School Committee admonished by the RI Dept. of Education
February 5, 2006
April 5th 2005 Doris Anselmo, Director of the Office of Teacher
Certification, Rhode Island Department of Education (DOE), sent a letter
to the Little Compton School Department sharply criticizing the
Administration and the Committee for failure to comply with R.I. General
Law 16-16-24(b). Specifically, the DOE focused on the hiring of Mr. John
Pacheco, a retired educator, for one year as a part-time Administrator (click
here to see the actual letter).
The part-time Administrator's job was newly created at that time. The law states that such a position must first be advertised and offered to any qualified non-retired employee. If there are no takers, the retired educator may fill the position for up to 90 days in a school year. Additionally, the Law requires that the Retirement Board must be notified monthly of the employment by both the School Department and Mr. Pacheco himself.
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT ANY OF THIS WAS EVER DONE!
Furthermore, the School Committee chaired by Ellen Kinnane continued to
employ Mr. Pacheco beyond the initial term and, apparently, continued to
ignore the legal requirements. On October 14, 2004, the Taxpayers
Association wrote a letter to Ms. Kinnane pointing this out and
requesting evidence that the law was being followed (click here to see
the actual letter). We never received an answer!
Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. We have a right, and in fact should demand that our elected officials comply with the laws of the land. Nor is incompetence acceptable. This same School Committee and Administration put a budget before the voters at the last Financial Town Meeting that: (1) resulted in a huge surplus; (2) was declared at that time to be too small and would create in a deficit; and, (3) resulted in a 3-evening nightmare for those who attended the meetings last Spring.
The taxpayers of Little Compton are forever burdened with an additional 500 thousand dollar levy because of School Committee and School Administration mistakes that were made in the preparation of the 2005-2006 budget. Why? Another law (R.I. General Law 16-7-23) says that the Town must fund the school no less than it did for the previous year. The so called surplus is now part of the base upon which the 5.5% cap is calculated and therefore sets the stage for spending to a higher degree than would have been the case with an honest budget.
Note: The current School Administration (Superintendent Devine and Principal Blaess) and Joe Quinn of the School Committee are not directly responsible for this. They are essentially "new players" that have, in fact, commendably uncovered and made public some of the problems created by their predecessors.
But as President Ronald Reagan once said relative to the Soviet Union, "Trust but verify." The Taxpayers Association is pleased with the openness of the current school administration, but we intend to watch very closely what they do relative to hiring and setting next year's budget. For now, the previous administration has a lot of explaining to do.