Chariho School Parents’ Forum

August 19, 2008

School Committee meeting

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 5:50 pm

There is a school committee meeting this evening.  I came home a little early to read the packet and Kat “reminded” me that it is our anniversary.  So I looked over the packet and only see a couple of items that I would try to fight – and surely get outvoted on anyway –  so I’m taking the night off.  

But here are the items of concern, we will see what happens.   Not sure if George Abbott will be there.  He is pretty good at standing up for most issues – although, one of my concerns is about the upcoming bond flyer and he does support the bond.  And Bob does say he wants contract reforms, so lets see what happens.

1.  There is a sub committee on contract negotiations.  I think everyone knows where I stand here. 
A.  Make the negotiations public. (the items below are redundant if the public has input)
B.  Merit pay for all employees.
C.  Benefits should mirror the private sector.  (i.e. No more steps and double digit raises – remember, even after all the talk of contract reform last year, the support personnel contract was signed giving those on steps an average of a 9.5% salary increases).
D.  More management authority – principals are on the front lines, they should be able to hire and fire at will.

Just think about this – and I think RS has said it  before too.  The unions get to review and get input from their membership before the contract is ratified.  Indeed, the membership MUST approve (by vote) the new contract.  However, the public (The ones who pay the bills), are kept in the dark during the process, and not given any input until after the deal is signed.  WHY CANT THE PUBLIC VOTE ON THE CONTRACT JUST LIKE THE UNIONS?

2.  The committee will vote to approve the Annual Report. 
I cant read all the data on the copy but am told the data is on RIDE (if someone can find it please let me know and I will post – if not, Donna at Chariho said she could get me the address). 

One point of concern with the report is the layout – just a bit misleading in my opinion.  Each school has a page with its picture and under the picture is a box that says: “This School is Classified As: “High Performing”.  This box is also at the bottom of the page.  However, for the High School, there is no box on the top.  Could it be because this is the school classified as “Caution”

Secondly, and more of a curiosity than anything, is the listing for RYSE.  It is listed as “High Performing and Commended” – and says that 81.3% of grade 9-12 students are proficient in math.  Didn’t we just see a report that said it was 8%???  (I would look it up but I’m under some serious time constraints this evening – getting the evil eye soon).  RYSE is actually the highest ranking school in the district – go figure!

3.  Also up for approval is the Campus 2010 “FACT SHEET”
I’m guessing this will be this year’s sales flyer (remember the “Its time to..” brochure).  It does look less like a sales pitch but there is one bit that is lacking.  It says, “Chariho (sic) was completed in 1960 with a capacity of 700 students.  Even with previous expansions, today’s 1250 students are crowded in a facility with a failing infrastructure.”

First question is what were the expansions.  What is capacity and how much space is used for offices, etc…

Most importantly, at $14,000 per student why cant we manage to keep our buildings from falling apart.  Look at St. Pius or the group in Stonington – all under $5000 per student and they aren’t falling apart.

4.  Abbott and Polouski requested to have “Correspondence/Communications” placed on each agenda.  It used to be that way – so when the district got a letter, or if a board member wanted to tell us about something from a constituent, it could be discussed at that time.  The new solicitor has sent a letter saying it is a bad idea to do this.  His thought process is that we might violate some notification rule by speaking about someone not present.  Of course, we did this for years and it wasnt changed until the recent rewrite (where they tried to completely restrict our access to information – look over the changes that were posted here previously).

Item 4 is the only one where I might have an impact.  Clearly, the board is going to do what it wants with the other issues.  But with Polouski being for the change, its possible to get enough votes to do it.  That one I am sorry I am missing.

Then again, the last time we had Polouski on the right side and had the votes to do something (the time we voted to stop the administrators contracts), they just ignored us anyway.  So, I’ll take the night off and enjoy myself.  I’ll post the scans soon.

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22 Comments »

  1. Mr. Felkner, one simple question, how many school committee meetings have been held since you were elected to the school committee and how many of those meetings have you attended?

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 19, 2008 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  2. Happy Anniversary.

    Comment by RS — August 19, 2008 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  3. Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Felkner!!!!!

    Comment by Lois Buck — August 19, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  4. I’m surprised that no one has commented about tonight’s Westerly Sun article regarding the Westerly School Committee looking for an outside agency to deal with the contract negotiations. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting Chariho to do, no more adminstration or school committee members directly involved in the negotiations.

    http://www.thewesterlysun.com/articles/2008/08/21/news/free_news/doc48ad5d66c0dc5185794570.txt

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 21, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  5. Hi!
    Labor lawyers can be a definte plus as usually labor has experienced negotiators on their side. However I think both sides need to be involved but having that expertise is essential in most cases. A large part of the school budget is salary and benefits.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — August 22, 2008 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    To clarify what I said I mean management side needs in most cases the expertise. Often if not always the unions have people help with various union contracts.
    When the GOP last ran Hopkinton we had a labor lawyer help with the police contract. The night of the Democrats gained control and sworn in the Hopkinton Town Council in 2002, the local Democrats then in a majority let the labor lawyer go. I voted against it with the other Republican, but it did not carry the day as we were in a 3-2 minority.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — August 22, 2008 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  7. FYI,The CHARIHO School Committee has a lawyer who specializes in labor law and contract negotiations.

    Comment by george abbott — August 22, 2008 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  8. Mr. Abbott, but who does the bulk of the negotiations, the lawyers or negotiators from the school committee?

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 22, 2008 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  9. I really cant comment any further on this topic.I just wanted to point out that we do have an attorney that is competent in this area of the law.

    Comment by george abbott — August 22, 2008 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  10. Can’t comment? RS and CR talk about Mr. Petit but you’re really not any better.

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 22, 2008 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  11. Unlike Mr. Petit, Mr. Abbott may not lead the efforts to reform Chariho, but he has often supported Mr. Felkner with his votes and sometimes with his voice.

    Mr. Petit is loud and usually is on the side of Chariho apologists. Mr. Abbott is soft spoken, but open to perspectives other than the Chariho propaganda. Without any details, I take Mr. Abbott’s response to be a sign of timidity, not an attempt to hide information. I don’t believe Mr. Petit is fearful, but obstinately supportive of Chariho secretiveness. Mr. Petit gets angry when we ask questions. Mr. Abbott asks questions himself.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 22, 2008 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  12. CR, stop making excuses for Mr. Abbott.

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 23, 2008 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  13. Observations…not excuses. Mr. Abbott has been supportive of the bonds, so we certainly don’t agree on everything, but unlike Mr. Petit, Mr. Abbott asks relevant questions and doesn’t accept the administration’s rhetoric at face value. No way would I put Mr. Abbott in the Chariho apologist category. You can pretend he’s the same as Mr. Petit…I don’t see it.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 23, 2008 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  14. CR, then why couldn’t he answer a very simple pointed question? As far I know, there are no contract negotiations going on at this time. Even if they were going on at this time, I’m asking for the general trend in previous negotiations, it’s really a rather simple question.

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 23, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  15. I don’t disagree. I think Mr. Abbott is fearful of crossing lines. BUT, unlike Mr. Petit and most others on the School Committee, I think Mr. Abbott truly is concerned about procedure and not purposely trying to hide information from the public.

    Perhaps the School Committee’s default position to hide has convinced him he really can’t share with us? We see the problems they give Mr. Felkner when he publicizes information…Mr. Abbott doesn’t seemed as well equipped to handle the pressure. Certainly not a good thing, but his intent isn’t the same as the others.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 23, 2008 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  16. CharihoParent thanks for your support, but dont bother with CR. George has done a lot of good and I agree with what he says. We do have someone that knows negotiations. This was one thing we looked at when interviewing for this position. I don’t really care if CR what CR says about me, I look at what I am presented with and try to make the best decision I can with it. If he/she doesn’t like it oh well!

    Comment by bob petit — August 23, 2008 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  17. by the way CR I said it before and will say it again. If you don’t like the annswers, than don’t ask the question. You claim I am all for the administration yet you really have no clue as to what I do and don’t do. So you hide behind your false name and call me what you will but until you come forward and do something, dont throw stones. I can take the heat so I don’t hide, never have and never will.

    Comment by bob petit — August 23, 2008 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  18. Mr. Petit and his School Committee cronies do little else but hide. They hide budgets, negotiations, contracts, spending, employees, test resuls, etc.

    They don’t hide their names, but given a choice, I’d rather they do something positive for the community and remain anonymous. Incompetence by any other name is still incompetence.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 23, 2008 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  19. By hiding who actualy does the negotiations the you must include Mr. Abbott as a “School Committe cronie”, what label you apply to one, you must apply to all whom you judge doing the same thing. Same rules should be applied acrossed the board.

    Comment by CharihoParent — August 23, 2008 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  20. george “abstain” abbott. hopefully the dope realizes he cant abstain as much as he does now if he gets on the council……..god forbid

    Comment by abstain — August 26, 2008 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  21. During the last budget workshops, the school committee had a budget that was more in depth than what the councilors were given. This is rather surprising because the councilors represent their constituency as well.

    In Mr. Petit’s defense, when it was brought to his attention, he was unaware that this was occurring and was quite surprised.

    You can generate your own conclusions here.

    Comment by Lois Buck — August 27, 2008 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  22. That’s the problem with Mr. Petit and the School Committee in a nutshell. Surprised or not, there should have been open discussion about why each group received different budgets. Per usual, the administraton defaulted to secrecy. It truly amazed me that anyone in the three towns would trust Chariho to spend our earnings responsibly.

    Comment by Curious Resident — August 31, 2008 @ 11:06 am | Reply


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