Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 23, 2008

April 22 meeting

Filed under: contract negotiations,merit pay — Editor @ 1:04 am

Not as active as last time, but an interesting meeting.  Catch it on ch 18 tomorrow at 8 pm and Friday at 12 noon.


Bill Day took the podium at the public forum to complain that I yelled at him on the phone after he discussed my family in public.  I did – both on his answering machine and when he called me back.  He said I threatened him too.  After he offered to share the “taped” message I left him, I asked him if he could tell me what they threat was.  He did not answer.


There was also an agenda item to discuss the use of “move to question.”  Hopkinton Town Council member, Barbara Capalbo wrote the AG’s office and the Superintendent about the issue too.  Her point was that the Committee uses it too much (4 times in as many months).  My point was that in January, when Bill Day told me to make a motion so we could discuss, and then Andy McQuade made the “move to question” motion – it was clearly used to stifle debate. 


Capalbo copied the page from Roberts Rules that says, “The chairman never has the authority to close debate as long as one person wants to discuss the motion.”  It also said, “it is not proper to make this motion before everyone has had the right to debate.”


I asked that we get a legal opinion.  THis was turned down.  They moved to have the sub committee (made up of school committee members) decide.  At the meeting, Holly Eaves said that it was Roberts Rules and not law.  And since 2/3 voted for it (not all times actually) that it was ok to do it.  Bill Day said that he, as chairman didn’t end the debate, the voting body of the Committee did.  Thats the jist of what I recall, watch the show and let me know if I’m off.  But they will interpret the rules and let us know.


I also made a motion to get all of our administration contracts down to 1 year so we could cut positions when budget time came around.  Right now, we couldn’t cut positions because we were told the contracts wouldn’t allow us.  The motion was denied. So, lets say Charlestown left the District and we only needed 2/3 the staff.  If the employee is on contract we can’t cut them.


Speaking of contracts, they approved the super and assistant super contracts too.  We do that every year – but its a roll over of another three year contract.  So they are never without a minimum of a 2 year pay package.  And they sealed the minutes so you can’t know what the discussion was like – we discussed his job performance and the contract details.  Again, we could have done anything we wanted to the contract but we didn’t change anything – other than the income.  So if your rep on the Committee says they will fix the contract next time, ask them why they missed the opportunity to do so with the administration.


During the last contract negotiation everyone said we were going to do better next time.  No more treating these employees like a protected special class who get bigger raises and better benefits than everybody else.  No more paying them on seniority – pay them on merit just like the real world.   But we had an opportunity to do it tonight and nothing changed.  We couldn’t even get them down to a 1 year contract.   Nothing changed.


I think George Abbott voted for all or most of the motions.  He was also supportive during the superintendent evaluation.  I think Bob Petit voted for a few too.


Lastly, Mr. Ricci said that he does not answer my emails because he feels that I share confidential information.  Indeed, his admission was in Executive Session and they sealed the minutes – so he may consider the act of me telling you that I can’t ask questions, a confidentiality violation.  So if you have any questions that involve the behavior of an employee or student, I will not be able to ask for you.  I’ll assume that I can still ask other questions.


However, one of the questions still not answered is this – sent to Ricci in an email.  A Kindergarten teacher told me that the school places a “2” on the student evaluation even though they don’t teach the subject yet.  This has been confirmed by other parents.  I asked the principal and she denied it.  I asked the Superintendent and he won’t answer me.  Is that confidential?


March 27, 2008

Must be the name

Filed under: merit pay,School Choice — Editor @ 12:00 am

As names go, “Angus” isn’t typical.  Oddly enough, there are two men named Angus you should know about.

Angus Davis is a member of the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.  He is asking for input from parents and taxpayers.  I have posted the entire text over at the OSPRI blog, but here is the gist of the issue:

Have you ever wondered how we can graduate 90% of our kids but only 22% of them can pass math?  That’s because the NECAP test scores only account for “less than 10%” of the graduation requirements.  The rest is attendance, portfolio, attitude, etc…

The Regents are trying to increase that to “at least 33%.”  Unfortunately, most of the people they hear from are “special interest groups.”  Please read his message and let them know how you feel on the topic.  It is important that the policy makers know what you want.

The other Angus is Angus McBeath.  Angus McBeath was the Superintendent in Edmonton Alberta. a district with about 80,000 students (too late to dig, but I think RI is about 120k).  He made three changes
1) complete choice – at the start of each year, kids could apply to any school – all money pooled together.
2) allowed schools to individualize (much like the Swedish model) when choice is given, schools tend to personalize. you get science schools, arts, etc…
3) data driven accountability – basically merit pay.

Google his success – “best managed district in North America

With the apparent inertia towards “consolidation” it is more important than ever to ensure individualized control.  If they take our money, at least let us make the buying decisions.

PS. A U.S. Supreme Court case in 2002 ruled that as long as the money goes to a voucher which allows the parent “complete control of the decision” it was ruled that that decision could even be made to a religious based school (because the state had no influence in the decision).

March 12, 2008

Speaking of “Best for Kids”,,,

Filed under: merit pay,Unions — Editor @ 7:37 am

Speaking of Best for Kids (following from the last post) – there is an excellent blog maintained by Angus Davis called just that – Best for Kids.   Actually, the blog is called Passing Notes, but the organization is Best for Kids.  Angus is also a member of the RI Board of Regents.   He has posted a great study on the benefits of Merit Pay for teachers.

Further, the “pay for performance” policy should apply not only to compensation, but also to teacher assignment. At Classical High School in Providence, an especially gifted teacher was recognized with a “Teacher of the Year” award, but was subsequently “bumped” out of his job (laid off) by another teacher with more seniority. The more senior teacher was less effective in the classroom but had been on the job for more years. How is a system that organizes compensation and teacher assignment solely around longevity of service and with no consideration given to performance in the classroom in the best interests of kids?

 We tried to get merit pay in the last contract, but that didn’t go so well.