Chariho budget would mean teacher cuts

Tuesday night's public hearing discussing the Chariho school district's proposed $55-million budget angered some parents.

A group of middle schoolers asked to speak at the meeting but were told only voters could speak.

"We found out because my mom received an email from the parent liaison," said 7th-grader Matthew Dickerman.

The email said only voters could talk at the hearing. That meant the 13-year-old and his seven friends couldn't make a comment about the budget. A budget they pored over for weeks and were ready to discuss.

Students wanted to talk about the cuts to middle school teaching positions. The new budget calls for the elimination of four full-time positions and several part-time jobs.

"We feel that these positions should stay," said 13-year-old Devin Dibiasio.

"We wanted to speak here tonight proposing to put these jobs back in the budget," Matthew Dickerman said.

Dickerman's mom wasn't happy with the news and told the committee as much. She spoke for the boys at the hearing.

"We do not need to reduce our teachers at the middle school," Amy Dickerman said. "The middle school is the soul of our district. It's where our 3 towns come together as one school. They are Chariho."

The district reports the elimination of some middle school positions will mean class sizes will increase by two or three students.

The young men say they fear that increase could mean less one-on-one time with their teachers and could potentially lower standardized test scores.

Despite those cuts, many in attendance applauded the fiscal fineness of the proposed budget.

It's flat compared to last year.

"This is a good budget," said Hopkinton Town Councilwoman Barbara Capalbo.

She especially liked that the district is bolstering foreign language and plans to provide foreign language classes to elementary students.

"We are in the 21st century and we are competing with Asia and Europe and we can't without a second language," she said.

Dickerman and these boys would rather see that money spent on core teachers.

In an update to this story,{} Chariho school officials told NBC 10 on Wednesday that the middle school students will be invited to speak at the next meeting on March 11.

The district has until March 11 to adopt a budget which will go to a vote in April.