Chariho School Parents’ Forum

February 16, 2009

March 9 court brief

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 9:35 pm

[UPDATE] I neglected to note that this was amended fixing the 2 errors  – bottom of page 1, ‘all members save one from Hopkinton and Richmond.’  should have been Charlestown and Richmond.  Also on page 2 where the number of SC members were switched – Richmond 3 and Charlestown 4.


Gorham has submitted the following brief.  I know I’m biased, but I think its very good. 

Speaking of the case, we have more than enough to cover filing fees so far so no need to send any more donations at this time.  Thank you very much for the help.

Gorham Feb 16 brief



  1. Just started reading the brief and noticed an error. The brief attributes 3 School Committee seats to Charlestown and 4 to Richmond.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 16, 2009 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

  2. What really sticks in my craw is citizens of Hopkinton had our vote subverted by politicians from other towns. I not only want the court to reinstate our representative, I want there to be severe penalties for those arrogant enough to overturn the vote of an entire town of people.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 12:07 am | Reply

  3. And that mentality is exactly why the votes need to be a simple majority. We have a regional school district and as one of your councilors said, it’s about time we begin to act like a school disctrict. One tax rate and simple majority vote would end this stupidty of my town this and my town that.

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 17, 2009 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  4. CP … As a people, there’s not a lot of examples in history where people support their neighbors to their own expense. Consider the stimulus package, it’s all about what “we” can get not what’s best for the country.

    If all the people of the district truely wanted a fully “regional” district, then their would be some committee members elected “at large”, the tax rate would be evenly applied over the entire district, etc.

    Political subdivisions tend to be parochial, at least up here in the Northeast. Down south and out west you see more county gov’t where towns do more together … but I’m sure they have the same issues.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  5. What you say is very true Gene. I have a relative who moved to Illinois from Rhode Island. They have school districts, not town schools. Taxing is by district or county. I asked about the potential for a couple of towns to gang up on a third town and spend less on certain schools based on geography, she said it isn’t even part of their thought process. They are as loyal to a county or district as they are to a town, maybe more so.

    As we’ve already seen with the 1904 building and the Richmond School water situation, people around here are very parochial. School choice solves the problem though if anyone is interested.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  6. Did y’all read this Projo article:

    Several interesting points:

    1. Peter McWalters, Commisioner of Educ, says tough cuts and reforms need to be made. We have created structural (employee contracts) costs that we can’t afford.

    2. Patrick Guida, member Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education AND member Barrington School Committee, says everyone will have to make sacrifices. (NOTE: He holds two offices … hmmm … can the Chariho SC vote to disqualify him? If they can interpret the Hopkinton Charter, why not state law? Or implement a common law solution.)

    3. RI is #2 highest state for depending on property taxes for schools! Only one more place to go, we can do it!

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  7. CR … in addition to vouchers, it they let parents have flexibility to choose the public school we could get more competition.

    For instance, the Chariho Career and Technical Center actively recruits students from other districts, who pay the $14K tuition to Chariho.

    People in “North” Richmond may choose to send their children to EWG, much closer than the Switch road campus. Ashaway folks are close to Westerly, some Charlestown folks aren’t far from South Kingstown or Naragansett.

    Or better yet, district X has a great program for YYY, that’s important to me; or district Z get s great test scores.

    As soon as parents are seen as “customers”, things will change!

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  8. Gene,
    Here’s the problem as I see, it’s all talk on this blog, no one, other than Bill Felkner, really says much about these problems away from the blog. After a while is starts to become “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. I’ve reading the same thing over and over again on this blog and hardly anywhere else. If the citizens of the community, any community, so stand up in force nothing in this school district, in any of the towns or in this state is ever going to change.

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 17, 2009 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  9. CR,
    Explain how school choice solves the problem of people around here being very parochial. I fail to understand that one!

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 17, 2009 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  10. CP, I agree with you, I have been very lonely at the regular and budget meetings.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  11. You can’t afford to be parochial when you are competing for customers. If Chariho neglected one community to the detriment of another community, parents would simply choose not to send their children to the inferior school. It becomes the best interest of everyone to maintain schools regardless of where they are located. The power of a town becomes secondary to the power of choice.

    While I would like to see more public support for school choice, this blog is a public forum. I’m not sure why our voices are less important here than at a School Committee meeting? Short of holding an office with power, I’m not sure what CP would have us do? We express our opinions here and hope those in power listen. We know they read here. If they choose to ignore what we say here, I don’t see why they would pay attention if we spoke up in another venue? The School Committee is very good at shutting down there own members as we’ve seen with Mr. Felkner, and as the most recent meeting demonstrated with Ms. Carney and Mr. Vecchio. I guess it is possible we are the only ones with any concerns about Chariho. It sure feels that way.

    I’ll continue to speak up here and pray for a day when I can get the heck out of Dodge.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

  12. So how many people do you think were meeting under the liberty tree which changed the course of history and gave our great country its birth? It wasn’t all of Boston…..

    Comment by RS — February 17, 2009 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  13. RS,
    Certainly was NOT 1 or 2 people under the liberty tree!

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 17, 2009 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

  14. I’m not happy with the amount of people advocating for change at Chariho, but clearly it is more than 1 or 2 people. Off the top of my head I can can come up with a dozen or so in Hopkinton alone.

    As the bond votes indicated, somewhere around 50% of Hopkinton is not satisfied with Chariho at some level. Granted most of them are silent except for their votes, but Hopkinton voters have repeatedly signaled their lack of faith in Chariho.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  15. CR,
    But school choice does become a parochial issue since it’s not from the school district, it comes from the town. You say you know those “in power” read this but does it have any affect when only a handful of taxpayers post on here? Heck no! This blog means nothing to them because they don’t see faces, just words. And the words only come from a select few. Until you can get an overwhelming amount of people willing to stand up and do something nothing will change.

    Comment by CharihoParent — February 17, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  16. I’ll tell you what means something to them………..some of the bills being introduced on Smith Hill. You can bet the unions will have their people in place to lobby, who will be speaking for the rest of us?

    Maybe I’ll see some of you up there with the other 2 people.

    Sometimes it only takes 1 person to have a bill killed in committee………I know, I’ve been that one person. How many bills do you think your elected officials have time to read and understand?

    You think a few people can’t make changes, you obviously haven’t witnessed the business in RI politics. Many bills passed are done so by the work of very few.

    Comment by RS — February 17, 2009 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  17. By the way, since I have been writing about the 1904 building, am I correct in assuming that the current committee has written a proposal for stimulus money to refurbish this building? I am sure you have all been working hard. I understand that Stimulus money will be reserved for renovations and upgrades, NOT new construction, so your proposal will be way ahead of the CHARIHO proposal.

    I would think that new, composite clapboards, which are fireproof, insulation, new windows, roof and gutters and upgrades to fire code will take about 1.5 to 2 million, and be money well spent!

    There was one evaluation of the building several years ago, which outlined renovations, and the cost was about 1 million. Now, the cost would probably be about 1.5 to 2 million, but it would be worth every cent! Think, local money, local jobs, and a solution to the need to bring back our kids, and get rid of the portable classrooms !

    Hope you people on the 1904 building committee have finished and submitted your proposal! I for one, look forward to a rebirth of that building.

    Comment by Dorothy — February 17, 2009 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  18. Hi!
    The political reality is this: Brian Kennedy being a committee chairman in the RI House has the influence to really “kill” a local bill. You need to be tight with the Speaker to be a committee chair. That is political reality.

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 17, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  19. Hi!
    The observation by Curious Resident on numbers of various school committee members is correct. I think there is another error? I will look over again tomorrow. The RI AG office has Hopkinton with a “g” in at least multiple times in one court document!
    Proof reading is important!

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 17, 2009 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  20. Re: #15, school choice ends any thought of parochialism because competition doesn’t stop at any one town’s borders. If Chariho maintained Richmond Elementary and let Hope Valley Elementary deteriorate, then choice would result in parents choosing to send their children to other schools (perhaps even Richmond). Not sure if this is clearer for CP, but since I’m not sure why the concept wasn’t easily understood in the first place my explanation may still be confusing to him.

    I do agree with CP that the more people calling for change at Chariho the more likely it is to happen, but we’ve already proven that Hopkinton can’t do it alone. Hopkinton has spoken with numerous votes the last few years, and still the Chariho status quo continues. Faces or no faces, the School Committee has their agenda and short of voting in new representation, there seems little can be done.

    Hopkinton has Mr. Abbott, Mr. Vecchio, and Mr. Felkner looking to change the Chariho status quo. Charlestown has Ms. Carney. Richmond has nobody. Like I said, Hopkinton alone can’t get it done, and I don’t know what any of us here or at a School Committee meeting can do to wake up the huge Richmond majority who think everything is hunky-dory at Chariho. I had had hope the Richmond blog would create some public awareness in Richmond, but even that tiny effort seemingly has fizzled.

    Re: #17, Mrs. Gardiner can you tell us more about the committee looking into the 1904 building? Do you know who is on the committee?

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  21. CR … You and CP are probably the only people who looked at the Richmond blog! CP was the only person who actually left a comment.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  22. I stopped looking for new stuff on Richmond’s blog months ago Gene. Too bad. I commend whoever it was who at least tried to get more people in Richmond involved in local issues.

    We can talk all we want about the need to have many people engaged, but life is busy for most of us. The internet provides an opportunity for everyone to at least be somewhat aware, but sadly, most people still can’t be bothered.

    I am a big supporter of Mr. Felkner because he is an excellent representative of my point of view. Imagine how much time I save by having him fight for the issues I believe in? We can’t all be front and center for many, many reasons, but despite the lack of public participation, I still hope our representatives do the job honestly and with integrity. The Chariho School Committee does not. If this blog serves no other purpose it at least provides me with a place to vent. Calling Mr. Polouski “Fat Andy” is therapeutic.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  23. It was me … the mysterious blogmeister gave David (from here) and I author permission.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — February 17, 2009 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  24. I think the Richmond blog is more proof of the power of a poison pen. If I recall correctly the most activity I saw over there was when there was controversy about the Town Clerk’s race? Didn’t last very long, but it generated a lot of comments and probably a number of non-participating Richmondites read the blog for a few days.

    We seem to have some steady traffic here. Mr. Felkner’s blog stats he’s posted indicate at least dozens of hits every day…sometimes hundreds. Plus we know this blog has been mentioned by several School Committee members and in local newspapers.

    I think a lot of the limited success here has to do with disagreements which flare up. Many Americans…too many…have a Jerry Springer mentatility so if you stir it up a little they start to pay attention. Once discussions get cerebral many get bored and check out.

    I’m no expert, but the internet sites which seem to do well usually have some degree of controversy. Allowing readers to easily participate in discussions also seems to be a desirable feature. Censoring can be detrimental if you are advocating for transparency, but I hear ideological sites like DailyKos censor bloggers who don’t toe the loony left line. They do very well even with the censoring. Hopkinton RI Speaks seems to have vanished because a particular person starting throwing out threats of legal action. Even if legal action is spurious, who wants to run a blog and end up paying legal fees to defend themselves?

    The downside to blogging is the politicians don’t want to get down and dirty. I believe many of them read here, but there’s too much risk in actually engaging in public. As booby Petit discovered, lies are easily discovered when you put things in writing. Much better to communicate one-on-one where you can lie til the cows come home, but only the person your speaking with directly will know for sure. Ricci uses this same technique. Politically it is the right move, but I question any public figure who is afraid to take a public stance.

    Old media is dying. We may be doing nothing here or we may be on the edge of the next big thing in communication. I don’t know how comfortable my generation is with surfing around the internet, but it is second nature to the generations to come. Maybe we’re just ahead of our time.

    Comment by Curious Resident — February 17, 2009 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  25. RE: #17

    You can check with Barbara Capalbo for the current membership for the 1904 building. The group she headed had been active and advocated for the return of the building, and helped to form another committee to review her ideas to renovate the building, and obtain input from citizens.

    Comment by Dorothy — February 18, 2009 @ 7:55 am | Reply

  26. Calling him “Fat Andy’ who ever you are has had worst history going back to the early 1990’s when he resigned under a cloud from the Town Council in Charlestown. Somebody besides Fat Andy must be aware of this let the Charlestown voters speak out on it. Any municipal workers at that time may want to. Of course he gets re elected he runs unopposed, like BD did this past time. Stalwarts of Education. I’m laughing like Jelly, or maybe I should say like Andy.

    Comment by rico — February 18, 2009 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  27. Hi!
    While it may not be necessary, I hope the Rhode Island Supreme Court fully realizes and recognizes that the relationships of the Chariho area town councils is NOT the same as in a single school district. Also the error on representation will probably be picked up on. I thought there may be another thing needing correction?

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — February 19, 2009 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

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