Chariho School Parents’ Forum

July 31, 2008

Gearing up for Campus 2010 (part deux)

Filed under: bond,Maintenance — Editor @ 3:42 pm

From the Chariho August email sent by Mr. Ricci:

Focus on Campus 2010

     This past spring, the Chariho School Committee, in a 10-1 vote, approved the submission of legislation authorizing a second vote on the Campus 2010 project.  As a result, votes will be held on November 4th, this time as three separate projects.
     Why?  Quite simply, the needs have not gone away and cannot be solved through the annual operating budget.   The District continues to spend nearly $300,000 per year on lease payments for temporary portable classrooms.  And, there is little disagreement that the High School infrastructure needs significant upgrades and that our high school students need additional learning space.  Related detail can be found in the comprehensive accrediting report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges at http://www.chariho.k12.ri.us/building_comm/default.htm.
     Become informed!  Visit the Chariho web site at the Building Committee link for more information

I would disagree.  What is should read is, “the needs have not gone away and even though we spend over $14,000 per student (among the highest in the nation), we are unable to manage our finances well enough to keep our building from falling apart.  Yes, I remember the “non-emergency” roof that fell in the classroom.  And yes, enrollment is dropping, but we have so many non-essential services (with union employees) that we are running out of room.”

I would also ask, if spending $300,000 on leases is a bad deal, why did we do it in the first place?  Mr. Day, Mr. Polouski, and Mr. Ricci were all around then, ask them.  Oh yea, because it would take a vote to approve the creation of RYSE if they did that.  So, they were willing to saddle us with a lease payment because they didn’t want to ask for approval to create a new school.

Curiously, earlier in the email he also said this –

Keep your eye on the District website.  We’ll be updating the site with pictures from the many construction projects occurring all over the District.  I promise that our High School students will be quite impressed (and proud) when they return.

Straight from the horses mouth

Filed under: Math — Editor @ 1:01 pm

Anchorrising picked up a story on new math.  What I consider a weakness, the advocate of new math suggests is its strength.

One problem, [Pat Cooney, math coordinator for six public schools in Ridgefield, CT,] says, is that parents remember math as offering only one way to solve a problem. “We’re saying that there’s more than one way,” Cooney says. “The outcome will be the same, but how we get there will be different.” Thus, when a parent is asked to multiply 88 by 5, we’ll do it with pen and paper, multiplying 8 by 5 and carrying over the 4, etc. But a child today might reason that 5 is half of 10, and 88 times 10 is 880, so 88 times 5 is half of that, 440 — poof, no pen, no paper.”The traditional way is really a shortcut,” Cooney says. “We want kids to be so confident with numbers that it becomes intuitive.”

The problem is when an equation isn’t that simple, say with larger or fractional numbers.  The “traditional way” provides a foundation from which to build the more “intuitive” methods – not the reverse.

July 28, 2008

Contract Sub Committee minutes

Filed under: contract negotiations — Editor @ 12:24 pm

Here are the minutes from the first meeting.  Bill Day is not a member of the committee but said he was there as a member of the public. 

It is interesting to note that Mr. Day (whose wife and son work at Chariho and who spends many of his days at Chariho as his employer also recieves money from the school) feels every employee is needed and that we are not overstaffed.  Considering our teacher:student ratio is among the lowest in the nation, perhaps all those other schools around the country should take his advice and start hiring more staff. 

Day also challenged “those who are critical to come forward to which Holly Eaves added that this is where she feels there is a weakness.  She doesn’t have enough data to counter the criticism.”

contract-sub-minutes

July 23, 2008

LTE in ProJO

Filed under: Corruption,Unions — Editor @ 1:59 pm

 

Walter Amoroso: Let’s sue school committees

 

01:00 AM EDT on Monday, July 21, 2008

 

 

I was wondering: If the school districts in West Warwick and Cranston can sue the municipality in which they operate, why could not the citizens of those communities countersue, for damages, the school departments and the school committees that run those departments and sign those teacher contracts with the unions, so economically devastating to the people of the community?

The reasons: malfeasance in office, reckless spending of public funds, endangering the welfare of the community, causing emotional pain and suffering, causing economic hardship for the retired on fixed incomes.

Maybe we can recover damages for the damages inflicted on us by these self-serving public servants who now have turned the tables and serve nobody but themselves. The public’s standard of living continues to decline while the school administrators’ and teachers’ standard of living continues to improve, no matter what the economic conditions are.

There is something wrong here, and maybe a dose of their own medicine is what they need to feel the pain as we do. Are there any lawyers out there willing to undertake this sorely needed case pro bono? We cannot afford an attorney.

Maybe we can include the police and firefighters, too, while we are at it.

July 19, 2008

The difficulty in weeding out incompetence

Filed under: contract negotiations,Student Performance,Unions — Editor @ 12:46 pm

The following article is from USA Today about how difficult it is to fire an incompetent teacher.  Speaking of which – it should be noted that on Tuesday’s meeting we had an opportunity to change another contact but all efforts were shot down.  I tried to amend the contract by eliminating the automatic roll-over (remember that the committee voted down on the previous contracts but they automatically rolled-over so our vote meant nothing) and I tried to eliminate the wording of “Blue Cross” that eliminates any competitive bids for health insurance.  Both measures were defeated citing a new sub committee for contracts that will make those decisions.

More of the same – year after year we see the contacts continue to treat public sector workers with bigger raises and better insurance with lower copays.  When will our elected politicians start treating public sector employees just like those of us who pay the bills?

I will also scan and post the minutes from the contact sub committee. You might find some of the comments as interesting as I did – they seemed to be more interested in finding a way to counter negative press than actually fixing the contracts.

From the USA Today (and as you read this understand that we have the same problems here at Charhio – anyone who tells you different has never been on the school committee or isn’t telling you the truth):

New York City’s school system is among the nation’s leaders in trying to root out ineffective teachers. Under the aggressive leadership of Chancellor Joel Klein, here’s what those efforts have reaped: In the 2006-07 school year, exactly eight teachers were fired for incompetence.

That’s eight out of 55,000, or 0.01%. Each of those firings burned up an average 25 days of hearings and 150 hours of principal time. The cost to get rid of each bad teacher totaled $225,000.

It’s no wonder most school districts don’t even bother trying to oust incompetent teachers. Superintendents have a hard enough time getting sex offenders and drunks out of the classroom. Yet more forceful efforts to weed out ineffective instructors are a key to making schools better.

Klein and other reformers agree that outstanding teachers are the single most important factor in turning around struggling schools. Years ago, researchers settled on effective teaching as the most powerful of education reforms. A child who has three good teachers in a row has a head start on success; three lousy teachers can trigger devastating consequences.

Despite these findings, firing burned out or incompetent teachers is considered next to impossible. Why? Largely because of the power of teachers’ unions. New York state is typical. Years of inept contract bargaining at the district level matched by years of effective union lobbying produced a system where all the power lies with the accused teacher.

This imbalance isn’t limited to states with teachers’ unions. In non-union states, bureaucratic inertia creates a similar effect. In either case, the tragedy is that children get stuck with ineffective teachers.

The New Teacher Project, which studied Chicago’s schools over several years and also interviewed principals from several states, found that administrators have little incentive to remove incompetent teachers. A bad teacher can also be a popular teacher, creating conflict. Given the time and effort required to process a bad teacher through the system, it’s easier to encourage the poor teacher to transfer  —  which merely shifts the problem to someone else’s classroom.

The researchers also found that performance evaluations can be meaningless. In Chicago, only three of every 1,000 teachers get an unsatisfactory rating. About 90% of teachers get the top ratings. If all these teachers are so great, why is Chicago one of the nation’s most troubled urban districts?

(editors note: if Chariho is so good, meriting “high performing” marks, why are less than a third of our kids at grade level for math?)

Something needs to change. Unions have to realize that educating kids is more important than protecting inept members. Superintendents and principals have to be willing to take on battles they’d rather avoid. All sides can come together to build on current programs that use teacher peer groups to ease bad teachers out of the profession.

If politicians, teachers and administrators really believe in putting children first, they won’t let the status quo continue.

Bob and Bill – who is fighting for whom (and who is “fighting hard enough”)

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:34 pm

In a previous post, fellow committee member Bob Petit and myself are having a discussion.  Pasted below is edited to relevant material.  Full text at link provided.  Just thought I would post it up front so people don’t miss it.   The discussion started on graduation rates…

 

The new calculations eliminate the “unknown” category where many students were previously placed.

I was most surprised by the RYSE change. We went from a 100% graduation rate down to 47%. Probably indicates that students are in RYSE a lot longer than the normal time (at an average of $67k per).

There are two kinds of kids in RYSE – children with very high needs and students placed there because they violated a school policy and exceeded the time we could suspend them from school. We can presume that the ones used in graduation calculations are predominantly the former – the 8% proficiency in math is probably another indicator of that.

This speaks very strongly to me that we should be putting more emphasis on evaluations and then determine what are the appropriate skills to teach. Sometimes life skills are enough. Why keep someone in a public school for up to the age of 21 just because we haven’t yet gotten them to an age appropriate academic level. Does someone who will be dependant on a family member for their entire life really need to spend 8 years learning fractions? At what point does a school take over too much of what a family should do?

Comment by Bill Felkner — July 17, 2008 @ 9:23 pm |

Bill not sure there is anything that could be done about someone being in school until they are 21. If they are there because they need to education for special needs or not, what can be said? How would you suggest that be handled? Can’t just throw them out.

Comment by Bob Petit — July 18, 2008 @ 8:54 am |

 What I was asking Bill is what can be done? Legally can you do anything to them. I would be willing to say that with “NCLB” you don’t have a choice in the matter. So it is not my world that makes these laws or mandates but it is mine and yours that live by them. 85 instead of 21 foolishness but I expect no less. I hope you are thankful that all of your children are healthy and don’t need any special help.

Comment by Bob Petit — July 18, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

 RYSE has spent resources finding a parent a job – thats not mandated, it is a decision of the school. What could we do? We could say that that will not be tolerated. But what happened when we tried to even get a competitive bid for the RYSE services? A no-bid contract was awarded because our service provider has a monopoly on “wrap-around” services that Kathy Perry has dictated as necessary.

ALso, did you notice that we are paying Autism of RI to consult to RYSE? Why are we doing that when we pay Psy Centers 3/4 of a million dollars a year for them to handle it?

The answer to “what can we do” is simple. Don’t do it anymore. Open it up to competitive bidding and hold them accountable. But for that to happen we would have to have control of RYSE- which the no-bid contact issue showed us we don’t.

Everyone knows what to do, its up to the school committee to do it. Just like the employee contracts. We tried to change some things last year but couldn’t even get an analysis from Chariho because (according to Ricci) Brian Stanley wouldn’t do it because of a conflict of interest. Then we voted to stop the contracts but RIcci forgot to tell us that they would be rolled over anyway. On Tuesday we had an opportunity to eliminate that roll over in a new contract but now we use the excuse “let the sub committee do it”

Excuse after excuse. I’ll make the call right now – next year’s teacher contract will end the same as they are today – raises will be much more than the private market and insurance co-pays will be much less than the private market. I hope I’m wrong but I’ve seen nothing from the committee to suggest it will change. Just a lot of talk.

Comment by Bill Felkner — July 18, 2008 @ 11:40 pm |

 Bill what does that have to do with teaching students until 21 years old? That was what you were talking about. Say we turned around and sent them back out, would or could they still attend until 21, this is a question and knowing your wife is involved somewhat; I think in special ed I thought you would know. Is it mandated to teach them?

As for helping families find a job, I don’t know what to say about that. What did they do to help the family find a job? I have helped people find jobs, did they spend money to help this family? I know you have commented on this before but I didn’t see, and I may have missed, where they spent any money doing this. Was it a matter of just saying, “I know someone looking for workes and can put a word in for you if you want to work”? This happens all the time.

As for the roll over in contracts, we are looking into this. I mentioned it first and want to do it. The reason we asked to wait is because we are looking into all aspects of the contracts. Speaking of contracts, you were the memeber voted in by the body to handle the last contracts in a sub committee, you had a chance to change a lot more and didn’t do it, don’t make it sound like it is everyone else Bill. You were right in that room just like the rest of us. One thing about you is that you bring things up but you never follow through or fight hard enough for it. You come out here post things and dissapear same as in the meetings. If you read the contracts that were in you packet you would have known that the contracts would have rolled over. I was baffled that night that it was a motion to table and voted to approve. I voted not to table it because I read my packet and I knew if it was tabled it was a mute point.

As for the school committee educating ourselves, we are all ready doing that.

Comment by bob petit — July 19, 2008 @ 8:28 am |

Bob,
Firstly, the “21″ point is that at some point there needs to be a limit to what society is responsible for – whether it is for a child with behavior issues or developmental disabilities. After upwards of 16 years for a K-12 education, a child can leave with nothing more than basic living skills. Those are certainly important, but why is society asked to pay for even 7 years (RYSE high school) at $67k per year to teach someone skills they could learn at home (only 8% can score a 62.5% or better on a math test). We made a social contract to provide certain services and those services are being redefined and expanded by the service provider (Chariho). The more society supplies, the less that family, faith and friends will. No, this is not the politically correct answer.

And yes we pay for it – that was the no-bid contract for wrap-around services you approved. 

Why don’t you give your checkbook to the local mechanic and tell him he is in charge of deciding what services will be performed on your car. Better yet, give him your checkbook but tell him you will pay for whatever services he deems worthy for my car. Oil changes will be down to every 500 miles.

And yes, Kat is involved in sped. As a matter of fact, she was paid to consult to RYSE when it was developed. Apparently, Kathy Perry didn’t like her advice. Didn’t you notice the incredibly rude attitude given to Kat by Perry at the 1st and last time she attended the graduation?

We have passed no-bid contracts, we have ignored parents who complain, we have triple legal bills fighting parents who wanted to remove their kids (which the board voted to block my access to). This is what you have done on the school committee to help RYSE not help the kids. If making RYSE better was the intention and not protecting the revenue source, why didn’t the committee (YOU INCLUDED) allow Elaine Morgan to speak when she, as a parent of a RYSE student, tried to tell us about being forced into a bad program – a program that lead to the child’s breakdown? Don’t you think it is responsible to listen to a disgruntled customer?

Secondly, don’t talk about things you apparently have no knowledge of. You were not at all of the contract negotiation meetings. Do you know how many times I was outvoted on the contact sub committee? How I was responsible for developing the merit pay proposal and asked to present it (which is fine, only noting the lack of effort from others)? How many times Andy P tried to scare us with talks of strike?

I don’t remember you complaining that Andy P is allowed to negotiate for the committee but he once negotiated for Chariho teachers. Similarly, no one objected when the former treasurer DiFabio also negotiated for the committee even though he used to negotiate for the teachers.

Speaking of which – he also got $15k worth of health insurance as payment for a $10k job per the current model, plus his wife got a $5k buyback because he was given this increase). More examples of corruption at Chariho that you continue to protect. Why haven’t you ever done anything about that? Or are you just going to criticize my efforts?  Oddly, your cousin didn’t put DiFabio on the payroll.

How many times was it that I couldn’t even get something proposed? How many times Andy P would make his little speech to the NEA and leak one of our intents (ask Deb Jennings – why did Andy P leave teh chair seat?????? You were at that meeting – I don’t remember you doing anything about it).

Wake up or stop bull s***** everyone here. I was 1 vote of 3 on the sub committee and I tried to do several more things that didn’t come out but was blocked because we didn’t pre-notify them of our intentions. That’s why I told the lawyer to include a disclaimer of intent. You were at the end meetings when we were blocked from introducing things. Why didn’t you tell the lawyer to include that disclaimer? Or, again, are you just waiting to criticize my efforts? You should direct your energies at the system that is failing our children, not trying to find fault in what I’m doing. Unless you have a different agenda.

To suggest my initiatives failed because I don’t “follow through” or “fight hard enough” is absurd. Not even worthy of response.

And 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 someone?

As for keeping out people with conflicts of interest – We have so many people on the committee related to public employees we wouldn’t have a quorum if we eliminated them all. Me, Bill D, Andy P, Andy M, Bob P, and Terry S. Holly E is in teacher training. Those I know about – there could be more. Andy P still involves himself in the meetings but Bill says he doesn’t (but you will see when I post the minutes of the sub committee that he attended and seemed to be given more latitude than anyone from the public ever did at a regular meeting).

The answer is holding them accountable – not making rules that are designed to eliminate corruption. I really don’t care who is related to whom if I’m not forced to do business with them. Let them be corrupt. If they are we should be able to leave (just like every other business) not held hostage by a monopoly.

Bob, for 7 months the NEA wasted tax payer money with that complaint at the LRB. I tried several times to get access to the information but the school committee (you included) would not allow me to speak with the attorney even though my name was the only one listed on the complaint. Not only did you never attempt to help me get access to the information (not once did you even support my request) but your reaction was to make a motion giving Ricci full access to the lawyer at his whim. According to you, Ricci may speak with the lawyers about a complaint filed against my actions but I may not. Why? Why do you protect a monopoly?

Comment by Bill Felkner — July 19, 2008 @ 10:33 am |

NOTE:  The contract strategy sub committee is Bob Petit, Holly Eaves and Andy McQuade.  Bill Day and Barry Ricci also attended the meeting.

July 16, 2008

July 15 SC meeting

Filed under: meeting notice — Editor @ 4:33 pm

The meetings are not currently televised.  Here is the agenda for last night’s meeting. 

july-15-sc-agenda

New Graduation Rates

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 4:32 pm

New graduation rates have been calculated for the state.  At the meeting last night we heard a lot of reasons why not to pay attention to these numbers.

graduation-rates

July 7, 2008

Charlestown ad-hoc recommends withdrawal

Filed under: Charlestown — Editor @ 9:46 pm

This article from the Westerly Sun isn’t much of a surprise, but what is surprising comes in the section near the end discussing buy-outs and assets owned.  The suggestion is that Charlestown could withdrawal from Chariho and not be liable for future financial support.  It is my understanding that the three towns are collectively liable for the Chariho employees.  In other words, even if Charlestown left today, they would still be responsible for the current employees’ pension and health insurance.  But the article infers that they could walk away with no liability.  If this is true, the $4mm that they estimated to have paid into the District (which they would lose if they left) pales in comparison to the potential liability.

Is it realistic to think that Richmond and Hopkinton would shoulder the entire liability?

CHARLESTOWN — Withdrawing from the Chariho Regional School District could cost as much as $49.9 million over 20 years — but would be cheaper than equalizing taxes among member towns.
So indicates a recent report by the town’s Ad­hoc Withdrawal Update Committee, which rec­ommends floating a bond for a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 Charlestown School District over 11 other options — including partial with­drawal and a joint school district with the town of Richmond.
Committee members had hoped to present their report to the Town Council on July 9, but the meeting has been postponed by Councilor James M. Mageau — who, along with other coun­cilors, support a referendum this fall asking vot­ers to approve up to $25 million for Chariho’s main campus in Richmond. The three-part ballot question is identical to a $26-million campus improvement plan that failed by 47 votes in Hopkinton last November.
The ad-hoc group, however, views withdrawing from Chariho as the most cost-effective solution for Charlestown in the long run.
The bottom line
Capital costs for a Charlestown school district are estimated to include: • Construction of a new middle school (324­student capacity): $19.7 million • Construction of a new high school (324-stu­dent capacity): $21.2 million • Auditorium with 500 seats: $3 million • Renovations to Charlestown Elementary School (486-student capacity): $3 million
 * Secure land for new schools: $3 million Assuming Charlestown receives $1.2 million in state housing aid, the annual cost to repay a $49.9 million bond would be about $3.3 million in fiscal year 2012-13 — which represents a 11.7 per­cent town budget increase. (Without the proposed audi­torium, it would present a 11.1 percent budget increase.) Equalizing taxes in the dis­trict, or creating a common tax that is based on property values rather than student enrollment, would lower Hopkinton and Richmond’s annual school contributions to more than $6 million each, while increasing Charlestown’s share to about $18 million — an increase of about $7 million, according to the committee’s report.
Charlestown has the lowest percentage of student enroll­ment in the district (about 28 percent), but pays more than Hopkinton and Richmond when state education aid is subtracted from each town’s annual contributions.
“Charlestown cannot afford a uniform school tax rate, and meanwhile school infrastruc­ture has degraded to the point where education is suf­fering, where the [district] operating budget is consumed by the costs of maintaining failed facilities, and where renovation of these facilities will be quite expensive,” the committee’s report notes.
The ad-hoc group favors complete withdrawal because it removes the stalemate on tax equalization; gives the town local control over the education of its students and a plan for a high-quality edu­cation; and is both cost-effec­tive and affordable.
When and where?
Under a timeline estab­lished by the committee, the town would hold a withdraw­al vote in mid-to-late 2009, with school construction beginning in 2010. Students would move-in to the new facilities in September 2012.
The group recommends a “one vote, one plan” approach, or building all of the facilities at once rather than in phases. (As an alter­native, town officials could opt to divide the project into two phases.) “We feel that this is a more streamlined approach which avoids any unforeseen prob­lems that might arise between votes or phases of construction in a two-stage plan,” the committee wrote. “However, if members of the town are interested in pro­ceeding with a phased approach, we suggest that a survey question to evaluate town sentiment on this pro­vide valuable information in making a final decision on how to proceed.”
Because any future land acquisitions would be subject to negotiations in executive session with the Town Council, committee members have declined comment on possible school locations. A source close to the group, however, acknowledged last week that a land swap with The Nature Conservancy might be possible — giving the town space for a school campus on Carolina Back
Road near the Charlestown Elementary School.
Forgoing investments
Though the town currently has about $4 million invested in Chariho infrastructure, committee members have recommended against asking Hopkinton and Richmond for a pay-out.
“Since the district was formed in 1958, Charlestown has invested around $4 mil­lion in infrastructure improvements at the Switch Road campus. Further the value of this investment has depreciated significantly,” the committee wrote. “If Charlestown asks for repay­ment of assets, then accord­ing to [state law], the other two towns have veto power over Charlestown’s with­drawal proposal. The 2004 withdrawal proposal set a legal precedent that if Charlestown did not ask the other towns to repay assets, then Charlestown could vote as a single town to with­draw…”
In 2004, Charlestown vot­ers rejected a $34.9 million bond for a Route 1 high and middle school complex, and a $3 million campus auditori­um. The proposals failed despite the fact that local res­idents approved a binding withdrawal question in 2001
by a margin of 543 votes.
For Chariho construction bonds to pass, a majority of voters in Charlestown, Hopkinton and Richmond must vote to approve them. An amendment to a state law known as the Chariho Act could change that, and allow a majority of voters in the dis­trict to approve school improvements — but would also open the door for Hopkinton and Richmond voters to approve a tax equal­ization measure.
The last bond that passed in the district paid for the construction of Chariho Middle School in the late
1980s.
Elementary school improvements

In addition to school with­drawal options, the Ad-hoc Withdrawal Update Committee has recommended using impact fees to improve the Charlestown Elementary School — whether the town proceeds with withdrawal or not.
Under 2004 withdrawal plans updated by the commit­tee and Newport Collaborative Architects Inc., the Charlestown Elementary School would expand to include new space for music and media centers, two new fourth-grade classrooms and
three new kindergarten class­rooms.
Impact fees, or fees collect­ed from development, could be used to renovate or rebuild the school’s library; improve or replace the schools well and septic system to add capacity for increased enroll­ment; and build or renovate classrooms to increase stu­dent
capacity.“We recommend that the [town’s] impact fee ordinance be amended to allow greater flexibility in utilizing this money for the benefit of Charlestown students,” the committee wrote. “Other towns (notably Richmond and Hopkinton) use different lan­guage in their impact fee ordinances, which allow a greater use of ranges. Whether Charlestown with­draws from the district or not, the ordinance should be amended so that money can be used to pay for a wider variety of needed upgrades.”
The town’s existing ordi­nance requires that impact fee revenues be spent through the Chariho district.

 

Charlestown Options

Filed under: Charlestown — Editor @ 9:34 pm

Today’s Sun outlines Charlestown’s 12 options per the ad-hoc committee (personally, short of total choice through vouchers or tax credits, I like option 12):

The Sun Staff
Members of the Ad-hoc Withdrawal Update Committee examined 12 options for Charlestown’s educational future.
Their findings are listed below:
Option 1: Stay in the Chariho Regional School District.
While staying in Chariho offers several educational advantages, committee members believe that longstanding political differences between Charlestown, Hopkinton and Richmond will continue — and prevent much-needed improvements at the district’s main campus in Richmond.
“As long as the per capita [or student enrollment-based] formula under which the three towns pay for education remains intact, staying in the district would be cheaper for Charlestown than a withdrawal effort,” the committee wrote. “However, the physical facilities of the district are old and failing, to the point where education is negatively affected. The high school is in danger of los­ing [New England Association of Schools &
Colleges] accreditation due to the infra­structure problems. It is more difficult for students at the high school to feel proud of their school when that school is literally falling apart.”
Paying for capital repairs through district operating budgets will shift funds away from educational programs, and it could become increasingly diffi­cult to manage under a state cap on annual spending increases. Even if the three towns agree on a sizeable school improvement bond, “the same debate over how to pay for school improve­ments will go on, and Charlestown in the future will continue to find itself pressured towards tax equalization as facilities go through new cycles of dete­rioration, and bonds continue to fail.”
Option 2: Negotiate with Hopkinton and Richmond to pass a bond.
A negotiated agreement between the three towns could result in concessions from Charlestown, including the equal division of annual school operating budgets; tax equalization based on the number of homes in each town; or some other financial compromise — all of which would likely increase Charlestown’s yearly contribution to the district.
“The negative economic impacts of [these options] will depend on the amount of added money that Charlestown agrees to pay for educa­tion within the district,” the committee wrote. “A further concern is that any agreement less than full tax equaliza­tion may ‘pave the way’ for subsequent requests by Hopkinton and Richmond for yet more financial concessions from Charlestown, until full tax equalization is achieved.”
According to committee estimates, full tax equalization would result in a $7 million annual increase in school spending for Charlestown — a “very serious financial hardship.”
Option 3: Construct buildings for middle school and/or high school students in Charlestown, but remain in the Chariho district.
“Charlestown would fund the cost of building new facilities in town, but would still be bound under the Chariho Act to share in all costs of educating the children of all three towns,” the com­mittee wrote. “The concept of ‘double payments’ does not seem politically appealing within Charlestown, particu­larlyif we would be constructing a building for [high school students] while simultaneously paying for improve­ments to [Chariho High School] that benefit children of the two other towns.” To be eligible for state aid, school con­struction work would have to be done through the Chariho district, “requiring the independent ‘yes’ vote of all three towns — another hurdle to overcome,” the committee noted.
Options 4 through 7 (partial withdrawal options): Withdraw pre-kindergarten through grades 5, 6, or 8; or withdraw grades 9 through 12.
In a 2004 survey, Charlestown par­ents indicated that bringing younger students back to Charlestown was a priority. Similarly, a committee in Hopkinton favors the return of fifth and sixth graders to local elementary schools, while Richmond’s Education Advisory Committee has recommended withdrawing pre-K through grade 5 students from Chariho.
Currently, there is no provision in the Chariho Act for partial withdrawal, so “any agreement between the towns and the district would probably then need approval by the voters of all three towns.” Removing high school students from the district “would be extremely difficult to negotiate with the other towns, who have never expressed any interest in this option.”
“These negotiations would be much simpler if all three towns agreed to withdraw the same grades from the dis­trict at the same time,” the committee wrote. “Students in grades that are withdrawn under these options would be attending smaller schools, which are generally recognized to provide more attention and a better education in many ways.”
However, committee members acknowledged that partial withdrawal could create differences in curricula between the three towns, resulting in potential difficulties for students.
Option 8: Form a pre-K through grade 12 Charlestown School District based on revisions to the 2004 withdrawal plan.
This is the committee’s primary rec­ommendation to the Town Council, and is considered to be the best economic solution for the long-term health of Charlestown. Much of the proposed withdrawal plan was drafted in 2004, and several legal questions have already been resolved.
“Withdrawal lets Charlestown con­struct
appropriate facilities, and gives Charlestown complete autonomy over education in the town,” the committee wrote. “Charlestown students would also experience a smaller number of dis­ruptive school transitions. Further, withdrawing Charlestown students cre­ates space at the Switch Road campus to alleviate crowding issues for Richmond and Hopkinton students. All withdrawal options save Charlestown large sums of money when compared to tax equalization.”
“It is the perception of this committee that many people who voted not to withdraw from the district in 2004 would now vote in favor of withdrawal because of their frustrations with the inability of the district to agree on bonds and construction.”
Option 9: Form a pre-K through grade 8 Charlestown School District, and tuition grades 9 through 12 into another district.
Offered as a secondary option for review by the Town Council, the com­mittee suggested this alternative in the event that councilors or the public do not support full withdrawal from Chariho. It would require a smaller bond, and offers the possibility of form­ing a joint district with another town such as Westerly — which has declining student enrollment and a similar eco­nomic base.
“The tuitioning-in option does not, however, provide the continuity of edu­cation that building pre-K [through] 12 facilities in Charlestown do,” the com­mittee wrote. “Further, this option does not offer the same opportunities to craft an exceptional high school education. This alternative also relinquishes some degree of local control, does not provide a clear and predictable funding formu­la, and sacrifices a sense of Charlestown identity in merging with another town.”
Option 10: Form a pre-K through grade 12 Charlestown-Richmond School District.
Though both Charlestown and Richmond appear to agree on educa­tional issues, Richmond’s withdrawal from Chariho under existing state law would prove “financially and politically difficult.” Because the central campus is located in Richmond, the town would either have to turn it over to Hopkinton, or a buy-out agreement would have to be brokered and approved by voters in all three towns.
“Moreover, Charlestown and Richmond have very different tax
bases, and at least one prominent Richmond politician has been an out­spoken advocate of tax equalization,” the committee wrote. “It is not clear that a Charlestown-Richmond District would eliminate the specter of tax equalization that has been a problem for the district.”
“Further, a Charlestown-Richmond District would leave Hopkinton stu­dents with no clear avenue to educa­tion,” the committee added. “Although these students might be tuitioned-in to this new district or to another existing district, it is possible that [the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] would step in to protect the educational welfare of Hopkinton students.”
Option 11: Form a pre-K through grade 8 Charlestown School District, and a Charlestown­Richmond High School for grades 9 though 12. Annual funding for the high school could be based on an equalized tax rate, as an incentive to Richmond.
“A Charlestown-Richmond High School would educate students in a school size that many find appealing for sports programs and for a diversity of classroom offerings,” the committee wrote. “Further, this proposal would unite Charlestown and Richmond, two towns that seem aligned on certain edu­cational issues, with both towns gener­ally voting in favor of bonds and operat­ing budgets.”
Equalizing taxes with Richmond to fund a high school, however, would cost Charlestown an extra $2.7 million per year — and would be less cost effective than a pre-K through grade 12 district in Charlestown.
Option 12: Form a privately run, pre-K through grade 12 Charlestown School District.
The town would contract private cor­porations — such as Edison Schools or Mosaica Education — to manage all aspects of local schools, implement their own teaching systems and provide staff. Considered to be a fairly new industry with “mixed results,” committee mem­bers felt the proposal would bring oppo­sition from the state’s educational establishment — including unions and professional organizations.
“The legal team at RIDE has told us that this would be ‘an uphill battle’ and it is easy to visualize the strong opposi­tion that this effort would generate from many fronts across Rhode Island,” the committee wrote.

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