Chariho School Parents’ Forum

July 19, 2008

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 |

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.



  1. So the sub committee is the Finance Director’s cousin; a future teacher and contract beneficiary; and I’m not sure of the kids Chariho connections, but I understand he has relatives in the system too. Great…I’m sure their negotiation strategy will be amazing…not.

    I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Polouski gets paid by an NEA slush fund for helping the teachers negotiate. Didn’t he get kicked off the Support Personnel negotiating committee for sharing confidential information with the union? Imagine how much he’d be willing to tell his friends in the NEA?

    I’m with Mr. Felkner and don’t expect the Chariho School Committee to hold the line and reduce contract spending. Per usual they will give away the store and our children’s economic futures. Hopkinton cannot trust these people with millions more via any bond. We also should not lock ourselves in with Charlestown and Richmond without some concrete sign that they will be joining us in demanding accountability, transparency, and responsibility from Chariho.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 19, 2008 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

  2. Bill, don’t know where to start. I guess I have to go back and dig through the minutes of meetings. You were on the sub committee for negotiations. Most of the time you would come in and say it was the best you could do that you fought hard for what you came back to the committee with. Your right I wasn’t there but went on your word, now I guess I am finding your word is no good from what you are telling me. I guess I shouldn’t have trusted you. I went along with you because you said you tried and now you say you were out voted.

    As for Mrs. Morgan, I still feel you put that woman on the spot and were wrong but you would never feel that way. There are ways of doing things, you think you can go about it anyway you want and by doing so created and embarrassing moment for everyone. You could have had her put on the agenda and she could have spoken until her hearts content and still can. And while you do that we can bring in all the people who have written letters (like the ones in our last packet) to say how pleased they are with RYSE and how they have helped their children

    So stop bull s….. Bill and come clean with both sides of the story. We just had to tell one parent their child could not attend the RYSE program because they have moved out of district. This child’s parents came back with another letter asking us to reconsider because of how much improvement this child has shown since going to RYSE. Two sides to every story Mr. Felkner, and you always seem to just point to one.

    I didn’t notice that your wife was getting the cold shoulder from Mrs. Perry as I didn’t know your wife was a consultant to the RYSE program so I cannot and will not speak to that as that is between the two of them.

    The point I was getting at with the students staying until 21, if they have a right to be there. WE CAN”T DO ANYTHING! Doesn’t matter if the are at the RYSE or we send them out of district, WE STILL PAY! So I will ask again, is it part of the NCLB Act that students can or will be educated up to their 21st birthday? Or what is the age you can cut them loose? I only brought your wife up because I thought at one time you mentioned she worked in this area of expertise and was simply asking a question.

    I don’t recall you complaining about Andy P negotiating contracts. As a matter of fact we all had to agree with who would serve on the sub committee and I don’t remember you saying anything about that at the time.

    Ron doesn’t work for the

    Bill the fact of not responding to not fighting hard or following through is just that. At times I think you throw things out there that you know will be shot down just to say you tried something. You also sat in two budget workshops but I haven’t heard much from you in the way of cuts or proposals. You mention things here and there and say you will look into it. Still looking???

    I knew the roll over was there because I read the packet, do you read the packet before the meetings? Once it was motioned and second to table it, the discussion stops. Couldn’t say anything at that point.

    The complaint against the “SCHOOL COMMITTEE” with the LRB was just that against the “SCHOOL COMMITTEE”, again stop the BULL. You came back to the school committee and apologized for saying anything at first and you took what ever was posted on your blog off. So frivolous or not you did say something that at first you thought was wrong. I often wonder Bill, if when you found out no-one printed out this posting was when you stepped up and really started to fight everything. Almost like, well there is no proof so let me fight this now.

    You were not at the meeting the night this was all discussed with the attorney. You had every right to go the hearing if you wanted and you knew when the hearing was. You choose not to but continue to complain about it.

    I have to say it’s not the first time you have said something out of place and I am sure it won’t be the last.

    I don’t fight you every step of the way, there are a lot of times I have agreed with you and voted to support you. I won’t do it on everything for you or anyone on the committee. I have my opinions and will stand firm on them as do you.

    As for the teacher contracts, we will have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

    AS for the contract sub committee it is open to the public and anyone can attend. There were more people in the room then just the 5 of us either Bill didn’t know this because he wasn’t there, (which according to him you shouldn’t comment on because if your not there you don’t know) or he just wants to use the parts that stand up to his point. You decide, it’s not the first time he puts 1/2 of the information out here for you to read.

    That leads me to Agendas, you question my agendas. 2 years and you are all ready to run for town council. Doesn’t surprise me as it won’t surprise me to see you run for Representative or maybe even Senate in another 2. Let’s talk about agendas…….

    Comment by sobs — July 21, 2008 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  3. I wanted to see something so I posted that last comment under sobs, but jsut so you know It was me that posted it. I am not trying to hide behind a fake name.

    Comment by bob petit — July 21, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  4. two quick points and i will respond to the rest later in the week.

    first paragraph. I don’t think I’ve ever been vague about my dislike for the current seniority based system.

    second – Elaine was going to speak at the public forum but didn’t get there in time. I didn’t put her on the spot, I gave her a forum to say what she came there to say. And of course having a happy customer is good. But why force people in the program that don’t like it? Are you, or Kathy Perry, a better judge of what a particular child needs than their parents?

    third – no. we define what services we give. We are the only school that has a “ryse” – we define what services we give. There are also school in this country (still operating under NCLB) that don’t have half our employee:student ratio (RI is worst in the nation). What can “we” do about it? We run our schools, just like our reps run our state. We can do whatever we have the political will to do. Look what McKee did.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — July 21, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  5. Bill,
    Seniority based system? can you specify what you mean with that? That could cover a lot of different areas

    I am not a better judge than a parent for their own child. But, there is no parent that cannot take their child and move them to another school of their choice either.

    in the thrid point you say NO. I assume you mean that we don’t have to teach them until they are 21? There is no mandate tied to an age?

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 22, 2008 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  6. I hope this helps. Personally, I find your discussion is going nowhere, so I have taken it upon myself to hopefully settle the issue of the special ed age issue.

    If a child is defined with a disability based on the guidelines of the Board of Regents, it appears to be my understanding that we are required by law to provide services for them. Whether it is through Chariho or through another agency, it is the law. The definitions appear to be in the RIDE link below. (If I am wrong, please point this out to me within the links I have provided. Quite honestly, I did scim through, so I may have missed a point. I apologize if I did. The RIDE document is very long, and I currently do not have the time to read the whole thing.)

    In the future, I would suggest that an excellent resource regarding laws and guidelines within the state would be the RI statutes and RIDE. Everything appears to be accessable from the web.

    2 links from the lovely state of RI.

    1. RI General Laws:

    2. State Board of Regents (110 pages):

    As far as seniority, this is an issue that varies within public and private contracts. It usually is an issue with regards to contracts negotiated through unions. There is something to be said for seniority agreements. They are not good when it comes down to protecting ineffective teachers, on the other hand, they do protect older teachers who do not need to be penalized by their age and should have some rights as to where they are assigned. Personally, if we can’t deal with ineffective administrators, how can we deal with ineffective teachers. I would bet that teachers would be more than thrilled to be rid of their ineffective colleagues. The district taxpayers and families and teachers would likely be overjoyed to be rid of ineffective administrators.

    1. So, how do we do that, while protecting the rights of our “highly qualified” elder educational staff and to those that work their butts off?
    2. And who would be the ones to decide what makes them ineffective?
    3. Aren’t we talking about over 500+ employees?
    4. Is this the job of the principals and who checks on them and their decisions?
    5. And what guidelines are in place to determine what defines an ineffective employee and the process of how to remove them at the least expense of the taxpayer and to the benefit of the children? If there aren’t any guidelines in place, then perhaps there should be.

    Just some thoughts. Hope it helps.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  7. RI General Laws, Education:

    Board of Regents resources:

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  8. The second posting of mine contains links to all the laws and guidelines regarding education.

    The first contains links regarding the special education question, I think, that is being raised. I apologize if I am misunderstanding the question.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  9. Last thought, I have not had time to read the contracts. Perhaps, much of these things are dealt with there. Maybe, those in the know, ie…the school committee, can elaborate on my questions with their extensive contract know-how.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  10. seniority based systems are ones where compensation is based on inputs (years of service, training, etc) rather than outputs (performance). It is the philosophy our contracts are based on.

    And of course anyone could leave the school, they just cant take THEIR money with them. Thats the crime. Would you allow them to take their money as well?

    Comment by Bill Felkner — July 22, 2008 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  11. See to me that is something totaly different than what we were talking about. If I truly had a problem, felt my child was mistreated or wasn’t getting the education they truly deserve then I would move my child to a different school or environment and worry about the legality or monetary problem later. You and others said in another area on this blog; when discussing vouchers; that there are other ways that parents can get the money to help them if they truly wanted to move their child to a diferent school. This was brought up when I asked a question about single mothers and only getting $5000 for a school that might cost more, how would they get the extra money. I was told there are scholarships and agencies out there that would help. So I am not sure why this situation would be different.

    Now if you want to go back to vouchers, I never said I was against them. I would have to wait until I hear the plan before making a decision. And it is not like a hundred students from Hopkinton will all of a sudden pick up and go to antoher school, charter, private or privocial. Then comes the factor of the ones that would like to go to one of these other schools; do these schools have the room for them?

    as for the seniority issue, I don’t disagree with you in that area.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 22, 2008 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  12. I was always under the impression that if you did a good job you were rewarded with a raise. That’s what I had always worked hard for. We worked hard all year hoping that our efforts produced a good, quality product and that sales were so that we could get a raise.

    The unfortunate thing with contracts and unions is that you are rewarded whether you are effective or not, and seniority only protects you from being let go.

    The thing is, how much of the problems are really ineffective teachers? I think a small number. Some quality teachers may become ineffective teachers based on curriculum choices (TERC), school committee choices, and administrative choices. The issue is deeper than just a seniority issue. It is subjective, and it is affected by management choices.

    So, ineffective teachers, to me, are a small percentage of the problem. Some of the issues, whether positive or negative, really stem on the contracts that past and current school committees have awarded regarding every aspect of our schools. Future contracts should address ways to weed out the chaff, and allow for some flexibility within the laws, while still rewarding the most effective educators. And I am not excluding administrative contracts, either.

    Every aspect of the running of our schools should be examined. Things are not isolated within themselves. It’s often like a domino effect.

    I would like to say that I have met some wonderful teachers within our district. They have done their best to educate our children. Unfortunately, as was when we went to Chariho, there is always 1 or 2 that should really give up the profession. And unfortunately, they won’t leave because they are there for the wrong reasons, and they have some job protection. I would hope that we could find a way to address both issues: retaining and rewarding the quality teachers and ridding ourselves of the ineffective ones that are unwilling to change.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  13. Teachers should not be given a pass for supporting unions which protect bad teachers. Children may never recover from bad teachers. Recovering a year of education is very difficult, and if a parent is not aware their child has a bad teacher, then it is nearly impossible for a child to recover.

    I don’t care if you are the best teacher ever known. If you support union policies which keep bad teachers employed, then you are as guilty as anyone else. Children are not disposable and their lives shouldn’t be negotiated by teachers. Teachers created the union beast and it is up to teachers to tame the beast…if they really care about children they will do it. If not, I don’t want to hear about any “wonderful” public school teachers.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 22, 2008 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

  14. Curious, what you say is true, but things aren’t always cut and dry. Unions are very powerful, and I am not sure there are people who are willing to take on the union establishment. (My hope is that they would pull themselves together and stand up for what is right.)

    In the unions favor, there are too many laws protecting the unions and the employee and not enough laws protecting the children and the taxpayers. History shows us how powerful the unions are and how protective they are. It would be interesting to see anyone try to challenge them. The only one to date for Chariho was Mr. Felkner. The rest had a poor showing.

    Maybe I am naive, but I’d bet there are a good many teachers who would like to take care of the chaff amongst them. It is the fear of reprisal that prevents them from doing or saying anything.

    There are some on the other hand who think they are God’s gift to mankind, and that mankind owes them something. They are the ones who give the teaching profession a bad name.

    I would hope that, during the next contract talks, the collective minds could put together something that could get rid of the ineffective teachers. And this proposal would not be too costly to the taxpayers. I would be sadly disappointed if the teachers could not realize that it is the children that suffer, as well as their reputations.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 22, 2008 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  15. Well Mrs. Buck, unless the “wonderful” teachers are less than half, then there is no reason to be intimidated by the union. If more than half of Chariho teacher no longer want to protect bad teachers, then they are the majority and they should be intimidating the minority who favor union protection of bad teachers.

    This is a grown up world…the teachers get to vote on contracts and the majority rules. If the majority of teachers want bad teachers gone, then why don’t they negotiate contracts which facilitate the removal of bad teachers? Until they do, I’m sorry, but I can’t agree that most teachers are “wonderful”. Wonderful people would never allow children to be harmed in exchange for protecting incompetence.

    I do agree that Mr. Felkner is the only person affiliated with Chariho speaking out for the children. Mr. Petit and others claim to be “for the children” but refuse to demand change. As we know, there are many problems at Chariho and most of them are directly linked to advantaging adults at the expense of children. From spending to curriculum to rigid programs…Chariho’s motto is really “adults first, last and always”. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but a heavy dose of blame falls on teachers.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 22, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  16. Lois and CR I agree with what you have posted in the last few comments here. I feel we have a good administative team in place and I feel that we have some great teachers also. I do think there are areas that need to be fixed and hopefully we can work out some of these issues with the sub committee and with the up coming teachers contract. I am a firm believer that it can always be better.

    I am not big on seniority either, but I do agree with Lois. Somehow it would be nice to reward those that are doing a great job and weed out the ones that aren’t. Problem is the union doesn’t see it that way. If we could ever break that wall down it would be a hugh for all of us.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 23, 2008 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  17. Then perhaps Curious is right. It’s really up to the teachers to take a stand against incompetence.

    I have my memories of a couple of teachers when we went to school, Bob. I will not name names, but I’m sure you had heard or witnessed their behaviors. Fact is, I never witnessed their dismissal. The unions protect people of incompetence. The teachers, for the benefit of the children, need to once and for all take a stand against incompetence. There isn’t any reason that they couldn’t sit down in a reasonable fashion and work out the details with the school committee.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 24, 2008 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  18. Just a question, where is Richmond’s representation on the subcommittee? I thought Holly Eaves and Andy McQuade are from Charlestown. I’m not from Richmond, but I am concerned that the representation within this committee is lopsided.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 24, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  19. Lois I agree again, it would be nice if the teachers would take a stand and fight against this. It is a union and would be a tough nut to crack. I would like nothing better than to be able to just flat out fire someone that isn’t doing their job like in the private sector. When it comes to unions it is easier said than done.

    Richmond didn’t have anyone volunteer for the committee. It is tough sometimes being involved with all the different sub committees and making the school committee meetings on top of all the reading and research. I am sure you and Tom know this first hand. With this being said some committees do not have represnetation from all 3 towns. This is how 2 are on the committee from Charlestown, If one town dosen’t have a volunteer then it goes back to the other towns for someone to step in if they wish.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 24, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  20. As I’ve heard a few times, One teacher alone is usually a good experience; put them together in a union, is like walking into a lion’s den.

    Comment by CharihoParent — July 24, 2008 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  21. Quite honestly, of all the subcommittees, shouldn’t the contract subcommittee be represented by all 3 towns? Convince me, of all the documents and activities being completed by the school committee, why this particular subcommittee should be heavily represented by one town over the others?

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 25, 2008 @ 1:41 am | Reply

  22. Darn good question, Lois. It’s shameful that no one from my town, Richmond, was willing to represent us on this important sub-committee. Of course, Bill Day wouldn’t do anything to go against Barry Ricci and Deb Jennings probably felt that she’s done come November since she isn’t running for office, can’t really fault her for that, she’s a very busy woman and I think the school committee was more than she had realized. That leaves Terri Serra, who hardly does much of anything.

    Comment by CharihoParent — July 25, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  23. Lois I can’t convience you of anything as to why no-one wanted to step up from Richmond. I won’t belittle anyone as they also have their own lives to live. I don’t know what their schedules are like. A sub committee cannot make any changes without bringing it to the full body anyway. Ultimately, Richomnd has a say as much as any of the other towns. The meetings are all open to the public so Richmond residents as well as school committee members can attend if they have the time.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 8:06 am | Reply

  24. So without the ability to make any changes, the subcommittee is nothing more than a feel good group….So maybe nobody from Richmond wants to waste their time on a hollow committee of hot air. I know I wouldn’t.

    Comment by RS — July 25, 2008 @ 10:07 am | Reply

  25. I don’t know why people come out here to jsut start trouble.

    The sub committee looks over the contracts and reports back to the full body. The full school committee at that point can accept or reject our recommendations. They can also request more infomration or suggest changes themselves. The sub committee isn’t a waste of time or a feel good group.

    Really, It is amazing, complain when something isn’t being done and then complain when we try to do something. Some people will never be happy and have nothing good to contribute.

    Lois knows how subcommittees work, she was just concerned with why all three towns didn’t have representation. I think I explained it as good as I could.

    The subcommittee

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  26. sorry I started another thought with the last sentence and was side tracked forgot I put that there.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 11:18 am | Reply

  27. So list 5 things the subcommittee did to save the taxpayers money on the last contract negotiations….oh I forgot the subcommittee can’t do anything on the contract, only make recommendations. Not starting anything, just calling it like I see it….maybe I see it wrong, but you provided no evience to educate me on my incorrect perception. Like I said, it is nothing more than an advisory(feel good) group. Quite falling on the “you only complain cliche”, you’ve seen us in action when the bond was voted down….real action, not complaining, but doing…

    Comment by RS — July 25, 2008 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

  28. NO RS I am not going to go back and forth anymore with you and the few that do nothing but complain. I will use that “Cliche” as long as you continue to do it. I come here, I answer questions to the best of my ability to help those that really want to be informed. With that said as the subcommittee moves forward I will try to keep the NON Cronic Complainers up to date. I see no more reason to go back and forth with a few on here it doesn’t help anyone.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  29. Actually going back and forth is often necessary to truly understand an issue. I would hope everyone is willing to consider different perspectives. We know the status quo at Chariho has been failing us in recent years. Open minded people who truly want improvement would be receptive to new ideas and different ways of doing things. Unfortunately, the current School Committee remains committed to failure. Children pay the price.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 25, 2008 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  30. CR I am willing to consider different prespectives. I have heard from some on here that have come up with good ideas and different ways of doing things and I think that is what we should be looking at.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  31. let me just add a little to my last statement.

    Different prespectives will help to resolve issues and bring to light new information, but when it doesn’t completely go the way some think it should, it doesn’t always have to come to arguing back and forth. This sub committee is working on things and I will tell you right up front; chances are there is going to be things that people on both sides don’t like. Some may think we ask for to much and some may think we don’t ask for enough, when you are dealing with issues like this and something this big, that is pretty much how it works out.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 25, 2008 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  32. From Bob’s previous comment – “I would like nothing better than to be able to just flat out fire someone that isn’t doing their job like in the private sector. When it comes to unions it is easier said than done.”

    The unions have that power because the school committee gave it to them in the contract. Just take it out – easy. And if they don’t agree get rid of them (and you should make sure you have notified them that the contract will expire at a certain date and not roll over).

    Of course Polouski will tell you they will strike, and the food service will strike, and everyone delivering goods to the school will strike. I’m sure he learned that tactic when he was negotiating FOR The unions (and we still let him negotiate for us!!!).

    We have 6-8 overdue contracts in RI and another 16 coming due this year. That will be about 24 schools in negotiations during an election year. GOOD STUFF!!!!

    Besides, I don’t really understand the need for the sub committee. I’ll bet we will still have the same strategy discussions when the contracts come due. Let me predict that the sub committee will come out with something like, “other schools do this,” and “the average of other schools is this…” All taking the premise that other public sector contracts should be a point of reference. Which I don’t agree. The private sector should be our point of reference – and we don’t need a sub committee to determine market forces (thats called prevailing wage regulation (PWR) and look what that gets us. A “market” normally consists of roller coaster trends (peaks and valleys of compensation) but PWR only give the highs and never the lows).

    Having a committee determine or try to create parameters of what is deemed appropriate (rather than allowing the market to dictate) is central planning no matter how you stack it. So then you need to ask yourself are these representatives capable of understanding where labor market dynamics will be in the future. Very few are. Besides, so far the sub comm has just been an excuse NOT to act on the most recent contract – “lets wait and see what the sub comm comes out with”

    Comment by Bill Felkner — July 25, 2008 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  33. Bob,
    I work in the private sector for a family owned company. I work with people coming from various cities and towns throught the state. We pretty much all feel the same way, except for a couple of people who have spouses that are teachers. The issues that we see are #1, health co-pay. It has to start for all the staff, top to bottom. #2 pensions, they have to be converted to 401-k plans. The unfunded liabilities that we, the taxpayers, incur for them is going to hurt every single tax payer for years to come. #3, pay increases, we get pay increases based on merit, the work we do, this bit of step increases and raises based on years of service is not the way to do things. What incentive is there for teachers and other staff, along with the administration, to perform to the best of their abilities? These are things that I hear universally with the people I work with.

    Comment by CharihoParent — July 25, 2008 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  34. CP, while I usually don’t like your tact, the points made above are good. THe only corrections could be in point # 2 and it should read “for decades to come” rather than “years”

    And if you think the pension is in trouble now, wait until the currently bipartisan (Grassley is a knucklehead) attempt to raise investment management taxes goes through. Many of these private equity firms are largely funded via pension investments and the new taxes will result in lower returns for said pensions. Considering GASB has already shown an 8ish billion liability for RI, it is only going to get worse. AND if Obama wins and implements his plan, it will be doubly so.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — July 25, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  35. When my family ready to get out of Rhode Island we will look for a state which hasn’t given away the store to government employees. I refuse to work until I’m dead so I can support government workers who are able to retire in their 50’s.

    Eventually the well will run dry. It may not happen while I’m alive, but some future generation of government employees will find themselves out of luck when they retire (at age 55). How is it “for the children” to leave them with the tremendous debt which will only increase as more and more government employees retire? Who is going to pay the price if not our children and grandchildren?

    Let them strike. Have a voucher system ready to go and let them strike for 10 years if that is what it takes to gain back control of the schools.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 25, 2008 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  36. “I have come to the conclusion, that one useless man is a Disgrace, two are a law firm and three or more are called a School Committee.”–John Adams, “1776”

    (Okay, Mr. Adams didn’t say School Committee…he said Congress, but the point remains.)

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 25, 2008 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  37. I stand by my statement…….FEEL GOOD CLUB…….until proven otherwise.Period.

    Comment by RS — July 25, 2008 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  38. I agree with you Bill, let them strike….as a union member I know what it means to taste that meal and it isn’t always good. Sometimes a last best offer is the right thing for a company(or taxpayer in this case)to do and the union has the option to strike if they so desire(self help). These are market forces and they work themselves out if allowed to develop.

    Comment by RS — July 25, 2008 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  39. Well, I’m glad to see there is some debate going on. Constructive debate is good.

    It is true, I am deeply concerned about the subcommittee being overrepresented by one town over the others. I do not know the burden of the individual school committee members. I would ask that each member evaluate their subcommittees and discuss the importance of each from time to time at the SC Meetings. It is my personal opinion that this particular committee should be represented by all 3 towns.

    Since the debate has taken on a new twist, I will state that I agree with CP’s assessment of the needs to be addressed. I would add that the need to deal with ineffective teachers should be added to that list.

    Wasn’t there a law passed recently about removing the need to name health insurance carriers within contracts? I think the intent was to make it possible for governmental agencies to negotiate with insurers to get the best price for the taxpayers. So, let’s look at the options for the different health insurers, copays, deductibles out there. Let’s be serious to consider talking to a financial advisor regarding 401K’s versus the current system which is doomed to failure. Let’s involve the teachers in developing a plan to weed out incompetence. Let’s find a way to reward the best teachers, while challenging the mediocre ones to pick it up a notch.

    I am reminded of the support personnel contract discussions where those that were doing all the work received the same wages as those that didn’t. At the time, I sensed resentment. Since then, I have wondered if there are similar situations with the teachers. How does this benefit the educational environment of our children?

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 25, 2008 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  40. Lois, I think you may be placing too much emphasis on the subcommitte. I have yet to see/hear of anything the subcommittee has recommended affecting a contract. I believe this committee may just be a means for the School Committee/Superintendent to make the constiuents feel as though they are represented. The voters turning down the last bond vote have done more to save the taxpayers money than any committee groups have ever done…in my opinion. If the subcommittee has done anything worthwhile, then would they not be tooting their horn and procaliming their value to the taxpayer and benefit to our children’s education. I haven’t seen any proof of this. Do you know of any?

    Comment by RS — July 26, 2008 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  41. Bill, Lois, CR, RS and CP although it seems we are the ones who come here the most and speak out minds, not always in agreement it is good to see the last few posts.

    There is some good information here and we need to look at all of it. Bill you may see no need for a sub committee and you seem to follow what just happened with the sate; if they dont agree than let them go. Well lets see what happens with this. It could have a hugh impact on how the many contracts are handled this coming year. We will work hard and by putting these little challenges out there isn’t going to change a thing. If you don’t like what we come back with then vote it dowm.

    Thank you CP for your input in comment #33.

    Comment by bob petit — July 26, 2008 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

  42. RS, you may have a point. I foresee this committee being part of the negotiating team. So, in thinking ahead, I am concerned. But, to eliminate any confusion, I ask this:

    Bob or Bill, what is the charge of this subcommittee? If you could get the exact charge, it would be appreciated.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 26, 2008 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  43. Mr. Felkner, I really don’t care if you like my tact or not, I’m not one to praise you for your tact either on the school committee, which I’ve said a few times on these blogs. At least we can agree on those points though.

    Comment by CharihoParent — July 26, 2008 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  44. Lois you are exactly correct. The subcommittee(the equivalent of the negotiating committee for the union) would be the committee doing the bulk of the negotiating. Then they report back to the committee which does have the authority to approve/disapprove what the subcommittee has brought to them. Herein lies the problem….if the school committee lacks the fortitude to do what is necessary, then what the subcommittee brings to them is nothing more than busy work(feel good duties).Hence this is why I fail to see anything of benefit coming from this subcommittee, other than a few little crumbs to make it appear negotiations are being conducted. Then the school committee can still give away the house and blame it on what they were handed by the subcommittee. Trust me much thought has gone into how to conduct these affairs, this is why transparency is needed. Information may also be lacking to the union members(tranparency from their elected leaders), but they have the option to vote NO on the contract. The taxpayers only have the hope that the school committee will bargain to the best of their ability for the taxpayer. I think we all know where that coin falls.

    Comment by RS — July 26, 2008 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  45. RS, thank you for your answers. Quite honestly, I fear you are correct.

    Given the fact that this is a negotiating team, it should be represented by all 3 towns whether they are going to make changes or not. (My opinion)

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 26, 2008 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  46. Lois please don’t fall into their way of thinking. This subcommittee is reviewing the contracts and job descriptions of the administration. NOTHING is being done about the teachers contract at this point. This is not part of our charge. Not sure who said it was or how it changed from doing one thing to another. Except that CR and RS comment on things they have no clue and misguide people I know how they feel aobut everything to do with Chariho; I think we all do. I have not intentions of being part of the negotiating subcommitte ( if there is one) for the teachers contracts. Bill and George are running for town council and if both elected to seats there, I am not sure who would represent Hopkinton. But I can assure you I am not interested at this point.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 28, 2008 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  47. Bob,

    Let me understand this – the sub-committee is only looking at the administrative contracts?

    If that is the case they need to address and refuse ‘roll-over’ provisions; staggered contracts must be mandatory to allow the school committee to make reasonable changes in the number and type of administrators – especially if RIDE will look at running the school administrations like a single very large entity (similar to a single county in Texas); of course health co-pays, reduced or deleted buy-backs, pension funds and 401K’s, evaluations by peer and by public also need to be discussed and strongly suggested so that our salary provisions are similar to the rest of America – and salary can be commensurate with student performance.

    Curiously, it does seem that lower salaries in the continental US go along with higher student national scores. Remember the $90,000 Assistant Middle School Principal salary does not include the $20,000+ of benefits. Chariho has no under-paid administrators.

    Comment by BarbaraC — July 28, 2008 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  48. Perhaps, Bob, the vague name of Contract sub-committee is to blame for the supposed misunderstanding. Maybe, it should have been called the Administrative Contract Subcommittee.

    As I said in a previous post, post #42, “Bob or Bill, what is the charge of this subcommittee? If you could get the exact charge, it would be appreciated.”

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 26, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 28, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  49. Lois the name of the sub committee is Administrative Contract and Structure Subcommittee. The charge of the sub committee is to look at the Adminisrtative contracts and to review the structure of both contracts and job descriptions.

    Not sure where all this talk of teaccher contracts is coming from but we don’t touch those until 2009. I think what happened is it started with one thing, someone made a connection to the teachers contracts and it went off target. But just so everyone now knows; this is just for the administrative contracts and structure.

    I hope this answers your question Lois about the charge and the name.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 28, 2008 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  50. Barbara sorry didn’t see your comment until just now. Yes, we are looking at their contracts and only their contracts. And we are trying to cover all the bases.

    Comment by Bob Petit — July 28, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  51. Barbara,
    While staggering contracts is a (small) step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the issue of merit. If we decide to cut a position, we are limited to cutting the person whose contract is up rather than the person who deserves it.

    As an example, I was contacted by a parent who had some very bad things to say about one of our deans of students. We might find that we don’t need that position anymore (or at least don’t need 4 of them to go along with the other positions who do basically the same thing). But we can’t get rid of that particular employee unless their contract is due.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — July 28, 2008 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  52. Mr. Felkner do I recall correctly that you called for the elimination of multi year contracts for administrators? If so, it would seems poor performance is protected by contracts?

    It’s bad enough we can get rid of incompetent union teachers, but are School Committee unnecessarily ties our hands so it takes years to get rid of an unncessary or incompetent administrator too?

    Mr. Capalbo hits upon a point which doesn’t get much public attention. There are school districts around the country which cost less and perform better than Chariho. Unless there’s reason to think our children aren’t capable, then why wouldn’t we simply replicate the organization structure and budgeting patterns of schools which are proven winners? Is this about the children or about the egos of adults who want to reinvent the wheel?

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 28, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  53. Two things CR

    1) you have been commenting on here for awhile now about this very issue. Did you not realize that we have been talking about the contracts and the problems that came up from them in the last couple of months?

    2) we can model an area if all is equal.

    Comment by bob petit — July 28, 2008 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  54. I’m not sure what you’re saying with #1. I’ve been discussing over-staffing and over-compensation since day one. Am I supposed to stop commenting now?

    I’m still waiting for an explanation of why Chariho employs so many Teacher’s Assistants/Aides and why the budget item went up tens of thousands of dollars in the most recent budget? Nobody seems to have answer?

    As for #2, how about making Chariho “equal” to the other schools which perform better and cost less? We should be striving to be equal to these schools.

    Comment by Curious Resident — July 28, 2008 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  55. I stand by my statement…FEEL GOOD GROUP….when it is all said and done, will Bob eat his crow pie for a subcomittee that provided nothing for the taxpayer…I’ll be watching.

    Comment by RS — July 28, 2008 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  56. I’ve been reading all these comments about the relatively new sub-committee that Ms. Eaves and Messrs Mcquade and Petit are serving on. I have ended up confused as to exactly what their task is.

    Generally, any new (sub)committee that is created is given a clearly stated charge that describes what the product(s) of their work will be.

    I may have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing any such charge for the Eaves, McQuade and Petit committee. It would clarify matters for me, and perhaps others, if the charge for that committee could be printed (or reprinted) here so we could all have the same basis for rationally discussing the work of the committee.

    Comment by Thurman Silks — July 28, 2008 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  57. Based on Bob’s comments here: “Administrative Contract and Structure Subcommittee. The charge of the sub committee is to look at the Adminisrtative contracts and to review the structure of both contracts and job descriptions,” it simply sounds like a fact finding exercise.

    If there is anything more to their charge, it would be very helpful. Perhaps, Bob, Bill or one of the other SC members could get the exact charge from the minutes of that meeting if this one is not complete.

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Lois Buck — July 29, 2008 @ 5:53 am | Reply

  58. My experience (over more years than I like to admit) has been that the single best indicator of how a newly formed committee is going to perform is the quality of its charge. All to often the charges are written in general terms that people interpret differently and it’s not really clear what the specifically are supposed to do. Also, it’s important to specify a particular output and time for special purpose committees (as opposed to standing committees) to complete their work.

    That is what I hoped exists and would like to see. As I read the minutes, it didn’t seen there was a clear focus, which is why I really would like to see the charge they were given.

    Could anyone provide that document?


    Comment by Thurman Silks — July 29, 2008 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  59. charge??? the only charge youll get is in your tax bill….

    Comment by whatchya gonna do when hulkamania runswild on you — August 2, 2008 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

  60. Hi!
    Mr. Silks makes a valid point about a charge which is also comparable to a goal? A charge is “directions” on what is intended to be accomplished. Why I don’t have a general charges, however “specific” charges are a real necessity as a committee as a body can wander away from its real objectives/expectations.
    Recently an Ad Hoc committee on Education made some suggestions and a report in Charlestown. Without debating the merits of the options of the report and whether the Charlestown Town Council should have seen it first, shouldn’t that report be discussed by the Charlestown Town Council before the November election in that town before a school buildings vote?
    The reality is this: Politically speaking the Chariho School Committee is weak. Two people one in Richmond and the other in Charlestown, as there are not enough school committee members listed on the ballot. Two others from Hopkinton are seeking Town Council seats. I wish to note this is not a jab at Bill Felkner who runs this web site or George Abbott but an observation. Bill Day and Richard Vecchio are the only candidates listed on school committee ballots in the Chariho region. Bill support the bonds and Mr. Vecchio opposes them.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — August 4, 2008 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  61. I agree with your statement Scott about the weakness of the School committee, and some of this might not really be a weakness, but rather an attitude of getting along with the school folks. A committee is charged as an overseer, and as such their role should not be concerned with “making buddies”. I am by no means saying this is the way it is, but simply have wondered at times. If the School committee is “weak”, then where does that leave any subcommittees? They only yield their mandates(authority) from the granting committee(School). This is why I view the current subcommittee as nothing more than a feel good group. I do not say this to belittle the people who are trying to make a difference, but if you are spending all your time and energy moving the chairs around on the Titanic, then I think we know where this story ends.

    Comment by RS — August 4, 2008 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  62. I think it is a very good observation about “getting along”. Prior to the last election Mr. Petit spoke a good game. Based on their rhetoric, Mr. Petit seemed as determined to attack the failures at Chariho as Mr. Felkner. Obviously only one of them as stood by their pre-election promises.

    Mr. Petit either out-and-out lied to the electorate or he got on the School Committee and decided “getting along” was more important than improving educational outcomes while spending transparently and responsibly. Mr. Petit joined the other in moving chairs as Mr. Felkner has desparately tried to steer the Titantic clear.

    Excellent news to hear Mr. Vecchio opposes the bond. Running unopposed he should be a shoo-in. Perhaps if Mr. Felkner and Mr. Abbott get elected to the Town Council they can choose School Committee replacements who will work well with Mr. Vecchio.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 4, 2008 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

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