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Letter: Jamestown Students Critical to NK Schools

Asking Jamestown for more money may send them to another district.


On Monday evening, Aug. 6, the Town Council and the manager spoke about a letter that the manager wrote to the town of Jamestown regarding payment toward the high school bond. This issue has been pushed around for many years and continues to be a source of irritation between the Jamestown community and our town.

Mr. Mudge and others do not understand the value or the economics of this relationship, and should this discussion continue, we may very well see Jamestown send its students elsewhere. If this happens, there will be dire consequences for our high school. Here is why:

First, let me begin by saying that the Jamestown students come to our high school very well prepared and are some of our most high performing students both academically and athletically. Any school district would be very happy to have these students attend their schools.

The business end of this relationship is the money we receive for tuition. Included in this amount are many items and are adjustable as costs and enrollment change. This agreement can be reviewed annually, and it does not include transportation, which is provided by Jamestown. The actual income received for tuition over the past several years is as follows: 2010 — $2,260,097; 2011 — $2,317,485; and 2012 — $2,029,868. The average cost to have these students attend our high school is approximately $800,000 a year.  (These numbers where supplied by the NKSD)  

So in any given year, it is apparent that we take in far more than it actually costs the district. These funds are then used to provide support for the entire high school program for electives, sports, honors and advance placement courses, as well as additional staff.

The Town Council and Mr. Mudge want Jamestown to pay additional money to cover the bond in the amount of approximately $260,000 a year. We are in effect receiving that and more to the benefit of our taxpayers and our students, easily in excess of $1 million more than they are looking for. So if we keep pushing the buttons of the folks in Jamestown, not only won’t we get the $260,000 they are asking for, but we will lose more than $2 million in tuition money. Where will that money come from when it is gone?

Please remember that this is our school for our students. We own it, we maintain it, we heat it and the staff belong to our school department. It is our obligation to maintain a high-performing school district, even if Jamestown decides to go elsewhere. 

We need to stop trying to force them to leave and thank them for coming because if they leave, you will see your taxes go up and hear the cheers from another school district that will welcome them with open arms. 

Would I like to see more money come from Jamestown? Absolutely, but that just is not going to happen. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why you would want to stay in North Kingstown when some are making it appear that we want them to go. Contact your council member and let them know what you think. It is your community.

Richard Welch
Vice Chairman
North Kingstown School Committee

 

Noreswindnk August 15, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Just me, but I see this as yet another aspect of no one being able to read the muddy financial statements provided by the school dep't. This was the case during the budget debate, and appears to be rearing it's head again. Mr. Welch, your numbers determine that the state pays NK about 2.5x the cost we provide to educate J-town students ($2mm in, $800k cost-out). Are you trying to tell us that our benevolent state coffers are overcompensating us by 150% just because they're really nice people? Come on. Again, this goes back to the muddy numbers and non-transparency of operations by the school dep't. Even the SC vice-chair (Mr. Welch) can't get the numbers right. Mr. Welch, as a candidate for TC I would hope you could provide much clearer information as this just doesn't make sense.
Write On August 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM
How many Jamestown students attended in 2010,11,12?
NKGOP Watch August 15, 2012 at 07:53 PM
This actually makes perfect sense to me. Jamestown pays a per-pupil costs roughly average per RI high school student. But because we don't have to divide that number by 25 and match it with teachers (because they merge in) we don't incur the same DIRECT cost as the average per student. This makes it a de-facto economy of scale like what some of these same nitwits say we should do more of (consolidation, consolidation, CONSOLIDATION!) and cant see it when its already happening. Good letter Dick, you have my vote in November.
Lori Warburton August 16, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I can't believe I am about to say this but...Very Good Point Mr. Welch. I understand your letter completely and it does make sense to back off the Jamestown residents. I for one, do not want my taxes to be raised because we ran Jamestown out of our high school. Although, I do think that they will look to send their children elsewhere if the goal that we continue striving for is mediocrity.
Dave August 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM
noreswind, i believe it's your thinking that's muddied. The TC has NO minutes available online and most likely not at Town Hall, they are in constant violation of the Open Meetings Act. In addition, the approved town budget is STILL not online on the Town's website. Why not?? The motions made by TC members are all typed up ahead of meetings...transparency??? There is much more on the school side. The budget docs of the nksd were over inclusive if anything as REQUIRED by RIDE. The Town MAnager said publicly that they increased the school budget by 2% a complete falsehood that was bought lock stock and barrel by the papers and everyone else. Mr Welch will help straighten this town out, and get us on the right path if elected to TC. He is fiscally conservative and very knowledgeable, in addition to hard working. Jeff C, IF you read his letter, Mr Welch never said the money was going to pay down the bond. ALL the money goes into one pot, at the town. They can use it to pay off whatever they want including pay down the bond, and fund the schools at whatever level they want. IT's that simple. There was never a damn thing wrong with the school budget. Either the TC are incompetent and can't read a budget, or they played dumb so they could have yet another weapon to bludgeon the SC with, and to justify their level funding of the schools while hogging all the tax money...with our kids in the middle!
OrangesPoranges August 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Forget about Jamestown -- who is footing the bill for students living at Kingstown Crossing? Crossroads is a nonprofit and so I am presuming that they are exempt from paying property taxes. Yet, the very purpose of that housing development is to give permanent homes to families and schooling for their children. I hope the state is sending money to NK to pay for that.
Richard Welch August 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
O P: The taxpayers of NK are paying the bill and have been for over 16 years! I spoke to three diferent T/Cs to stop the tax abaitment on this project and I spoke two different years at the General Assembly to stop this tax abaitment without success. This T/C pushed to have this happen and the T/M spoke at the General Assembly hearing in favor or it. It would appear that their primary reason was to stop the subdivision on Dry Bridge Road from being forced on the town by the now Republican T/C candidate that wants to develope Rolling Greens, Mark Hawkins. We have approximately 100 students from Crossroads at an average of $13,900/student and this enrollment will increase once the project is built out. Of the 100 approximately 1/3 were special needs students. The both of the subsidised housing aprtments accross the street pay R E Taxes, why not Crossroads. Ask your T/C why they supported this project and where is the money to pay for their education because the T/C has not been suporting the S/C's budget for the past 3 years.
OrangesPoranges August 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Richard, thank you for answering a question I have been asking both the town and Crossroads for a long time, and getting the run-around. No wonder my prop taxes have tripled in the last 12 years. As much as I love NK (born and raised here, my spouse as well), we're seriously thinking about moving away, even though doing so will break our hearts. And then NK will lose two good taxpayers who spend plenty of discretionary income in NK shops and restaurants while minimally impacting town services (no kids = no school burden from us). What can we do to turn this ship around?
Write On August 16, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Mr Welch Last yr. it cost $12,647/student. You indicate $13.9K this yr for CR students. After state aide, NK taxpayers pay $10,370/student. How many Jamestown students were enrolled in 2010, 2011, 2012? How much per student did Jamestown pay?
Don Thela August 17, 2012 at 01:02 AM
excellent letter, very informative. Would Jamestown send their students to Narragansett? Would be a helluva ride tourist season though!
Richard Welch August 17, 2012 at 06:14 PM
You are correct i used the wrong number for the average student cost it should have been $13,991. and this can be found in the town's audit report at the back. I don't know what number you are using but @ $13,991 this includes all of the cost for the district devided by the total number of students. Jamestown provides their own transportation and pay around $10,300./student however they pay a different amount for special ed which is higher. the Jamestown contract is on the S/D web-site. The student enrollment from Jamestown usually runs about 210-220 per year. This enrollment changes throughout the year especially with militaary dependents parents being transfer out of the Navy War College to other places during the school year.
Candice Machata August 17, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Will the new housing units being built in Wilson Park pay taxes?
Richard Welch August 17, 2012 at 06:59 PM
According to the tax assessor's office today, the owners of that property will be paying R. E. Taxes.
E August 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Richard - Good reasons for wanting Jamestown students to stay in the NKSD. Just curious, roughly how many Jamestown students are utilizing our school system currently?
Richard Welch August 21, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Erin it usually averages around 210-220
E August 21, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Richard - Wow, did not realize NK educated that many Jmstn students! Jmstn students are NOT expendable to NKSD. Yet, your letter states fear that Jmstn residents are receiving mixed messages about this. We need to make Jmstn see that we value their choosing of NKSD to educate their students. Just a thought - Instead of a top down approach, why not try bottom up? For ex., say a Jmstn high schooler writes a fantastic essay in Literacy class. Why not recognize/reward that student by inviting her to read her work at a SC mtg.,up at the mic for all to hear? We need to show Jmstn that their students are receiving a quality ed., and that NK cares about their growth as much as other students. Before a SC mtg. invite Jmstn parents/students to come view a small display of their artwork set up at tables in front of the stage. Let's get the kids really excited to be part of our school system. Kids buzzing to their parents buzzing to neighbors buzzing to politicians about how good we are has GOT to be good for business! Perhaps simply taking a more humanistic approach may be all that is necessary to keep them with us!
Richard Welch August 26, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Erin that is a positive approach and I will suggest it to the administration, thank you.
Dark star August 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM
There are plenty of opportunities to showcase their abilities along with all the other students in the H.S. To single them out from the NK-resident students would do more to hinder all the things the admin and teachers do to make them feel included. High School is a difficult time for many students; trying to fit in, be one of the "crowd". By making a "special presentation day" for jamestown kids, means, in the spirit of fairness, the same would have to be done for the NK resident students, thus creating a division. It is difficult enough for a NK student to move from Middle to HS. Separating a J-town student from the resident student could do more harm than good. Additionally, why should they have any more opportunity to be recognized that a NK resident/student? If the work is good enough, it will get recognized. I think coddling any student because of circumstances or skills (i.e., athletes, brainiacs, zip code, etc.) creates division and in this case, division creates friction.
E August 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Tired...Antics- Are you prepared to dig into your pockets for the 2 mil deficit we will lose if Jamestown pulls their students from NK?
Dark star August 27, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Oh Spare me with that. You obviously have not done your homework on the alternatives J-town has. First, if you look purely at cost per student of EG and Narragansett, NK is the best deal available. Second, neither district has the class offerings, regular and A.P., that NK does.Third, factor in travel times and cost. For the J-town kids to go to either district, it would be another 30 minutes commute one way. You have seen first hand how NK parents react over 10 minutes, imagine the outcry for 30 minutes. Fourth, factor in the additional fuel costs to transport the kids an additional 60 minutes per day. Finally, If J-town truly is intent on sending their kids elsewhere, I sincerely doubt giving the J-town students their own "recognition day" will change their minds. I think the best thing that can be done to put the J-town parents and administration at ease is for the School committee do everything possible to put an end to the divisiveness among their members and make a genuine, concerted effort to work with the town council. As much as the SC members hate to admit it, the TC holds the purse strings and the NKSD is a department within the town. The first step would be to do break down that impossible-to-understand mess they use now into a readable and understandable excel spreadsheet.
Dark star August 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM
insert "called a budget" in last sentence after the word mess.
E August 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Tired....Antics- what about Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth? Your flippant attitude that we are doing them a favor certainly won't keep Jamestown with us. Also, you have completely misconstrued my idea to suit your tunnel vision. Why squelch out-of -the-box thinking? Laying blame on the hard to read budget and SC is such an easy scapegoat.
Dark star August 27, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Are you serious about middletown newport and portsmouth? Erin, you need to review their rankings, class offerings and per student costs. They cant hold a candle to NK, EG or 'Gansett (but as you proved in a past article, research is not your strongpoint). How is giving an opinion on your idea "squelching"? You think it will work, i think it is just so much fluff. All sizzle and no steak. Just my opinion on your opinion. Don't take it personally. RE: budget book, i can tell you that if the presentation to the town council would change, the odds of getting something above 2% (which is what they received for 12/13) would increase. I know this because that is what TC members have told me. The inability of the TC to comprehend such a confusing document is the main reason for the discord and minimal funding. If the budget were presented in an easier to follow format, not only would the TC have a better chance to understand it, so would the public at large. Understanding could lead to common ground, less discord and ultimately (heaven forbid) trust.
Richard Welch August 27, 2012 at 01:48 AM
So you would have the S/D change the budget book so that you and the T/C could understand the budget...you will have to take that up with RIDE it is their requirement not the S/D's idea. The towns rejected the IcoA budgets that RIDE has forced on the S/D but when they have the system down pat anyone will be able to look at each school district line for line and see where improvement is needed. The town's auditor didn't have a problem with it and has found the S/D to be without any problems for the last three years...not so with the town side...maybe they can't understand their own budget either! IT is clear that they don't understand math, last year's budget was voted to freeze all department head wages, benefits and longivity. They actually voted to stop this but the budget shows that they got it anyway. This year they were to get a 2% raise but some received far more than that. And over the past four years these department heads have received a raise each year including the T/M...Did you receive a raise every year for the last four years? It is all in the budget on the town's web site all you have to do is look. Convince yourself that Jamestown will never leave and we will all be paying the price in higher taxes for less in the high school. That would be a hollow victory.
Dark star August 27, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Yes Mr Welch, Ucoa is required for the SC to use as its method of bookkeeping, but the law does not prohibit you(SC members) and the Supt to making the presentation to the town in a different format. It is good the town auditor can read the UCOA, but the town auditor does not have a vote. I know you can understand this, the easier it is for the TC voting members to understand it, the better chance they will agree with you, right? So make budget presentation time more of teaching moment to the TC. After all, you get more bees with honey.
Dark star August 27, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I did not say J-town will never leave, I just think they do not have any better options at this particular time, so the chances of them leaving are slim.
E August 27, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Tired....Antics- if I didn't know better, I'd think I was starting to rub off on you based on your last two sentences in the above comment. GASP! lol....back to the chalkboard tomorrow! You're entertaining as always! goodnight
Richard Welch August 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Tof A: More of the problem in the last several years has been a lack of effort on the part of the T/C to meet with the superintendent or S/C members to discuss their questions or what they don't understand in the budget. Grand standing in public about what they did not understand was not helpful. Being prepared for the budget meeting rather than trying to make the S/D look bad would be a benefit to our community. It goes without saying that every elected official is not going to be an accountant but we have offered time to meet with the T/C members individually with teh administration as we have with the public and spent a lot of time trying to make it easy and open to all to understand. Not everyone is going to understand this very large and complicated budget consisting of $58 million. If you have specific questions you might consider asking a S/C member or email the superintendent for an answer. As for getting more with HONEY I feel that we have been respectful of the T/C but I do feel that being prepared and making an effort to meet with the administration to better understand the budget is the responsibility of the T/C and not the S/D or S/C, it is kind of like bringing a horse to water...we have made the time available to discuss the budget to the T/C, they need to take advantage of the offer.
Dark star August 28, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Good point. It does take two to tango.
WMJ August 28, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The word on the street in Jamestown is that the NK High option is much less attractive theses days. I am a Jamestown resident and h.s. parent and I would suggest that Jamestown is absolutely moving closer to seriously considering other options. The antagonistic members of the SC (read: Mr. Mudge), the seeming willingness of the town to cut extracurriculars and sports which are absolutely critical to the high school experience, and today's strike are wearing on us. NK used to be the best option but on balance I personally think Narragansett's looking pretty good.

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