Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 10, 2008

Presentation at HTC

Filed under: HTC — Editor @ 12:29 pm

Sylvia Thompson gave a presentation at the last HTC meeting – the town will post the entire power point presentation on the website soon but here is what we have so far.

To: Hopkinton Town Council


October 5, 2008



I hope the enclosed spurs discussion and increased interest in the Chariho Regional School District budget.


 Specifically targeted within this report is a review of student enrollments, past budgets, tax rates, state aid to education and the method used to acquire revenues to offset school expenditures. I have also provided data that speaks to the financial impact that the current funding methodology has had upon the residents of the Town of Hopkinton.


Recently, the Town of Charlestownreleased the June 26, 2008 First Report of the Ad Hoc Withdrawal Update Committee. This report along with the October 2002 Chariho Expansion Exit Committee and the 1999 Chariho Facilities and Financial Study by MGT of America detail the school district history, financial dilemmas, taxing inequalities, and offer real solutions.


Since the passage of the Middle School Bond and the K to12 regional district, every single school bond has failed. While these failures have occurred for a variety of reasons, I do not believe any future school bond will pass until the way in which we tax to raise school revenue is fair to every taxpayer.


Charlestown may or may not build its own school system. They have the right to choose. 


I ask the people of Charlestownto consider that Hopkinton residents must also make a choice. One based upon what is in their best interest and their children’s best interest. They get to choose.


Respectfully Submitted,



Sylvia K. Thompson

Hopkinton Town Councilor






District problems, local financial issues


Local Education Budgets and State Aid to Education




            1A Hopkinton education budgets & state aid


            1B Richmond education budgets & state aid


            1C Charlestown education budgets & state aid


1D Tri Town budget vs. enrollment


 2 Chariho general fund budget vs. actual expenditures


2A Chariho general fund budget vs. actual expenditures line graph


3 Chariho budgeted revenue vs. actual revenue


4 Tri Town budget increase vs. surplus


4A Over-estimated expense & under-estimated revenue


5 Ti Town contributions after state aid


6 Financial impact of a 10 year phased in district wide school property tax


7. Chariho District parcels by total assess value 5 categories


8. Chariho District parcels by total assess value 3 categories






RIPEC 1995 Report Table 5 P 11 Municipal and Educations Levis


Table 9 from the FY2006 RI Estimated Property Tax Burdens Median Priced Homes


RI Dept of Administration Assessment and Full Values with tax rates required to finance municipal budgets for FY 06


2007 Hopkinton, Richmond & Charlestown Tax Roll


CEEC Executive Summary


CEEC Binder 3 Section C pages 15 to 18


MGT of America Chapter 6


Chariho Summary Budget document


Chariho Surplus Deficit Report for June 30, 2008


Chariho Year End 2003 audit pp.3, 4, 6, 7, & 36


Chariho Year End 2007 audit pp. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 & 37




































Section I


Please consider the following:


        Rhode Island has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. Michigan has slightly more.


        Rhode Islandalso shares another sad fact with Michigan, our poverty rate increased from 2006 to 2007.


        Locally, Hopkinton residents are suffering with company closings, loss of employment, and rising costs all leading to an increasing inability to meet daily expenses and pay property taxes.


        Many problems are outside of the ability of a Town Council or School Committee to resolve. However, there are specific actions local officials may undertake to reduce the financial burden placed upon our neighbors.


        Exhibit 1A through 1C highlight the ever-decreasing State Aid to Education for each of the towns.


        As a matter of fact, in 1990 Hopkinton’s State Aid paid for 54% of the Chariho School bill. The aid today now only pays 34% forcing property taxes to increase to fill the void.


What can we do?


Rhode Island’s population has been decreasing. This has effected student enrollments.


Exhibit 1D depicts the tri town school district budget compared to enrollments. According to Chariho’s own statistics, student enrollment has declined to a level below 1997.


This is not just a Chariho decline. The Westerly Schoolsystem has lost almost twice as many students as Chariho.


        We must encourage our school committee to reexamine spending in light of this trend.


        Exhibits 2, 2A, & 3 indicate a return to a trend of school budget under-estimating revenues and over-estimating expenses.


In the last 3 budgets (FY 06, 07, & 08) the combined budget increases, recommended the School Committee, totaled over $5.43 million. Yet, the combined 3 year total surplus was over $7.97 million.


Therefore, NO INCREASE WAS NECESSARY in the last 3 budgets. No taxation was necessary. If the School Committee had flat lined these budgets, they still would have had a 2 million surplus. Exhibit 4 documents this issue.


We must request the School Committee review these trends, understand which accounts caused this and budget accordingly. The taxpayers need relief.


In1995, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, (RIPEC) reported Hopkinton ranked # 1 in the state for having the largest % of its budget pay for education (78% education vs. 22% town, RIPEC document attached).


By 2007 this portion had not changed much, education accounted for 78.2% of the budget with 21.8% for the municipal side.


Charlestown’s ratio in 1995 was 64.45% education to 35.55% town. By 2007 the ratio had improved with less attributed to education and became 60% with 40% for the town.


 In 2006, the Rhode Island Department of Municipal Affair’s data, (excluding fire district taxes), demonstrated Hopkinton had the 4th highest property tax burden. Charlestown had the 4th lowest.


        This all leads to a fundamental argument between Charlestown residents and those residents who do not live in Charlestown but reside within the Chariho School District (or Richmondor Hopkinton).


        Are 3 different school taxes for 3 separate towns fair to the taxpayer? Fair to the towns


        Exhibit 5 shows how Charlestown, as a Town, pays more to the Chariho School, after state aid is applied.


        Exhibit 6 shows a $300,000 assessed home in 2007 would pay $1,353 for the school portion of the Charlestownbill. However, the $300,000 home, if located in Hopkinton, would pay $3,330 or $1,977 more. Or if the home’s address were Richmond, they would pay $3,471 or $2,118 more.


        This is the reason many Hopkinton residents have proclaimed, no more.


        What can we do? Exhibit 6 provides an example of how a 10-year phased in tax rate would impact district wide residents. Any claims that this would bankrupt Charlestown or force the elderly from their homes is not true.


        There are methods beyond a phased rate to “soften” any tax increase, such as a homestead exemption. This exemption lowers taxes for only residential owner occupied properties.


        Exhibit 7 & 8 shows the tri-town Chariho District with parcels by total assessed value. This provides an opportunity to see where the higher assessed parcels are located.


Exhibit 6 provides a general overview of the dollar effect or change in your tax bill, from the implementation of a single district wide school tax.


Also attached is Chapter 6 from the 1999 Chariho Facilities and Financial Study by MGT of America and Section IV. Chariho as a Taxing District, from the Chariho Exit & Expansion Committee, p 15-18.


I hope the exhibits contained within speak volumes and do generate more interest in resolving our local disputes within the Chariho School System.
















  1. Councilor Thompson, School Committee Member, Felkner

    I appreciate the enormity of getting all of the above information together and presenting it to the electorate. The amount of hours and sacrifice on a ‘volunteer’ basis is to be commended. I also appreciate being informed by Mr. Bill Felkner and his information/research on education which takes many hours of research.

    Thank you both for being active participants in not only education but helping or working to educate the tri town electorate.

    Be well, tri town voters.

    Comment by James Hirst — October 10, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  2. Mrs. Thompson has done a commendable job of putting together a summarization of the reasons why Hopkinton should once again reject the status quo. I hope enough citizens are paying attention to again deliver the message to Chariho that we demand change.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 11, 2008 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  3. shes put me to sleep…..hasnt she blabbed the same crap for years????

    Comment by zzzzzzzzz — October 11, 2008 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  4. I wouldn’t call what Mrs. Thompson presented crap. She’s pointed out what someone else has tried pointing out my blog. The taxes Richmond and Hopkinton taxpayers have to pay is grossly out of whack in comparision to Charlestown’s taxpayers are paying. For Charlestown’s Ad Hoc Withdrawl Update Committee to come out with their statement that an equalized funding structure would be financially unpalatable to Charlestown was absurd. They also said that Charlestown cannot afford a uniform tax rate. Can the taxpayers of either Hopkinton or Richmond afford NOT to have a uniform tax structure? The answer to that is obviously no. From what I’ve read though of Mrs. Thompson’s presentation there’s one piece missing and that is to show that with a uniform tax rate Charlestown taxpayers would still pay less than what either Richmond or Hopkinton taxpayers would pay without a uniform tax rate.

    Comment by richmondrinews — October 11, 2008 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  5. Good point RichmondRINews. Charlestown has no problem approving budgets and bonds further increasing our tax burden, but they cringe at the mere thought of paying less than Hopkinton and Richmond families pay right now. Repeat, Charlestown leaders claim their citizens are unable to pay less than we pay now. This should be splashed on the front page of the Rag.

    For Charlestown the re-vote on the bond goes far beyond new buildings. Approval of any of the bonds virtually assures Charlestown another 20 years of favorable tax treatment. Charlestown can continue to accept bloated budgets, generous employee contracts, and wasteful spending. They get the 3 for 1 special while Richmond and Hopkinton are paying full fare.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 11, 2008 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  6. tax equalization isnt going to happen……..stop it…and just pay!

    Comment by NOWAY — October 11, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  7. That’s exactly the kind of mentality that will serve to do nothing but tear apart the school district. I would hope that the taxpayers of Charlestown can see what the taxpayers of the other two communities are going through and why we need to equitably share the burden based on home valuation versus percent of school enrollment.

    Comment by richmondrinews — October 11, 2008 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  8. As long as the Charlestown budget guru Mr. Hosp (a member of the Charlestown Withdrawal Committee) says it’s cheaper to start their own school system than to pay equalized taxes, there’s very little chance of meaningful progress on this front, I believe. A voice advocating this would have to emerge from Charlestown, which I don’t see happening.

    Comment by david — October 12, 2008 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  9. Uf I lived in Charlestown and felt we could run our own school for the same or less cost than remainig in Chariho, I’d want to leave too. Living in Hopkinton and recognizing Charlestown could care less how much Chariho costs the rest of us, I think they need to go.

    Hopkinton has a choice with the re-vote. Either capitulate to Charlestown and live with the inequitable tax scheme for at least another 20 years or reject the re-voted bonds and hope Charlestown actually makes good on its threat to withdraw this time.

    The only other equitable solution would be to weight education votes based on each voters financial liability. Since we pay around 3 times per household, then come budgets and other spending, Richmond and Hopkinton votes get multiplied times 3. Of course this plan flies in the face of one vote per person so it would never be acceptable, but theoreticaly it would be the only other equitable solution.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2008 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  10. I agree with David’s comments on Mr.Hosp.Mr. Hosp chairs the Chariho Act Revision Sub Committee,which suspended operations prior to the last election.Tax equalization was to be the next item on the agenda.It is my understanding that Mr.Hosp was open to some form of tax equalization 2 years ago.He has obviously changed his mind on this topic.

    Mr. Hosp also was caught unaware when Brian Kennedy got the all day vote on the Chariho budget passed in the General Assembly.

    Ironically,Mr. Hosp and other pro- withdrawal politicians get more respect from the Chariho Administration than the Hopkinton Town Council and others.The Chariho Administrators body language when they interact with poiticians from Charlestown tells the true story.

    Comment by george abbott — October 12, 2008 @ 10:17 am | Reply

  11. Considering Charlestown’s withdrawal would have major impact on Chariho administrators, it is curious why they would be so deferential to the people supporting withdrawal if the re-vote fails. Perhaps they are feeling confident since approval of one of the three pieces of the split bond ensures them another 20 years of security? Or maybe they are grateful Charlestown politicians have been asleep at the switch as Chariho spends money like drunken sailors? Or maybe Mr. Ricci has a secret deal to become the superintendent of a Charlestown school system? I’d agree for us to pay a few hundred thousand to be rid of the incompetent boob.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2008 @ 10:32 am | Reply

  12. #3 ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, she hasn’t put you to sleep, your just in a coma, Coma Van Wink (and nod) Van Tax less Winkle.

    Comment by Richard — October 12, 2008 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  13. Hopefully Mr. HOSP is all for withdrawal at this point, Mr. Abbott. Maybe HOSP High for the Charlestown People or Mr. Polouski Institute of Gifted Students (PIGS).

    Good Luck voters

    Comment by Richard H — October 12, 2008 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  14. I’m thinking most of Charlestown really, really wants us to past at least one of the bonds assuring themselves of our education subsidy for years to come. As it is now they get probably the sweetest education deal in the state. They can approve pork-laden bonds, outrageous contracts, any spending at all, and their households only pay 1/3 what Hopkinton and Richmond households pay. I doubt they will happily walk away from such a lucrative taxing scheme.

    History tells us Charlestown is loaded with bluster, but threats never become reality. I’d love to see them go so we can finally have the votes to insist on fiscal constraints, but something tells me Charlestown isn’t going to give up the golden goose any time soon.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2008 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  15. I agree w/ CR. I can foresee the bond getting shot down, Charlestown trying to create its own district again and failing (barely) again, and two years from now we’re back in the same position.

    What the school committee needs to do is make substantive change to the next contract to show the towns that they understand and care about the fiscal conditions of its families.

    Comment by david — October 13, 2008 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  16. would you all like some cheese with your whining??

    Comment by crying — October 13, 2008 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  17. Not likely, David. They just voted to restrict the public from negotiations again. Not a step in the right direction

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 13, 2008 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  18. David, you’re correct but we know that with the current make up of the school committee, nothing at all will change. We’re stuck on a merry go-round that never ends.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 13, 2008 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  19. Well I hope David is prescient in regard to the re-vote. We guarantee ourselves the status quo if any bond passes.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 13, 2008 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  20. Mr. Felkner,

    Is that true? Grr. Could you tell me what the voted resolution was?

    I have to say the school committee is the one public body in the area that makes it hard to see what’s going on. The posted agendas are very uninformative, and the minutes don’t seem to exist online.

    Comment by david — October 13, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  21. There have been a few status quo votes. One of the early ones was that I moved to have the contract presented to the public BEFORE ratification (just like the unions present it to the membership before ratification) – this was voted down. I think it was Holly Eaves who moved to keep the negotiations in executive session – this was approved. And they had voted to seal the minutes but the lawyer told them they couldn’t so they stopped doing that.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 13, 2008 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  22. Chariho School Committee chooses to be as secretive as legally allowed…sometimes it seems they go beyond. Why do they hide the truth from us? Why would we give them millions more knowing how they behave?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 13, 2008 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

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