Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 16, 2009

Important data

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:03 am

The following information was provided by Sylvia Thompson (HTC).  Most striking is the enrollment to budget numbers.  It clearly shows that public schools are completely unresponsive to market conditions – they just keep growing and growing and growing.

enrollmentvbudget4

Here are two more documents prepared by Mrs. Thompson

copy-of-chariho-3-yr-over-estimated-v-09-10

copy-of-char-bud-act-v-prior-yrs-bud-chart-v3

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77 Comments »

  1. Every home in Hopkinton should have the this graph on their refrigerator. It demonstrates in dramatic fashion the games Chariho plays to get their hands on our money. I will never understand why we put up with this nonsense. This graph should be delivered to Mr. Ricci in an envelope along with a pink slip.

    I’d like to see one more line…actual spending. It might be less dramatic, but it would be informative as I suspect with the plummetting enrollment they can’t spend our money as easily as they would like. The surplus probably has a lot to do with the savings from declining enrollment while the budget continues to climb.

    Good thing the wise voters of Chariho communities voted to fund more expansion, huh? We really must be overcrowded with the huge dip in enrollment.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  2. Hi!
    Sylvia brings research to the table. My brother does. Certainly Thurm does and many others.
    Researching things at Chariho may be compared to opening shellfish sometimes, not always easy, and often a difficult task! I know what I went through to get information before my notorious cut a few years back.
    It was not that the Supt., Mr. Pini, at that time was not really cooperative, although he could have handled it better, but his ENABLERS on the school committee and the public from all political affiliations! The school committee avoided a Caroulo examination that year. The nearly 3 million surplus that year speaks for itself.
    I think accountability has to be demanded more. Lets face it, whether you agree with him or not, how many school committee people in Chariho could hold their own with him in a debate? Probably none! Sylvia is no slouch, and could hold her own with most if not all Chariho SChool Committee and Chariho area Town Council people!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 16, 2009 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

  3. Hi!
    I am referring to Bill Felkner line eight.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 16, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  4. While I don’t dispute the numbers, I just want to point out that the graph above visually exaggerates the enrollment data. making a 5 or 10% decrease in enrollment look like a precipitous drop.

    To my eye, there is a noticeable leveling of the budget curve in the past few years, as enrollment has decreased, which at least shows some correlation betwen student population and cost.

    The more interesting number would be the number of studnets per teacher (and per staff). since we know the cost per employee has gone up a lot, we could then look at how much bigger the teaching and nonteaching employee total is as the enrollment shrinks.

    Comment by david — January 16, 2009 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  5. Hi!
    As you know, intellectual vigor and debate is usually NOT often, part of the school debate although a number of people try to bring it up to those standards. People often and usually speak only in generalities like being for lower taxes, being for the students, being pro education,.
    Most people are NOT informed including those who hold office!
    A few obvious things:
    1.The school committee members could be, if they were inclined to, better inform themselves on the issues.
    2. I do not accept the belief a school committee member does not represent a a particular town. That is BOTH a legal and political fact. If by law they rquired to do something, fine. But meeting mandates can be done more than one way as I understand it. How often are school committees or school districts cited for not meeting mandates or put on warning for not meeting them?
    3. The real interesting thing is accreditation. While it may always be nice to be recognized for a certain level of approval and competency from your peers, I cannot forget Bill Day and perhaps others at Chariho considering getting out of the accreditation agency that grants school accreditation which is a PRIVATE, NOT GOVERNMENT ENTITY.
    4. Enough said for now!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — January 16, 2009 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  6. I agree the student to teacher and student to employee numbers would be interesting. Good luck getting those numbers.

    To be clear, the graph only shows budgeting, not actual spending. This year’s “flat” budget sure looks like it contains a significant increase in spending (offset by accumulated surplus). We can only wonder what the spending graph would look like since Chariho has thus far refused to tell us how much they spend on a year-to-year basis.

    Of particular note, enrollment has declined 5 – 10% since 1999, but budgets have increased by 67%. Hard to exaggerate this fact. Don’t even need a graph.

    67% budget increase
    5% enrollment decrease

    Seems clear to me there is something terribly wrong with this picture. Over the last ten years has anybody here had their salary increase by 67% while their workload decrease by 5%? There is no whitewashing the facts even if they do a great job of hiding them.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  7. I’m not sure how much that chart tells us, David’s right, the scaling for the number of students is very tight.

    It does tell us that Chariho budgeted:
    (2004) $10.3K/student ($40/3875)
    (2009) $13.7K/student ($50/3650)

    Which appears to be a significant increase, but I’d like to see where the underlying increases are.

    Like David said, teachers/student and admin/student over years would be valuable charts.

    And so much more, like class size trends, etc

    With that said, there are two key elements in this: Cost and Results … as many have said in the past, there might not as much concern over the money if results were top notch.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  8. Even I would be less prone to criticize if paying among the highest costs in the world resulted in the some of the highest educational outcomes in the world. We’re not even close.

    I do disagree with Gene and David on the graph though…enrollment down at least 5%…budgets up around 67%. How can anyone not see this as a terrible indictment of the administration and School Committee is beyond my ability to understand. Look at all the numbers you want…budget are up 67% in less than ten years…enrollment is down. If you’re looking for excuses, I’m sure Chariho has several ready upon request.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  9. I believe David is involved in a local private school. I’d be curious if his private school has had similar budgeting trends over the years of its existence? Maybe there has been something over the last ten years which has made school budgeting accelerate far more quickly than what we’ve experienced in the private sector?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  10. CR … before I could jump into your line of thinking, I would want to see comparisons of school cost increaes statewide and nationally to add context. Somehow Chariho has to be demonstrated as an outlier before we dump on them specifically for being financil mismanagers. The educational results trends do support your theory.

    Anybody have a reciprocal trend for Westerly?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  11. Don’t spend too much time researching Gene. The trends are the same all over. My point isn’t that Chariho is an outlier. Chariho fits very well into the pattern of Rhode Island government schools. The problem is with government schools in general, but since our community should have some amount of control over our school system, it is Chariho I target while hoping communities across the country stop tolerating poor performance at an exorbitant expense.

    East Providence is the first community in the area to finally stand up and say they aren’t taking it any more. I don’t mind being a follower if the leader is heading in the right direction.

    Even as it pertains to educational outcomes Chariho is not an outlier. I’ve never said we are…Rhode Island is a national leader as it pertains to educational spending, and a national loser as it pertains to educational outcomes. Chariho certainly does its part to live up to these very low standards of performance versus cost.

    We haven’t even begun to fix the problems of one school system where we theoretically have some measure of control, but the Chariho school system is the one we have so it is the one we should change. The answer to our school’s failures and the failures of schools nationwide is school choice. I’m not sure why our community, at least Hopkinton, can’t be one of the first to confront the issue head on. I concede we’re not an outlier. I’d like us to be an outlier by becoming one of the first communities to embrace positive change and save the next generation of children from this generation’s sad fate.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  12. This is a case where I think everybody is correct. I merely noted that the graph visually exaggerates the decline in enrollment, making it look larger relative to the total (and to the increasing budget line) than it really is. I can’t say whether it was done accidentally (excel will scale your graphs for you) or intentionally.

    CR is exactly right saying that the fact that overall spending is up 67% (or so) and enrollment down 5% shows a big problem in how things are done. And I’m with Gene in saying that it may well be representative of school districts in general, in which case I’d say it’s an indictment of the state and its labor climate more than an indictment of Chariho.

    Comment by david — January 16, 2009 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  13. CR … I agree with that Chariho is ours, so it’s the one we care about and we should endeavor to change it for the better, however, if the problem is state-wide or nationally based, then we have to face facts that being a leader in turning the ship is going to be really hard. As much as we want things to happen quickly, as our kids education hangs in the balance, it will likely take a lot longer.

    School choice is one of those areas where it could be a catalyst to quicker change.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

  14. I once had a colleague describe turning the ship around as it pertained to a business. He explained the process could be slow and painful. He was fired not long after that because the company didn’t have the patience for a ship turning when things were going to hell in a hand basket.

    We are talking about children’s lives. Not profit and loss statements. My child has already suffered and probably can’t be harmed any worse than has already occurred. If I knew then what I know now I would have either figured out a way to afford private school or I would be at every School Committee meeting with a list of things that must change in order to ensure my child a decent education. I can’t understand the tolerance of parents with young children for the Chariho status quo. A child’s educational foundation must be established from the very beginning. Recovery down the road is not easy or guaranteed. We struggle daily to compensate our child for the catastrophic damage done by a pathetic school system.

    Most parents would throw themselves over a grenade to save their children’s lives, but they sit by complacently as Chariho potentially and probably destroys the future of their children. I simply cannot fathom why it is so.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  15. By the way, I agree with David about the graph being distorted. A proper graph would have both lines sharing similar starting and ending points. The enrollment graph should be adjusted with the bottom figure being around 800 students.

    I think the proper way to present the information would be to simply state the budget has increased by 67% while enrollment has shrunk by 5% or more. This is a very fair and powerful statement.

    I continue to disagree that we should put emphasis on the state and national education crisis. There’s no reason our children can’t be saved from Chariho. While difficult, it’s a heck of a lot easier than trying to save the state or the country. Besides, our children will do so much better if everyone else’s children remain stuck in stupidity (it’s a joke…laugh).

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  16. I admire your passion, but the facts are that I’m the only parent who has been to most of these budget sessions, so maybe parents should get the “stick” from you as well. We’ll never know what the effect would be if 20 parents showed up.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  17. No doubt you’ve been an enigma Gene…this is much to your credit.

    Mr. Felkner runs this site, and those of us who participate spent significant time researching and discussing Chariho issues. It is very unfortunate most parents are disinterested. Chariho does nothing to promote parental awareness, but there is the opportunity for any parents who cares to look.

    Maybe a child receiving decent grades is enough to fool parents? Sure fooled me for years. As I’ve said, it wasn’t until my child exhibited extremely poor math skills that I took notice of what was being taught (or more precisely what wasn’t being taught). Until then I was satisfied good grades meant the school was doing its job. I was horribly wrong. In my defense there was no Chariho Parents blog and certainly nobody from the school was telling me things were bad.

    I’m not sure what has to be done to make parents stop accepting failure. I’m almost to the point where I don’t care. I’m taking care of my child, and I’m looking to put Hopkinton in my rearview mirror. I see my participation here as my last gasp effort. If I am lucky enough to get out, I will disappear and leave the rest of you to figure it out.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  18. Sure, we all should be doing what we can to help make Chariho the best district in the country. But, when you’re fighting national trends, it’s like digging a hole in wet sand, for every scoop you take out, 95% slides back in.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  19. Not sure why it has to be the way you describe Gene? You’ve just started an already have a sliver of defeatist attitude. I don’t mean that as a criticism, but a sad testament to Chariho’s power over even those who see some of the problems. Try fighting this for a few more years and you’ll have 99.99% of the sand sliding back in.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2009 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  20. Chariho goes is to bury you in that hole Gene, along with everyone. The only ones more incompetent then the administration is the school committee who has no level of responsibility holding the administration to theirs. Lets hope whether it be testosterone or estrogen or backbone they find it soon.

    Comment by Sandy — January 16, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  21. CR … Pragmatism and defeatism are different. You have to set goals and develop a plan to go get them. Complaining about stuff without action doesn’t get you anywhere.

    The math curriculm is a good example of a defined item that needs fixing, but what has been the action plan to get it done. I give Jim Lennon a lot of credit for advocating for his child for several years, he’s walked the walk.

    Sandy … You forgot to hold the SC’s bosses accountable, the voters! None of them won by contested election. Also, extremely few show up at SC meeting to voice concerns, so you get what you paid for.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 16, 2009 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  22. Chariho will only change in one swell swoop…it will not change incrementally except for the worse. The swoop must be a change in leadership, first on the School Committe, followed by the administration.

    East Providence is the model. Past East Providence School Committees were loaded with government school sycophants and leeches, but the voters woke up and the current School Committee has only one holdover who supports the school employees over the children and the community. Something like that needs to happen in our community or we will still be banging our heads against the wall in five years.

    I’d rather you be a defeatist than a pragmatist. At least if you are a defeatist you’ll give up and not empower the beast. If you’re a pragmatist you’ll try to make deals with the devil…deals that have been tried and failed for many years now. Chariho needs wholesale change…it may not be pragmatic, but it is the only thing which will work.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 5:02 am | Reply

  23. I’m cracking up…one fell swoop…that’ll teach me to post at 4 AM.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  24. Ok, so what’s the plan to change the SC membership? As I understand it, noone was at the Hopkinton polling places handing out literature, etc., to defeat the bond last election. It didn’t pass by much, so how much effort would that have taken to beat it?

    You can’t rail for big changes and not be part of the change.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 17, 2009 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  25. Gene,

    There were representives located at 2 of the polling stations, that I know of. Besides, it shouldn’t always be left to Hopkinton to be practical and to be the savior of the 3 towns. Those of us who opposed the bond had the cards stacked against us. Perhaps, this should be a lesson to us for the future. Stand up and be counted, or you only have yourself to blame.

    The difference is the youth vote that have absolutely no clue because they live off of someone else. They vote on emotion, as they did for the president. Emotion isn’t going to put food on the table, oil in the tank, money in the checking account to afford taxes, insurance, mortgages, etc.

    People need to wake up, and realize that they need to take a stand for their children and their families. Government can’t keep growing if the private sector keeps shrinking. Hopkinton needs Richmond and Charlestown to join, or you can just forget change ever occurring.

    It’s only going to get worse.

    I’ve read your comments, and find you quite insightful and informative. I also find you correct in your opinions about involvement regarding holding public office.

    I find it a double-edged sword regarding ever increasing tax burdens along with the price of commodities and products, as people find the need to work more and more just to make ends meet, thus being unable to participate in the process of government. I can only hope that those brave souls that have the backbone to take it on the chin repeatedly would find the time to represent the constituency of their respective towns.

    With your interest in the goings on within your community and Chariho, I would encourage you to consider representing Richmond. CharihoParent and RS should consider the same for their towns. I think CR likes his anonymity, so I will not suggest his involvement. But, the 3 of you are engaging and certainly make an effort to inform yourselves to make a difference.

    Bob Petit mentions that he gets many calls in favor of the status quo. I find that we apparently get the other position, one of challenge and we cannot take it anymore kind of calls. I think it’s just representative of which side of the fence you seem to be on. No-one likes rejection so they go to the person who sides with their opinion so they don’t face rejection. (That’s my psychological evaluation for today. I am no psychologist.)

    I would like to hear from the silent ones, who are afraid to speak, even if it is through the anonymity of this blog.

    Have a nice day!
    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 17, 2009 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  26. Lois,

    I’m sure many of you have seen people come and go on this site and it probably gets old repeating the same old things over and over again. I listen, I go see, I’ve had some nice chats with people, Bill included. My issue now is difficulty getting the facts separated from opinions. I appreciate opinions and I can well believe they are based in fact, but it doesn’t help me when I’m talking with people.

    I’m a “process” orientated person, so don’t like to complain without a plan, so waiting for a tsumnai to change the membership on the SC seems like a longshot.

    In regards to the bond vote, my only knowledge was a few posts on this blog that were talking about BD there with signs and that there weren’t any anti-bond folks around.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 17, 2009 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  27. My mouth is too big to serve in a political capacity. I don’t suffer fools well and I might not even vote for myself since suffering fools is a requirement in politics.

    Besides, I believe we have been heading towards a police state, and while I have the courage (or lack thereof) to speak out in anonymity, I wouldn’t want to subject my family to the kind of police retaliation which was wreaked upon Mr. Mauti and the Matson family. I’ve heard rumors that at least one former Town Council member didn’t run for reelection because of his fear of the police. If I was a public figure I would get myself into trouble I can’t afford.

    I realize fear is a main contributor to a police state. I liken it to capitulating to terrorism. You may not want to tolerate it, but the alternative is scarier. Like the majority I depend on the brave among us, like Mr. Felkner, to stick their heads out while I stay firmly ensconced in my shell. No insult to anyone particular since I admit to my cowardice, but one can’t help but notice that no current politician speaks out about the absurdity of the size of Hopkinton’s police department or the outrageousness of their contracts. I believe this is the result of seeing what happened to Mr. Mauti and the Matson family. Who wants something similar to happen to them?

    Since Mr. Felkner is on the Town Council now, and he has demonstrated great courage in trying to change the Chariho status quo, maybe I’ll re-research and post some of the same kind of info on the Hopkinton Police Department which I posted on Hopkinton RI Speaks. I advise him to not anger the police, but if he is so inclined and wants to help the ocmmunity, they are far and away the biggest expense in our municipal budget. Hopkinton has almost no crime rate…and police don’t prevent crime, they respond to crime…so the police department’s impact on crime rate is minimal anyway. The department could me cut in half with no negative consequences for Hopkinton.

    I strongly support RS’ candidancy to the School Committee. If he brings even a little of what he brings to this blog, our children will be much better for his service. I hope Mr. Felkner survives the School Committee’s coup, but if not, RS would be an excellent person to fill the role.

    I’d even support CharihoParent against any of the current Richmond School Committee members. I’m not confident he has it in him to fight against the status quo, but perhaps with strong leadership he’d make the right choices some of time.

    Gene has impressed me so far. I’m a little concerned about how quickly he gave Ms. Cole’s a pass for her decisions on the School Committee…but unlike me he does put himself out there and he interacts with these people face-to-face and it is very difficult to criticize a person when you have to deal with them personally. Gene strikes me as young and still somewhat naive, but he does seem to get it and that’s far more than most.

    I really want the Buck children to grow up fast so we can have both their parents serving Hopkinton.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  28. Gene did hit upon one of the huge downsides to blogging. When I first started blogging I spent hours researching, posting, and linking. I eventually reached the point where I said I’m not using my time to inform person after person with the same information. It was especially frustrating when people like Mr. Petit would pretend he didn’t see what I had already spent my time finding.

    For the most part I now just offer my opinion based on the tons of information I already learned. Along comes someone like Gene who justifiably questions what I already know to be true. Frankly, I’m probably not going to go find it again. Believe me…don’t believe…or go look for yourself…I can’t repeat the same thing over and over again. Mrs. Buck came along and she kind of took over the same type of role…she participates less now and I wonder if it is because she feels she’s forced to repeat herself over and over, and use her valuable time to support her opinions for the umpteenth time?

    I’ve tried using the search feature on this blog, but it’s really not that good and you still end up having to spend a lot of time going back through old posts. Much of the research I did was posted on Hopkinton RI Speaks. To my knowledge, there is no way to recover anything from there…it’s completely gone.

    So Gene, I understand you don’t necessarily accept our opinions are based on facts. I guess that’s just the way it is….maybe you can pick up the research mantle? I hope you do because if you put in the time and discover what many of us here have already discovered, you may find yourself defaulting to suspicions of everything Chariho does. This is the history and like I tell my child, if you lie to be once, then I begin to assume you lie to me often. If you lie to me often, I begin to assume you lie to me always. It’s logical, and it is the logic I apply to every questionable things which happens at Chariho. Call me cynical, but the Chariho School Committee and administration have earned my disdain.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  29. CR … Alas, I wish you were right, to be young and naive again … seems like so long ago. I think it was my time in mgmt that de-flowered my naivity and has drawn me to accepting incremental change and consensus building. In usually is maddeningly slow, but whenever I’ve tried to put the pedal to the metal, it just digs me into a bigger hole.

    At 39, my body isn’t what is used to be, things all seemed so much easier at 29! I even have to watch my cholesterol now!

    Regardless or whether I disagree with you (or someone else) or not, I encourage public involvement in our common world. As an aside, imagine how much less info transfer there was before blogging.

    The nature of blogging is the same everywhere, I’ve contributed on blogs for hiking in NH and using popup campers, they both have this same flow of newbies where the same issues circulate. Without you doing lots of work to analyze data, your contribution is still enormous as you can point out areas to pay attention to. The person who runs the Richmond RI News web site shared a lot of info with me as well, although they remain anonymous. This info is extremely helpful.

    Now, you have to admit that no-one should blindly accept anonymous info as the gospel … if so, I’d think BF was a miserable, school-hating, teacher-hating, $%&$@$%.

    I most object to your line of reasoning that says change can only occur through radical action, sounds almost like communism. Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 17, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  30. Yes, I’m a communist…I’ve been uncovered.

    I don’t agree that communism is always, or usually, brought about by radicalism. I know it was that way with Russia, but I usually consider communism and socialism being an incremental change such as we’ve been experiencing in America since the Great Depression. Europe has gone even further down the path and it has been a slow erosion of democratic prinicple. Seems to me that democracies usually require radical action to be brought into existence.

    As for Chariho, my urgency is mostly driven by the reality that children are being harmed in the here and now. I won’t torture myself by accepting the sacrifice of today’s children while we try to secure the future of the next generation. I’m only in this until I get the heck out of here or I see substantial change in the next year or two. Chariho’s failures have tolerated and excused for years. I’ll check out if the status control continues to rule the day.

    I do admit you shouldn’t blindly accept anything you’re told at face value. I think that was my point in my post. Eventually though you should reach a point where you either trust or distrust a source based on its history. As I explained, I don’t trust anything coming from the powers controlling Chariho. They are proven liars and manipulators. Plus, from a rational perspective, they have personal reasons to lie and manipulate.

    I can’t think of anything those opposing the Chariho status quo have to gain other then the stated purpose of improving educational outcomes for children. Someone like Mr. Felkner, who is a strong advocate for school choice, even concedes personal benefit should it ever come to be.

    So you are the Gene Daniell who is all over the internet for hiking guides and such? I figured it was your Dad, not you. If you, you are quite accomplished and not so young.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  31. CR, you guessed right, the WMG editor is my dad (Gene III), I’m Gene IV, the other one you’ll see Gene Jr, was my grand-dad. I’m the only one without a felony conviction for political activities, but there’s still time yet.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 17, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  32. Sounds like you have quite a legacy Gene. I’ll be rooting for your felony conviction to arise from something positive you do for the community.

    Interesting statement from the leader of an East Providence taxpayers group. Couldn’t help but think of the conflicts and self-serving actions of our current School Committee majority.

    “Murphy said past board members — “retired teachers, School Department employees and union officials who had horrendous conflicts of interest” — approved a contract for teachers the city could not afford.

    “They and members of their family were receiving benefits from the very contracts they were negotiating,” Murphy said. “They took care of themselves, their friends and their families; not the school children or the general public.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 17, 2009 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

  33. Sorry, CR, that I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I may have opinions, but don’t often share them for fear of redundancy.

    I will take up a cause, but I’ve learned that too many causes can stretch a person really thin. I would hope that people would take the initiative and simply go with an idea.

    I also have a business to run and I work part-time with 2 other jobs, plus I spend a great deal of my time with my 2 children. As you can well imagine, Tom has a great deal of meetings being involved with the TC, as well as, other ventures. He has my blessing, as I believe he ventures to make a difference for his community and his family.

    I will entertain the SC someday, but it is not a good time right now. If I am unable to attend the meetings now, then how can I presume to make a difference. (This is something I can do at anytime.) I choose to read the comments, listen and learn. I choose to listen to those who post research to support their opinions over those that just post opinions. Opinions are too emotional.

    I’ve been reading this blog since its inception, so I am aware of your research. It is quite extensive. Perhaps, that is why you were absent for a time; I wish you well.

    The search feature stinks. I’ve tried it on other blogs as well. I choose to use Bill’s categories, but that isn’t always reliable as he has fallen to giving everything a category of 1.

    Though I believe there is enough info to support Bill’s retention on the SC, it is my personal opinion that he is stretching himself too thin. Trust me, I know from experience how that effects your work and efficiency. Though you are willing to accept this, I am deeply concerned.

    I would prefer he remain on the SC, but it is costly for him to resign the TC as another election would have to occur at such an early point in his tenure, thus costing Hopkinton dollars. If his only reason for joining the HTC is vouchers, then I am sadly disappointed. There is more to this position than the voucher agenda, and if he was willing to approach the HTC, I am sure that 3/4ths of the council, other than himself, is willing to listen and be open about the subject.

    Anyways, that is my opinion, and it is just that, an opinion, full of emotionalism.

    Have a nice day!
    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 18, 2009 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  34. Gene, I welcome your involvement, and I pray you do not receive a felony conviction for public service.

    I, like you, am a process oriented person. It tends to drive some people crazy.

    Research, from reliable sources, is important. I find that there is a lot of info on the web, but it is not firmly grounded on solid research.

    I had hoped that CharihoParent would have provided his research regarding vouchers and school choice, as he was an opponent of it at one time, and has since softened his opinion. That, I find, is quite intriguing, and I am certainly interested in the process of his conversion. (CharihoParent and I have had some civil disagreements.)

    I don’t find this blog antagonistic, like some feel it is. If they were following it deeply from the beginning, they would understand the deep frustration of those that appear antagonistic. Change is slow, and it is hard to wait sometimes.

    Anyways, it is nice to see people conversing here, even if I may disagree with them from time to time.

    The SC could do well to accept this mode of conversation and embrace it. They could even make it productive. Though Bob Petit and I have had some productive conversations on the phone, his blogging was very defensive. I really think he could have made it work, if the defensive posturing were removed.

    Though I disagree on the involvement of Bill in the TC and the SC, I think that I have earned people’s respect, and I do not feel the need to be defensive. This is simply based on my own personal experiences. I’ve seen it before when people, including myself, get stretched too thin, they become ineffective in pretty much everything. (If Bill simply had a 9-5 job which he left at work, then it is possible, but he doesn’t.) For Hopkinton’s sake, I wish him luck.

    Have a nice day!
    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 18, 2009 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  35. I love BD and he love me. AD

    Comment by Us — January 18, 2009 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  36. How can radical change occur on the school committee when only 1 or 2 seats change in each town every two years? The only way we could get radical change is if all seats on the school committee were up for re-election at the same time so the change does have to occur in increments. I fear that Gene is correct, we need more consensus building for now until we can get a better school committee.

    I wouldn’t run for any politcal office, my current job takes up too much of time and I know I couldn’t commit as much as would be required for any political office, be it school committee or town council. Besides, I prefer to work behind the scene and fly low under the radar.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 18, 2009 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  37. Seems like we have four solid members now in Mr. Vecchio, Ms. Carney, Mr. Felkner, and Mr. Abbott. The Chariho communities only need two more members who are committed to ending the status quo at Chariho. I don’t think we have much chance of seeing positive change before the next election anyway.

    The School Committee majority and the administration are dedicated to advancing the fortunes of their family and friends. Nothing we say or do will change their dedication to enriching their own. In the interim we need the transparency Mr. Felkner provides so they at least feel somewhat restrained by public awareness.

    In two years we will know if enough people are tired of tolerating Chariho’s failure to teach and failure to spend responsibly. The community didn’t wise up in time for the bond vote, so I’m not optimistic, but will try to do my part to stir action. If the community doesn’t wake up by the next election, so be it. They and their children will get what they want and deserve. I stopped the bleeding in my family already, so other than the cost/tax issues, my child is already protected from Chariho’s failures.

    If incremental change is acceptable to those with young children, who have years more to go, then good luck to their children. I don’t understand it, but good luck anyway. I’ll will be content realizing our child, who is having education subsidized by aware parents, will have huge educational advantages. I am tiring of fighting a losing battle for other people’s children. If they don’t care, why should we?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 18, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  38. The election schedule is (all 4 year terms):

    2010 seats up:
    HO: BF,GA,RP
    RI: TS
    CH: AM,HE,AP

    2012 seats up
    HO: RV
    RI: MC, BD
    CH: DC

    So, with 7 seats up, the next election is important and could be a game changer, but I somewhat doubt that interest will grow for the jobs. Consider that AM&HE won with a combined vote total around 20.

    The only question is when seat reallocation is effective after the census, if Richmond pop becomes higher than CH or HO.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 18, 2009 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  39. It appears the RI Ethics Commission says it’s OK for SC members to have in-laws working as teachers.

    A.O. 2009-3 to Michelle Cole, a member of the Chariho School Committee, opining that she need not recuse from participating in the School Committee’s review, negotiations, and vote regarding the current teachers’ contract, notwithstanding the fact that her sister-in-law is a substitute teacher in the Chariho school system.

    http://www.ri.gov/press/view/7991

    Comment by RS — January 19, 2009 @ 12:33 am | Reply

  40. Lois,
    good to have you back posting. However, believe it or not, I am starting on the TC with one more agenda item than I did with the SC. When I started the SC my only issue was transparency. Then I found the math curriculum, vouchers, etc…

    I suspect more will inspire me on the TC. But transparency is still the big one. Did you know that Hopkinton is one of, if not THE, most expensive town to get public information from? Hundreds of dollars just to see public information.

    I am at heart a small government guy. When Tom and I were having coffee at Tim Horton and saw the Dept of Transportation come in at 9:30 for a full round of coffee and donuts, I couldn’t help but think maybe our DOT could be privatized.

    IMHO, contract negotiations (spending tax dollars) should be done in public. If the police dept is as out of whack as some people on this and other blogs thinks, then lets throw it out to the public and be open about it (don’t read this as the TC not wanting to, I have not heard them say they wouldn’t do it in public). The HOpkinton and other town police contracts are up at http://www.transparencytrain.org

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 19, 2009 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  41. PS> If the Chariho teacher contract will be negotiated in public, then who cares if MC is related. We will get to see if they are working for us or not.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 19, 2009 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  42. I would agree BF, but that is probably the largest “if” used on the blog thus far. Without transparency, and oversight, the ability for a SC member to be “educated” only by those who would benefit from a contract is unchecked.

    Comment by RS — January 19, 2009 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  43. For what it’s worth, MC was vetted by both the Richmond Rep and Dem town committees. Their concerns and her answers are consistent with what most of the folks here on the blog would be quite pleased with …

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 19, 2009 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  44. So she is willing to hold open meetings for negotiations ?? The true test.

    Comment by RS — January 19, 2009 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  45. She told me she prefers open negotiations.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 19, 2009 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  46. Bill,
    Well, I am aware that Hopkinton charged your company for the copies you requested. I also understand that only one other town charged you. It is legal within the state for cities and towns to charge, and I believe the rate was the legal rate allowed by the state. (On a personal note, I believe that their should be a charge. Sorry, I don’t agree with you here.) What did OSPRI have to pay per copy?

    Transparency is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. I personally, believe that you can get the same thing by getting the town to post the documents that you think are relevent on the town’s website. Thereby, you save on copy costs, the town saves on the labor to copy them, less toner and paper is used, and your constituents are happy because they have access. Sounds like a win-win for all including nature, as the trees give up the material for the paper.

    I am glad that you have other things that you would like to accomplish. All the best to you and the current council. You had my vote both times, and I’m sure you won’t disappoint.

    I am also a small government person. The bigger it is, the less in our pockets, and the less they accomplish.

    Reagan was my favorite prez, and I was excited when I was able to give him my first vote for his second term. He always believed that government was the problem. (His words are prophetic for the current situation we are in.)

    As far as the DOT, sounds like a break time, which they legally are required to take and as an employer we are legally obligated to provide. Now, if the break becomes excessive, then I would have a problem.

    I am wondering if the DOT issue was put on an agenda and discussed with the other five councilors as a policy item. Perhaps, this should have been addressed with Doug Reese. Did you ask questions to either the council or Doug or Bill Dilibero (Hopkinton town manager for those who do not know.)?

    I ask these questions as I don’t often keep up with town issues. I have my plate full with other things. This is what I voted you in for. I feel confident you and the other councilors can handle it.

    I believe that negotiations can be open, but with strict controls. (Look what happened with EP at their school committee meeting recently. And their school committee is taking on this challenge head-on.) Personally, I believe that they can be done behind closed doors with conditions. Those conditions should be that the public have time to read the current and proposed changes with more than 1 hour before the vote to accept the contract, preferably at least a week or two.

    People can certainly review the existing contracts, and call their councilors to address what changes they would like to see. These are public documents.

    I believe if you get the right people representing you, then let them negotiate these contracts. That is their responsibility. If they mess up, then people need to vote the bums out.

    I could go on, but I won’t bore you.

    Have a nice day!

    Lois

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 19, 2009 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  47. Mind you, the above is my opinion. I can’t speak for Tom. You can ask him his anytime.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 19, 2009 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  48. Lois,
    I didn’t mean to infer that the DOT was necessarily wrong, starting the day at 6 or 7 would make such a break at that time proper – it just made me think about the fact that making sure it runs efficiently is now a job for the (?) town council/citizens/? but we know its not a function of the market. Normal business are efficient because it must be to keep the job (otherwise someone else that does run more efficiently will underbid them – so the market monitors them). Government on the other hand does not have those monitoring pressures.

    The EP situation is quite ironic. The NEA opposes open negotiations because they say it will get unmanageable. But it was a normal meeting that became unmanageable because of the NEA – not the taxpayers.

    Opening up the process just allows many more eyes to provide information. A council of 5 (or 20) cant do the job that a community of 8000 could (even if only 1% of them participate).

    And I agree completely, I would love to see every town publish their info online. As for what Hopkinton charges, I read about it in a letter in the paper from our competitor. Matt G runs the project at OSPRI so he would have the details, but many times we contact a council member and simply ask them to provide us the check registers from their packets. There is usually at least one who is willing to be open.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 20, 2009 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  49. You are the monitoring pressure. The taxpayer is the monitoring pressure. That’s why we get phone calls, when someone is dissatisfied.

    Bill, you’d be happy if everything was privatized! lol

    Yes, I understand who was involved with the uprising during that meeting. My point is that it is easy for meetings to get unruly.

    Personally, I voted for you because I trust you to deal with these issues. If a councilor is not up to the task of creating a contract to benefit all involved, then I would hope they would resign or certainly choose not to run again.

    You guys run the meetings, and you are entrusted to provide services to the taxpayer at a reasonable cost, which certainly to me means that you need to negotiate reasonable contracts. Too many chiefs running the show is an invitation to chaos.

    You, as a Hopkinton representative, certainly can get info from your constituency regarding what people would like to see within the contracts. Then you bring it to the table, or certainly communicate it to those involved in the negotiations. Then hopefully all are in agreement that it is the best contract.

    The process is open now as far as the communication is open. I believe Tom’s email is available on the town’s website, and he takes phone calls all the time from our home phone. I would like to see emails provided by the town for all the councilors.

    As far as the check register goes, are you volunteering to offer your check registers? 🙂

    I would like to see our website used to its full potential. I have stated in the past on one of the blogs that this is good use of our resources. I know the charter and the code of ordinances are on the website. The town is moving in the right direction. In time, all data will be available, and it will certainly be cheaper.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  50. “Bill, you’d be happy if everything was privatized! lol”

    Well, I think there are some legal issues against privatizing police, and Im still on the fence about privatizing sidewalks, but your pretty much right. Someone recently told me about Voluntown, CT (I think). No schools, DOT, maybe police (staties), etc… All goes out for bid.

    Hopkinton has kept water, sewer and trash service privatized. Other communities don’t. Anything is possible.

    “As far as the check register goes, are you volunteering to offer your check registers?”

    If I used tax dollars – you betcha’ But believe me – there isn’t much to look at.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 20, 2009 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  51. Huge difference between a check register from a private citizen who “earns” a living, and a Gov’t entity that collects taxes and is responsible to the citizens…..remember the power is granted by the people.

    ….and actually we do open our checkbooks up to the IRS every year or at least they have the opportunity to look at all our expenses and income if they choose.

    Not to mention, the last time I checked the Constitution, there were very few mandates in it regarding what the Gov’t is tasked with providing. Of course why let the country’s founding document get in the way of what the people want to be provided with….after all its “just words”.

    Comment by RS — January 20, 2009 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  52. I’m sure you can recognize that I meant the one you get in your packet, as you referenced that source.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  53. Wow, I can’t believe you guys would presume that I meant his personal check register. Read post #48, last sentence, if you are that confused. My response was in regards to that.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  54. Disappointing to read Mrs. Buck isn’t a supporter of open contract negotiations. Having open negotiations isn’t just about having taxpayer input, but it is tool to ensure no backroom deals. I am pretty diligent these days before giving someone my vote, but even with diligence I’ve been misled by elected official, i.e., Booby Petit. Trust is wonderful, but there are very few people I trust completely.

    The problem with Mrs. Buck’s philosophy is we don’t get the inside story on negotiations and once a contract is negotiated and agreed upon, it would be very difficult to harness public opinion to affect change. Exactly where would we go to oppose a contract which has already been agreed to by both parties? The newspapers…this blog? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Open negotiations, and transparency in general, work because those representing us and those trying to get something from us, are more likely to think of us if they know we are watching or have the potential to watch. Consider children doing their homework…we may trust them…but most children, if not all, are more likely to pay attention to what they are doing if they are being monitored. Inevitably, if I fail to check my child’s homework for a few nights, when I get back to it, my child has begun to slack off thinking I’m no longer watching. Maybe not the perfect analogy, but that’s how I think of it. All negotiations should be done in public. If there is nothing to hide, why hide?

    Not sure the status of the Hopkinton Police Department contract. I’ll have to go check out the Transparency Train, but if there are any minimum staffing levels in the contract they should be taken out. I’m also thinking the police have crazy retirement benefits? I know this could be controversial, but being a police officer in Hopkinton isn’t exactly a high risk, stressful job. Our crime rate is virtually nil, so I can’t see why an officer can’t do that job for 30 to 40 years before retiring.

    I hope to spend some time over the next couple of weeks looking into the police contract as well as crime stats and police spending. I did this before at Hopkinton RI Speaks, but since it looks like we have no hope of controlling spending at Chariho, turning attention to next highest local, tax-consuming government entity makes sense. Whether anyone on the Town Council will have the courage to take on this issue is another thing…I know I wouldn’t do it.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2009 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  55. Please, tell me you were being facetious?

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  56. No, there should be strict controls if contracts are to be open. Certainly, with this state, open contracts would have helped prevent part of the mess we are in.

    If it’s going to be a free for all, then yes, I am against them. No, progress can be gained by chaos.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  57. Post #55 was in answer to BF, and RS.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  58. I’ll admit I missed it. Although, my mind is tainted because someone did actually ask me for my check book when I was pushing for gov’t transparency. Sorry to have transposed that to you – occupational hazard I suppose.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 20, 2009 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  59. Too funny…I thought Mrs. Buck was referring to Mr. Felkner posting the check register from his packet…not his personal check register.

    Hopkinton has a pretty good website which could be much better if check registers and everything else was put there. We must have the ability to scan documents? Since Town Council members already receive copies, it can’t be too difficult or time consuming to simply scan the same and put it on the internet? I have to believe most public documents are now done using a computer. There might be a learning curve learning how to transmit information from the computer onto the internet, but it would be fairly simple once town staff is trained to do it. No reason why Hopkinton should be a state leader in charging citizens for public information. Time for Hopkinton to say hello to the 21st Century.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2009 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  60. Post #56 is an answer to CR. Will check back later to read your response.

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  61. I don’t want chaos either. The police didn’t hesitate to remove Mr. Felkner when he was merely sitting in a seat they didn’t want him in. I assume there a law about disrupting meetings? If so, then have open negoations and make sure the law is followed. Hopkinton must have plenty of police officers looking for something to occupy their time. Not too long ago they were attempting to enforce zoning laws against select members of the community. If they can find time to involve themselves in issues outside their normal duties, they can certainly find time to make sure Town Council meetings are not disrupted by unions and disgruntled taxpayers.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2009 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  62. And I agree that chaos doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose. I think open negotiations allows the public to provide valuable data – doesn’t have to mean a loss of decorum. but the reality is, few council members have the time to do proper research. What is our per household expenditures on police, DOT, etc… How does that compare to other communities around the country. What towns have done it differently (with positive results). Having an entire town involved in finding those answers is more productive than 5 or 50 council members. But yes, there can only be one (or 5) chefs that make the final decision.

    I spoke with a gentleman today who moved to Hopkinton in 1989. According to him, there was one police chief with 2 part timers at that time. How much staff do we have now? Has our population increased equally? What were our crime rates then and now? Lots of questions but only a few of us to find the answers. Lois is right, if others do the research, those of us on the council can use it.

    The math curriculum is a prime example. Chariho obviously knows about other math programs, but it took citizen involvement to provide enough data to push the pols to do something about it.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 20, 2009 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  63. I’m guilty……I really thought Lois wanted to peek in BF’s meager checkbook. I kinda feel like a dope now, but hey learning is defined as “a change in behavior”, so my behavior is now changed. To be honest, I never knew the packets contained the towns check register, but then how would I if I have never seen one of the packets or was told by someone.

    Comment by RS — January 20, 2009 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  64. Oh no, the dreaded police staffing horse (thought we beat it dead) is back!

    Comment by RS — January 20, 2009 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  65. I never said the town couldn’t be involved. The contract is a public document. Certainly, people can research it, and brainstorm ideas where they think it could be better, and communicate that with the council, through public forum at any meeting, phone, or email.

    As an example, the last two years of budget workshops for the town have allowed for ample opportunity for people to offer their suggestions, and I’m sure the next 2 will be the same. I am very confident in their ability to take into consideration the opinions of the average Joe.

    But, I could see where the need to be open is important, as the current council may not always be in their current positions.

    But, I also see the need for “not tipping ones hat,” so to speak. So, what is the healthy balance?

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 20, 2009 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

  66. I say we tip our hat because it forces unions to tip their hat. Let’s be honest, in recent years the government unions have been mopping the floor with elected officials. I’ve done no research, but feel confident in saying the public employees unions have consistently delivered benefits and wages far beyond what those of us in the private sector have received. So what will be tipping?

    Besides, we are talking about the actual negotiation process. I don’t think anyone is saying elected officials can’t decide on a strategy behind closed doors just as the union decides on a strategy out of the public eye. I believe the call is for the actual negotiations, where both parties put their cards on the table, to be open and transparent.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 20, 2009 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  67. I’d have to hear a compelling reason to not have open negotiations. With that said if their are impracticalities with open neg, at least if members (like Carney) were allowed to discuss the substance of the neg, I’d probably be ok with that. Or maybe allow the newspapers in, or a few locals, etc. Something that would give the public confidence that negotiations were happening subject to the light of day.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 21, 2009 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  68. Gene, that idea is not that much different than my suggestion. The newspaper idea isn’t a bad idea, but personally, I’d rather hear it from the horses mouth rather than through another’s mouthpiece.

    It is really sad that we do not have confidence in these people, don’t you think?

    It is also sad that one committee has tainted the trust that people have with the others, don’t you think?

    I think people need to take the time and actually talk to their councilors. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten to know Sylvia, Barbara, and Bill. I can’t speak for Beverly because we have only talked in passing, but the other 3 have taken the time to talk the issues and explain their thinking, and they have also listened to mine.

    If you are concerned about your representation, please talk to them. Study the contracts (Police, teachers, or whatever), then offer your ideas. I can tell you that, through experience, Hopkinton’s reps will listen. Gene and CP, what about Richmond’s?

    Comment by Lois Buck — January 21, 2009 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  69. There is often a perception that negotiations need to be overseen. Accurate or not, the perception is there. But even assuming that all Committee and Council members have our best interest at heart, I still think open negotiations provide something more – which we are seeing in East Providence. When EP came out and said (paraphrased) ‘we can’t affort double digit raises and no/low copays’ – the citizens were right there behind them to say ‘don’t back down’.

    But when things happen behind closed doors different things can happen. When I was in the negotiations last year and tried to hold firm to ‘no double digit raises,’ Andy P convinced the rest of the sub committee that ‘everyone from the teachers to milk delivery people would strike and parent would hate us’ – so they backed down and signed another contract not too different from all the others.

    If negotiations were open, the public could be right there to say, “we won’t hate you – stand firm!” And that is exactly what we are seeing in EP. I think open meetings would provide negotiating teams with a considerable amount of political will.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 21, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  70. RE#68 … Lois, Funny you should ask, I spent two hours talking with Oppenheimer yesterday morning over coffee. It was a great conversation, very open, full of “real” opinions, answered my questions, really a most enjoyable time.

    Curran and Osborne have also made themselves available, I haven’t got to Reddish and Thayer yet, I’m sure I will.

    For that matter, I had an EDC matter to take up with Ricci the other day, he was very accommodating and a pleasure to speak with.

    And, Bill made himself available for a chat, and Tom was fun at the budget meeting, so not only have I chatted with my TC folks, but yours as well!

    This doesn’t mean I will agree with all of them all the time, but they took the time, didn’t seem annoyed (yet anyway), so I can’t complain.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — January 21, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  71. Let’s not confuse likeability with competence. I personally know several past and current School Committee members who have given away the store. On a one-on-one basis they aren’t bad people, but they make horrendous decisions with no consideration of the consequences for children or the community. Even a certified lunatic can have moments of coherent thought, but when push comes to shove, and they are voting or negotiating, do they protect the community or take the easier path? Mr. Ricci isn’t the devil…he’s just a guy who will do almost anything to expand his empire. If it requires him to manipulate the School Committee so he can end up with unsupervised access to a lawyer, it is that much easier when he’s a “nice” guy who they feel they can trust. None of this is about good and evil. This is about who is in control. The community or a few elite individuals with an self-serving agenda?

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 22, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  72. Well Bill, that reasoning makes a great deal of sense to me. Thanks for that insight.

    Regarding EP, in the initial talks and as they progressed, how was the public involved?

    Did they actually sit during the negotiations?

    Was it limited to the number of attendees?

    In general, what if a union packs a hall with their own people, how do you protect the public and provide equal representation?

    What if the union members caucus? Can the School Committees and the town councils caucus too?

    Just some questions. Perhaps, you can provide some more insight.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Lois — January 22, 2009 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  73. GOod questions – the answers are also insightful.

    The EPSC proposed open negotiations in the ground rules presented to the NEA. The NEA refused – no counter. The EPSC then said, ‘at least give 2 seats to the press (which I think is too little oversight but it is something). They said they can only sit and watch, if they become disruptive we throw them out.’

    Again the NEA said no. So, the EPSC said we are going to do this in the public, you do what you want. So the face to face negotiations broke down right there. EPSC said, we need to save $3mm. The NEA presented a proposal in writing claiming $1mm saving (although, this was shown to be short term and a hike of the budget in yr 2 and 3). The EPSC showed it to the public, said no, and presented their own. The NEA said no. It went to non-binding arbitration. The EPSC said, ok, but we will not sign an extension to your contract and by law no contract can exceed 3 years, so you are without a contract as of (date?).

    The date came and the SC said, we are implimenting our proposal. If you don’t like it, we will accept your resignation.

    THe process also went to arbitration and as is the nature of the job, the arbitrator found middle ground. But middle ground wasn’t acceptable (or affordable) so the EPSC said no. The NEA filed suit to enforce the arbitration decision, the judge hears it on Friday. The EPSC will have a press conference on Saturday.

    I dont read the EP paper, but I’m told public support is high and vocal. Obviously, members of the school committee are open about their actions and continue on this path. So I have to assume they aren’t getting constituent pressure to change. The ones I know fell strongly supported.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 22, 2009 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  74. Its very tough to garner public sympathy for a job that is by no means paying poverty level wages when the same public has been overburdened with, at times, double digit tax increases and have in most cases been going through belt tightening of their own. You can’t fault the union leadership for attempting to try and gain every penny they can…this is their job. You also can’t blame the taxpayer for wanting to avoid their own fiscal crisis due to ever spiraling costs. What you can fault the union leadership for is the arrogance of entitlement and the manipulation of information for said purpose. The union members can also be faulted for their “blinders on” approach to following whatever guidance they are given from their single source information provider. They may not truly be at fault since most likely they have been indoctrinated from childhood.

    http://www.education-reform.net/follow_leader.htm

    Comment by RS — January 22, 2009 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  75. ……and the taxpayers are worried about effeciency at Chariho. Not to fear, the SC is looking out for our best interest and keeping an eye on effeciency. Also we wouldn’t want to make the NEA’s job more difficult by requiring openness and transparency.

    Excerpt from Westerly Sun article “Chariho teacher contract talks start” dated January 28, 2009.

    “The school committee con­sidered conducting negotia­tions publicly, but decided that would be inefficient,” said Eaves.
    Hawkins said, “It makes it extremely difficult to conduct negotiations with the entire public.”

    Source: http://www.thewesterlysun.com/articles/2009/01/28/epaper_news/doc49805b0310703813349631.txt

    Comment by RS — January 29, 2009 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  76. I saw that last night when I was browsing through the newspaper. Just about turned my stomach. How would it be inefficient? Who says they would be negotiating with the entire public? They totally miss the reasons for having open negotiations. The people who are footing the bill are shut out until the very end and by then it’s too late. We’re suppose to just sit back and the bill? The more I read, the more I hear, the more I’m convinced that I won’t be in this state within 5 years. It’s really sad to think about because the state does have a lot to offer but our politicians take away from all of the positive points.

    Comment by CharihoParent — January 29, 2009 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  77. I feel your pain CP, and you are dead on about the negotiating process, it is now and, with openness to the public, would still be between the SC and the NEA, but the public would have the ability to observe the process and be in a position to see what is being proposed. Then the public could voice praise, opposition, and support to the SC on the proposed contract. I guess the SC doesn’t want to be bothered with what the voters and taxpayers want.

    You are correct, RI is a beautiful state with lots to offer, but no state is so great to sacrifice my childrens education for. If the tax structure in the state were at a point where I could afford private school, I would opt for this and be happy. Sadly the amount of taxes I pay in RI, both state and property, preclude my budget from allowing this. My job allows me to live anywhere I wish(some of my collegues even live overseas), so if all else fails, my option to move is always available.

    Comment by RS — January 29, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Reply


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