LETTER: School Committee Budget Time Line

A brief time line of Tiverton School Committee budgets and negotiations tells a tale that voters should consider.


To the Editor:

"I had the sense that everybody around the table knew that we were part of the same team.” That's how Tiverton School Committee member Carol Herrmann described negotiations with the teachers' union this summer. On August 14, the committee passed the contract extension.

It isn't surprising that the negotiations would be "cordial," as Herrmann put it. Negotiating for management were Herrmann (a union teacher), Deborah Pallasch (Herrmann's campaign partner in 2008), Superintendent William Rearick (formerly a union teacher), and Finance Director Douglas Fiore (who works for Rearick). Chairwoman Sally Black is a retired union teacher.

The committee's "negotiations," so to speak, with the people of Tiverton have been less cordial.

In January 2009, the committee approved a contract with retroactive raises despite residents' fears that the recession would continue. And voters at the May 2009 financial town meeting (FTM) refused to approve the committee's requested budget increase.

The school committee meeting a week later was heated. One guidance counselor told the committee: "I am the last person on this Earth that would want to hurt a child, but you need to make a statement… to get people to the town meeting."

As it happened, the Obama administration's stimulus filled the gap and then some.

In May 2010, Pallasch proposed an increase, as an FTM voter, that essentially made the stimulus a permanent part of the budget. Herrmann's husband, Nick Tsiongas, then made the familiar threats; if her budget didn't pass: "We will begin by closing one of the new elementary schools… eliminating all extracurricular activities… every sport and every after school activity… middle school band, high school chorus… and then five or six teaching positions at the high school."

We'd heard that before, and we've heard it ever since, including before this year's financial town referendum (FTR), which has replaced the FTM.

For the upcoming FTR, the "five-year plan" that the committee mentioned when it approved the latest teacher agreement calls for a school department appropriation of $29,106,009, an increase of $1.2 million (4.3%), well over the state tax cap.

And the cycle continues. The only way to stop it --- and to make the people of Tiverton feel as if they are the ones "on the same team” --- is for voters in Tiverton to elect Susan Anderson, Ruth Hollenbach, and me to the school committee. We will insist that the district maintain its programming within the budget that taxpayers feel they can afford, without threatening to "hurt" children in order to "make a statement."


Justin Katz

Candidate for Tiverton School Committee

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Just Another Taxpayer November 05, 2012 at 05:22 PM
This drivel first appeared in the local newspapers last week. It is apparent that the author is void of any practical ways to improve the quality of education in Tiverton. Instead readers get the TCC/Far Right equivalent of McCarthyism. Senator Joe McCarthy led a campaign in the 1950's where he tried to vilify his opponents by claiming they were "Commies". It is obvious that the author is trying to make a similar comparison by calling the superintendent of schools and two members of the School Committee "teachers"! My goodness what a crazy notion to have a superintendent of schools who has actually worked in a classroom and School Committee members who have real world experience in the field of education. I guess hospitals should not have doctors serve on their Board of Directors? It is obvious that the author and his fellow TCC/Far Right candidates for School Committee are so desperate that they are now resorting to this line of attack. Sad, very sad indeed.
Ron Potvin November 05, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Beware of candidates who will say anything to be elected. Beware also of candidates who use alternative math to make their point. The fact is, Katz, Hollenbach and Anderson simply are not qualified to serve on the school committee. None of them have any relevant teaching experience or credentials. None of them have any children in the Tiverton school system. None of them has taken part in any school or student activities. None of them have offered the slightest glimpse into their plans for improving the educational experience of the children of this town, which they continue to belittle unjustly--and by implication, the children who attend these schools. What they do have is a close affiliation with the TCC, whose track record with the schools is to arbitrarily cut their funding without offering any suggestion as to how the schools should reduce spending. Given their lack of experience with education matters, their lack of any stake in the school system, and their TCC affiliation one has to wonder why Katz, Hollenbach and Anderson are running for school committee. I certainly don't believe that it is for the benefit of our schools or for our children.
KSilvia November 05, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Exactly Ron!
jon devolve November 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Justin, what the hell do you, Ruth and Sue plan to do? Do you know that as recently as this weekend, Sue Anderson thought Tiverton was a Vo-Tech High School? THS is a comprehensive High School where kids get a quality education. I have not heard what you plan to do to improve the schools. You, Ruth, and Sue just do not make sense. You're all simple running for political reasons. Did you know that Sue had no idea that Tiverton teachers were required to have college degrees or be certified? She's only familiar with Mass. regulations. Yea, great person to support Tiverton Schools. No clue about RI, nevermind what's best for Tiverton!!
jon devolve November 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM
The more I think about this, the more I realize how self-fish you people really are. You're all running on this campaign that you will never close a school, eliminate sports, or other programs. So, why not just grow some balls and say you are running to bust the union? I'd have more respect for you. Hell, I might even vote for you. However, all you do is skew numbers, make crap up, and never have any public interaction. You hide behind a computer and that's great. Most of us operate in the real world where blogging, going on radio talk shows, and making up crap to fuel their own radical views, make no damn sense. You and your homies are not good for Tiverton. Spend a few hours around town with people that are invested in the community, and you will see that.
Justin Katz November 06, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Wow, Jon. I had thought the McCarthy comments above were extreme, but your broadside beats just about anything I've heard during my many, many interactions in person and online related to this election. Your attacks on Sue are simply unfounded. I don't know what you're basing them on, so I won't go so far as to call them lies. Similarly, I'd be curious to know what I've made up, but you don't seem interested in public discussion so much as getting aggression off your chest. (A fine example you set, by the way.) As for your assertion about busting the union, I think I believe there's a lot more middle ground than you do. There definitely ought to be a great deal of space between not closing schools and "busting the union," but the room for compromise tends to be the choice of the union. I'd close by suggesting that Susan Anderson, Ruth Hollenbach, and I are running for school committee to offer the people of Tiverton a real alternative to the candidates that they've been getting for many election cycles. Contrary to what some folks seem to believe, we (and those who will vote for us) are invested in Tiverton. We may not be part of the crowd that defines "community" as "everybody who agrees with us," but we live here, and it's our home, too.
Renee Cwiek November 06, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I just have a simple question Justin. What was the last school related event event that you've been too? To me, it is important to have school committee members that are involved in our schools and know our children. Not just someone who only cares about numbers and percentages, but someone who actually interacts.
Ralph Doliber November 06, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Katzenjammer Kids and the TCC- not for me! Katz n' Krew- not for you!
Tara Messenger November 06, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Well said Ron Potvin
jon devolve November 06, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Justin, if you actually knew who you were running for office with; that would be a start. I appreciate the fact you responded. You have no basis for anything you promote. Good luck. Keep spinning by the way, works swell!!!
TivertonTeacher November 06, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Other than containing the school's budget, how do you plan to support kids, parents, and teachers? To increase test scores? To help the school community?
Ryanthegirl November 06, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Ugghh federal test scores. Increase optional education, choices for teachers and parental involvement.
Edward Davis November 06, 2012 at 09:40 AM
On September 26th you wrote, “45-minute debate about an official coach complaint-review process, two local media stories about breathalyzers. Nobody seems concerned that science scores barely moved at the high school and Pocasset or that they've been DROPPING since the test was initiated at Ranger.” Perhaps our priorities show in our results.” Our priorities are off? "As we all know the number one death for teens is traffic accidents," said Rebecca Elwell of the Tiverton Prevention Coalition, at a May meeting when the policy was originally suggested. "We want to prevent an event from happening." Justin, anyone who thinks test scores should take priority over the #1 cause of death with teens is out of touch with what goes on with today’s youth and our schools. Excuse my warped unionist attitude, I'd rather keep our kids alive!
Just Another Taxpayer November 06, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Mr. Katz, if elected how will you improve student achievement for all our students?
b kcaj November 07, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Just Another Taxpayer November 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM
No concession statement or thank you to those residents who voted from the great wordsmith Justin Katz? A classless act from a classless member of the TCC.
Justin Katz November 07, 2012 at 08:09 PM
You people are unbelievable. It's 3pm on a work day after little sleep. Have you considered that I might want to pause and think before writing? Classless act, indeed.
Just Another Taxpayer November 08, 2012 at 01:46 AM
The fact that you do not have a concession statement ready tells me you actually thought you were going to win and that you did not even consider the possibility you would lose. This is another demonstration of your arrogance.
jon devolve November 08, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Justin, people actually care about Tiverton. Good luck.
Just Another Taxpayer November 08, 2012 at 01:48 AM
By the way, do you have proof to support your claim that members of the School Committee placed Tiverton 1st buttons at Ranger School?
jon devolve November 08, 2012 at 01:48 AM
By the way, I know you had a shoe problem. Should I get you some tissues?
Just Another Taxpayer November 08, 2012 at 04:01 PM
he following was written by Mr. Katz and is currently posted on Anchor Rising, "The most discouraging thing about Tuesday's election results was the totality of it. From where I sit, voters made the wrong decisions at the local level, at the state level, and at the federal level." Gee this is odd because in an earlier post you stated your were too tired to write anything to the voters of Tiverton yet you could find the time to post on your blog. You sir, are a hypocrite and a liar.


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