Chariho School Parents’ Forum

Ad Hoc committee

This space is for notifications and information regarding the Hopkinton Ad Hoc Committee



  1. Below is a list of research documents that have relevance.

    You can access the following at this web address:

    This is the Duke Study:
    Cook, Philip J.; MacCoun, Robert; Muschkin, Clara; Vigdor, Jacob; February 2007; Should Sixth Grade be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior; Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy// Duke University; ERIC NO.: ED493391

    Franklin, Bobby J.; Glascock, Catherine H.; 1998; The Relationship Between Grade Configuration and Student Performance in Rural Schools; Journal of Research in Rural Education; pp. 149-153 ERIC NO.: ED403083

    You can access the following at this web address:

    All, but the Connecticut study, seem applicable. The Louisiana Study is the same study above listed in the ERIC database: Franklin and Glascock. The Connecticut study seems to have more to do with teacher and school accountability and not grade configuration.

    Alspaugh, John W., 2001, Achievement Loss Associated With the Transition to Middle School and High School, University of Missouri, pp. 20-25.

    Wihry, David F.; Coladarci, Theodore; Meadow, Curtis; 1992; Grade Span and Eighth-Grade Academic Achievement: Evidence From a Predominantly Rural State; Journal of Research in Rural Education; 1992; pp. 58-70.

    Blyth, Dale A.; Simmons, Roberta G.; Bush, Diane; 1978; The Transition Into Early Adolescence: A Longitudinal Comparison of Youth in Two Educational Contexts; University of Minnesota, Sociology of Education; Vol. 51 (July): pp. 149-162.

    The 1978 paper is of course 20 years old, but it has relevance as well.

    I am still looking for District or state documents from the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York City… areas, that will show how their grades have improved. There are numerous articles praising the increased grades, but I need their data. Any help on this would be great.

    In a future entry, I will post links to the numerous articles touting success with the elimination or restructuring of the middle grade schools.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 12, 2007 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

  2. I would like to hear from all about why they feel the children belong or don’t belong in the elementary school. Is there some experience you would like to share? Do you have an article you would like to share? Please post your links.

    Also, if someone could discuss Balloon construction, that would be great. If this is a fire issue, how can we deal with it? Obviously, those in construction can offer their expertise on this subject. We need you. We have been told that the 1904 building has this type of construction, that it results in a rapid spread of fire. If this is true, there must be something out there that can eliminate this danger. I do not believe with our current technology that a product has not been created to deal with this problem, considering the age of many of the schools in this country. Is this really a problem? Wouldn’t a sprinkler system deal with it?


    Comment by Lois Buck — October 12, 2007 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  3. As an owner of a house over 150 years old (which has balloon construction), and having worked construction and home repair, I can speak a little about balloon construction.

    In the old days we had lots of large timbers – they would use these long timbers as the four corner braces of the house. I think mine are 12 X 12. Much much larger than anything you get today.

    You build an outside frame (or balloon) and then build in the floors and internal walls later. When the long timbers became too expensive they started building homes in sections – floor at a time.

    In the earlier days you also had mixed construction that would utilize the long corner timbers but incorporate sectioned construction around the perimeter.

    But I would think that the fire issues relate to the fact that the older construction would use longer timbers and sometimes the wall joists would run from the bottom of the first floor to the top of the second floor. This would create a clear path for fire to climb in the walls. In modern construction they put in cross blocks so you will see the fire burn through the cross block before it moves to the next floor.

    However, with the size of the 1904 I doubt they used straight joists for the entire height. And even so, we used it up until June of last year so it can’t be too outdated.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 12, 2007 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  4. Just guessing, but the data from the urban areas you mentioned probably was extrapolated by administrators in those districts from overall test scores.

    In other words, there is likely no formal report, but within the district the grade configuration of each school is known and administrators could easily pull out the data and report positive results for the K-8 and K-6 models.

    This would be a very difficult chore for an outsider to take on. You would need to research the grade configuration of individual schools within a district then pull out tests scores and crunch the numbers. Variables such as when schools transitioned from Middle Schools to another configuration would make the task even that much more onerous. I’m doubtful this could be done with a lot of confidence in the results.

    Between the studies you’ve cited and the information coming from the Milwaukee, anyone still claiming that Middle Schools are the best model for 5th and 6th graders frankly is either an idiot or has a vested interest in the status quo. This could be personal or ideological, but certainly not based on the overall well-being of children.

    For instance, D. McBride may very well be telling the truth about their child’s success in Middle School. McBride may feel that sacrificing the majority of children because it happens to work well for their child is an acceptable trade-offs. This would be a person with a personal vested interest.

    D. McBride may also be an administrator or teacher who personally benefits from the management layers or employment opportunities offered by the Middle School model. They may disregard the studies for this reason.
    Or perhaps D. McBride has a political agenda. In reading the article out of Milwaukee, some supporters of Middle School speak from a philosophical/ideological viewpoint. They like Middle School not because it is best for education, but because they feel it is best for achieving their societal goals.

    So keep plugging along Mrs. Buck. Maybe there are still a few people legitimately on the fence and they can be pulled over onto the side of children, but I’ve yet to see any credible study which demonstrates the superiority of Middle School, so I’d say you’ve provided plenty of reality for anyone who wants to look at the issue honestly and with the intention of doing what is best “for the children”.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2007 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

  5. You are impressive Mr. Felkner. Some people go through life knowing next to nothing, and here we have Mr. Felkner building websites and homes! Oh, and throw in a degree in the social sciences too. I’m lucky if I can do one thing with any skill. Mr. Felkner appears to be a Renaissance Man.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2007 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  6. Not a source I consider very authoritative, but Wikipedia has info on ballon framing that may be of interest.

    The entry does say the fire concerns can be mitigated by firestops at each floor level.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2007 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

  7. Now I wouldn’t necessarily support firestops if a sprinkler system and ridiculously overcautious fire escapes are in place, but based on the age of the 1904 building, the following is probably a good representation of what is needed to mitigate the balloon framing.

    The major problem with houses that old, is that they were built using a method called, “Balloon framing”. Long lumber was cheap and it was normal to run a “stud” from the foundation to the roof line. In addition, they didn’t use rulers, so the stud spacing varies from 24″ to 30″ apart. That is not compatable with todays, 4′ x8′ drywall and the 16″ stud spacing. So, to avoid alot of hard work, I suggest you remove the plaster, but not the lath. The reason for that, is so you can place firestops, (horizontal blocks of wood cut to fit between the studs) four feet up from the floor, and again at eight feet if the walls, which they probably are, are over eight feet. Naturally, you have to take a few pieces of lath off to put the blocks in.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 12, 2007 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

  8. Yes the balloon contruction was a concern to Hopkintons building official especially. Brad and Dan Cartier said they didn’t like wood in schools either.

    Since any school new or renovated in going to cost something then as I said to Brad building a handicap ramp into an existing school shouldn’t be more expensive than building a ramp into a new school. Adding anti fire remedies to the 1904 building might not be any more expensive than paying for anti fire remedies when building a brand new school. My knowledge of construction costs is very limited. I could be wrong.

    At the meeting last night I said that I would want the options we present to include the barebones minimum cost option. The town council can decide what goes forward to the voters but I’m going to do my best to make sure they have the opportunity to give voters the least costly option we can come up with.

    Who knows if we are forced to present an option where we have to withdraw 5th and 6th graders from Chariho the savings could exceed the costs. I wouldn’t expect this is possible, but wouldn’t that be something if we saved money?

    I don’t like it when Chariho gives voters only very expensive proposals and I don’t want to do the same thing I’ve seen over and over. If the options that get presented in the end are full of extra expenses this will be somebody else’s doings not mine.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 12, 2007 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  9. The members of the committee decided that the first and third Thursday of the month, at the Crandall House at 7:00PM would be the new meeting times. Obviously some may change or be added.

    Therefore the next meeting is on October 18th – next week.

    If anyone wishes to be appointed, the application is at town hall.

    Comment by BarbaraC — October 12, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Barbara,
    Just so you know Lois and I talked in the section called Analysis – 5th & 6th grade. Bill created this section and now we have agreed to communicate with the public and each other here.
    See you next week!

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 12, 2007 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  11. This is from the Ad Hoc School Options Study Committee of Charlestown and was submitted to their town council on 10/2/06, it was accepted by then Charlestown Town Council on October 10, 2006. Recommendations to Charlestown Town Council were in 2 phases.

    I intentionally left Phase 1 out as it has to do with the current bond effort. I am trying to keep my posts in this section less political, as the issue here is the 5th and 6th grades.

    Phase 2 is written as follows:

    “”As soon as the Switch Road project is well underway, facility needs at the Charlestown Elementary School should be revisited. The heart of the issue of the elementary school facilities is the desire of the parents for “neighborhood schools” with pupils staying in town schools for as many grades as possible. The Charlestown Elementary School is in need of such things as a new ramp, new windows, and classroom space for art education. Additionally, we recommend evaluating a change to a K-5, K-6, or K-8 educational model. A reason for addressing the elementary schools as a second phase is the extra time that will be provided for an extensive look at trends of home building and the impact on the town.””

    I will only elaborate on Phase 2 as it is at the heart of what Hopkinton’s Ad Hoc Committee is about. It deals with the configuration of the elementary schools, which as we’ve repeatedly voted for is the return of the 5th and 6th grades in the elementary schools.

    The reconfiguring of the elementary schools would allow the 9th grades to remain in the Middle school. The middle school would be grades 7-9 and the high school would be grades 10-12. This reconfiguring would have some effects….

    Issue #1:

    This would solve transportation problems. There would be less crowding on the middle/high school runs. The kids would be more evenly spread out instead of the current transportation issue of grades K-4 and grades 5-12; 5 grade spans to 8 grade spans, elementary and middle/high school runs, respectively. Also, the 5th and 6th grades would no longer be on the middle/high school bus runs, which would make many parents who were concerned about the effects of exposure to the older children, satisfied.

    Issue #2:

    Charlestown said so themselves, there is a “desire… for Neighborhood schools with pupils staying in town schools for as many grades as possible.” This is the same will of Hopkinton. We do have a common goal.

    The elementary issue is the key to dealing with a great many issues on the campus.

    I am currently gathering another list of sources that I believe will further build on the issues. I’ve listed 2 above, transportation and the desire for neighborhood schools. The only source we need for these is the current state of affairs at Chariho. But, more data would be helpful. Still, other issues requires more evidence, specifically what other communities have been doing.

    If you can elaborate on the above 2 issues, we can further expand on their effects on our kids, as well.

    Your opinion counts, but please back it up with facts.

    Thanks for all your help,

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 15, 2007 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  12. Excellent information Lois! I spoke with Barbara this evening and she will not be at Thursday ad hoc meeting. Barbara is taking care of having the agenda posted. I think it will be posted here. I could be wrong.

    We will need three of us to make a quorum and assuming we have three I look forward to hearing more about what you’ve uncovered from the Charlestown option study. Is there a place where interested people can get a copy of the Charlestown study?

    Nothing new on the cost side but Barbara and I plan on meeting before the next meeting. That meeting will likely be Thursday 11/1. With the bond vote coming on 11/6 I would like as much information as possible to be out for the public to consider. As I’ve said, if the bond passes I think 5th and 6th grade back to elementary school is not going to get approved. See you Thursday. Please join us at the Crandall House.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 15, 2007 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  13. I received a copy from Barbara. I thought it extremely interesting that they have already addressed the elementary issue regarding neighborhood schools. They simply acted on the survey where others did not.

    I get the impression that Charlestown tried to take charge of their destiny because no-one else would.

    Talk to Barbara about getting a copy of their findings. They did an extensive report when they considered their own school district. The one I quoted was their recommendations to the town council. Both are useful.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 15, 2007 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

  14. I’m posting this week’s ad hoc committee’s agenda here. Barbara said it will be posted at the town hall and the police station too. Someone from the town hall will post it on a state website. Please come to the meeting if you are interested. Even if don’t have time for the committee your input is most welcome. Thanks!

    Thursday October 18, 2007 — 7:00 PM
    Crandall House, Ashaway RI


    Call to order

    Welcome – get phone numbers, email addresses and/or street addresses

    Old Business as follows:

    Continue discussion/report on (1) Studies

    Continue discussion/report on (2) Costs

    Continue discussion/report on (3) Special Needs

    New Business

    Public Forum


    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 16, 2007 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  15. Sorry if this shows up twice. I tried to put it here but don’t see it.

    Thursday October 18, 2007 — 7:00 PM
    Crandall House, Ashaway RI


    Call to order

    Welcome – get phone numbers, email addresses and/or street addresses

    Old Business as follows:

    Continue discussion/report on (1) Studies

    Continue discussion/report on (2) Costs

    Continue discussion/report on (3) Special Needs

    New Business

    Public Forum


    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 16, 2007 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  16. The ad hoc committee met this evening. Attending were myself, Lois Buck and Elaine Morgan. No one else was there. Most of the discussion was about studies on grade configuration. Lois has been working very hard and has found many studies. I think she told us she had found 131 studies on grade configuration. They are not all relevant to the 5th and 6th grade configuration. We discussed organizing the study data to best present the information.

    Moving on to the issue of cost the next step is for Barbara C. to meet with a gentleman she knows to see if the 1904 building could possibly be moved to another location. I expect the feasibility will be known by the next meeting in two weeks. I would also hope to have the list of mandated requirements for the 1904 building pretty soon. This list is going to be compiled by Hopkinton’s building official. Once we have the list we can then begin working on the cost of the mandates. Lois mentioned an engineering report for the 1904 building from 2003. Barbara may have a copy of this report. The report should contain a lot of info on what needs to be done to the 1904 building besides the mandated items. We’ll have to see.

    Elaine and Kat are looking into the special education needs and requirements for 5th and 6th graders. I believe they are waiting for Barbara to obtain some information.

    In new business we discussed reaching out to present and former officials of RI Dept. of Ed. We think there may be some people in town associated with the dept. and perhaps they can provide information of use to us as we explore options. If you know of anyone who might have useful info for us please put it here or contact me or other members of the ad hoc committee.

    I was disappointed that no one from the public showed up at the meeting. I ask all to consider joining the committee. Then again, the Red Sox are on TV (GO SOX!) so maybe that’s why. We will be meeting again in two weeks. Please come or contact us with your ideas and thoughts.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 18, 2007 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  17. Just a clarification, the site I found with 130 articles and studies is the ERIC website. You can do a search there for “grade configuration,” and you will get over 130 different articles. Unfortunately, not all are relevent.

    Certainly, I hope others will go to this site and comment about articles they may think are relevent.

    Another set of eyes, or more, would be helpful.

    If you can’t attend the meetings, please comment here.


    Comment by Lois Buck — October 19, 2007 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  18. I am a returning adult resident who attended Chariho when the 7th and 8th grades went to the high school building. I have a child who just started at Charlestown ES in the 4th grade. I too think she seems so young to be sending off to the middle school and am frightened to think she potentially will be riding the bus with 19 year old students. Do I want her to be kept in ES?

    My first thought is “of course!” But I worry that I am being over protective. And to be honest so far I have not been impressed with the Charlestown experience. Returning to the school to registered her I was shocked at the condition of the school. It doesn’t seem that anything had changed since I went there over 25+ years, well some things have changed for the worse in my opinion. The have little equipment to play on at recess. The back of the school looks like an abandoned building. The art room is in that weird building in the back that was reported to me as “smelling like a basement”. Then we had the issue with the workers wearing protective masks and uniforms replacing the windows while my kid was in the building. Sure the rest of the kids had gone home but the YMCA after school program children were there and the program leaders were told they should just ignore the evacuation command!

    Nor have not studied Elementary or Middle Grade education. But I have started reading about it. I have come to the conclusion that this topic is as controversial as religion. For every study showing the “good” there is another showing the “bad”.

    One article in particular I found very insightful. Its basic idea is that no matter the grade configuration of a school or district is in the leadership and administration of the basic tenets of middle grade education that is most important. I have posted the information about the article. I am not sure you will be able to access it. Even if you don’t agree with the opinion of the authors several studies are references from both sides of the debate and you may be able to find just the right study to fit your personal opinion.

    Personally before deciding to support pulling the 5th and 6th grades back in to the elementary school I want to hear more about what middle grade model is being used now.

    In addition, I follow the Occam’s Razor principle which basically say the simplest solution is usually the right one. Many seem to say their biggest worry (mine included) is the interaction of the high school students with the middle school students particularly on the buses. My question is, which would cost more; renovation, moving, rebuilding or building new elementary schools or reconfiguration the school days and having three separate bus runs?

    Guess Again Will Changing the Grades Save Middle-Level Education? By: Beane, James, Lipka, Richard, Educational Leadership, 00131784, Apr2006, Vol. 63, Issue 7
    Academic Search Premier

    If you are really interested in researching this topic I suggest going to the library of a state college (CCRI) or university and utilizing their purchased subscription services. Your tax dollars are paying for those. That is how I found the article listed above.

    Comment by Charlestown resident — October 19, 2007 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  19. Thank you Charlestown resident:

    I will look into the article you suggested.

    I know in my research that there are so many variables to consider. In our meeting the other night we discussed this and that our work has to include both the pros and the cons. Thanks for your article. I hope it helps, and by all means, any time you have something to share please do.

    Personally, I believe that in order to be successful in our endeavor, the 3 towns will have to come to some agreement. We will all have to compromise. We will have to weigh the impact of any new taxes with the needs of our children. What an undertaking, but I am up for it because I’ve read so many studies that suggest the pros outweigh the cons.

    I believe that Charlestown made the first steps a few years ago. I just wish they had included us in their effort. And if they tried to, then shame on those in Hopkinton who were in charge at that time.

    I believe we have some common ground. Charlestown’s phase 2 plan brings some thought to reconfiguring the Charl. Elem. Sch. to a K-5, K-6, or a K-8. We agree that this is the best approach.

    Many districts converted to a middle school philosophy because of the almighty dollar. Many wanted the kids to be better prepared for high school. And still many wanted to give the kids more of a well rounded education, which would include more specialty classes, like languages, computers and tech ed classes.

    But, what we currently have are standardized test scores that are falling; country-wide, higher drop-out rates; more violence in schools; and we have children who because we keep pumping hormones in our food, are going throught puberty earlier.

    The idea of a neighborhood school is that their populations are smaller. For example, there are studies showing the benefits of small schools versus larger schools. They are a small community, much like the neighborhoods they live in.

    Also, the 5th and 6th graders, when they are going through emotional turmoil while going through puberty much before we did, are the oldest kids in school, not the youngest kids. They become mentors to the younger kids. They know their teachers. It is like a small family. It is so personal for these kids.

    Also, when they are going through puberty, why add more stress in their lives by adding a transition to a middle school of over 1200 kids? And they place them into mixed community classes. So, now they’ve gone from a more personal arrangement and been transitioned to a very anonymous situation. Why do we put more anxiety on them?

    I say there is still time to prepare these kids for high school in a 7-9 grade middle/Junior High school. Make the high school 10-12. Then what do we get…… 4 small community/ neighborhood elementary schools, and a smaller populated middle school and a smaller populated high school.

    And why do some people think that we can’t provide for the child who is above grade level and needs additional challenges, like a languages. Can’t we?

    With a change in grade configurations, we see all across the country that K-8 conversions are creating higher standardized test scores, less violence, less stress, etc…. I am not saying that that should be our grade configuration because I don’t think this is possible for us because of our resources as a rural school district. I am saying that their is some relevance to comparing the effects of these 6th graders in the middle versus K-8 setting. And one will find the research supports the neighborhood school. And I certainly believe that a K-6 is possible.

    And 1 gripe I have is this, we have 5 grades in the buses during the elementary runs, and we have 8 grades in the middle/ high school runs. One could suspect overcrowding. Whether there is, I don’t know. The kids are bigger in the middle/high school runs. We have 5th graders on a bus with 8th graders and 12th graders. That concerns me. But, we don’t have much control over that do we. Unless, we deal with the elementary issue.

    With this following statement, I am speaking from a personal position and not as an ad hoc educational referenda committee member. I believe much of this current bond is an expense that should be applied to the elementary schools. You saw the condition of your school. I believe that all 4 elementary schools are in this condition. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I strongly believe, that if this bond is voted in, we have doomed our kids to the middle school.

    Our committee hopes that in the end our results will be shared with the other towns. This blog here will let all know where we are going. I hope Richmond and Charlestown form their own committees to do as we are. Through a district effort we can benefit the taxpayers, provide our kids with the best education possible, and keep the district intact. There is power in numbers.

    Join us, one and all.

    Post your research here… And don’t forget your opinion. We will do the same.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 20, 2007 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  20. I’m going to review the study linked here, but I’ve read overwhelming evidence that the Middle School models are failing our children. Obviously I am not alone as school systems around the country are moving back in the direction of K-8 and K-6.

    I am fascinated by Charlestown residents perspective as their child enters Middle School next year. They admit that Charlestown Elementary School is in terrible shape, yet seeming, because their child is leaving soon, they are willing to expend our limited resources on the RYSE, the High School and the Middle School. What Charlestown resident describes is not unlike the situation at all our Elementary Schools.

    I don’t blame Charlestown resident, it is natural for a parent to think of their child(ren) first, but as taxpayers, citizens and voters, we must think of all the children. Unless you think the community can afford to spend millions more on Elementary Schools in the next few years, then the real choice is to approve this bond and leave our youngest students in substandard conditions or to reject this bond and focus our attention at improving the performance of Chariho at a reasonable cost.

    I do not trust this administration to spend our money wisely. I will continue to remind everyone of the failures of the last decade. I will emphasize that this failure has cost us more than most school districts in the United States. I’m just not stupid enough to vote to pour more money into a bottomless pit.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 9:07 am | Reply

  21. I was unable to access the information linked by Charlestown resident above. The website I was directed to required a user name and password. I will refrain from visiting a state university. If our state universities don’t allow for remote use of their Internet services, they are obviously not up to snuff on the the capabilities of the Internet. Why would we have to physically visit a brick and mortar structure to use the Internet? The academic world can be very strange.

    Anyway, since access was not possible, I did a regular Internet search using the title. I found an article discussing research conducted using data from the Philadelphia school system. The authors seem to believe the results are inconclusive, but there was nothing they reported that favored acadmemic results for Middle Schools, but there were advantages for K-8.

    You can read what I found here:

    I’ll keep looking around.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  22. I read some articles which reflect comments from the one stated above. What seems to be suggestive is that grade configuration is not the solution. In some cases, it does not solve a district’s problems. It some cases there are other root causes to educational problems, like curriculum choices, gangs and violence in the communities, and sadly even demographics.

    I do believe that many of the problems faced in communities that have converted to a K-8 format are not applicable to our district, with the exception of curriculum choices. We do have a lot of issues that make the choice to convert to a K-6 configuration a good choice.

    1. Smaller Schools- Adjusting the grade configuration will create a smaller school environment in the middle and high schools, while still realizing the small school model in the elementary schools.

    2. Bus populations- A better distribution of children on the buses will eliminate any possibly of overcrowding. Also, this will remove 5th and 6th grades from older adolescents.

    3. Social Concerns- There are many. For example, kids are going through puberty sooner. Why add a transition to a new school at a time of increased stress. The early adolescents need an environment that has less anonymity, they need support from the adult teachers with whom they have had years to grow up with and also with their friends. It is a fact that when they go to middle school they are split up from most of the kids they’ve grown up with and they also have to begin the effort to form new relationships with teachers they’ve never met. And with a team structure and multiple transitions amongst classrooms, personal relationships suffer.

    4. Increased achievement scores- When the small school environment is promoted, when parents are still involved in the process, when transitions are later, as transitions are a part of achievement loss, scores will go up.

    5. Parental concerns- The survey and Hopkinton’s referenda question point out legitimate concerns from parents. This even before the debate on research or public reporting on the K-8 conversions going on across the nation. The parents in our community know their kids.

    Simply stated, we as a community will have to take the information out there about middle schools and K-6’s and decide which is best to fit our community. With studies like the Duke Study, I believe K-6 is probably the best model for us, and this is the direction we should be headed.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 21, 2007 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  23. The article cited by Charlestown resident is not available in ERIC. ERIC does provide an abstract and it’s noteworthy that the article was not peer reviewed. You can read the abstract here:

    I’m still waiting for someone to direct us to ANY research which shows academic benefits for the Middle School model. While there is theorizing that Middle Schools are better, I’ve seen no concrete academic evidence (test scores) to support these claims. Every study I’ve seen either favors non-Middle School models or says the difference are inconclusive. Even in most of the “inconclusive” research if you read through the reports, they tend to be more favorable toward non-Middle School models.

    I think it also important to differentiate from studies which are survey based versus studies which are acadmemic based. Research based on academic results (test scores) is more objective than research based on surveys. Surveys are subjective and results can be more easily manipulated.

    For Chariho, the bottom line seems to be that we will need to spend some amount of money to improve facilities. The argument seems to be how much and where. I’m on the side that believes that whatever needs to be spent should start (and maybe finish) with the Elementary Schools.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  24. I too was not able to access the article.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 21, 2007 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  25. Looking through studies at ERIC. I used key words “grade configuration middle school” with 32 studies being listed. I can only report on the studies which allow access through ERIC.

    Here’s the first:

    …we find that sixth grade students attending middle school are more likely to be cited for discipline problems than those attending elementary school.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  26. I especially liked this report because the authors depend on objective standards to reach their conclusions. Many of those defending Middle Schools rely on “feelings” and not results.

    Here’s a portion of the abstract: “Student performance was measured by academic achievement (standardized test scores) and student persistence (attendance, suspensions, expulsions, and dropouts).”

    Here’s the link:

    Here’s an excerpt:
    “Results indicate that sixth- and seventh-grade students performed better in elementary and K-12 schools than in middle or secondary schools, in terms of both achievement and persistence.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  27. The report linked below is disgusting, but a must read for anyone wishing to understand the motivation of many of those behind the push for Middle School education. These people envision Middle School as a chance to indoctrinate children into “multiculturalism”, “gender roles”, etc. Middle School advocates want an adult advisor for every Middle School child. The manifesto states that parents “almost always retain primary authority” (how nice of them), but “responsive middle schools, however, promote programs that actively assist people in formulating the moral principles…” They go on to add “…of course, must be done with sensitivity and consideration of family and community expectations.”

    The authors of this document provide no data supporting their push for Middle Schools. Frankly, I find their rhetoric frightening as most of the Middle School goals they cite displace the role of parents in guiding their children.

    After reading this “it takes a village” approach to education, I am even more convinced that the Middle School model needs to be gone.

    I’d be interested to hear Charlestown Resident’s impression of the role Chariho should take in raising his/her child? Are there actually parents out there that support the kind of nonsense described in this Middle School manifesto?

    You can read more of the treatise here:

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  28. I’ve concluded my review of “grade configuration middle school” using the ERIC database. Most of the papers were not accessible, but one thing was very clear to me…reports and studies which used objective data do not favor the Middle School model. The best that can be said is that some reports/studies had inconclusive results, but none I found had objective data demonstrating an advantage for Middle Schools over K-6 or K-8. Several reports/studies did have objective data which favored the K-6 and K-8 models.

    My research did not include the Duke study, which is the latest and most intensive research on the topic.

    Overwhelmingly, those favoring the Middle School model rely on cultural reasoning to justify their preference. I’m not one for wishy-washy logic and since there seems to be no hard data (test results) supporting Middle Schools, I think the reports/studies verify what most Chariho parents intuitively know, 5th and 6th graders do not belong in Middle School.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2007 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  29. FYI

    Received a report on the Ashaway Elementary School. Here is a summation, mind you this is from April 2, 2003:

    1904 Building
    1. Recommend inspection of the original school wood framing by a pest expert.

    2. With the exception of a pest inspection, they said the “structural integrity of the original building and the additions appear to be reasonably sound based upon our observations of the exposed structural components.”

    3. General Findings:

    a. Building is wood framed of Type 5B construction, 7500 sq. ft. per floor

    b. no fire suppression system

    c. main entrance is not readily identifiable

    d. interior is in dire need of renovation. (worn finishes, minimal artificial lighting, inadequate H&V systems and poor air circulation)

    e. stairs do not meet current building code requirements.

    f. no elevator

    g. boiler room lacks a second means of egress

    h. (I question the need for this one.) no real shipping/receiving area

    i. door hardware is in poor shape. Replace with levers.

    j. currently not handicapped accessible.

    They had many short term and long term recommendations. Short term expenditures totaled $609,000, which does not include the pumping system for the sprinkler system. This cost was included in the recommendations for the 1967 building. That was $105,000 for the pump system, which would serve both the 1904 building and the 1967 building. The Long term expenditures for the 1904 building totaled $655,900. For a total of $1,264,900. I do believe that some of the recommendations have been done.

    1967 Building

    General findings:
    a. It is steel framed of Type 2C construction.

    b. No fire suppression system

    c. Interior is in dire need of renovation. Has worn finishes, inadequate H & V systems and poor air circulation. Central air conditioning is not present. Main office and classrooms utilize window A/C units.

    d. stairs do not all meet current building code requirements.

    e. no elevator, has a chair lift

    f. No real shipping/receiving area

    g. door hardware in poor shape. replace with levers.

    The 1967 building short term recommendations were $509,900, which includes the pump station. The Long term recommendations totaled $843,950. For a total of $1,353,850.

    Some of the needed repairs, I believe have already been completed on the 1904 building. As I pick up my kids at school, I’ve noticed the basement windows are new and the glass blocks that were in the structure are no longer there. I can’t imagine it stops there.

    Additionally, there is mention of Asbestos that is in caulking that was in the glass block, and asbestos under the second floor carpet of the 1904 building. Asbestos related costs totalled $39,200.

    Asbestos abatement and associated costs for the 1967 building total $69,000.

    1967 building recommendation was to totally replace roof at cost of $200,000. Noted significant evidence of ponding and leaking.

    Obviously, there were many items that were on the lists that were minimal in cost, too many to list. Some of the large ones I thought were notable.

    Also, keep in mind these are 2003 costs. And if you total them up, you get for both schools a total of $2,618,750.

    Finally, these costs were considered probable and were the opinion of KAESTLE BOOS ASSOCIATES, INC. (ARCHITECTS)

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 23, 2007 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  30. Excellent discovery Mrs. Buck. Considering that the 1967 building is still being used, the figures for that building are irrelevant to the issue of moving 5th and 6th graders back to the Elementary School.

    Is the report available on line? I like to have a look at it if it is available? Maybe it can be scanned…Mr. Felkner seems to know this technology if you don’t.

    Imagine being able to recover all that space for $2,000,000 or less?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 23, 2007 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  31. It is not online. It is very extensive, but the 4 pages of short term and long term recommendations may be of interest and perhaps Mr. Felkner can copy.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 23, 2007 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  32. Hi everyone,
    Sorry I’ve been absent but lots of running around. The ad hoc committees next meeting should be next Thursday. I’m not certain the procedure for handling an agenda. Nothing specific to be discussed other than generally what anyone has discovered since the last meeting.

    Lois has done a wonderful job getting information on the benefits of K-6 for anyone who still needs to be convinced.

    I believe Barbara will be visitng the 1904 building to look into the feasibility of having it moved. I think that visit was scheduled for next week. I’d like to know when the building official Brad will be back and when he figures he’ll have the list of mandates for the 1904 building. Barbara do you know what going on with Brad and the mandates?

    Anyone interested in the issue of fifth and sixth graders please attend a meeting or contact us with your ideas. Meetings are scheduled for the first and third Thursdays of each month.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 25, 2007 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  33. IF you need something scanned and posted – I will need to get the hardcopy. You can drop off at the house or mail it. I think all of you have my number.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 29, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  34. Barbara called tonight and said the meeting is cancelled for tomorrow night, Nov. 1st. She was unable to post the agenda and because of the loss of two of our kids, we will not be able to make a quorum.

    Our condolences to the Naylor and Greenhall families. Our prayers are with you. Also, to the friends, classmates and to the teachers of these precious children, our prayers are with you also. God bless you all.

    I don’t believe I’ve met one person yet that hasn’t been touched by these kids. They were truly special.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 31, 2007 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  35. Thank you for letting people know that the meeting has been cancelled Lois. I also spoke to Barbara and she told me about the tragedy. My heart goes out to the kids and their families and they will be in my prayers.

    Since the fifth and sixth grade configuration is tied to the bond vote – at least I believe they are together – then waiting until after the bond vote for our next meeting is probably a good thing.

    Speaking of the bond I spoke with a long time friend and his wife this week who I respect. He is active in town. He supports the bond and said he was too stubborn to change his mind. His reason was because the high school needs lots of work. I tried to convince him and his wife it is better for Hopkinton if we wait especially considering the fifth and sixth grade problem. He would not relent because he wanted the school fixed right away.

    Maybe the decision to put all items into one bond makes more sense then I thought? In the case of my friend and his wife they will vote yes because the bond contains one thing they want. I will be voting no because of the fifth and sixth graders situation.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — October 31, 2007 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

  36. Mr. Ricci says he has the information I requested for the ‘special needs’ portion of the question. He will either fax it to me or I will pick it up at Chariho for Elaine and Kat. I will have a copy of the 2003 school lay-out for Ashaway and the 1904 building class arrangements in a larger form for the committee members — this includes classes for the 5th grade. I haven’t found a copy of Hope Valley classrooms yet, but will continue looking.

    My husband and I are so sorry for the parents and friends of these Chariho students. Our prayers and thoughts will be with all of them during these days.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — October 31, 2007 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  37. I would like to know how the current classrooms in the 1967 building are populated. Will we be able to get these numbers. I believe the portables house art and something else. I’m assuming the other houses music.

    Can we also get populations, etc. for the Hope Valley School? I’m very curious how we use our space. [(ie… Pre K, K-4, art, music, special needs, offices, supply closets, teachers room, etc.) This information would be helpful for Ashaway as well.]

    I was thinking that it has been over 30 years since I went to Hope Valley School. Sadly, my remembrance of the facility is starting to fade, and the rooms are no longer used as I remember.

    If Mr. Ricci says we could bring our 5th graders back, did he make any suggestion as to where we would house them?

    Also, Barbara do we know what has been completed on the Kaestle, Boos assessment of the Ashaway complex. I am aware of some changes as they are visible. I would hope there have been more.

    Perhaps, a similar assessment was done for Hope Valley?

    Additionally, I heard that HV school was suppose to have windows installed over the summer and didn’t. Do we know this to be true and, if so, do we know why this wasn’t completed?

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 2, 2007 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  38. You should be able to get anything you need by contacting Donna. I’ve heard mixed views on the temps. Some say they are better than the other classes (air conditioned) and newer, but others dislike having to go outside during the winter. Some are used as classrooms, some are not.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 2, 2007 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  39. I was in a temp in 4th grade. Loved it. Quiet. Warm in the winter. At that age, I don’t remember the cold bothering me.

    I was told, and this is not a direct quote from any school official, the temps in Ashaway, I believe, have a mold problem. I understand that is why they have art and music there instead of 1st graders now. The idea is less exposure to the mold.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 3, 2007 @ 2:04 am | Reply

  40. I’m glad to hear we are still needed. Next Thursday will be the third Thursday so we should have a meeting at the Crandall House then. I’ll wait to hear from Barabara, Lois, Elaine or Kat on agenda items.

    I’ve read much anger in the news reports of the reaction to the bond vote. I feel badly for those who put in their time to get a bond passed. They were let down by town and school leaders who have known for years that the fifth and sixth grade configuration was not favored by parents or voters. The bond should never have included the middle school expansion for this reason. This is not evil. Those of us who want our young children taught in elementary schools are not evil.

    Mr. Felkner has suggested that education money follow students and I like this idea. I don’t know if it is possible or if it would be approved since Utah voters rejected a voucher system in their vote yesterday but I like making the decision for my children so it has a lot of appeal to me. I’m not happy with the education my children receive in public school but can’t afford any alternatives. I think many parents feel this way.

    Now we can work on making Hopkinton schools the best we can afford. This may include the 1904 building or not but our work can begin in earnest without the bond hanging over our heads. I ask any Hopkinton bond supporters to join our efforts – join the ad hoc committee. We still need all the brain power we can get.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 7, 2007 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  41. I would like to add my assessments to the Duke Study and the Wisconsin Study to the agenda for next Thursday.

    The Duke Study deals with the issue of Middle Schools versus K-6 and K-8 grade configurations. The Wisconsin Study deals with the K-6 versus K-8 grade configurations. We discussed the Wisconsin Study briefly at our last meeting. The Duke Study is very current (2007). The Wisconsin Study is from 1978, but I still believe it has relevance. Recall, in 1978 the middle school movement was not implemented as readily as the K-6 and K-8 formats.

    I will post the links to these documents on my next entry. Hopefully, you will get them.

    Please take the time to read and reread the studies. I find most of the statistical information boring, but to those statistically orientated people, have fun. I am a visual learner, and I love to break apart charts. I made my own conclusions about their charts and then went back to read their conclusions. Thankfully, I agreed with them.


    Comment by Lois Buck — November 7, 2007 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  42. This is the Duke Study Link:

    This is the Wisconsin Study Link:

    Also, tomorrow I am suppose to get a copy of the state fire marshals report on the 1904 building. I will have copies of that for the next meeting as well.



    Comment by Lois Buck — November 7, 2007 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  43. Hello all,
    I spoke with Barbara today and sounds like there is going to be lots to discuss next Thursday. Barbara will put together the agenda and I look forward to seeing it here. I’ll try to review the studies posted here by Lois so I can be ready to talk about them at the meeting. With the defeat of the bond maybe we’ll see renewed interest in the ad hoc committee. Please join us and share you ideas for achieving the objective of getting Hopkintons fifth and sixth graders back into elementary schools.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 8, 2007 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  44. Did not get the report from the fire marshal yet. As soon as I do, I’ll let you know.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 8, 2007 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  45. Who’s going to pay for the moving of the “1904 building”? I certainly hope it is not Chariho.

    Comment by Paul A. LaCroix — November 11, 2007 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  46. They were willing to destroy it not 2 years ago at the expense of the district. What if that was more costlier than moving it?

    Is it your suggestion that the member towns become responsible for the repairs, maintenance, and expansion of their own schools? If so, that is a consideration too. Then every school in the district has to be treated that way.

    They lease these buildings, they neglect these buildings, they basically exhaust the resources, then they expect the member towns to clean up after them.

    All avenues are currently being looked into. If it is cheaper to destroy the building and expand off the 67 building then that’s what we have to do. If it is cheaper to repair the 04 building and reopen it into a school, then that’s what we will do. If it cheaper to move a building, instead of destroy it to expand on the 67 building then that’s what we will do. Again, all options are being looked at. Our chief concern is expense. We will accomplish our goal at the least expense to the taxpayers.

    Again, I urge the other 2 towns to form their own committees to look into the needs and expenses of their own schools. If in the end everyone agrees to fund their own repairs and maintenance and expansions in the elementary schools, then so be it.

    But, I also urge people to consider that just a little more than 20 years ago, we had separate school committees for the individual towns for elementary, separate superintendents running them, and 4 separate administrations. They combined forces in an effort to streamline. If we are to continue with that effort then we have to continue with the district philosophy that as a community we are all responsible for the safe education of our kids, which includes the 5th and 6th graders.

    What are the needs of Richmond and Charlestown’s schools?

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 11, 2007 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  47. The Chariho Act determines that the district is responsible for ‘maintenance’. No where does it say ‘upgrades’.

    When the state or the feds mandate expensive upgrades to the schools I think it is more effective to work with the individual towns who own the buildings as landlords and create a bond within the district (to use the renovation or new construction reimbursements) and upgrade the schools as determined most frugally and effectively by those citizens who will be liable for the buildings at the end of their use to the district. The district can bill each town separately for the needed and determined upgrades.

    They are then mandated by the Chariho Act to maintain these upgrades. Our own building inspectors can oversee and demand proper and thorough maintenance – and tell the town citizens if this is not being accomplished to their specifications. These elementary buidlings are town buildings leased by the district. They do not own them and do not care how the town must dispose of an “asset” once they are finished with it and have created a massive liability for the town. They walk away. We cannot.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 16, 2007 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  48. Hi all,
    Attending last nights ad hoc meeting were Lois Buck, Elaine Morgan, Barbara Capalbo, Jill Stolgitis, Scott Hirst and Maria Armental.

    The meeting started off with public comment. Jill spoke first telling us she was “curious about separating”. She is extremely concerned about about fifth and sixth graders being on the same bus with seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth graders. Jill thinks by twelfth grade the maturer students don’t have a negative impact on the younger kids. She expressed her worries about “socialization”. She also commented about intimidation when some kids are so much larger than the other kids. Jill left early into the meeting, but may have an interest in serving with the group. She took an application. Jill said that we need to come up with idea for publicizing the ad hoc committee. She said she heard about the group only today. She made the suggestion of putting a notice in the take home folders of elementary students. Other suggestions were a letter in the Wood River section of the Sun, the town website, and by meeting with the PTO. We agreed to put this topic on the agenda for our next meeting.

    Scott Hirst spoke next. He suggested we come up with questions to give to the town council for an omnibus meeting in January. He suggested this be put on the agenda for our next meeting. Scott expressed “disappointment” in the town council president for “going under the radar” and not writing a letter for or against the bond.

    I then spoke in the public comment period. I said that the contrary to what some have said the ad hoc group was not formed in opposition to the bond. I pointed out that Hopkinton voters decided to look at the fifth and sixth grade issue before anything was known about the bond. I said that I know people who supported the bond and also support grade reconfiguration. I gave Bob Petit as an example. I said that I publically opposed the bond only when I realized that it was incompatible with bringing fifth and sixth graders back to elementary schools. I next talked about my attempt to keep everything out in the open about our group. I told about this website and the Hopkinton RI Speaks website. I said that I was trying put as much as possible here. I asked everyone to give ideas. I reminded everyone that the ad hoc group is trying to come up with options to give to the town council. The ad hoc group will not make the decisions. The town council will make the decisions once we give them info.

    After public comment Lois presented excellent information from the Duke study (you can find a link on a previous post). Lois has put together a powerpoint presentation which is quite good. She will add to it as she learns more and will use it to present to the town council when the time comes. We all looked at the presentation and the Duke study clearly demonstrates the benefits of K-6 versus 6-8 middle school. Lois briefly touched upon another study called the Wisconsin Study which surveyed students in Minnesota. I made it known that I don’t hold much value in “subjective” studies where people are asked questions. I feel that these studies are skewed by the questions asked and the motivation of the questioners. I like the Duke study because the conclusions are based on hard data like test scores and school infractions. Lois agreed to some extent with my views, but defended the Wisconsin study because the questioners were trained. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Lois will have more to present at our next meeting.

    Barbara and Elaine then discussed special needs for the fifth and sixth grades. Barbara said that Mr. Ricci has shared some good information. We hope to have more information on special needs for the next meeting.

    Barbara then told us about her recent visit to the 1904 building with Brad Ward, Hopkinton building official, Dan Cartier, Chariho maintenance head, and George Wareback, an acquaintance of Barbara’s who owns a company that moves buildings. George told Barbara that the 1904 building can be moved, but not by his company. There is a company in NY which can move large buildings. The move alone was estimated at $500,000. The building could only be moved to Crandalls Field. It would have to be moved across private property and large trees, telephone poles, and wires would have to be moved (the trees wouldn’t be moved but cut down). The cost of doing all this would be above the $500,000. Brad said that Crandall Field could not have an in ground foundation because of the water table. Brad said that the 1904 building is grandfathered for many things if it remains where it is, but if it is moved, then it would have to conform to every mandate. All and all, I don’t think the 1904 building sounds like a good option.

    George did tell Barbara that he is very familiar with buildings with balloon construction. He said he has never seen a building from this era that did not have firestops. George feels the 1904 building must have firestops. He said that nobody should have ever been in the building if it doesn’t have firestops. Without firestops it is a firetrap. With firestops he is not so concerned about fire.

    Dan Cartier told Barbara that Chariho had received a “generic quote” for demolishing the 1904 building for $500,000. Barabar doesn’t think it should cost that much and said their are savagable things in the building like windows, doors, radiators, blackboards, etc. The cost of demolition could be much lower. We will put it on the agenda to get actual quotes for demolition.

    Barbara told us she had Kaestle Boos report from 2003 which has costs for renovation. She and I will get together over the next two weeks and try to have details for the next meeting.

    Barbara also mentioned elevators for the 1904 building and also for Hope Valley elementary. I asked if this was really necessary because there are now students in Hope Valley (including my daughter) without elevators and Chariho had children in the 1904 building until a couple of years ago also without elevators. Barbara thinks elevators should be part of any renovation. I asked that all costs related to moving fifth and sixth graders back into elementary be broken up into what MUST BE DONE and what COULD BE DONE. Since there are already students in Hope Valley and Ashaway, there shouldn’t be anything that must be done. There definitely are things that must be done at the 1904 building, but I don’t want this confused with things we could do.

    I think it is important to let the town council, taxpayers, and the public know what they have to do to get the kids back to elementary and keep that separate from what they can do. We must give the public the barebones least that needs to be done. The town council can decide on where to go from there, but I’m determined not to be the one to turn the ad hoc committee into a building committee. Everyone agreed that keeping a clear distinction between what is needed and what is wanted was okay.

    Maria Armental wrote that we plan on presenting to the town council by January. We actually said it would be difficult to give much to the council by January because we only have 3 or 4 more meetings between now and then. We will share everything we know with the council if they ask us to but I’m not sure what help we will be until we’ve had a chance to get going. I am trying to put as much as I can remember here but if they want to talk about what we are doing we will do it of course.

    I’m not a fast writer. I talk at the meetings. I can’t keep up with notes. If anyone sees things I’m missing please let us know. Thank you. I’ll put this on Hopkinton RI Speaks too.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 16, 2007 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  49. CORRECTION – I should have written I don’t think MOVING the 1904 building sounds like a good option.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 16, 2007 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  50. Just to elaborate on some things. We all agreed with Jim that the Wisconsin study is subjective in that the children were interviewed. I stated that, as this research study dealt with issues regarding emotions, etc…. that this is not something you can evaluate on a standardized test. Since they had a lot of questions about the Duke Study, I only touched on the Wisconsin study.

    While discussing the 1904 building and the firestops, Barbara informed us that he said it would be fairly easy to find them, by knocking on the walls and by shining a flashlight up from the basement. He also told her that they are usually brick from that time period. (a sidenote: Considering we had a brick factory just a couple of streets over, I believe it is a good bet their are brick firestops in that building.) We touched on the fact that most deaths in fires are caused by toxic gases and smoke and that a tiny hole in the wall is a serious problem because smoke and gases can enter the building through those avenues.

    We discussed the fire escapes as well. They would have to be renovated.

    We received maps for the Ashaway buildings. Still trying to locate maps for the Hope Valley school.

    Discussed the need for possible self-contained classes for special ed.

    I can’t speak for Jim but I think he meant to say that he thought the option to move the 1904 building was not a good option as to costs associated with it. Considering it would no longer be grandfathered with a move to another site, I would agree.

    I’ve seen the 2003 Kaestle Boos report. On a personal note, after adjusting for inflation, renovating and repairing the 1904 building is still an option.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 16, 2007 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  51. Jim, I see while I was typing, you were typing. You beat me to the correction.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 16, 2007 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

  52. There is a guy in Ashaway named Ben, married to an Amy, daughter Olivia. Sorry, don’t know last name. He deals with old construction and fire proofing. If someone recognizes by the description let me know but I’ll track him down.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 16, 2007 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

  53. Could this be him?

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 17, 2007 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  54. might be, ill call

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 17, 2007 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  55. Sorry about that…it occurred to me once I saw the information in print that an address and telephone number was probably too much info for a public website…oops. Glad you got rid of it so quickly.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 17, 2007 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  56. Hi all,
    I filled out a form on Otis Elevators website and gave a vague description of the 1904 building. I let them know I was only looking for a general idea on pricing for elevators. I got this email estimate today –

    “A budget for the elevators is $55K each based on front opening only and approximate 12′ floor to floor height. This does not include any building work by other trades such as demolition, building the shaft or machine room, or electrical work.”

    From the information presented here it may be that one of those modular elevators that can be put on the outside of the building would be a lot cheaper. Since I live in a modular house I don’t have the same negativity towards modular things like I’ve seen with the bond. Our modular house has been fine for 30 years. I wouldn’t be afraid to go with a modular elevator or a modular school.

    There is a bunch of info on elevators on the Hopkinton RI Speaks place under Superintendant Ricci Meets With Presidents.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — November 19, 2007 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

  57. I like the information on the modular forms. A residential elevator is big enough for two – so useless. If we had to do this, the modular sounds like the best choice so far.

    I wonder if they can build a school modular? A wing attached to a present building? Classrooms are just square/rectangular spaces and offices are smaller square or rectangular spaces – two floors with a hall leading to stairs (or an elevator and stairs). The bathrooms are already constructed in both schools so unless the kitchen needs improvement there would be minimal plumbing.

    Jim, that’s a very good idea to pursue! CR, can you help? Both Hope Valley and Ashaway need wings for the 6th/library/5th/whatever (unless Ashaway can renovate the 1904 for less). It would get rid of the three portables at Hope Valley and the two ‘permanent’ structures at Ashaway.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — November 20, 2007 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  58. Also, don’t forget the notion of steel buildings. I had looked into them about 6 months ago. They build them for all purposes, even schools. I will see if I can locate those sites. It is just another option.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 20, 2007 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  59. Here are some links regarding steel buildings. I once worked in a steel building. You’d never know it from the inside.



    Comment by Lois Buck — November 21, 2007 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  60. Now this is the kind of brainstorming I love to see! We don’t need the Taj Mahal…we need clean, safe, comfortable facilities…nothing fancy.

    You want to see a waste of taxpayer money, go take a gander at Westerly’s Middle School complex. It’s has about 10 different colored bricks, extensions sticking out all over place, a glass enclosed stairwell, etc. I can only imagine how much waste is on the inside.

    When I saw it, I immediately thought about the poor Westerly taxpayers who had to pay for this palace. To think that some poor family struggling to get by is footing the bill is sad. I’m a believer in KISS…keep it simple stupid.

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 21, 2007 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  61. Westerly Middle School was a project completed by Kaestle Boos. The building is 148,500 sf at a principle cost of $27,000,000.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 22, 2007 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  62. Thats $181 per square foot. Wasn’t the Campus 2010 bond closer to $360 sq ft?

    Comment by Bill Felkner — November 23, 2007 @ 12:01 am | Reply

  63. “Modular school buildings are very durable. Their durability stems from the fact that they are primarily made of steel. Apart from that, they can be made weather-resistant, corrosion-resistant and even leakage-resistant. Ventilation facilities can be provided. One of the greatest advantages is that classrooms can be appended to an existing building within a few months, which helps to house a growing student population year after year.

    Though prefabricated school buildings have met the needs of the population, they have come under a lot of flak. The most important criticism against them is that they are too shabbily designed and are quite unaesthetic in their design. Today in the US alone, there are about 250,000 modular school buildings, and their number is growing at the rate of 20% per year. Several of them were built to be temporary structures; however, they still persist. Another problem associated with modular school buildings is that if they are constructed shoddily, they may develop cracks in the ceiling. This would cause water leakages and thus facilitate the growth of molds and bacteria over long periods of time. Therefore, people believe that though modular school buildings may be the answer for short terms, they would prove detrimental to students’ health over long periods of time.

    Whatever may be the issue, school authorities and political parties are recommending the use of such modular buildings for academic purposes. One decisive factor is that modular school buildings are more economical than conventional constructions. The cost for constructing a single classroom would be around $100,000. The funds saved can be used for other worthy academic benefits.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 6:20 pm | Reply


    A Boston Globe article from 2005 which highlights some of the negative aspects of modular classrooms. Even in an article written by the notorious Globe, they still concede a number of benefits. The article says that problems can occur WITHOUT proper care. From the limited amount I’ve read, maintenance is critical with these buildings.

    “School officials said they began using modular classrooms because they are cheaper than new construction projects, take less time to build, and, in the case of newer models, resemble regular buildings.”

    “Modular buildings cost about $100,000 per classroom, depending on features, and can be built and delivered in less than six months”

    “Without proper care, leaks in the roof can lead to mold growth”

    “Contractors say that newer modular classroom designs make the structures look like part of the main buildings; a walkway connects the modular and main buildings.”

    “In Stoughton, the Robert G. O’Donnell Middle School’s five-year-old brick-face modular building blends in with the main building so well that many students believe it’s merely an additional wing.”

    “To get to the modular classrooms inside, O’Donnell students walk from the main building through a covered hallway on a ramp connected to the modular building. A single hallway divides the six classrooms and three restrooms for boys, girls, and faculty.”

    “Inside, the main building’s walls are concrete block; the modular building’s walls are drywall with a vinyl covering.”

    “Students and teachers say they love it, especially since each modular classroom has its own climate control, while the main building has a central control and no air conditioning.”

    “I don’t want them to move me anywhere else,” Katia Rigas, a French and Spanish teacher, said as she sat in a bright classroom adorned with pictures of Chile, Argentina, and Peru.”

    “School administrators don’t know how long they’ll keep the building. ”I hope forever,” said principal Wayne Hester. ”We’re strapped for rooms right now.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — November 24, 2007 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  65. Maintenance is the key word.

    Comment by Lois Buck — November 25, 2007 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  66. Hello,
    Attending last night’s meeting was myself, Lois Buck, Kat Felkner and Barbara Capalbo. We discussed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for presenting different options. Spreadsheet to have three columns – “Mandated Expenses” – “Recommended Expenses” – “Optional Expenses”. This will present options in an ala carte way so the town council can decide what it wants to go forward. Barbara provided listings of items that may need attention at the Hope Valley, Ashaway, and 1904 schools. We will try to determine what items are mandated. Barbara will contact Chariho to see what lists they have for things that need to or are recommended to be done.

    Lois presented two more studies, Missouria and Lousiana demonstrating the benefits of K-6 configuration. The studies determined success with objective meausurements and it was agreed that the school districts studied were more rural like Chariho. Both test scores and behaviors were better for kids who stayed in the same elementary schools. The consensus was that the evidence is pretty clear about the benefits of moving fifth and sixth graders back to elementary schools. Transitioning from school to school is not good. The less the better. Need to find out if Chariho middle schoolers feel they are transitioning when they go to high school? Support for middle schools seems to be subjective and anecdotal, not objective. Lois will be ready to lend a hand in other areas of exploration for the ad hoc committee very soon (right Lois?). She’s done a great job validating why Hopkinton’s fifth and sixth graders must be in elementary schools! If the evidence she’s gathered doesn’t convince you then you refuse to be convinced.

    Please join us as we look at Hopkinton’s options. With the bond behind us the work we are doing could be important in moving the district in a positive direction. We could use your help!

    PS – Minutes are available of all our meetings. Once we figure it out I will try to put the actual minutes here. Thanks.

    Comment by Jim LaBrosse — December 7, 2007 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  67. Looking over modular school buildings, I came across this site:

    Comment by Lois Buck — December 9, 2007 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  68. Good Morning Lois,

    I did look at the Triumph Leasining site. Nice building. So, we have been paying for a 100 student building for the last four years with 50 plus or minus students using it. Our clinical student base is perhaps 28 students. The ALP program, which can easily be in a regular school wing without any reconstructive work, and has approximately 25 students use this building as well. So, because we need four or five classrooms (at 10 students per each classroom maximum for clinical students only), consult spaces, time-out rooms and offices (no cafeteria or gym space) we are asked to build a new building for four million dollars. Four million dollars for 28 students.

    Move the ALP back into the normal high school/middle school where they belong – like every other ALP program in the state. Why are we reinventing the wheel?

    Four million dollars – which would totally rehab one or two of our overused, overworked and under maintained elementary schools used by almost 600 students. Good call.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — December 19, 2007 @ 7:22 am | Reply


    Website has changed.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 18, 2008 @ 9:07 am | Reply

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