Many Reasons to Support Chariho Budget

The following letter appeared in local newspapers, and is shared with us here by the author Mary Lou Gentz.

As one of the state’s top performing districts, Chariho has much to celebrate, and the $56.9 million FY16 budget deserves the unanimous support of voters on April 7. It respects taxpayers and provides resources needed for continuous improvement.

The FY16 budget, with a .37 percent increase in expenses, features new programs to energize teachers and students. It offers an additional advanced placement course, another elective for high school students and an increase in the funds available for general school supplies and library books. The budget strives to provide something for everyone.

It includes a new Ashaway School classroom for the district’s elementary students in the clinical day program. Formerly housed with RYSE (Reaching Youth through Support and Education) on the Chariho campus, the Ashaway classroom will permit the integration of students into general education programs as their needs change.

The budget also moves forward with the 1:1 laptop roll out. By modifying the planned distribution of laptops to all middle school students, it conserves tax dollars. The FY16 budget redirects laptops from graduating seniors to grade eight students and provides new laptops for elementary teachers. It also includes a new Technology Fellow to facilitate cost-effective professional development for elementary staff.

The expansion of the preschool program from four to five days a week and the addition of two, K-4 math resource teachers round out the notable enhancements to the learning environment. As a taxpayer and member of the community, I am grateful to the Administration and the School Committee for these carefully considered improvements.

Despite a slight increase in the FY15 budget, Chariho towns share a $686,870 decrease in their annual contribution. To offset expenses and anticipated decreases in state aid, the FY16 budget utilizes $2.4 million from the unassigned fund balance. Although the School Committee does not expect to benefit from such a cushion in FY17, it considers the use of this balance appropriate for FY16.

The Chariho Regional School District provides an outstanding education for a student body with diverse interests, abilities and goals. This year’s graduation rate reached 92%, and both Chariho High School and Charlestown Elementary School attained the highest classification possible as “Commended.” Added to this good news is the fact that the Chariho Middle School, as well as the Ashaway and Hope Valley elementary schools, earned accolades for their performance on the NECAP science assessment.

Should the aforementioned successes with standardized testing fail to impress, Chariho invites the community to see their work at the 23rd Annual Artessy on the weekend of March 27 and 28. This district wide event showcases visual and performing arts and exhibits from technology education, agriculture, and Career and Technical programs. At the Friday evening Kansas City Buffet, the culinary arts students consistently serve gourmet dishes with style.

Our students, parents, teachers, and administrators work to make Chariho a district in which we can all take pride. Voters owe the schools a “yes” for all who walk through Chariho’s doors in the fall of 2015.
Mary Lou Gentz