Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 20, 2008

ProJo reports on meeting

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:24 am

This is on the ProJo blog. I assume it will be, or be the basis for, an article in the mornings paper.

New Hopkinton councilman tries to keep his Chariho board seat

By Donita Naylor
Journal Staff Writer

The state Ethics Commission received so many inquiries Wednesday about whether a newly elected Hopkinton Town Councilman could continue serving on the Chariho School Committee that, by 3 p.m., the receptionist knew exactly where to direct a caller as soon as she heard the word “Chariho”.

Steven Cross, the commission’s chief of investigations, said he had been telling callers all day that the issue was not one for his agency.
“We don’t believe there was any violation of the ethics code,” Cross said.

Bill Felkner of Ashaway, who has served on the School Committee since 2006 and whose term expires in 2010, was elected to the Hopkinton council on Nov. 4 and sworn in on Monday. He said he asked both the state Board of Elections and the Ethics Commission if he could hold both seats and was told — unofficially –that he could hold both as long as he didn’t vote on school issues for the town or town issues for the school committee.

He said he didn’t get the packet of meeting documents that is routinely delivered to members of the School Committee on the Friday before a Tuesday session, he said.
When he arrived at the Chariho Middle School on Tuesday for the 6:30 p.m. closed session that was to precede the 7 p.m. public meeting, he still did not have a packet and there was no name card marking his place at the table.

He sat down anyway.

The meeting opened at 6:30 with the Chariho Regional School District lawyer, Jon M. Anderson, being invited to speak. He delivered the opinion that Felkner was no longer a member of the School Committee.

William Day, a Richmond member who was still chairman of the School Committee until his successor was elected about an hour later, said he was satisfied with that opinion and refused to acknowledge Felkner as anything but a member of the public. He did not allow Felkner to comment and instructed the clerk not to count his vote.

A recess was called while Day called the Police Department and requested that an office be sent to the meeting room. After the patrolman arrived, committee members walked into a separate room for the closed session, Felkner among them.

The officer, Patrolman Dan Kelley, stood politely as the members filed past.

In a few minutes, they all came out again and took their seats. Day again invited Anderson to speak.

The lawyer told Felkner that he had effectively given up his board seat when he was sworn in as a Hopkinton councilman the day before.

Day polled the committee members on whether Felkner should be removed from the meeting. With Felkner’s vote not counted and Terri Serra abstaining, the vote was 5 to 4, and Day asked Patrolman Kelley to remove Felkner.

Felkner said as he stood to leave: “I want to make sure everybody understands that this is under protest.”

Supt. Barry Ricci said Wednesday that it seemed obvious, logical and “just kind of common sense” that when Felkner was elected to the Town Council he would give up his school seat. The school board’s lawyer, Ricci noted, pointed out that Barack Obana resigned from the Senate once he was elected president.

Hopkinton Town Manager William DiLibero said Wednesday that Town Solicitor Patricia Buckley would not issue an opinion unless asked asked to do so by the Town Council. The next regular council meeting is Dec 1.

Superintendent Ricci said he hoped “that the adults will find a way to solve any problems so that the focus will be on the education of the children of Chariho.”

[UPDATE] Friday’s paper might have an update HERE



  1. Won’t it be refreshing when the Chariho School Board can return to the business of education and be done with the self-aggrandizing antics of Mr. Felkner?

    Comment by Gabriel Corrigan — November 20, 2008 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  2. “he could hold both as long as he didn’t vote on school issues for the town or town issues for the school committee.” this quote from the Projo I assume is true and from the ethics committee.

    this was the question I was asking aobut. Basically from that quote (unofficially) he would have to recuse himself from votes on the School Committee Agenda about the Town of Hopkinton and the same if something comes up on the Town Agenda about the School.

    It was my understand that Mr. Felkner wanted to be on both committees to push through school choice ( which is great) but if he sits on both committees does he hurt himself from even being able to discuss or vote on it from either board?
    I understand the positon that Mr. Felkner has taken but I wonder if it is the best way? Even if he is able to legally sit on both boards it does seem he would not have a vote on a lot of issues

    Comment by js — November 20, 2008 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  3. Mr. Ricci is an embarassment to the entire educational system. A perfect fit for the trainwreck we call Chariho.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  4. The question is not one of what does he or she want to do, but what is legal unde the laws of the state of RI. You people seem to only want the law on your side when it suits you. Just like Bill Day with his little US flag at the meetings, purely pathetic considering he denies the citizens of Hopkinton due representation. Everyone knows he is about personal attacks, it’s good cover for the inefficient job he does on the committee.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 11:02 am | Reply

  5. Give me five votes which occurred in the last 50 years whic would have required Mr. Felkner’s recusal?

    How may times did Mr. Day recuse himself last year? How about Mr. McQuaide?

    Not sure who is giving JS his information…the Chariho Times perhaps…but the assumption Mr. Felkner wants to remain on the School Committee to “push” through school choice is facially absurd. There is no amount of pushing which would involve Chariho in any decision regarding choice. Does the board of directors of Apple have anything to do with “pushing” new software for Microsoft?

    Mr. Felkner has a record of fighting tooth and nail for the families of Hopkinton. He has brought our attention to the many failures of Chariho. For those of us with children in a school unwilling to provide a decent education Mr. Felkner has been a Godsend.

    I know some people prefer the inaccurate, Chariho Times-type of information flow. It is not pleasant to realize we spend a fortune and get little in return. Reality is reality and until Mr. Felkner came along many of us were able to delude ourselves into thinking everything is okay. Mr. Felkner may have saved my child’s future. We need him on the School Committee shining light in a very dark place.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  6. Pure speculation on js part about what BF wants to do…..unless of course BF told him this.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  7. I believe it was in the westerly sun interview with Mr. Felkenr after being sworn in Monday night that Mr. Felkner said he wanted to try to get school choice so he will sit on both committees

    Hey RS and CR first I am not against what you are saying, I am not against Mr. Felkner fighting. i asked a question and it was answered by Mr. Felkner in his interview with the Projo. I don’t make the laws or make something ethical or not. I don’t know why you feel you everyone that disagrees with you has no clue as to what they are saying. i am not speculating, I remeber seeing it in one of his interviews.

    it comes to this, Bill Felkner says he talked to the ethics commission and that was what they told him. If you have an issue with him having to recuse himself then you need to take it up with the ethics commission. I agree with RS dosen’t matter what we think or want if it is law, or an ethics problem then that is what it is. According to the section I was referring to it says he has to recuse ( not vote) on certain issues. I don’t sit on the committees so I can’t give you exact things that he would have to recuse from. I am reading it as he would have to recuse from voting on anything from sending a letter to the school committee requesting information to taking a legal action on the school committee, to budget discussions to ?????. Again I am no lawyer and not up on things as much as most that are on here posting. I am not saying Mr. Felkner should back down, i think he should stand for his rights and those that voted him on both boards.

    Comment by js — November 20, 2008 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  8. Fair enough js, you will notice my statement:

    …..unless of course BF told him this.

    If he said it then its no longer speculation. No problem.

    As far as recusing onesself, I would think if a concerned citizen looked into everyones background(SC members) they would find many many more instances of ethical issues……this is speculation, but let me interview the SC members and i will ho you it is now proven.
    Oh yeah, that would be a violation of their civil rights, can’t request they be interviewed by a concerned citizen.

    The fact the board always tries to go into executive session should raise eyebrows. they love using the litigation excuse, just as they did on tuesday. Like politics, everything in this world can be considered a topic of litigation…..but hey if secrecy is what the electorate wants, then you guys will get it. I do not think the public in general is connected to what takes place at most SC meetngs, and the BF’s of the world are a threat to this apathy and the SC realizes they need to keep this from happening, because their performance, Chariho’s performance and the FEEL GOO BRIGRADE can’t stand up to public scrutiny. It is a failure.

    Comment by RS — November 20, 2008 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  9. Sorry JS if I misunderstood your intent, but it is the truth that Mr. Felkner was responsible for making me aware of the risks Chariho poses to my child. I would be surprised if others haven’t also become more aware. I perceive efforts to disqualify Mr. Felkner as a direct threat to my child’s future. For those who can’t afford private school, we need someone to speak up for our children and at least try to change the abysmal performance of Chariho.

    Sadly, Mr. Ricci and many on the School Committee fight to maintain the status quo. Much of what has happened in recent days comes about while Mr. Felkner was exposing one more bit of malfesance on the part of Mr. Ricci. Mr. Ricci blatantly lied to a parent attempting to secure information on his special needs child. If not for Mr. Felkner’s advocacy, Chariho would sweep this issue and this child under the rug. As it is they may have already succeeded when they ousted Mr. Felkner from the very meeting where Mr. Ricci’s antics were to be discussed.

    Would Mr. Felkner need to recuse himself from battling for families? I don’t think so. You can’t tell us when he will need to recuse himself. The Ethic Board said they would need to tell him on a case by case basis so even they don’t know where conflict might exist.

    We need Mr. Felkner…our children need him….recusals or no recusals.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  10. As for school choice, I didn’t see any interview where Mr. Felkner stated being on the School Committee would be helpful? I don’t read the Rag other than what they post on their website for free, so he may have said it, but if so, I think he is wrong. I don’t see any way a seat on the School Committee would be helpful in advancing choice. Choice is up to the towns, not Chariho.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

  11. CR and RS I am glad you understand what I was trying to find out. Again like you said CR recusal or no recusal it is up to Mr. Felkner on how he wants to handle it until told otherwise.

    Comment by js — November 20, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  12. CR I think it was in the westerly sun but don’t hold me to it I have read so much about this in the last few days not sure where it was. I do agree I think it is the town’s place nto the school to make a plan on school choice. it is the town that would supply the vouchers.

    Comment by js — November 20, 2008 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  13. Hi!
    Forgetting about the personalities involved the questions remains:
    1. Can a person in this instance serve on two elective bodies?
    2.To what extent, if any, is it the purview of any Supt. of Schools to be involved in discussions whether a school committee can remain a member? The Supt. of Schools is a professional position hired by a school committee.
    3.It seems obvious that plans were made BEFORE last Tuesday night’s meeting regarding the Felkner issue. To what extent was open meetings violation(s),was notice given to Mr. Felkner about this matter? I think it was known to multiple people that Mr. Felkner was planning to hold both positions. Why did not Mr. Day call Mr. Felkner about this matter beforehand?
    4. Does the Hopkinton Town Council assume there is a vacancy on the Chariho School Committee from Hopkinton and how are they going to respond to it?
    5. Clearly Mr. Day should have handled this differently. I can remember the Amy Steadman incident years back. Mrs. Steadman was said to have been threatened by Mr. Day. I assume it was overblown. There was actual discussion then by the Charlestown Town Council about sending her to Chariho School Committee meetings. She eventually resigned from the school committee.
    6. I assume Bill Felkner will not take this “laying down” and we will hear more of this!

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 20, 2008 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  14. Hi!
    In number #5 it should say sent to meetings with a police escort was what the Charlestown Town Council was discussing at the time.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 20, 2008 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  15. Maybe we could have a Hopkinton police officer escort Mr. Felkner to the next School Committee meeting. Nobody seems to be able to answer why Mr. Day has the authority to command a Richmond police officer to remove Mr. Felkner. Is the chairman of the Chariho School Committee in the Richmond police chain of command?

    Hopkinton should have the right to defend our representative. If nothing else, it would bring more media attention. Seems to me the tyranny being exhibited here needs more exposure then we get from a few pro-Chariho articles in the local rags.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 20, 2008 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  16. Hi!
    This matter needs to be cleared up. It should be quickly taken to Superior Court. Who should take it there may be the question. Mr. Felkner clearly was elected by the Town of Hopkinton to two offices, which the town has a vital interest. Also personally has a right to protect his rights to be involved in government.
    Short of a court order it appears the Etics Commission really has no jurisciction on holding the multiple offices. The Board of Elections certifies an election but can they rule or willing to rule on vacating an elected office if you take an oath of office to another elected one?
    This could be a precedent setting case.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 20, 2008 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  17. From the ProJo article:

    “We don’t believe there was any violation of the ethics code,” Cross said. “A legislative body has made the determination that he’s no longer on the School Committee. Nobody can put him back on except for the courts.”

    So at least according to Mr. Cross, assuming the report is correct, the School Committee is able to remove an elected member at their whim. Not sure why Mr. Cross was able to make a definitive statement about the School Committee’s action, but unable to make a definitie statement about the appropriateness of Mr. Felkner holding seats on the Town Council and the School Committee?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  18. I’d like to know where in the Chariho Act it allows the SC to remove someone from the committee. I remember seeing such verbage in the Richmond Town Charter but not anywhere in the messed up and confusing Chariho Act.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 21, 2008 @ 5:40 am | Reply

  19. CR and RS, you can both have fun now without me, I’ll be out of town until late Saturday. I know how much you’ll miss my posts and the camaraderie we share.

    (it’s a joke, boys, just a joke)

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 21, 2008 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  20. Travel safely CP.

    I don’t know where it says the School Committee is authorized to remove/disqualify a member? All I know is the ProJo article quotes the ethics guy, Mr. Cross, as saying only a court can put Mr. Felkner back on the committee. Maybe voting someone from an elected position is inherently within the power of a “legislative body”?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  21. Okay Mr. Felkner…at least you have one seat left so I have some Hopkinton issues I’d like to address.

    I know you weren’t on the Town Council for the November 3rd meeting, but I watched the video earlier this week and have some concerns/questions.

    First, the video cut off before the end of the meeting. I know they are still working out the bugs, but it is aggravating.

    We found out at this meeting that the municipal court is not generating anywhere near the revenue projections which were given to the Town Council when they were deciding to go forward with the court. I think the projection was around $60,000 and they are at around $14,000. Mr. Dilibero now admits the municipal court is most likely going to cost us money.

    Mr. Buck noted the court was using two clerks when the council had been told only one clerk would be needed when the court was being promoted. I was pleased to see Mr. Buck paying attention to such details. He correctly stated the growth of government occurs in tiny increments like telling us we will only be paying for one part time clerk but we end up with two.

    Someone suggested that we were saving money by not having to send police to court in Wakefield and paying them overtime. With our huge police department I’m not sure why we were paying a policeman overtime in the first place? We have more than enough police coverage. Hopkinton is fine if we don’t have an officer actively patrolling the streets 24/7. I assume during the day time hours the chief is availble for any once in a blue moon emergency that might arise when an officer is in court?

    The most disoncerting part of the meeting was being discussed when the video cut out. There was a Hopkinton police lieutenant defending the municipal court ensuring us there would be an upsurge in revenue. The lieutenant told the council that grants were coming in that would specifically target traffic violations over the holiday (Merry Christmas Hopkinton). What is this? Do we need grants to pay for traffic patrols? Most alarmingly, and a fear I expressed before the municipal court was started, who the heck wants cops writing tickets to increase revenue for the town?

    As someone who just experienced the results of power gone awry, you should be very concerned when a policeman promises to exert more policing powers on the population in order to increase revenue and justify the existence of a municipal court. I understand ticketing is a fact of life, but c’mon, we don’t need or want the police deciding how aggressively to enforce traffic laws based on the town’s revenue stream, do we?

    Since the video cut out, the Town Council may have told the lieutenant his thinking is wrong. Mrs. Thompson had mentioned not being a speed trap type of town earlier in the meeting, so maybe she reminded the lieutenant his focus on revenue was misguided? I hope someone saw the danger in the lieutenant’s thinking.

    The municipal court should sink or swim on its merits. We don’t need the police department feeling they need to wield greater control over our sleepy, little town. The next think you know they’ll be taking orders from Town Council chairman and marching Ms. Kenney out the door. We wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2008 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  22. I think Mr. Felkner has done his due diligence regarding the dog and pony show which ensued at the most recent school committee meeting, regarding whether he could hold both offices if he was indeed elected. He hired his own attorney and didn’t use one that could’ve been afforded him at no cost instead of incurring a personal cost. I am greatful to Mr. Abbott and Mr. Petit for their votes regarding this matter. Thank you gentleman. No disrespect to the sc attorney but he isn’t the judge and/or jury in such a case. It is incumbent on the newly elected council to support Mr. Felkner and Hopkinton’s charter (in getting Ms. Buckleys opinion, but that doesn’t hold any more weight then the school committee solicitor) and the future rights of individuals willing to hold both offices.

    Comment by James Hirst — November 23, 2008 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  23. Gabriel,

    Can you provide us with articles or numbers to support your arguement? Thanks for participating. The listeners are listening so what is your grind and back it up please with some numbers and let us know what town you pay taxes in.

    Comment by James Hirst — November 23, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  24. Gabriele Dude, We’ve been waiting 50 years around here to be about the Dudes?

    Comment by Craic — November 23, 2008 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

  25. On somewhat different note … there were two interesting articles in the Sunday ProJo.

    1. EWG SC v NEARI, judges rules for the SC:

    “A Superior Court judge says the Exeter-West Greenwich School Committee has the sole right — and the obligation — to set policies essential to its educational mission, even though it negotiated away that role two decades ago.”

    2. Great article on the Compass Charter School in WAkefield … too bad all ours schools aren’t that good.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 24, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  26. I read the article about EWG. The union didn’t seem too upset. Bascially admitted they grieved it simply because they didn’t want to lose a sliver of power. They are not going to appeal. The judge ruled for the School Committee because the issue was deemed educational. If the school had made a similar change in structure to save money, then according to prior rulings, the union would have standing. Shameful the power we’ve allowed teachers’ unions to have in this state.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2008 @ 11:47 am | Reply

  27. The union’s probably very upset, but the winds aren’t blowing their way these days. Appealing could lead to a more unfavorable judgement for them.

    Voter apathy, what can I say, in the last many years I probably haven’t been much different.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 24, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  28. Gene,
    Way too much voter apathy in this state. Just look at all the Democrat legislators that were returned once again. Other that Alves and Montolbano (sp?), it’s the same old gang with the same old good ole boy network going on. As for the unions, I’d love to find a way to put a stranglehold on them, the unions haven’t done much of anything to help the cities/towns and the state.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 24, 2008 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  29. We’re all apathetic until we are not. Truth is life is a very busy event. Running a child around. Working. Being active in your church.

    There are millions of things to choose from to occupy our time. In politics alone you can focus on federal, state, or local. We’ve chosen to pay attention to local political issues, but what are we not paying attention to? There’s probably a blog somewhere criticizing people like us for our apathy in some other area of life.

    Government representatives our crucial. We should encourage everyone to at least analyze the person or issue which will receive their vote. If we make an informed vote we have a better chance of positive results as we lead our busy lives.

    I’ve enjoyed the last two years of the Hopkinton Town Council because they’ve earned my trust and seem to be looking out for the community (Mrs. Kenney excluded). Plus throw in oversight like Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Ure, Mrs. Fontes, and Mr. Hirst (agree with them or not) and we’ve got a pretty good thing going on at the town level.

    The school is a pain because who can we trust? Academics are in the toilet and it didn’t happen overnight. Mr. Ricci sucks but his mentor, Mr. Pini, was terrible too. Unfortunately, we don’t get many candidates running for School Committee, and too many of those who do run have a desire to maintain the status quo and secure the employment benefits for their family and friends.

    My grandmother voted democrat her whole life. She is educated and very intelligent. If you had an issues discussion with her you would think she could never vote for a democrat. She always votes democrat. That’s the problem with Rhode Island voters in a nutshell. They vote with emotion, not logic.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2008 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  30. This is all interesting but what about the real news… The Chariho parent attempting to get a bogus spec. Ed. policy reviewed/changed and the attempt by Ricci and company to railroad the committee into thinking he was wrong. The guy was obviously right and did a great job fighting the system. He caught Anderson in a couple of half-truths (I’m being generous). I hope the committee does right by him and all the kids that would benefit from this change.

    Comment by Dave — November 24, 2008 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  31. The Chariho parent, let’s call im “JL”, did a marvelous job sticking to his guns and having a solid researched knowledgebase. It really looked like the admin people were squirming to figure out how to answer. Then the future “fun” started to peak it’s head up when a few members started asking about the authority of Ricci to appeal without SC consent, I bet that gets revisited.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 24, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  32. Regarding the Compass School article, I agree it’s a very nice article, but I would point out that a newspaper writer could put out a story just as positive about any school, including Chariho schools, if the “right” people are spoken to and quoted.

    Count me in as a proponent of expanded charter school creation in Rhode Island!

    Comment by david — November 24, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

  33. Very true, biases can be hard to see … I know a teacher over there and a couple of parents and they all just gush with love for the place.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 24, 2008 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  34. And .. the response I usually hear about Chariho is the elementary schools are good, but the high school scares parents to death.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 24, 2008 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  35. The ratings of the stuedents at Compass seems to be on par with most of the state(as an average), but the expenditure per pupil is about 30% less. So I guess you could say you get the same performance for 30% less, or you could always wonder if you spent the extra money at Compass would the performance be better??

    Comment by RS — November 24, 2008 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  36. Compass did have a 70% or better science proficiency. The highest in the state.

    Comment by ARRRR — November 24, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  37. Some people love charter schools for their children, some don’t. Some prefer traditional private schools for their children over charter schools. We need more of both in this state since there is a limited number of openning available. With the reading I’ve been doing on websites, the more I’m in favor of school choice and a voucher program being established in the area towns. Even though we have some new members on the SC, I’m not very hopeful of much changing since there still seems to be a minority actually seeking change.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 24, 2008 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  38. CP, This is a new stance from you. I’m curious to your change of heart regarding vouchers, and what research you may have gathered.

    As this is an issue that will likely appear before the HTC, and perhaps the other councils, certainly any insight to what you have read and why you changed your mind would be interesting reading.

    And those interested in vouchers, bringing the issue before the council will not guarantee its implementation. It is a first step. The RI Dept. of Ed. will have a major say in its implementation as well. A little birdie informed me of this recently.

    I wonder how much of a fight will occur while trying to implement this policy. Who will fight Hopkinton? Lots of questions.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 24, 2008 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  39. Lois,
    I’ve done numerous searches and read many articles about school vouchers and school choice. It’s not really all that new of a stance, it’s been a gradual change over the last year or so. I was hesitant about it at first because I wasn’t sure that it would or could benefit those who would be most in need of the help. I would like to see a program with some income guidelines in place, some areas do have such guidelines. My one problem is that I realize that there aren’t many charter or private with available opennings so I don’t see it as too much of an advantage in the beginning but if vouchers were to become availble, I could see more charter and private schools openning thereby possibly fostering some change at Chariho.

    Comment by CharihoParent — November 24, 2008 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  40. While I don’t object to trying vouchers, I am pretty sure that a one effect of partial tuition vouchers would be a near-immediate increase in private school tuition. Perhaps not at the Catholic elementary schools, which are clearly heavily subsidized already, but at independent private schools setting tuition is always a delicate balancing act between supply (parent’s money) and demand (tuition charged). Increase the money available to parents, and cost will go up.

    The hoped-for outcome would be additional private schools, which will take some time, and which is quite difficult because of zoning and other regulations.

    Comment by david — November 24, 2008 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  41. We have a 100+ year old building in Hopkinton just waiting for the loving care of a private or charter school. If the Town Council is wise, they’ll lease the building for $1 per year to whomever comes forward with the best idea for a school.

    Glad to see CP on the choice bandwagon.

    As for the effectiveness of charter schools, as always, I leave it for parents to decide what is and isn’t best for their children. I put my faith in parents well before educators.

    As for the effectiveness of Chariho’s Elementary Schools versus Middle and High School, the foundations are established in elementary. I’m sure many of the later problems can be traced straight to elementary. Let’s not forget constructivist math begins at the earliest ages. Unaware parents have no clue their children are not learning math correctly. The children get good grades after all…oh wait, they don’t get grades anymore…hmmm, wonder if there’s a connection between not reporting grades and parents thinking all is well?

    As for the cost of charters and private schools, if opening the market to competition raises prices over the long term I’ll eat my computer. Initially prices will go up as demand outpaces supply, but as always happens with free markets, supply will catch up and prices will be lower than ever. My computer is safe.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2008 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  42. David, is there any data to support the rising costs associated with the introduction of vouchers?? An intersting scenario I haven’t thought of. I’m sure there is data on this very subject, guess I’m off to do a little snooping.

    Comment by RS — November 24, 2008 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  43. David,

    Assume non public school (NPS) enrollment is restricted by the parents ability to pay, then the new market is parents who cannot afford the NPS tuition. Vouchers lower the financial barrier to increase the NPS enrollment. If the NPS increase tuition correspondingly, then their markey fades away. Also, it is likely that vouchers would be means tested, so most of the current students wouldn’t benefit from the voucher. There’s also the competition issue, price will be a factor for NPS choice. Of course, their aren’t many choices…

    And most importantly, if the result is how you suspect and the only effect is to suck money out of the district without fostering competition for the public schools, then I will be there to lead the charge to repeal the vouchers.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 25, 2008 @ 9:05 am | Reply

  44. I don’t have any real data, and perhaps vouchers aren’t really that much of an effect. But to me, this is a classic case of subsidies affecting the free market. For an independent school, the biggest budget items are salary/benefits and net tuition received (gross tuition minus discounts). For schools without established endowments, tuition is about 85% of income, with the rest being fundraising of various sorts.

    Given that schools provide financial assistance to keep families with siblings in the school and to achieve other goals, if every kid shows up with at least their voucher dollars, the school can raise costs and give its teachers a raise or a better benefit package, since private school teachers generally make a LOT less than their public school counterparts.

    Creation of new private schools would be needed to “fix” the system, and let me tell you, that’s very hard in many ways. In the last ten years, I know of two new ones in south county — Quest Montessori and a native American school in Exeter that I can’t spell. Both those schools are quite small still.

    I would be interested in whether the 1904 school building would pass inspection for a school. I do know that public schools get easier inspections than private schools do; the Richmond fire sprinker system is far inferior to what had to be installed in my private school.

    Comment by david — November 25, 2008 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  45. I would agree with you if the same parents paying for NPS got the vouchers. The others don’t have enough money anyway.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — November 25, 2008 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

  46. Do we all think it’s legal to offer vouchers only to some families? What will be the magic income boundary?

    Anyway, Gene, I do not agree that ability to pay stops many people from considering private school. I would say it’s “willingness to pay”, which is very different. I know families who manage to keep their kids in private school despite very low incomes. I also know famliies with incomes well above average (even double) who describe themselves as unable to afford private education. It’s all a matter of priority.

    Comment by david — November 25, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  47. I have done much reading in the past couple of days on the effect of vouchers in the educational system and just cannot find anything concrete one way or the other on how they affect the cost. A couple of items that were common to most articles I read were the better quality of education, and the lower costs/pupil.

    I don’t really understand how vouchers can be compared to “subsidies affecting the free market.” One I do not equate a vouchers to a subsidy, the tax money is already being spent, and being able to spend it at a school of ones choice is open to free market choice, A parent is not obligated to spend at any one particular school, but they have the freedom of choice. I would tend to think the public school system is being subsidized.

    Like most ventures, I wouldn’t expect to see very many private schools when the system(financial, political, etc) isn’t conducive to operating or forming one. Change the environment to one of acceptance and you will see the market answer the call.
    Definition: In economics, a subsidy (also known as a subvention) is a form of financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector. A subsidy can be used to support businesses that might otherwise fail, or to encourage activities that would otherwise not take place.
    Subsidies can be regarded as a form of protectionism or trade barrier by making domestic goods and services artificially competitive against imports. Subsidies may distort markets, and can impose large economic costs.

    By reading this definition of subsidy(wikipedia), I see more alignment with public schools than a private one.

    Comment by RS — November 25, 2008 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  48. There is no need for Hopkinton to have means testing. A worst case scenario we limit what the town pays to private schools what we pay to Chariho. A zero sum game even if you allow wealthy parents to choose schools.

    The most likely scenario is taxpayer savings for every family who chooses a school other than Chariho. For instance, St. Pius and St. Michael’s tuition is $4000 to $5000. Even if this is bumped up as supply races to catch up to demand, it is still a huge savings for Hopkinton over the cost of Chariho. Putting a means test in place would be foolish. It would limit choice and it would be more costly to the town…a lose/lose.

    I agree with RS’ assessment of subsidization. The status quo is continuing to fully subsidize an inferior educational product at Chariho.

    I also wonder why school choice scares politicians who have the financial means to send their own children to private schools? I can’t help but think they are willing to sacrifice the education of the many so their children can be isolated from the riff-raff. It’s not so special to receive a private school eduation if it is available to everyone. As Mr. Felkner correctly notes, school choice makes every school a public school. For elitist, this is not a pleasant thought. Better to force the undesirables into failing government schools then take the chance of exposing the “chosen” to the unwashed masses.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 26, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Reply


    Looks like Rod Driver’s day of justice still isn’t over. I’m sure Richmond TC will also defend the SC when they meet an equal demise.

    Comment by RS — November 26, 2008 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  50. Hi!
    While some may disagree, the Hopkinton Town Council has very much standing in this matter. That is because only they are empowered to fill a school committee vacancy from Hopkinton.
    The questions is thus: Does the Hopkinton Town Council recognize a vacancy on the Chariho School Committee from Hopkinton by Mr. Felkner’s election to the Hopkinton Town Council and swearingin? It is obvious they will need to consult with the Town Solicitor on this matter.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — November 26, 2008 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  51. Will the Richmond Town Council be issuing a vote of confidence for Mr. Day?

    Mr. Day couldn’t wait to throw the Richmond Police Department under the bus claiming it “wasn’t my call” to remove Mr. Felkner from the meeting. Seems to me Mr. Day was calling all the shots. I hope he is held personally and financially liable for disenfranchising Hopkinton citizens and violating Mr. Felkner’s civil rights. The rest of the School Committee clowns played a role, but Mr. Day (with likely assistance from his puppet master) was the ring leader of this circus.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 26, 2008 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  52. I sent the Hopkinton TC an email asking them the same questions you ask Scott, and I also requested if the position was to be filled by the TC, then I urged Mr. Felkner to be the appointee. I’m sure they will not have an answer any time soon, and probably not until after the next council meeting.

    Comment by RS — November 26, 2008 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  53. Speaking of the Richmond PD, it was interesting to note the police report did not mention BF’s request to return to the SC meeting as a citizen. Therefore no need to mention in the report he was denied entry into the meeting by the officer. I will have to review the tape again and see if BF did ask the officer if he could remain, because what happened outside is obviously not taped. Convenient there is no report on anything that was said outside the building, althought according to BF the officer said he could not return to the building even as a citizen. Don’t you just love the power of the badge??
    I know there are 3 sides to every story (his side, her side, & the truth), but I tend to think BF was not making up any story when he requested to be allowed back inside the building as a citizen. I guess everyone will have to determine for themselves what they believe.

    Comment by RS — November 26, 2008 @ 11:14 pm | Reply

  54. “Do I need to be removed from the building?” Inaudible response from the officer. It sounds like he replies, “You need to be removed.” Followed by Mr. Felkner saying with a surprised voice, “I have to be removed?”

    The audio above is clear as day on the last video clip. Mr. Felkner asked twice if he could stay and the only logical conclusion, since the officer escorted him out, is he was told by the officer he could not stay.

    Was this mistakenly left out of the police report? I don’t know, but Mr. Day has put the responsibility on the Richmond Police Department and this officer for Mr. Felkner’s removal. There was not one single act of aggression by Mr. Felkner.

    Will the Billy-boob bus run the officer over?

    Did Richmond PD once again infringe on the most basic rights of a citizen?

    Will Mr. Felkner and his lawyer receive compensation in excess of the $28,000 Mr. Driver and his team receive?

    Will the ACLU once again come down on the Richmond PD?

    This is interesting because while the Chariho School Committee and their attorney have culpability, the Richmond PD has once again made themselves vulnerable for a civil rights violation. Thank goodness for the video tape. Stay tuned.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 27, 2008 @ 1:50 am | Reply

  55. RE: #46


    Personally, my first inclination would not to means test the vouchers, although I’m not completely beyond chaning my mind. In our society we do change the rules based on income, it wouldn’t be anything new. One could argue that with a per student cost in Chariho of $14M, giving a voucher to incentivise more people to take their kids out of the system saves us all a lot of money.

    There’s a few threads on this site that the consensus was that not having a means test would make it politically dead.

    I agree that different people have different levels of pain that they are willing to suffer for their kid’s education. However, if the relative pain doesn’t change (i.e. voucher = tuition increase) then it doesn’t change anyone’s decision, if the pain level drops, then more will use the voucher.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — December 1, 2008 @ 11:03 am | Reply

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