Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 31, 2009

Time to take a stand…

Filed under: Budget,Tax — Editor @ 4:56 pm

www.riteaparty.com

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March 30, 2009

Chariho budget info

Filed under: Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 8:55 pm

Sylvia Thompson asked me to post this budget info – its very informative. I can’t help but wonder if having actual expenses when they develop the budget could have avoided some of these multi-million dollar discrepancies.  But that would assume it wasn’t intentional.

Undesignated fund balance info

Taxing for more than they need

[UPDATE]

There was an error on the Hopkinton State Aid page – corrected page HERE

March 20, 2009

EPSC vs EPEA

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 12:24 am

If you haven’t been following the East Providence School Committee’s fight against the East Providence Education Association (NEA) you have missed a lot in the last two weeks.

March 5, 2009: Press Release: THE SCORE IS IN – THE STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD IS BIASED TOWARDS LABOR… WANT TO LEARN MORE? GO TO OSPRI’S NEW WEBSITE!

March 11, 2009: John DePetro Radio Show: Listen to OSPRI president talk about the LRB Watch website (6:40)

March 14, 2009: Channel 10 News: OSPRI stands with EP taxpayers to defend against LRB bias

March 18, 2009: OSPRI press release: 33 SECOND “INVESTIGATIONS” BELIE SLRB CLAIM OF OPEN MEETING EXCLUSION

March 18, 2009: ProJo 24/7 Blog: E. Providence mayor says study shows labor board bias

March 19, 2009: Providence Journal article: Labor Board to hear teachers’ case

March 19, 2009: OSPRI commentary on Anchorrising: Is the SLRB biased? You betcha!

March 19, 2009: OSPRI press release: UNION MAKES COMMITTEE’S CASE AT SLRB

March 18, 2009

Chariho complaints continue to lead the pack

Filed under: RYSE — Editor @ 10:10 pm

A parent sent me some data about the number of complaints by parents against the Chariho special education program.  You may recall that I brought up this issue  back in 2007 and was told that the numbers are inaccurate.  Either Chariho continues to provide bad data or they continue to provide bad service – take your pick.

DUE PROCESS PROCEDURES REPORTED BY RI DEPT OF ED.

 

8 Year Totals by Procedure Type (2000-2007)

          Complaints Hearings Mediation TOTALS

 

Chariho            20          25            47          92

Westerly            4            5            16          25

Coventry           21          12            20          53

Naragansett        5          18            17          40

S. Kingstown     19          19            39         77

By the way, Westerly is basically the same size as Chariho and the town scores generally worse than the towns in the Chariho area on demographics normally associated with students who require additional services – but they have a PHENOMENAL special director – Carol Brown.

And on a related note – I’m still getting calls from parents as they fight the system. You recall Jim Lennon’s battle and he did win on merit and in a small way on practice.  But there was another case that you haven’t heard about. I don’t want to talk details without permission but I will say that after a long court battle, Chariho lost and the student will finally get what they need. But it has taken years and damage may have been done along the way. Its not really all about the kids. Its run like a business but since its a monopoly bad things happen.

March 17, 2009

no support from Richmond

Filed under: Budget — Editor @ 9:59 pm

h/t GD

RTC voted to NOT support the Chariho budget due to lack of state budget info.

March 14, 2009

LTE in Sun on Meal Site Program

Filed under: Budget,Hopkinton Town Council — Editor @ 10:34 am

Here is my response to the Sun’s report that the senior meal site may be eliminated.

Headline misrepresented senior lunch discussion


  The Westerly Sun was irresponsi­ble when it reported that the Hop­kinton Town Council was considering eliminating the senior lunch pro­gram.
  By the employee’s own admission, he has rarely been able to get seniors involved in any program other than the lunch. Hopkinton is essentially paying $46,761 for three hours of work each day, and the lunch isn’t even served 5 days every week.
  Councilperson Capalbo and I sug­gested using resources already in
town (libraries, churches, etc) to pro­vide a venue for speakers, computer lessons, or whatever the participants may want. But if participation does not materialize, we aren’t stuck with an employee with nothing to do.
  We also suggested continuing the lunch program at the Crandall House with part-time or volunteer help and reached out to Chariho because they operate a culinary arts program where students could receive valuable work experience helping us fill this need. Hopefully they will have a pos­itive
response.
  Headlines like “Seniors could lose free lunch” sell more papers than “Councilors discuss how to provide more for less,” so we can only hope that readers keep this in mind when they are reading the “news.”
 
Bill Felkner Ashaway Bill Felkner is a member of the Hop­kinton Town Council and has been elected to the Chariho Regional School Committee.

On a related note, Thursday night we did revisit the issue and settled on paying just for the time serving meals and an additional $2000 to try (again) and develop some senior programs. Barbara also wants to pursue finding a senior advocate.

I voted against it for the following reasons.  Dilebro researched and found that Charlestown paid the most for their cook with $13 per hour.  We are going to pay $15 per hour – plus they proposed to pay for 20 hours per week thus putting them into the union and available for pension – thus it will end up costing us $18.27 per hour.  Hiring someone at 19 hours per week would have avoided the union and pension. 

Also, I asked that Delibero send a letter to Chariho asking  if the culinary arts program would send students to help (and give them experience).  The Rec Director could be licensed and anyone working under her (or volunteering) would be covered under that license. He did not send the letter to Chariho and pitched to keep the full program.

Aas an FYI – I just hired an office manager for $27k per year, no benefits and he is paid as a contractor so he takes care of his own taxes.  He is an honors graduate at RWU with federal congressional campaign experience – that works out to be less than what we pay our cook per hour and a good example of today’s  job market – at least in the private sector.

I did get a concession to NOT list the line item as salary so that if we wanted to just pay for lunches at Brick Oven or somewhere else in town we could.  Considering our budget works out to about $11 per meal (and that doens’t include the money the seniors give for the meal ($3)).  This will allow them to spend the money by going to Brick Oven and getting the $5.99 lunch special and save the town more money. 

As one person in the audience said (and she is a senior), spending this much money for something that could be purchased elsewhere for less “is crazy.”

I also asked those representing the library if they could provide the same speakers, computer lessons, or whatever the seniors want at the libraries for no additional cost.  They said yes.

But the reality is this is small potatoes.  The town has a hole of about $600,000.  I also made the pitch for vouchers – which with a conservative estimate of 8% participation we would save $540,000.  Hopefully Represenative Kennedy and Senator Maher will help us out on that.

March 11, 2009

Chariho Times reports on hearing

Filed under: Budget,Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 9:44 pm

Its wait and see on Felkner court case

and

Cuts to school budget would be prudent

LTE in Sun

Felkner case is about the issues, not personalities


  The issue of dual office holding is a serious one; it has significant im­plications for fair and responsible government. The matter of William Felkner holding a seat on both the Chariho School Committee and the Hopkinton Town Council will be set­tled by our judicial system. This is where it should be settled.
  In my role as chairperson of the Chariho School Committee, I am at­tempting to bring, establish and fos­ter a culture of respect and fairness where problems can be solved open­ly, honestly, and free of emotion.
  Although I am sure that the three Hopkinton Town Councilors who wrote a letter to the editor in the
March 4 edition of The Sun believe they are correct in supporting Mr. Felkner in his case regarding dual of­fice holding, the use of derogatory and divisive language to attack the Chariho School Committee on this matter is unnecessary and counter­productive. These councilors are try­ing to confuse the issue with dra­matic and unfounded personal claims. As these councilors have themselves stated, let the courts do their work!
  Regardless of decisions that come down from the courts, we must be willing to work on the educational is­sues that face the Chariho Regional School District. It is well known
that the environment may be less than harmonious at times (some­times democracy is messy), but the single most important role of the School Committee is to provide the best possible education at the lowest possible cost for the children of Charlestown, Richmond and Hop­kinton. As chairperson, I will work to keep our committee focused and working to do just that. I look for­ward to a decision on this issue so we can focus on the present and the fu­ture of our children.
  Holly Eaves Chariho School Committee chair Charlestown

PS. I was surprised to see the headline Seniors could lose free lunch. I’ll post my response after they print it.

March 10, 2009

Monday’s Sun feature

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 7:04 pm

Monday, the Westerly Sun did a feature on how OSPRI and I got started.

A political lightning rod
During his short political career, William Felkner has accused his alma mater of liberal bias, started a free-market think tank and done battle with the Chariho School Committee.

ASHAWAY — It was only within the past few years that 45-year-old William Felkner became interested in politics.

Since that time, he’s charged that his alma mater has a liberal bias against him. He’s also started a free-market thinktank, which includes the state’s first lady on its board of directors.

And he’s taken his battle to retain his seat on the Chariho Regional School Committee to the state’s highest court, claiming colleagues wrongfully ousted him.

Overall, I thought it was pretty good. A few minor mistakes but that happens when so much info is being rattled off so quickly – primarily the fact that I have 2 girls and a boy, not 3 girls.  And Kat is from MA, I moved back from SD to marry  her here, she did not live in SD with me.  Also, I did do my internship in the Gov’s office and worked on the welfare legislation, what I didn’t get was credit for my work as RI College refused to allow me to write my master’s thesis on welfare reform (as they said, it was a “toxic subject” and caused too many problems when I voiced my position – sounds kinda like Chariho, eh?).

Full story HERE (the comments are pretty interesting too)

Court report from the Sun

Filed under: Nov 18 meeting (where I was removed from office) — Editor @ 6:30 pm

From today’s Westerly Sun:

Justices question Felkner on built-in conflicts of dual role
 By VICTORIA GOFF

 Sun Staff Writer
  PROVIDENCE — William Felkner should be able to repre­sent citizens of Hopkinton on both the Town Council and Char­iho Regional School Committee, his attorney told the state’s high court Monday, but justices ques­tioned whose interests he would serve if there were conflicts be­tween the offices. Suppose the other towns in the school district, Charlestown and Richmond, endorsed teaching the Chinese language in schools, but Hopkinton didn’t want to support it for financial reasons. How would Felkner react, asked Jus­tice William P. Robinson III.

  Or, what would happen if the school board wanted to close a school in Hopkinton and send the students to Richmond, in­quired Justice Paul A. Suttell.

  Retired Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, who continues to sit on the bench until a replacement is named, raised concerns over the role of the council when a budg­et is set for the school district.

  Williams, a Richmond resident and former town solicitor for Hopkinton, asked Felkner’s at­torney if the council “sign[s] off on the budget” or offers a recom­mendation to school officials.
  Felkner’s lawyer, Nicholas Gorham, replied it does not.

  “It has no say whatsoever?” Williams asked.

  Gorham again replied no, say­ing the school budget is “con­trolled by the people.” Taxpayers vote on a proposal adopted by the school board before the towns’ budgets are set.

  Williams pressed again about the council, “They’re always in agreement with what Chariho recommends?”
  Gorham disagrees with Chariho Solicitor Jon M. Ander­son that Felkner represents all who live within the school district. He claims Felkner’s constituency only includes those from Hop­kinton because they are the ones who elected him, as school board members are chosen by voters from their respective town.

  “You were elected by peo­ple in your district and you were obligated to serve the entire state,” Acting Chief Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg told Gorham, a former longtime state rep­resentative.

  She also cited sections from the Hopkinton Town Charter that define town councilors and school com­mittee members as elected officials and indicates elect­ed officials cannot hold more than one office in town gov­ernment.

  “So why shouldn’t this case be solely decided on those grounds?” Goldberg asked.

  Gorham contended the school committee is not part of town government.

  In his 20-minute argu­ment to the court, Gorham also claimed the school com­mittee did not have the au­thority to remove Felkner from its meeting in No­vember, calling it a “dan­gerous precedent” for mu­nicipal and school boards. The board’s vote was taken after Felkner was sworn to the council.

  Goldberg, citing an 1887 decision by the court, said, “Where the offices are in­compatible, the acceptance of one means you have va­cated the other. That’s a matter of law.”

  Williams later asked Gorham why his client wants to serve on both boards.

  “I don’t know. I think he has an agenda that he wish­es to pursue,” Gorham replied, adding there needs to be more people like him. Felkner has told The Sun that he wanted to serve on both to implement a school voucher system, in which parents would choose a school for their children, regardless of location.
  Goldberg asked Ander­son about the school com­mittee’s vote to disqualify Felkner.

  “It was a gutsy move by the school district to move on its own,” she said. “What other options did it have?” The Chariho solicitor replied it had none, as Felkner had taken a seat at the committee table at the start of the meeting.

  “Wouldn’t it call into ques­tion” the votes that were taken by the school com­mittee after it removed Felkner, Suttell asked.

  Anderson said that, had Felkner been allowed to re­main on the board, he would have been permitted to par­ticipate in a private ses­sion that was scheduled for that night. Felkner’s at­tempt to sit in on the session forced the committee to postpone the meeting.

  In concluding his argu­ments on the case, Anderson quoted from the Federalist Papers, a series of essays published in the late 1700s to explain the importance of the new Constitution for the United States: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

  The justices gave no in­dication as to when they would issue a decision. De­cisions are typically released six to eight weeks after a hearing, court spokesman Craig N. Berke said.

  Justice Francis X. Fla­herty recused himself from the case, but did not provide a reason.

  After the court session, Felkner told The Sun, “I was disappointed in the chief [justice]’s description in my behavior of being less than sterling [at the school committee meeting]. … I don’t know why anyone would say that.”

  A couple of hours later, he wrote about the court hear­ing on his blog, Chariho School Parents’ Forum, ac­cusing Goldberg of seeming “to show a bias immediate­ly when she said, ‘your client’s conduct is not ex­actly sterling when he dis­rupted the meeting.’ ” “I wonder if she saw the tape of the meeting and what disruption I caused,” he wrote. “Furthermore, considering the CSC [Char­iho School Committee] had five days notice that I would be coming to the meeting, could they have done some­thing differently to avert this distraction?”

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