested that I post the letter that I sent to the Sun. It follows below:


    The front page story in the Westerly Sun on Sunday, May 18th headlined “Charlestown pressuring Hopkinton to pay for school improvements” reported the comments of Charlestown politicians and a lawyer keeping up the relentless chant about Hopkinton’s unwillingness to spend money on Chariho.

    Your readers would have a better perspective of the decades-long controversy over Chariho funding if they were aware of the basic source of disagreement between the Chariho towns. This has been going on for a long time.

    In 1998 the property tax rate for the Chariho District in Charlestown was $8.51 per $1000 assessed valuation for Chariho alone, in Hopkinton it was $13.67 and in Richmond it was $15.44.

    That meant that for a $200,000 property, a home owner in Charlestown paid $1702 in taxes for Chariho alone, a Hopkinton homeowner paid $2734, and a Richmond homeowner paid $3088.

    Fast forward to 2008. The rate in Charlestown had dropped to $4.81 per $1000 assessed valuation for Chariho alone, Hopkinton was $11.95 and Richmond was $12.75.

    That meant that the $200,000 property in Charlestown now pays $970 for Chariho, Hopkinton pays $2390 and Richmond pays $2550.

    The good news is that the tax rate went down for everybody. The bad news is that in 1998 both Hopkinton and Richmond property owners paid more than 160% of what Charlestown property owners paid for property of the same value, but in 2008 both Richmond and Hopkinton property owners pay at least 246% of what the Charlestown taxpayer pays. It’s getting worse!

    It strikes me as the height of hypocrisy to accuse taxpayers who are already paying at more than twice the Charlestown rate for the schools of not paying for improvements. They already are, and have been for years. They just aren’t being credited for it.

    There is one weird aspect to all this. Richmond taxpayers are being treated even more unfairly than Hopkinton taxpayers. But the Richmond Town Council has joined with Charlestown in attacking Hopkinton. Do Richmond taxpayers realize that equalized school taxes would save their Town more than $2 million for their school costs annually? Does their Council?


    Thurman Silks

    Comment by Thurman Silks — May 21, 2008 @ 10:41 pm | Reply

  11. Excellent letter and excellent info. By the way, the 1998 $200,000 house is now a 2008 $400,000 house. The tax rate may have declined but nobody’s taxes have gone down.

    Why is it hard to understand Hopkinton is already paying a huge amount of taxes to keep Chariho running? Yes, Charlestown could pay a lot more and not even feel it, but for every extra dollar they are willing to pay, it costs Hopkinton $2.44. We can’t keep up.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — May 21, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  12. Quite a list Mrs. Gardiner. I see Westerly’s school system is eliminating a number of positions. I don’t have my job guaranteed and it’s about time government employees deliver results or lose their jobs too. If we have too many, and the 6:1 ration at Chariho is absurd, then we need positions eliminated.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — May 22, 2008 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  13. The administration contracts were handled so well by Mr. Ricci. They all owe him. Duplicious, duplicious, duplicious. Sounds like a dessert. Peaches, plums and apricots…. Who bites and who gets bitten?

    I can’t even tell whether the school board recognizes scam when they partake of the fruit. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me? Very embarrassing.

    Especially as Westerly, Stonington and North Stonington are cutting school positions left and right. But never administrators, just teachers and aides.
    When do the teachers understand their complicity and their danger?

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 23, 2008 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  14. The motto at Chariho is you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Administrators don’t make a fuss about outrageous contracts for teachers and teachers don’t draw attention to the absurd student to employee ratios. Look at the numbers of teacher aides and teacher assistants at Chariho! Good for Stonington and Tiverton making a stand. Stop asking private citizens to tell you where to cut. The insiders know where the fat is and they play games trying to scare parents and taxpayers into accepting whatever the schools want to do.

    Comment by Real Question — May 24, 2008 @ 2:13 am | Reply

  15. Hey, Barbara C loves peaches too!

    Comment by fred sanford — May 24, 2008 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  16. The name CHARGERS turns out to be quite the cruel joke for the taxpayers in Richmond and Hopkinton.Perhaps we should put the logo on a credit card with the understanding that Charleston will get the lowest interest rate in in perpetuity.I’m sure that Mr. Reddish and his genius cohort will be more than willing to carry this idea forward.

    Comment by george abbott — May 24, 2008 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  17. hey abbott,
    why did you vote to resubmit the bond?

    Comment by why — May 24, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  18. The real money is in operations , especially instructional and administrative costs. I do respect the views of bond opponents who feel that approval of another 20 year financial commitment will be a disincentive for Charlestown to make any concessions towards tax equity.

    Comment by george abbott — May 24, 2008 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  19. […] if you knew the roll-over was going to hurt us, why didn’t you say something rather than remain silent and let the contracts continue with the special deals? Protecting […]

    Pingback by Bob and Bill - who is fighting for whom (and who is “fighting hard enough”) « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — July 19, 2008 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  20. If only I had a greenback for every time I came to Incredible read.

    Comment by Alyson Nash — May 31, 2010 @ 6:19 am | Reply

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