Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 3, 2008

Another missed by the Sun

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:09 am

Dear Editor,

It is indeed sad when we are repeatedly reminded that the Chariho School Committee has a few members that continue to either ignore reports, letters, contracts and audits or they simply do not read them. Maybe we should just show up at a meeting and read to them. Oh ya we did.

I am responding to a published letter by school committee member Bob Petit on October 26th. It wasn’t misleading. It was flat out wrong.

Here are the facts, supported by the public record of meetings by the Chariho School Committee and Hopkinton Town Council. The Hopkinton Council did unamimously request the School Committee apply more funds from the surplus to offset the capital reserve budget. We requested this in writing and in person at the March 4, 2008 Chariho Financial Budget Hearing. We were also clear this amount should not exceed their own fund balance model that recommends a specific amount for emergencies.

This request was made numerous times. I asked at a school budget workshop and in a letter dated January 24, 2008. Our council also made this request at a workshop February 25th attended by Mr. Petit and other school committee members. The minutes of meetings show we have repeatedly requested they use the school’s millions for the buildings or toward the budget and we never requested they take more than their own policy recommends.

Mr. Petit also laments our council did not act or submit the plan we said we were working on. Guess he missed that too. It was presented at the October 6, 2008 council meeting and copies were immediately sent to the other town councils and school committee.

I find interesting what Mr. Petit chooses to leave out of his letter. For instance, even with the emergency $700,000 expense at the Hope Valley School, there will be enough accumulated surpluses in the current year to cover 7 more emergency Hope Valley School repairs. Could it be?

First, the June 30, 2008 fiscal year, (FY) ended with an additional $2.3 million surplus. This adds to the $1.5 million left over from last year for “emergencies”. That’s $3.7 million. Now we add the padding in the current year.

As we all now know, the school committee has been running between $2.34 million to $2.937 million in padding the past 3 years due to over-estimating expenses and under-estimating revenues. So with the current padding of an estimated conservative 2 million, we can look forward to lots of millions to use toward real needs.

One thing Mr. Petit may be right about in his letter. Maybe we will not be able to fund all the repairs on all the district buildings with the accumulated surpluses. However, at the rate this school committee is going we just might get the priorities done.


Sylvia Thompson

Hopkinton Town Councilor



  1. Chariho budgeted $100,000 to re-point the bricks at Hope Valley Elementary School. It will probably now cost (via Chariho’s estimates) $700,000. That’s a 7 to 1 error. I am only supposing that they determined the $100,000 number by square foot estimates. No one actually looked at or researched the problem with building professional detail.

    The $17 million for the High School is based on the same square foot estimates – there is no architect, no drawings, no blueprints and an engineering company determining this bond fiscal reality for free. Any Dad has always said ‘There is no free lunch’ and ‘You get what you pay for’. $17 million is not enough to fix this high school – it is a veritable patch job. We will be asked for a second and larger bond to complete work and re-create our elementary schools if this bond passes as designed. I do not believe the three elementary schools can be maintained and thoroughly fixed on maintenance monies in an even larger school district budget.

    Tom Buck has been working to pull all three towns together to resolve our differences. The 2-4% standing surplus is predicated on the final and actual numbers spent of the prior year – not the prior year’s budgeted amount which would have been larger by 2 million plus.

    I know that we need to fix this high school, but we need a frugal and creative architect working in conjunction with engineers to determine our direction. It will mean more money spent – but spent once for fifty years. We need advanced placement classes and teachers, we need energy responsibility, community space, and more. Blend a new bond with the three town elementary schools. Let all of us pay for the high school in equal parts; let each elementary – through the district – be paid for by each town individually. We are the landlords of these properties and our citizens should have input as to what they want for their youngest children and what they are willing to pay for. Funding issues become moot – we pay equally and individually. And if more money is funneled to the state for school job construction maybe we would get a larger percentage assistance.

    Whatever you decide – please vote. It is an historic time for change – and I hope that the school will be part of that openness to new ideas.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 3, 2008 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  2. I think we also need a change in the administraiton who will do the required maintenance on the structures and not wait until they are in the worst possible shape and say we need a bond to fix the facilities. Poor budgeting and fiscal responsibilty has now become the taxpayers problem, so the taxpayers should be the ones to step in and say what goes, not the same lackies who got us into this problem to start with.

    Comment by RS — November 3, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  3. So now we know of at least three letters questioning the wisdom of the re-voted bond the Rag chose not to print. Since CP has been good about sharing the pro-bond letters they have published, maybe he can also share any letters supporting the re-vote they haven’t used? Or did The Rag choose to print all the pro-bond letters? Naaah, “not a shred of evidence” to be found.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 3, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  4. Oh, and Mr. Petit lied? There’s a newsflash.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 3, 2008 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  5. Lets drop chariho and do it own our own. Really lets get some estrogen charlestown, the testorane is just not here!

    Comment by felicia — November 3, 2008 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  6. I just received a phone call telling me the Chariho apologists are campaigning at the polls for the re-voted bond. With turnout heavy as predicted, I’m sure many of the voters are residents but not property owners (pay minimal local taxes). As we see all the time, voting for spending when it is someone else’s money is easy (and makes you feeeeel good).

    The newly elected Hopkinton Town Council better be ready to give a serious look at taking legal action to require tax equity.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 4, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  7. I just received a phone call telling me the Chariho apologists are campaigning at the polls for the re-voted bond. With turnout heavy as predicted, I’m sure many of the voters are residents but not property owners (pay minimal local taxes). As we see all the time, voting for spending when it is someone else’s money is easy (and makes you feeeeel good).

    The newly elected Hopkinton Town Council better be ready to give a serious look at taking legal action to require tax equity.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 4, 2008 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

  8. Is anyone there campaigning just say no!

    Comment by ARRRR — November 4, 2008 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  9. Around lunch time Bill Day was at Hope Valley handing out literature for the bond. There was a homemade sign to vote yes for Chariho. There were school age kids there too. Plus they were doing the construction. I can see where Hope Valley was the perfect place to convince people to spend more on the schools. I wasn’t happy to see a Richmond school board member trying to influence Hope Valley voters but that’s just me. I wonder if anyone else would be upset to have Richmond campaigning in Hopkinton? I didn’t see any efforts to get people to vote no. I don’t know if Ashaway or Hopkinton City had any people trying to sway the vote. Most of the voters I saw were probably parents. Didn’t see anybody older except the people working. I agree it will probably pass but I hope I’m wrong.

    Comment by No, No, No — November 4, 2008 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  10. There was a young girl and her mother trying to hand out flyers but no one I saw took one, they all refused. I can’t imagine why anyone would vote to give money to a system that has failed to educate our children. This is for lockers and a track people. I had to share a locker with two other people in public school in Providence and yet it was the highest ranked public high school in the nation, with a large percentage of graduates going to Ivy league schools. I wonder if chariho will have more than 25% of it’s students proficient in math now that they have brandy new lockers. If the students can’t make use with the old track then maybe the track team needs to be eliminated. Inner city school make due with a bald ball field. Lockers won’t make students any smarter. A new track isn’t going to make anyone any faster. The state of the nation demands that we make do. Perhaps Ricci can use some of his socked away 7 million.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 4, 2008 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  11. Mr. Day campaigning in Hope Valley…pretty arrogant if you ask me. ARRRR were you also at Hope Valley or another polling place?

    As I’ve said before, Chariho literally has hundreds of employee publicists. I forgot about the children they can also brainwash into supporting more Chariho spending. What do they care? I constantly am reminding my child about the value of money and how it doesn’t miraculously appear from nowhere. I imagine my child is typical of most children (and Chariho apologists).

    The re-vote will come down to whether there are more voters with a self interest in perpetuating irresponsibility at Chariho…this includes non-taxpayers, school employees, and some parents…versus those who recognize Chariho needs to change its ways and do a better job educating children at a reasonable cost.

    Chariho apologists did a good job getting the re-vote at the same time as the Presidential election. They know the more uninformed voters, the better chance they have to advance the status quo at Chariho. Will Hopkinton have enough informed voters? We’ll find out later tonight or tomorrow.

    Comment by Curious Residen — November 4, 2008 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  12. CR.They actually wanted to have the re vote in January or February.Is Barry’s famous email still available on this site?

    Comment by george abbott — November 4, 2008 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  13. I was at Ashaway. I do have school aged children. They know the re-vote is undemocratic.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 4, 2008 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  14. I remember Mr. Abbott, but somewhere along the line Mr. Kenney referenced the Presidential election and surmised it would present a greater opportunity for Chariho apologists with heavier voter turnout (aka, more uninformed voters).

    The way the Building Committee has operated, they probably were looking for the initial re-vote in January followed up by a re-vote, if needed, now. If the unexpected happens, and Hopkinton gets it done again, I’m sure we’ll see another re-vote being pushed very soon.

    Chariho has refused to change how it operates regardless of the outcome of bond votes. If a bond is approved, we guarantee ourselves they’ll change nothing. If the bonds fail, I’m still not anticipating Chariho to respond positively.

    Comment by Curious Residen — November 4, 2008 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  15. I voted at Hope Valley, and there was an adult male with female child in the parking lot, I do not know their position, but did see a sign on the ground saying vote yes on the bond. I made I contact with both of them and neither approached me. Maybe I stared too long, dunno.

    Comment by RS — November 4, 2008 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  16. So Chariho had operatives in both Hope Valley and Ashaway. Maybe they sent in Ms. Eaves to work the Ashaway polls (sarcasm CP). Since they sent Richmond’s stooge to Hope Valley, I guess they are pretty confident Richmond and Charlestown will once again favor sending millions more to an underperforming school. Wouldn’t it be nice if one or both of the other towns surprised us and finally held Chariho responsible for their failures?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 4, 2008 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  17. I’m sure we’ll be re-voting again if they don’t get their way. Why isn’t anyone sueing for unequalized taxation? I’ve asked Brian Kennedy but haven’t received a response.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 4, 2008 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  18. ARRRR…..dont EVER response from MR. MIA brian Kennedy. Too bad his opponent didnt bring up that he has over 65k in PAC money in the piggy bank. THis guy dsnt campaign in his district….raises all his money from his cronie friends and then donates it back to them. Thats YOUR representative…….

    Comment by never — November 4, 2008 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  19. The few times I’ve written him, I did receive a reply. I do agree with his union donations being bothersome.

    Comment by RS — November 4, 2008 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  20. FYI:

    Looks like the high school and middle school portions narrowly passed in Hopkinton. The RYSE bond failed.

    For HTC council: The newcomer is Mr. Bill Felkner. All others were reelected.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 4, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  21. Congratulations to all the Hopkinton Officials who were elected to office.

    Comment by RS — November 4, 2008 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  22. Congratulations to all…now that you’re elected and the Chariho bond has passed, time to get to work figuring out a way to alleviate the enormous tax burden on Hopkinton families. I’m thinking vouchers and/or legal remedies…go get’em.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 5, 2008 @ 1:33 am | Reply

  23. I guess Mr. Day and the construction project had an impact on Hope Valley. Looking at the results from each polling place, Ashaway and Hopkinton City rejected all three of the re-voted bonds. Hope Valley made the difference as they approved all three with enough to overcome the other villages except for the RYSE bond component. I would guess Hope Valley also has good representation from Chariho employees and family as Mrs. Kenney was the leading vote getter in Hope Valley, but not the other two locations. The end result is what it is, but the breakdown is interesting.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 5, 2008 @ 2:11 am | Reply

  24. Now that we are all trapped together in a failing school system for the next 20 years, it’s time to sue for tax equalization. I can’t see how it could lose in a real court.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 5, 2008 @ 8:28 am | Reply

  25. I would rather the HTC setup a voucher sytem so you folks can continue to squabble over the great track record at Chariho(1/3 proficient) and let those of us who need to educate our children properly get them the education they deserve. After all, someone is going to need a good paying job to support the ever increasing spending for new social programs coming out of Washington.

    Comment by RS — November 5, 2008 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  26. I’d like to see Hopkinton explore both the voucher and the legal action options. Vouchers offer the best long term success as they’ve proven to improve educational outcomes across the board. Figuring 10% of families will take advantage of vouchers, we would need around 150 private school slots available in the local area. I’m not so sure they’ll be enough room immediately, but vouchers are surefire way to improve education and improve accountability at Chariho.

    Legal avenues aren’t as clear cut to me. There are school districts throughout the country where taxes are assessed by the district. Locally, we currently do this with fire districts, but the counter argument that each town should pay for their own children also can be persuasive. It might come down to what judge you get. For instance, in New York State the courts ordered more education money be funnelled into the city schools. If judges in New York can try to fix supposed economic disparities by sending money across distict lines, then certainly a judge in Rhode Island could recognize the huge unfairness of Charlestown households paying 2.5 times less for the same exact school.

    I urge the newly elected Town Council to get to work on both vouchers and legal remedies. My family can’t be the only one trying to figure out a way to get out of this town…it would be nice to be given a reason to stay.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 5, 2008 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  27. I’m all for vouchers in addition to legal action. Maybe another charter school can be opened in the discarded Ashaway building.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 5, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  28. It would have been nice to see a pro voucher President in office, not one who is against vouchers but uses them to send his own children to private school.

    Comment by RS — November 5, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  29. Water under the bridge. We need to worry about our own first. I spoke with a real estate agent this evening. My situation is such that I will have to trade down to move if I have any chance of getting out (and I don’t have much now). I don’t see the local, state, or national economy improving for at least 4 years so I’ll take the leap if I’m able before it gets even worse.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 6, 2008 @ 12:47 am | Reply

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