Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 7, 2009

Lessons from the past

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 9:16 pm

I was on the radio with Trillo the other day and someone from Richmond called in.  He was involved with the town and school governance in the early to mid 90’s.  It was interesting to hear them talk about the growing $23m budget (now $53m) and other “concerns” that are coming to bear.

Frequent commenter James Hirst posted this very interesting article from the Westerly Sun dated March 15th, 1996 page 5, headlined DAY EXPRESSES HIS CONCERNS ABOUT DIRECTIONS OF CHARIHO EDUCATION – well worth the read

Wood River Junction-William Day, a member of the Chariho Regional School Committee wouldn’t want his own two children to receive a Chariho education if they were of school age right now.

Bristling at a commitee meeting Tuesday night, Day said he wasn’t informed of the administrations’s participation in a 36 page proposal for a Goals 2000 Category 8 grant.

Day,who is listening to a small cadre of parents who are vehemently against the district’s implementation of Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP), is claiming the administration is quietly trying to revamp Chariho’s curriculum without the committee’s nod. Superintendent John Pini said the district’s participation in the proposal was approved by the School Committee Jan 9.

Day claims the proposal, which incorporates a provision for a Certificate of Initial Mastery and a massive restructuring of secondary schools, represents a drastic redesign of Chariho education. The certificate, he says, represents “a watering down of the education process.”

“This superintendent,” said Day, “does not have the right to sign a form indicating that they want to participate in the proposed project. What right does he have to even sign a letter of intent?”

On, Thursday, Superintendent John Pini reiterated that he was authorized by the School Committee to participate. He said Chariho is participating in the proposal’s development because he wants the district to have a chance at a possible million dollars in grant money at a later date.

Pini said the district has no intention of sending an application for some of the $600,000 in available Category 8 grant money without the committee’s approval. No application has been sent, he said.

Pini also said he would never at any time sign off on a grant that requires the restructuring of schools dictated by anyone other than the school committee.

Day’s argument fits into a series of accusations made by critics of the districts DAP. DAP proponents, like Pini, say the program involves changing teaching techniques so children at varying developmental levels can receive more individualized instruction in the same classroom. DAP critics like Deborah Nicotra claim the reform will lead to evaporation of standards and an erosion of the current curriculum.

Responding to two months of assaults on the district’s DAP program, Pini said that while the program allows for a new teaching technique, Chariho schools still expect the same levels of academic performance. The new technique called more tailored instruction, will help student achieve higher standards, he said , but it doesn’t change standards.


He said this difference sets it apart from Outcome Based Education, which allows for varying learning “outcomes” from children at different levels.

Pini said the DAP program calls for setting up clusters of workstations in classrooms., which allows students to work on more individualized projects while a teacher moves from station to station. He said the program doesn’t require more teachers and barely affects the budget.



  1. Mr. Felkner, if I could and properly should make note that the above article noted was authored by Mr. Mark Reynolds. of The Sun.

    Comment by James Hirst — January 7, 2009 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  2. There is so much sad irony in the article I don’t even know where to begin. I can only wonder if Day’s entire family was making a living off Chariho back then or if they all were hired since in order to shut him up? He almost sounded Felkneresque. Maybe he lost his backbone…or maybe his marbles. Once again, good catch by the blog’s resident historian.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 7, 2009 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

  3. Makes you wonder.

    Comment by RS — January 7, 2009 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  4. While in the 1996 era, hopefully the current school committee members, welcome back Mr. Felkner and plan on being worn out during your dual appointment may learn or a ‘seed of thought’ learn from past Chariho practices.

    Ure blasts Chariho accounting practices, March 13, 1996 page 7.

    (Blogger note before article: Georgia Ure is a gift to any community. She was my fifth grade substitute teacher and at 50 it was a long time ago, a parent of two young men, a businesswomen and taxpayer. A teacher, parent, taxpayer and businessperson, it doesn’t get any better. Sorry community leader is needed to be included as well.

    Ure blasts Chariho accounting practices, author Mark Reynolds, The Sun. March 13, 1996, Page 7

    Wood River Junction-About a month after she blasted the financial management of the Chariho Regional School District before the Hopkinton Town Council, Georgia Ure brought her gripes to the School Committee Tuesday night.

    Though the session was billed “Interview with Georgia Ure” on the commitee’s agenda, it quickly turned into a showdown with the vocal member of the district’s audit subcommittee. The committee invited James D Wilkinson, an accountant firm, Cayer-Prescott-Clune-Chatellier.

    Referring to a written encapsulation of her complaints compiled by the Hopkinton council and sent to the district’s administration, Ure reiterated her chief arguments: the district doesn’t have a fixed asset inventory, it doesn’t folow proper bidding procedures, and it has privately invested surplus.

    Ure, owner of Ure Outfitters in Hope Valley, began with the fixed asset inventory, claiming the committee has failed to assemble a satisfactory list of assets despite three years of requests from the audit subcommittee.

    “How do you run a $26 million school district efficiently when you don’t know what you have?”

    Anxious to respond after Ure’s public comments last month, Robert Hartman, chairman of the school committee said Chariho does have an inventory accounting for its most substantial assets: vehicles, computers, audio-visual gear, and music equipment. Hartman claims a more thorough list would cost $18,000 in accounting fees, a sum the district can’t afford.

    “We have protected ourselves ” he said. “and a lot of our major assets.”

    Wearing a green Hopkinton sweatshirt, Ure cited a passage in the auditing firms’s management letter referring to district attempts
    “to get around prevailing wages.”

    “I want you to read that letter very carefully,” she said.

    Hartman asked Wilkinson if the district has properly followed bidding procedures. Wilkinson said that according to the firm’s reaearch the answer is ‘Yes.”

    When the topic resurfaced later in the session, District Business Manager Ronald DiFabio, admitted he had avoided prevailing wages on one job in order to pay painters $8 per hour rather than $29 per hour. DiFabio asked Wilkinson if the district’s bidding procedures should characterized as “good” or as “excellent,” Wilkinson said “excellent.”

    Afterward, Ure said the local work force didn’t have a fair chance to bid for a job.

    Ure also criticized the administration for investing $3,000,000
    (Million) in town payments before spending the money. DiFabio said nvesting funds that haven’t yet been spent is a standard procedure for increasing revenue through increased interest.

    “This is $3 Million Chariho has invested while Hopkinton is borrowing said Ure.

    Ure excoriated District Superintendent John Pini, saying the administration doesn’t follow zero-based , that it anticipates an annual budget inccrse of 5 to 6 percent.

    She said Pini even admitted this at a meeting last year.

    “We do a zero based budget,” said Pini.

    “I know what I heard you can check in the minutes of the meeting,” said Ure.

    “I know what I do,” said Pini.

    Meanwhile, Robert Barron, the chairman of the audit subcommittee
    attended the meeting and told the committee he would resign, if Ure is removed from the audit subcommittee.

    March 13, 1996 Page 7, Mark Reynolds

    (Blogger note, Robert Barron of Richmond was a honorable representative of Richmond who home schooled a daughter, Ms. Ure is what was noted above, a Gift)

    Comment by James Hirst — January 8, 2009 @ 12:36 am | Reply

  5. Others have commented that history keeps repeating itself over and over again at Chariho. Wouldn’t it be nice if our generation could finally put an end to all the nonsense and get Chariho back to its job of educating our children at a cost which does not impoverish much of the community?

    Getting Hopkinton’s full representation back will be a good step, but so much needs to be done or our children will be fighting, and losing, the same battles in 20 years. I believe some form of school choice is the only way we will ever see change at Chariho. They need to be forced to compete, and like magic they will figure out how to educate our children at a fair price.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 8, 2009 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  6. Hi!
    While we debate local control, the Rhode Island State Constitution clearly gives The General Assembly the authority to promote education. That directive can mean many things.
    Remember the General Assembly took away decades ago the right of Town Councils to be Boards of Canvassers now a board exists to examine election laws. Also most small towns had town councils sitting as Probate Courts years ago. That was taken away by the Rhode Island General Assembly also and municipalities were then required to get Probate Judges. I will not debate the changes here. The bottom line is the power of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 10, 2009 @ 1:01 pm | Reply

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