Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 29, 2008

meeting documents

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 1:07 pm

Here is the Insight report for 2007-2008 – RYSE is up to $68k per

 insight-07-08

and for the record, here is the last Insight report we posted

insight-report

Here is the Admin Contract Subcommittee Report

admin-contract-sub-comm

And here is the data the Admin Con Subcomm used –

admin-contract-subcomm

Notice the number of employees.  We seem to be missing some – or they have been reassigned?  You can see the number of employees AS REPORTED BY CHARIHO at the Dept of Ed site here.

Open Sessions for Contract Negotiations

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:01 am

In Monday’s Providence Journal there was a report that the East Providence School Committee wanted to hold the contract negotiations in public sessions (yippy!).  Predictably, the NEA refused.  The article is here.

After reading that I sent an email to every school committee member I could find an email for (which is about all of them) and asked them if they support the move.  Within an hour 8 responded positively so I wrote a press release co-signed by them.

The ProJo will be reporting on this PR in the morning’s paper – or see it here early.

PS. NO Chariho SC member responded to my inquiry.
PSS. The RI Association of Scholars issued a survey to their members today.
PSSS. Someone from that original email reported my email address to Cox as a spammer.

October 28, 2008

SC meeting

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:27 pm

Had a doozy of a meeting tonight. 

The Admin Contract and Structure Subcommittee issued a report and we voted to accept it.  9 to 2 vote (you can guess who did what).  The report said that Chariho admin was “appropriate to meet the needs of the District.”  Interesting that our enrollments are at levels near what they were in 1999 but our budget and admin levels are substantially more (if someone could find some budget or staff # info from that time it would be appreciated). 

This report also referenced an “action” to “identify a strategy” to give us “flexibility” with admin contracts.  I cut to the chase and reminded people that we looked at cutting positions during the budget and could not because contracts restricted us.  I asked if this “action” had a goal to resolve this problem.  You will never see it but it was informative watching Holly Eaves and Andy McQuade ‘answer’ (using the term loooooosly) the question.  I have no idea what they said.

Another item was the insight report.  The SC reiterated that we cant use them because some schools report transportation and other dont and some schools retire debt through the towns, others don’t. Because of these inconsistancies it is difficult to compare.  I pointed out that each report breaks down costs to “instruction” “instruction support” “leadership” and other categories.  Assuming each school uses instructions and administrators, costs could be compared. 

But the most interesting part came during the discussion on IEP’s placed on the agenda at the last meeting.  I couldnt attend that meeting so I emailed Ricci with a few questions. 

Here is the original correspondence from Superintendent Ricci.

***** (from Superintendent Ricci) ******

 

 

 

Please see responses below.

 

Barry J. Ricci

Superintendent of Schools

All Kids…All of the Time

 

——Original Email——-

Barry,

Wont make it tonight. If someone else wants a discussion with the IEP topic there is no need to postpone it if I could get a few questions answered here. Hopefully I am reaching you early enough to save her the effort of going to the meeting if she is not needed.

Questions:

Are parent of students in the classrooms allowed to visit the contained classrooms (either RYSE or other self-contained)?

If not, why? Please site policy.

Yes. There is a “check-off” on the calendar that allows a child to be removed in the event of an observation by a parent.

Are Committee members allowed to visit RYSE unannounced?

If not, why? Please site policy.

For safety and security reasons, we do not allow unannounced visitors to classrooms at any of our schools. Specific to the clinical program at The RYSE School, there are issues of confidentiality when dealing with students who have been identified via the IEP process. For visitors, including School Committee members, with legitimate purposes for observing, guidelines would need to be established to protect the confidentiality of students.

 

When a parent requests a second opinion on the IEP (resulting in an IEE if my acronym is correct), is that second opinion allowed to contain grade equivalences for the numerical scores?

If not, why? Please site policy.

If you’re referring to a second opinion on an evaluation, we’re awaiting a decision from RIDE on the issue of grade equivalencies. Our practice is to use age equivalents.

And is that IEE allowed to have treatment recommendations?

If not, why? Please site policy.

Yes, treatment recommendations may be considered by an IEP team.

If no one else needs Kathy for the discussion, you can save her the time and just email me the answers. Thanks

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

*****************************************

Unknown to me, George Abbott asked that the agenda item be postponed or replaced on this meetings agenda.  So when I saw it I asked some of the parents who talk to me about these things.  One of them was very surprised by Ricci’s responses and he sent me more info and attended the meeting. 

 

But the discussion was killed and put off until the next meeting. They said that since the entire commitee didn’t have the same info that I had, we needed to reschedule until they did (when have we heard this before?  Oh yea, when I brought in RI Dept of Ed info and they cried foul – NEVER do your homework – just let the administration give you the info you need!)

But the info provided me by the parent was daming.  Here’s a hint – you (the taxpayer) have been paying for a lawyer to fight a parent who simply wanted information about their child’s education.   Chariho has been fighting this parent for 16 months.

Sounds a lot like the fact that when RYSE started our legal bills tripled due the amount of parents that took Chariho to court.  Parents pay a lawyer out of their own pocket to fight a lawyer that their taxes pay for.  This is insane (and why hasn’t any of the press reported this? The data is public and was posted here).

I wonder if this is something that can be resolved via the town council.  After all they hold the purse strings, no?  But I digress… 

All this might have come out eventually so maybe my “antagonistic” style isn’t necessary.  After all, its only been 16 months for this parent to battle the school (and it still is not resolved)

 – or 2 years since Investigations Math was to be changed (and we are still in “pilot” phase)

– or been 5 years since RYSE forced kids into the program and we just found out last year (and they still refuse to give me the legal invoices – or give parents the choice where to sent their kids)

– or the 10 years that parents have told them to return the 5th and 6th graders (and we still don’t have it)

–  or 16 YEARS since Hopkinton first asked for “actual” budget amounts (which they still have not provided).  Yes, you heard that right.  The very same thing Tom Buck asked for recently was originally asked for 16 years ago and it still has not been supplied (h/t to Sir Uncle Buck).

– or 22 years since MGT reported that the tax inequity should be resolved.

I guess I’m just impatient.

I’ll post more info on this soon.

 

 

*************************************

 

I will wait and see if the Westerly Sun accurately reports it before posting full details here but it was a perfect example of how Chariho fights against the best interest of the parents to protect their revenue streams.

Today’s Inbox

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 3:56 pm

If we can’t fix our current buildings, why add more?


Would you add a new garage to your home if your house was in danger of burning down from faulty wiring?
If you could not afford to repair your plumbing system, would you build a family room with an additional bath?
Why would anyone want to spend our limited tax dollars to replace a track, to add additional classrooms, to expand kitchen facilities, and to relocate a maintenance building, when Chariho cannot fix what it already is obligated to maintain?
We are familiar with the failure of Chariho to care for our property: the historic Ashaway School rotting from its clogged gutters; the leaking of the newer Ashaway School from inadequate roof repair; and, most recently, the deteri­orating ties under the ill-maintained masonry of the Hope Valley building.
The “failing” infrastructure is not a structural problem but a problem of priorities. As our administrators spend time and energy planning for expansion and chasing wind­mills, no one is minding the store. We hear about student standards and proficiency, but who is holding our contrac­tors, maintenance staff, and custodial crews accountable to standards and expected levels of performance?
As the economy takes a toll on our ability to pay for such essentials as food, heating and medical care, the taxpayers of Hopkinton can ill afford to pay for anything but the basics. We are already up to our necks, and we surely will drown with the additional tax burden of new construction with added on-going costs.
We cannot afford an additional penny let alone taxpayer costs of $1.8 million, $3 million, $12.2 million or a combi­nation of any or all of them!
Chariho needs to demonstrate it can adequately main­tain what already exists before expecting more. Use our limited tax dollars to fix our facilities first before building anything additional. Fix it first!
Vote “No” on Nov. 4.
Georgia Ure Hopkinton

Another letter in the Sun

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:30 am

Chariho campus plan will only hurt children’s future


Every statistic measured on the Chariho school system over the last decade points to an abrupt collapse in student achievement and high scores on standard tests coinciding with the move of fifth-graders to the middle school. All efforts to correct this have failed. The collapse perpetuates itself in the mediocre scores, compared to national averages, throughout Chariho’s remaining grades and in the lack of first-rate college acceptances.
Long gone are the days when many Chariho students in each graduating class were routinely accepted into national service academies and promi­nent Ivy League and technical col­leges. Why is this? It’s obvious! It’s been written of, spoken of and screamed at the administrators and school committee for years. Fifth
grade is too early to move young, emo­tionally tender students to a stark, unfriendly, foreboding and frenetic campus. Chariho, by design, has been handicapping your students with this policy for years and wants license to brand the practice in “Campus 2010.”
Our neighborhood elementary schools are warm, calm, friendly, nur­turing environments that foster learn­ing achievement which has been acknowledged by state and national governments and organizations, whether the students were in the old K-6 system or the present K-4. Yet the school committee and the administra­tors turn a blind eye to these facts and barge ahead with a campus plan bond issue that will not only break our bank in very hard economic times, but most surely continue to ruin our children’s
future achievements.
Chariho enrollment is now back to 1997 levels and still going down, as more and more families lose their homes. Over the last year there has been a dramatic exodus from South County overall. It’s time to move the fifth-and sixth-graders back to their neighborhood elementary schools, move the ninth grade into the middle school, and slowly renovate the high school’s empty classrooms during the school year with the existing surplus.
Please vote “No” on all segments of the Chariho 2010 bond issue and send the planners back to the drawing board for a school system that puts the youngest and most vulnerable stu­dents’ needs first.
Mimi Johnson Hope Valley

 
 

October 27, 2008

More in the Sun

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 8:09 pm

Chariho bond’s burden on Hopkinton is unfair


In order to survive, Hopkinton resi­dents have learned to be very critical of wasteful spending and unnecessary taxation. During this time, our town has slipped into having the fourth high­est property tax burden in Rhode Island and Charlestown the third lowest.
Hopkinton’s roads, town hall and offices are crumbling. More and more residents are forced to endure unrealis­tic school committee budgets and decreasing household revenue. Unfortunately, indifferent elected offi­cials label opposing views as anti-edu­cation. At one recent recorded public meeting, officials laughed at Hopkinton’s unemployed residents. I bet they are not laughing anymore now that Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
The resentment and the funding inequities between the towns have been
festering since we regionalized. Now Hopkinton has become one the poorest towns in the state and pays more than 78 percent of its budget to the school. In contrast, Charlestown’s portion is 60 percent.
Before the voters Nov. 4 are three school bonds. If passed, we will perpet­uate the Chariho Act taxing scheme that penalizes a poorer town and forces more families into poverty. Even with the tri-town tinkering, the Chariho 2010 Fact Sheet shows Hopkinton tax­payers will pay 62 percent more than the Charlestown taxpayer. Remember, this will be on top of yearly school and town budget increases, and bonds do not count toward the state’s tax cap.
I have more concerns. Why has the school committee been silent on the fact that crucial language was deleted from section 4 of the bond legislation? Are
they aware or concerned the taxpayer protection used in previous bonds is missing? Now it is subject to thin air.
This leads to another big poverty pro­ducer. If the three bonds pass, will the taxpayers end up paying the entire $38.769 million? The 2010 Fact Sheet shows the total cost to the taxpayers will be just over $17 million because the state will pay the remaining $21.707 million. However, for the first time we have a bond vote that does not state it is subject to the then-current reimbursement rate pursuant to the general laws. Perhaps the missing explanations as to the implications of allowing the projects to go forward if the state gives us no money is the answer.
Sylvia K. Thompson Hopkinton Town Councilor Hopkinton

EP wants contract negotiations in public – NEA says, “nyet!”

Filed under: contract negotiations — Editor @ 11:35 am

The East Providence School Committee would like to hold the contract negotiations in open meetings. What a grand idea!

You will note in the article (linked here) that some states require this. I wish our Committee thought as much about the public.

[update] I just got off the phone with one of the EP Committee members and he says the public response has been enormous. The only negative comes from form letters sent to him, all with the same postage meter number.  A number we have since found is owned by the NEA. Shocking!

October 26, 2008

Sylvia Thompson in Sun last Tuesday

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 9:02 pm

Enough spending in Chariho


The sky is falling. The sky is falling. It must be Hopkinton’s fault. The Chariho School Committee assured everyone the sky was blue. The people wanted to believe, but when the Hopkinton voters looked up and saw stormy clouds, they knew it would be a rainy day. Those pesky voters had the audacity to believe their eyes.
Once again, it is time to believe what you see. Another fiscal year has ended at the Chariho Regional School District. Another year our school commit­tee assured us they needed a $1.434 million increase. The dis­trict voters believed and approved the budget. Now we know they ended the year with a surplus over $2.3 million.
In FY 2006, the School Committee assured us they needed $1.619 million more. The voters tried to cut the budget, but were called anti-education and told you can’t do that. Yet they ended the year with a sur­plus of over $2.699 million.
As a matter of fact, the School
Committee assured us they had to have a combined total increase of more than $5.43 million over the past three fiscal years. The voters approved their budgets, and the towns increased your taxes to raise the money. However for this 3-year period, this committee ended up with more than $7.979 million in sur­plus funds.
What’s a taxpayer to do? Tell them no more. We must commu­nicate our specific concerns to the school committee, and there are many ways to accomplish that. I hope the voters no longer support the Chariho School Committee budget assurances until they demonstrate through action or deed their ability to propose a budget based upon actual realistic data.
It’s bad enough Hopkinton tax­payers pay more than twice as much as the Charlestown tax­payer, let’s not let them get away with unnecessary million-dollar increases as well.
Sylvia Thompson Hopkinton Town Councilor

 
 

Letters in the Sun

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:21 am

Here are some of the letters seen in the Westerly Sun.  If someone has other they can cut and paste in an email to me I will be happy to post them.

 

Bury the Chariho bond for good


RIP is a familiar gravestone inscription frequently displayed on Halloween decorations.
May this election season also be the time that we finally bury the Chariho building projects.
During the past year, the referendum vampire has periodically risen from the grave threatening the life’s blood of our town. Although its appearance has changed with time, its victims remain the same — hard-working tax­payers intent on making ends meet, buying what they need, and not spend­ing beyond their means.
I was taught, if you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. In this economy, most of us are struggling to pay to keep a roof over our head, fuel in our fur­nace, food on our table, and medical care for our family.
If we think twice before filling up the gas tank in our cars, we need not think long or hard to know we cannot afford our current taxes. How can we bear the additional burden created by the approval of one or more of a $12 million, $3 million and nearly $2 million projects?
Rhode Island is nearly bankrupt, the U.S. government is bailing out Wall Street, and those of us on Main Street will be paying for state and federal financial mistakes for years to come.
Vampires have a long and colorful history. We don’t need garlic or stakes driven through the heart to prevent us from bleeding to death in taxpayer debt.
Just Vote “No” on the Chariho High School, R.Y.S.E. School, and Chariho Middle School projects.
On Nov. 4, may they, at last, Rest In Peace!
Georgia Ure Hopkinton

How are we supposed to afford a Chariho bond?


Voters who vote “No” on the Chariho bond are not always refusing students a “better school.”
It is important to take a “no” vote for what it is this year: survival. One let­ter to The Sun recently noted that less than three tanks full of gas would pay for a year’s additional taxes.
Consider the following: • Rhode Island is number one in unemployment, and the jobless rate may well increase to 11 percent!
• Foreclosures have increased 71 percent from last year.
• Homeless shelters are turning away clients already.
• Food distribution centers and soup
kitchens are running low on food to give to the needy, and those who are newly impoverished.
• Hospitals and health care centers are finding fewer paying patients who can afford needed and necessary health care and medicine.
Parents and taxpayers have a duty to attempt to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, clothing on the backs of all, and heat for their homes. This week’s paycheck may be the last for a long time for many faced with layoffs and outright job loss as multi­ple companies scale down, close down or become merged.
Schools in other communities are
being closed, bus service curtailed, and teachers are being terminated due to a lack of money.
Why are we, in the face of escalating economic distress looking to spend even more?
Even a partial tank of gas may mean the difference between food on the table tonight, a bit of oil to heat the house, or enough gas in the car to get to work if you have a job.
Don’t judge those who find it neces­sary to vote “No” for the Chariho bond. This is not the time to consider any bond!
Dorothy Gardiner Hope Valley

Chariho needs to decide future before passing bond


Election day is fast approaching. This letter has some thoughts about the three proposed Chariho District bonds that will be on the ballot in the Chariho towns. If approved, they would pay for work at the Richmond campus of the Chariho District to pro­vide additional space in the high and middle schools and to replace tempo­rary RYSE classrooms with perma­nent structures.
A single bond covering essentially this work was proposed in November 2007. Charlestown and Richmond approved the bond, but it was rejected in Hopkinton, which led to a torrent of criticism of Hopkinton and a demand for a revote.
What appears on the Nov. 4, 2008 ballot are the same projects as in 2007, but with each project now fund­ed by its own bond.
In the uproar following Hopkinton’s rejection of the 2007 bond, the Hopkinton Council cited the fact that the education tax rate in Hopkinton and Richmond has for years been well over twice the rate in Charlestown and expressed the view that the rate needs to be equalized throughout the district.
That apparently spooked the Charlestown Council, who reacted in
December 2007 by creating an Ad Hoc Committee to assess whether Charlestown should stay in Chariho, and if not, to recommend the best withdrawal scenario.
The Ad Hoc Committee quickly went to work, and in August met with their council to discuss their first report. It was a 74-page document that exam­ined a dozen options ranging from “do nothing” to “complete withdrawal.” It was a thorough examination.
From their findings: “As a result of our analyses, we recommend to the Town Council that Charlestown with­draw from the District and build facil­ities to educate our pre-K-12 students within Charlestown. It is our unani­mous belief that this is the best edu­cational and economic solution for the long-term health of Charlestown, and we present a preliminary plan and timeline to bring about this withdraw­al and construction.”
The Charlestown Council has not voted on this recommendation, and in the upcoming election only one incum­bent councilor is seeking re-election. Nobody knows what a new council will do, but the recommendation clearly is a serious one from serious people.
Let’s think about what the 2008 pro­posed bonds are for. The high and mid­dle
schools are crowded. Charlestown has about 30 percent of the Chariho students. If they left, it would be much less crowded. We might well want a bond for work there, but it would be different work. And the RYSE build­ings are adequate; changing them is a financial matter that has no function­al urgency.
The current plans are for a three­town district, but Charlestown over the years has voted to withdraw, then voted to stay, and currently has a rec­ommendation from a study committee created by the council to withdraw.
Simple prudence says don’t author­ize any bond under these uncertain circumstances until we know more. If any of these bonds are approved, that’s a 20-year lock-in, and we don’t know enough right now to plan ahead even two years. In these troubled times, particularly, on the basis of the information at hand. we can’t afford to commit millions of dollars over a 20­year period The only sensible thing to do is reject all three Chariho bonds, wait until Chariho District membership is cleared up, and then make appropri­ate proposals.
Thurman Silks Hopkinton City

 

October 16, 2008

Full HTC presentation

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:30 pm

Here is a link to the complete presentation from the Hopkinton Town Council.

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