Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 25, 2007

“Middle schoolers do better in K-8 setting”

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans — Editor @ 1:03 pm

Just another report supporting the shift away from the Middle School model.

The only disappointing item is that it appears some people still don’t understand that a large part of the success of K-8 is the environment and not the behavior of the staff.

“The report tells us that outcomes are better for kids in K-8s, but it doesn’t tell us why,” Lindsey said. “It doesn’t tell us that the reason kids do better is because they are in a K-8, and we need to look at the practices in K-8s and middle schools to see what we can learn.”

There are many many reasons why it works.  Continuity during puberty, continuity with support, connectedness with community, etc, etc… 

Bottom line is it works.  Let’s do it.

September 20, 2007

The problems with Middle Schools

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans — Editor @ 8:09 am

David Mittell pens a good article about the boondoggle called Middle School and why we should return to the K-8 model.

September 17, 2007

Things that make you go “hmmm”

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,executive sessions — Editor @ 8:27 am

On Thursday, September 13, the Westerly Sun ran an article titled, “Does Chariho board member’s Web site spill closed-door beans?

This article discussed the March 26th executive session meeting, placed on the agend by Superintendent Barry Ricci.  He scheduled this meeting because he felt I had challenged his integrity with a letter in the Sun – a response piece to his letter that said the research on grade configuration was inconclusive.

In this WS article last Thursday, the reporter said –

According to March 27 regular session minutes, the executive session was held about 6 p.m., prior to other agenda items. All 11 committee members voted to enter executive session and keep the exec­utive minutes closed in accordance with state law.

 I have not bothered to check the minutes – but I was there as were some of you.  When the meeting was called, Giancarlo Cicchetti read from the Open Meetings rule book and explained how the meeting was a violation.  Deb Jenning, never the less, made a motion to go into exec session and the majority of the board voted for it.  Mr. Cicchetti and I did not.

I left a message at the Sun for Mr. Ryan on Thursday and the corrections desk soon after.  To my knowledge, no correction has been published.

Perhaps the minutes reflect something different than what actually happened, I don’t know.  I do know that I have told anyone that asked what the vote was.  

I’ll dig up the minutes of both meetings and post soon.

[UPDATE] I forgot to explain what the alleged violation was.  The following note was included in an email to the press on March 26, 2007.  The quote came from the March 27 meeting agenda. 

Scheduled for Executive Session is “Character of Superintendent.”  Quote: “Given Bill Felkner’s concerns about my character and integrity (as detailed in his letter to the Westerly Sun), this item is on the agenda at my (Superintendent Ricci) request.  It will provide Bill and other members of the Committee an opportunity to comment in an appropriate forum.”

 

************

According to the Chariho board, sharing this information was a violation of the Open Meetings law.

 

[UPDATE] Duh! (i teach my kids not do say that, but I can say it to myself here).  It just dawned on me.  The exec session mentioned in the article was at 6:00.  I think the one in question may have come later – I really need to dig up those minutes – maybe tonight during the game.  If there were two XS that night, that would explain the confusion – although that meeting (if different) didn’t have anything to do with the context of the article – Stay tuned…

 

[UPDATE the UPDATE]  I had a good conversation with the V.P., Editor of the Sun (Raymond Lamont) and we seem to come to the same possible conclusion – the XS mentioned in the article was the early session, the session related to the story came later – this is supported with Councilperson Capalbo’s comment.  I have a call into the AG’s office and will verify my understanding of the Open Meeting laws – specifically on when I can release the minutes.

September 12, 2007

Sept 11 committee meeting

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,bond,Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 8:07 am

Please watch the Chariho School Committee meeting on Cox ch. 18 Wednesday @ 8pm and Friday @ 12 noon.  

I’ll admit I am passionate about what I believe in – I believe the 5th & 6th graders (and even 7th & 8th) should be at the town level, not at the main campus.  I believe bonds are simply an excuse to postpone dealing with contract issues that make it impossible to adequately operate a school.  I also believe there are inefficiencies at Chariho.  I will admit I am aggressive in pursuing what I believe – perhaps I push the envelope, and perhaps at times I am (as accused) “inappropriate” and “rude.”   I’ll accept criticism on those points but I will not lessen my resolve on these issues.   In last nights meeting, besides being told I was rude and inappropriate, I was told I ask too many questions and for now on, my requests for information from Ricci must get board approval.  I was also told that I should become a better “team player.” 

And don’t forget that in a previous meeting, I was told I could not bring up information from my own research (such as RIDE info) unless I sent it to the board first.  As an example, SAT scores were discussed last night.  RI’s SAT scores rank 48th in the nation.  But I wouldn’t be allowed to discuss that because I didn’t send the data to the board ahead of time. 

Not everyone on the board agreed with these new rules, but the majority did.  As you will see by the meeting, it appears that the majority of the board is more interested in what I am doing than in what Chariho is providing to the children.  Some of the conversation had absolutely nothing to do with the kids.

As an example, Terry Serra said, ‘its a shame your wife doesn’t have the confidence in you to fix the school.’  This is in reference to the fact that we will not allow our children to attend the Switch Rd campus in its current condition and atmosphere.  I should not have dignified her insult with a response but it shows the depth they will sink to silence those who don’t agree with them.  And I’m the “rude” one.

Points of interest in the meeting, in chronological order:

Representatives from Richmond, for the umptenth time, told us about the water problem at Richmond.  We finally decided to do something about it.

Kathy Perry, Special Education Director, gave a presentation about the special education services provided at Chariho.  As a total population, Chariho has a low percentage of students receiving special education services.  The RI average is 20.1%, the highest in the nation.  We were told Chariho is at 14%.  Low by RI standards and slightly above the national average (13.3 in 05).  

The Spec Ed student population has dropped from 687 students in 2003-04 to 488 in 06-07, a reduction of 29%.  The Staffing trend over that same period went from 70.8 employees in 03-04 to 65.9 in 06-07, a reduction of 7%.  These staffing figures do not include the social workers, psychologists, etc… supplied by Psychological Centers Inc. which came on board in 2003, of which there are more employees at Psy Centers than the 5 we reduced from our staff – so in essence, we may not have not reduced staff at all – find more details on PC Inc here). 

Andy McQuade defended this lack of reduced staff by saying that every time we loose 2 or 3 kids, regulations on class size and teacher-student ratios would restrict us from reducing staff.  But we are not talking about 2 or 3 kids – we are talking about a reduction of 199 kids.

 This apparent inconsistency between a reduced population with a relatively stagnant staff population was then explained (per Kathy Perry) as being due to a special education population that requires more intensive services (please watch the show for more details).  

The entire Chariho 2003-04 budget was $41,796,839, the 06-07 budget was $49,526,631, an increase of 18.5%.  The contract for Psy Centers Inc has also gone up considerably, from approx $420,000 to $700,000 – see above link.  You can find the budget here for more details on special education expenses.

Next is where it got testy –

During the “District Concerns” most of the board members expressed their displeasure with:   
1) the Sept 3rd post on this website,
2) the disclosure of closed session information (Chariho has a habit of “sealing” info from the public – which was addressed in a previous meeting),
3) my “burdensome” requests for information from the Superintendent (see rule about requests above ), and
4) this website. 

Please watch the show for more details.   

Serra’s quote above pretty well wraps up the vitriol.   But the bottom line is this – watch the meeting and decide for yourself – what is the intent.  Is the intent of this attack to improve the school for the kids or is it simply to silence someone that doesn’t agree with them.   Remember, they didn’t ask for information or research about the issues – they asked that I become a “team player.”

Remember these facts – I have been told that I may not bring up information from my own research unless I forward the information to the board beforehand.  I have been told that I may not ask Ricci questions without board approval.  I have been told by several (not all) members of the board to stop writing letters to the papers (mostly Bill Day, Andrew McQuade, and Andy Polouski).  And of course, I’ve been reminded again about their views of this website.

Andy McQuade also brought up an email I sent Ricci that said, “Have Thornton review the Duke study and give a presentation to the board.”  Andy thought I was being rude not addressing Thornton as Dr. Thornton.  Then Ron Pruhs said he didn’t understand how this had anything to do with arrests.  Obviously, Ron hasn’t read the Duke study.  I explained the connection between class size and behavior problems – even common sense would tell you that when you take a kid from a 300-400 student school and, at the age of 10, place them in a 2600 student school – bad things happen.  

After that “discussion,” I brought up three issues during the “District Concerns” section:

The Providence Journal requested data on Chariho employees (salary, stipends, etc…).  I noted that the data showed we have 136 substitute teachers and I wanted to clarify what “fringe” payments were for (FICA & other normal withholdings, no health ins is provided).  The data for the 775 employees, including the 136 subs, is available here.   Up to this point I was under the impression we only had 550 employees (per RIDE and budget data).  Removing the subs still leaves 640.   Also note – this 640 does not include the personnel we purchase from Psych Centers Inc or other outside services. 

But even if we don’t count them – we now have one employee for every 5.6 students.  When I was a kid the ratio was one employee for every 20+ students.  This is employee to students – NOT – teacher to student ratios.  “Employee” includes management, etc…

Next I brought up the Building Committee flyer discussed in the Sept 3rd post.   This flyer is paid for by school funds.  The total budget for operation of the building committee is $10,000, the estimate for the production and delivery of this flyer exceeds $1000.   Superintendent Ricci said that the flyer does NOT attempt to influence voters on how to vote for the November 6th bond.   The flyer says “Its time to…” at eight seperate points.  But, according to Ricci, this isn’t trying to influence the way you vote on the bond (that would be illegal).  The flyer is posted here (front) and here (back).

I also discussed the arrest records.  During the last meeting, Officer Vaughn reported that we had 108 arrests over the last two years (67 & 41).  Superintendent Ricci provided a list of 38 “student” arrests for 06-07 (26 High School, 3 Middle School, 9 RYSE).  I have received information that shows, over the last two years at the Switch Rd campus, 392 police calls.   137 of these calls were motor vehicle related (they are still called “calls” but I will remove them as they are not traditionally thought of when you say ‘call the police’). 

Of the remaining 255 calls, 150 were in 06-07.  Of those 150 calls, there were 48 arrests.   It was not delineated as to how many were “students.”   So we have 41 arrests last year reported by Officer Vaughn, we have 38 “student arrests” reported by Ricci and we have 48 arrests reported by Richmond.  Furthermore, Vaughn reported that there were 67 arrests the previous year, Chief Driscoll puts the number at 31.  Ricci did not provide 05-06 data.  Why do we continue to get inaccurate information?

This information request is actually a process that started on July 20th.  Here is how the email communication went – When I first asked Ricci to notify me about arrests, he said the request must come from “the board.”

I repeated my original request.  He said he would notify me when a “major” incident occurs.  I repeated my original request.

Next he said he would notify me when a “student” had been arrested in a “school-related” offense.   I repeated my original request. 

Now I am told that I will be notified of any arrest the Superintendent is aware of.   I suggested that the Superintendent should be aware of any arrest at his school.

When this was reviewed in last night’s meeting, Andy McQuade said I did not have the right to ask for that information.  Andy Polouski (and I believe others, but will have to watch the tape) agreed with him.  

This conversation segued to the continued difficulty in obtaining accurate data.  Since my start in November we have been told that 
1) RIDE reported teacher certification numbers are inaccurate for not only Chariho but for all districts (per RIDE & Chariho),
2) Due Process reports (customer complaints) reported for Chariho from the RIDE website are inaccurate, these numbers show we have 3 to 6 times as many customer complaints as do our peers (per RIDE – coincidently, the attorney at RIDE that said our Due Process reports are inaccurate (David Kane) has since left RIDE and is now applying to be the Chariho solicitor),
3) the cost per student at RYSE, as reported by RIDE, is inaccurate (per Chariho), and
4) Insight data is inaccurate (per Chariho).

Next, George Abbott commented on the rumor that a political action committee is being formed to sell the bond to the people of Chariho.  He reminded them to file their paperwork at the Secretary of State office so we can see who is funding this effort.

Finally, MGT provided a itemized proposal for the managment study, just as we had asked.  Unfortunately, the item was not placed on our agenda (not sure why – I assume that was a decision made by Ricci or Bill Day) so we were not allowed to vote on it.  Bob Petit asked that it be placed on the next agenda.

Well, there you go.  That’s what your elected representatives are doing to ensure a good education for our kids.

[UPDATE]  I emailed Ricci this morning just before 8.  I asked, “I just want to verify my understanding of one of the “rules” discussed last night.  Am I correct in my understanding that I may not request information from you without board approval.”    At 3:08 he responded, “I have no such understanding.”

Please, watch the meeting and decide for yourself.

September 3, 2007

Welcome back to school

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,bond,Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 9:57 am

And welcome back to the school trying to take more of your money with a bond because they can’t manage their finances.

If you, like me, attended any of the opening day orientation meetings, you would have been presented with a fancy flyer entitled, “It’s Time.”  This slick propaganda piece correctly tells us “it’s time” to fix many of our problems.  Unfortunately, it has the solutions and revenue source all wrong. 

I’ll provide more details in the months to come, but here is the gist of the flyer.

“It’s Time” to remove temporary buildings used for RYSE and purchase permanent structures (and, theoretically, save us money).

First, let us not forget that we started with temporary buildings so Chariho didn’t have to take a vote to start the RYSE program (a very clever way to evade voter approval, and questionably legal).  And, by placing this on a bond, if it were to be approved, they could use this as the ‘voter approval’ for a program that has not been proven effective or cost efficient.  Very clever indeed.

Secondly, it says, “It’s Time” to upgrade the Middle School. 

Of course, once again Chariho has ignored the wishes of the parents.  The MGT study in 1999 made it clear that the parents wanted 5th and6th graders at the elementary/town level.  (Remember, this is the study Andy Polouski incorrectly described as a “sham” in the last meeting – he also got just about everything else wrong when discussing this topic).  A survey done in 2003 said the very same thing (>70% of those surveyed want the children brought back home).  The School Committee tried to do the survey again, but Superintendent Ricci acknowledged that this is indeed what the parents want (gosh, after 8 years, do you think they may actually do it?  Trust me – not without a big push).

Finally, the flyer says, “It’s Time” to make much needed repairs to the High School. 

 I can’t argue that the HS needs work.  But anyone with a passing knowledge of business economics knows you don’t run to the bank (or the taxpayers in this case) every time you need to repair your facilities.  

I have a better idea.  I say “It’s Time” we took control of our runaway budget and start operating with some common sense. 

No longer will the people tolerate 1 employee for every 6.7 students (it was only 1 short generation ago that the ratio was 1 employee for every 20 students).

No longer will the people tolerate pensions, healthcare, sick days and contracted time off that far exceeds that of the private market.

No longer will the people tolerate 10.7% raises for half the teachers with ABSOLUTELY NO requirement for achievement (did you know that even the teachers we want to fire due to their incompetence get the same raises as our best and brightest).

No longer will the people tolerate the nations highest per pupil expenditures on teacher compensation accompanied by academic performance that ranks in the bottom 10.

No longer will the people tolerate this behavior.  When the people vote “NO” on the bond in November it will mark the beginning of change at Chariho.  We will tolerate nothing less.

PS.  At a cook-out yesterday, a parent asked me why I had not written in the papers during the referenda vote for the 5th and 6th graders.  They also asked me if it had anything to do with the Executive Session hearing when Superintendent Ricci accused me of attacking his integrity with a previous letter to the editor.

After discerning where this person got the info from a closed session hearing, I assured them that the hearing didn’t do anything other than strengthen my resolve.

I didn’t write during the referenda because I didn’t need to.  Even though the Westerly Sun came out against the vote (how much $ does Chariho spend at the Sun?) and even though someone name Doreen Dolan came out against the vote (she also neglected to tell the people that she is on the building committee and her family owns a company in the construction biz – wink, wink) and even though Union officials were shooting out emails to everyone on their list, I didn’t need to speak out against them because no matter how much propaganda they throw at you, you know what’s best for your kids.

On a related note – the Duke Study on grade configuration (see “5th & 6th grade” link on right) will be discussed in an upcoming board meeting.  Read the study and watch Chariho try to spin it.  It should be entertaining.  Then ask yourself this – “why does Chariho continue to deny what I want for my kids? And, whose interests are they serving?”  

August 10, 2007

Hopkinton 5th & 6th grade Ad Hoc committee cranks up

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,Hopkinton — Editor @ 10:18 am

Two posts in the comments section of the last header deserve ‘header’ status.  First post is from James Labrosse, ad hoc members.  Second post by Barbara Capalbo, town council member and leading the committee efforts.

Hello all. Per the voters’ request, the group looking into the options for moving Hopkinton 5th and 6th graders back to elementary groups has been started. At this time it is an ad hoc committee. I’m told that ad hoc allows us the flexibility to independently work on the multitude of options. Less meeting and more work is right up my alley!

I’ll be looking into cost estimates for a variety of options. A couple of others will also be doing this part. I’m still waiting for information and a listing of some of the potential options. I have reviewed a floor plan for Ashaway and Hope Valley schools, and with a cursory review, it seems to me that the schools can easily handle K through 5th grade. If the 1904 building is included, there easily should be enough space for K through 7th.

There has been some talk of estimating renovations of the schools, but I tend to not favor this approach, at least not if it is linked to bringing back 5th and 6th grades. If renovations are needed, I would like to see this presented as a separate option. My view is that the voters do not need or want another building committee proposal and I’m not comfortable going beyond the scope of the voters’ request.

Also, I feel Chariho should be responsible for renovations to the extent possible. Why should Hopkinton taxes go to Chariho for building maintenance and then go directly to the schools because Chariho is not maintaining the buildings? It’s like we are paying for the same thing twice.

I’ll try to come here to keep you posted as things evolve. Please don’t hesitate to offer me suggestions or criticisms if you think I’m off track. I’d like to get this done so our children can be put back into the appropriate educational environment ASAP.

Comment by Jim LaBrosse — August 3, 2007 @ 7:38 pm | Edit This

Good afternoon,

I wish to follow up on Jim Labrosse’s comment. We have begun the research into the 5th and 6th grade referendum question. It has been divided into three parts and anyone who would like to assist in these areas should call me at home – 377-2254 and I will get you in touch with the persons working on each section.

The first area is Why we would like to return the children to a K-6 format. Lois Buck will head this direction. She and others will research the studies on grade configuration and national scoring, preventing delinquency, strengthening emotional well-being and the family unit through these early years, etc. Even the school board realizes that the overwhelming majority of people in all three towns would like to see the return of the 5th and 6th to their home town elementary school as much as that is possible.

The second section will be the research needed on ’special needs’. The mandates where spatial needs exist(classrooms or offices for speech, physical therapy, learning assistance, etc.) must be planned for within our present elementary school buildings or portables. These classrooms may be able to fluctuate between elementary schools in the district.

The third area is cost. Jim Labrosse and myself will be researching this portion of the question. We want to know the least amount of money needed to bring the 5th and 6th graders back to Hope Valley and Ashaway. We will also let the citizens know the approximate costs of upgrading options.

The questions are quite complex and anyone wishing to assist any of us or comment on an area, or just question us is welcome to do so. We will have workshops once we have something to discuss.

Comment by BarbaraC — August 9, 2007 @ 2:33 pm | Edit This

June 13, 2007

Yes vote on referendum

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,Chariho — Editor @ 7:04 am

Even though the Westerly Sun editor come out against it and Doreen Dolan (who has yet to publicly acknowledge that she is a member of the building committee) wrote a letter in the Sun against it (and we can assume the NEA sent out notices against it) – the people of Hopkinton voted to move forward with bringing the 5th and 6th graders home (186 – 135).

I did not submit anything in the paper.  As a matter of fact, I only posted a reminder on this website the day before.  Apparently, no matter what a few vocal people and well-organized (and well-funded) groups do, the parents of Hopkinton want their kids back.  Congrats!

June 11, 2007

Vote to return 5th & 6th graders

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans,Hopkinton — Editor @ 7:02 pm

Tuesday, Hopkinton residents may vote at the Town Hall from 7am to 9pm.   There are 3 issues:

1.  The town budget. 

2. Giving the town the authority to give tax deduction to companies wanting to enter the area, for up to 10 years.

3. Empower the town to investigate bringing the 5th and 6th graders back to the town.  There is no doubt I support this referendum.  The research (linked below) I have seen has convinced me that this change is the better learning environment for our children.  Quite honestly, if the grades are not changed by the time my oldest gets to 5th grade, my family will be looking for a private school.   

Apparently, other parents have similar feelings.  A thorough survey done by Chariho in 2004 showed 71% of residents (average for all towns) want them returned. 

Find more info here, here and here

Please vote on Tuesday – Hopkinton Town Hall, 7am to 9pm.

May 23, 2007

RYSE contract discussion

Filed under: 5th & 6th grade,grade spans,RYSE — Editor @ 4:21 pm

The first post on RYSE and the no-bid contract has brought up several question and points.  I would like to post them here for those that don’t normally read the comments section.  I have edited for length and content – the original post and comments are located here.  If you are unfamiliar with the incident I would suggest you read the first post and then come back here for the comment discussion. 

7 Comments »

1.      Unbelievable to say the least! If I’m reading this correctly, South Shore Mental Health Center offered a program tailored to meet the individual needs of each student? Psychological Centers, Inc. offers a one-size fits all approach, and that one size has historically been suited for “serious juvenile offenders”?

Behind this decision is some kinds of quid pro quo…I can’t think of any other reason why the decision would be made to go with the more expensive service with the less flexible approach? Follow the connections and I’m betting you’ll discover why PC Inc. was chosen.Do I see a pattern?

Yes, the pattern is that government rolls over everyone in its insatiable thirst to grow. With growth comes jobs for families and friends, e.g. Mr. Day’s family (wife and son).  

Of course, to accomplish continuing growth, everyone must play along, so back-scratching is the order of the day as everyone involved turns a blind eye. Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 10:01 am | Edit This

2.

In 2003, PC Inc outlined some “performance measures” such as customer satisfaction reports and tracking how many kids are reintegrated back into the regular school.

But after 3-4 years of operation, they say that 95% of the satisfaction interviews were positive so they don’t use them anymore (but he didn’t keep records so is unable to send them to me).

They also no longer (or never did) track reintegration. 

Kathy Perry has said this is not a performance measurement and the students at RYSE “will need these services for life.” However, in another email she admitted that only 2 of 12 students last year needed to continue mental health services after graduation.

And the reintegration logic is also ludicrous. They (PC Inc) have determined that the students need their services indefinitely and should not be pushed to go back to the regular classrooms. But some of the students go on to college.  So they can handle college but they can’t handle a High School classroom?

Plus there is the fact that in 2006 Chariho has 6 times more complaints filed at RI Dept of Education than Coventry or Exeter and 4 times more than Westerly.

In 2006, Chariho had 12 complaints, hearings and/or mediation.   Westerly had 4, Coventry and Exeter/West Greenwich each had 2. 

In 2005 the numbers were 9 Chariho, E/WG 1, Coventry and Westerly 3.Kathy Perry said these are not RYSE kids but kids in the regular ed that have IEP’s.

But who is in charge of ALL special ed? Kathy Perry

At this point in the meeting, Andrew McQuade called me out of order because now we were discussing Kathy’s job performance, not the RYSE contract.  He was right – I’ll give him credit for quick thinking.  Now I’ll ask you to do some quick thinking.  What was his motivation? 

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 10:16 am | Edit This

3.      It just keeps coming.

Also, the claim has been made that RYSE exists in violation of the Chariho Act. This seems pretty clear to me (but what do I know?). Rather than wasting time looking at all the nonsense that has gone on and continues to go on, maybe the best approach is to get RYSE before the voters and eliminate the problem that way? I have no clue what would be involved, but it seems to me that something needs to be done, or at least clarified, about RYSE being in violation of the Act.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 10:40 am | Edit This

CR,
I have asked the Hopkintown solicitor and the Chariho solicitor to give opinion on the RYSE/Chariho Act issue. I have already asked a contract lawyer friend and it is his opinion a violation occurred, but we will see what the town and school say.

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 11:18 am | Edit This

5.      I’m glad to hear that someone is looking into the issue of the Chariho Act violation.

Do you know if the Chariho Act is a legally binding instrument, or is it a guide for process, which is not legally binding?

I’m going to assume that the Chariho solicitor will take a pass on the question or find that RYSE is compliant. I assume this because I have to believe that RYSE was originally implemented with the knowledge, and maybe approval, of the Chariho solicitor?

That said, hopefully Hopkinton’s solicitor will agree it is a violation. If that should happen, what would be the next steps? Would someone have to file “charges”? Would an outside lawyer need to be brought in? I would be willing to make a small donation to fight the violation should it come to that.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 11:41 am | Edit This

THe Chariho Act is law. You may be right about the school’s solicitor. But if he is unique in his opinion, that is grounds for other problems and he may not want to jeopardize his reputation for this. I already have one legal opinion but I want some from involved solicitors.Legal action would be necessary to rectify the situation unless Chariho acquiesces without such prompting.

Comment by Bill Felkner — May 23, 2007 @ 12:19 pm | Edit This 

7.      The other factor, that might motivate the School Committee and the administration to move in a positive direction towards a vote, is the possible liability of individuals who implemented the RYSE program in violation of the Chariho Act.

If the Act is the law, then I would guess that those responsible for ignoring the Act would be lawbreakers. It would be interesting to find out if the administration or committee members asked the solicitor for an opinion during the time frame when RYSE was being discussed?

Of course, I’m assuming RYSE was discussed, but with this group, anything is possible!If any committee members currently serving were also on the committee when RYSE was implemented, I would be wary, if I were them, to continue to ignore the Chariho Act. While Mr. Ricci was not superintendent when RYSE was brought to Chariho, he was in the administration that violated the Chariho Act, and I would hate to see him further involve himself in actions contrary to the law.

My desire is for the School Committee and the administration to do the right thing and comply with the Chariho Act. While I think the violation of the law was willful for some people (especially smirkers), I would be happy to have the vote we should have had 4 years ago and start fresh from there.

Comment by Curious Resident — May 23, 2007 @ 12:41 pm | Edit This ************** 

Good point and I will stick it in my memory bank.

Yes, PC Inc. is the only provider of MST services in RI, and RYSE insists on MST services (thus the claimed logic for the no-bid contract – no one else meets our newly defined program criteria). 

However, MST certification is not a government certification.  MST is certified by MST Group, LLC., the for-profit company that developed the program.

That being said, the program has been altered for school application because it has never been used in a school before. 

So we have RYSE, the ONLY “24 hour a day/7 days a week” facility providing “mental health services” at a school in RI. 

Now we have the ONLY program that utilizes MST services. Aren’t we trendsetters?   

As a matter of fact, we are now developing an autism program and a program for Elementary aged kids (yes, we have 6 kids enrolled at RYSE as young as 6).   

In Supt. Ricci’s defense, I have found him to be competent and “like minded” with fiscal, union and management issues.  That being said, he still only operates at the direction of the board.   

That is why I was/am so disappointed in his letter in the Sun a while back.   It is not his place to have an opinion.  Only through the direction of the board may he advocate a position on policy. 

His letter appeared to be promoting the choice of NOT bringing back the 5th and 6th graders because the research was “inconclusive.”   

But I had already commented to them and here that;  
1)      there is a lot of research suggesting it’s best,
2)      the country is moving in that direction, and
3)      the PARENTS WANT THEIR KIDS BACK (71% voter approval). 

As for “inconclusive,” I noted that Mary Anne Raywid, Hofstra University Professor Emerita and Past president of the Society of Professors of Education, whose name is used for an award that recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the study of education, has said-  “The value of small schools has been confirmed with clarity and a level of confidence rare in the annals of education research.”   

But then Chariho said that moving the 5th and 6th grades back to the elementary was not making small schools, at least not the Elementary Schools (moving from K-4 to K-6). 

“Small School” does in one way imply that the total population is low, and in this light the Elementary would get larger, but then again, the main campus would get smaller. 

But in most research, “small school” means a small number in each grade.  So the 5th and 6th grade levels would (in round numbers) drop from the current level of 280 to 95.    

Either way you look at it, 5th and 6th graders are better served.  They are either moving from a 3800 student campus to a 450 student campus – or they are moving from a 280 class size to a 95 class size. 

If anyone can show me how ANY child is damaged by this arrangement, I’m willing to talk.   

A local parent (Lois Buck) had to point out the Duke study published in Feb 2007 – very current and very large sample – also not what I would call “inconclusive.” 

So the long and short of it is, and I apologize for the overly detailed rant, Supt. Ricci’s letter was
1)      operating at the direction of the board to influence citizen’s towards “not moving the kids” (which they deny) 
2)      Supt Ricci advocated on his own volition, (denied)
3)      Supt. Ricci simply reported on Dr. Thornton’s report as he was given it.   

Do you think that Dr. Thornton’s report was –
1)      accurate and the research is not conclusive enough to move the kids (regardless of what the parents want),
2)      inaccurate due to incompetence or
3)      inaccurate due to the direction of ? 

I presented to Supt Ricci that perhaps Dr. Thornton had a preset expectation of what was expected and reported accordingly.  Dr. Thornton maintains that the research is “inconclusive.”  I don’t think Dr. T. is incompetent. \

So this gets us back to the start of this conversation –  nothing happens without board approval. 

Last night we witnessed (tonight on Cox Ch. 18 @ 8 PM) the approval of a no-bid contract for the service provider of RYSE (PC Inc.).  A student’s parent who used the program was denied the right to speak on the “quality of the services.” 

Who denied this testimony?  Bill Day, chair of the board. 

Why you ask?  Because the Director of Special Ed, Kathy Perry, said the client was wrong. 

But then again, nothing can happen unless the board approves it.  So we signed a no-bid contract,
1)      with an agency that utilizes a system designed for “serious juvenile offenders,”
2)      that has never been used in a school before. 
3)      And does everything “in-house” and subsequently completely funded by taxpayers 

Oh yea, when we did send it out for bid in 2003, the loosing bid was a company that
1)      was in business for 52 years longer than PC Inc.,
2)      located in our community
3)      we had already done business with for 7 years
4)      utilized a community collaboration (rather than soup-to-nuts “in-house” services) that allowed insurance to pay for some services  

But Kathy Perry said that the research supporting the loosing bid wasn’t as good as the research supporting MST (which we have had to alter because our population are not “serious juvenile offenders”).

 Funny, how subjective analysis of research comes up again. 

 Ooops, I almost forgot, the loosing bid was also much less expensive ($276,000 versus $420,000) than this new start up program that is watching our kids. 

The no-bid contract we approved last night (2 opposed, 5 yea, 1 abstention) was for $669,000. 

I know board members read this site.  Please defend your actions.  The only thing I heard in defense was that RYSE has a graduation rate of 92%. 

Is this good?  Who knows, nobody else in RI runs a mental health facility school where you put 5-6 kids in a classroom with a teacher, an assistant, and floating “professionals” and tailor the lessons to the individual.   

This 92% represents 11 of 12 students.  Of course, this 12 does not include the 6 that the court or DCYF took away from us. 

Of those 12, three have enrolled in college (no word yet on how well they will transition from this “unique” school to the cookie cutter world of college).   

Plus we spend $52,000 – $57,000 per student, per year.   

Now let’s look at the bid from 2003 that we rejected. 

That company claims that 56% of the student’s they service end up reintegrating back to the regular classroom. So we know the loosing bid was 35% less than the winning bid (potential savings of $145,000 per year).  And if they reduced the RYSE enrolment by 56%, that would have saved us $1,976,000 since the inception of RYSE. 

Of course, Kathy Perry said, “South Shore never reintegrated any students when they provided services for us.”   

And she said, “RYSE is a special education placement.  The student’s disabilities indicate that they require this type of placement and programming.  For students with these diagnoses, services and treatments will be needed throughout their lives.” 

But according to the reports, only 2 of these 12 are eligible for adult-services after graduation.  So when they were at RYSE they needed $52,000 of taxpayer money for services but once they graduated the services were not needed.  Amazing! 

Did I mention that the staff at RYSE writes the education plan that specifies what services the child will be provided?  And that the staff at RYSE will provide those services? 

You, the voters, are the customer.  Are you happy with your purchase? 

more to come…