The Chariho School District is advocating for a $150 million bond that will include demolishing and replacing three elementary schools. A ballot referenda vote is expected later this spring.

Chariho’s $150 Million School Building Bond: The Truth Behind the Reimbursement Scheme

The Chariho School District is advocating for a $150 million bond that will include demolishing and replacing three elementary schools. A ballot referenda vote is expected later this spring.

Their pitch hinges on one key point, that the State of Rhode Island will reimburse the district for up to 81% of the bonds. Reimburse with what? YOUR MONEY.

Their logic assumes that the reimbursement is free money; as the adults in the room, we know this cannot be the case. These are not dumb people, but they are perfectly willing to lean into their deception of us – the people that will bear the burden of the costs. Don’t be fooled, all reimbursement is money from you – the taxpayer. Government doesn’t generate earnings from voluntary transactions…all of their revenue is extracted, with the threat of force, from its citizens.

This is just a union driven scam.

So, what is happening here? Our state has been hijacked by extreme union leftists. The number three in the state senate – Valerie Lawson – is the President of the teachers union in Rhode Island. Make no mistake, the levers of government are fully controlled by the unions. They are not acting in our best interest as they should, they are collectively bargaining for their members.

And we are on the other side of the table. State employees are not a neutral party, they are pushing for a massive transfer of wealth from citizens of Rhode Island to unions. Your vote NO on this bond is the only thing that will stop them from using our school infrastructure as a pawn in their money grabbing scheme.

“Take our money!” they say. If this was a business transaction, can you imagine a customer begging a seller to take their money? This doesn’t pass the common sense test, and it literally doesn’t add up.

Mario Carreno, as the representative from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), tried to challenge this logic by telling the Richmond Town Council that “The others around you are moving forward.” It was as if to say that everybody else is getting a piece of the action, Richmond needs to be smart and grab their own piece. His comment fully exposed the moral hazard of this state reimbursement scheme. The state wants you to think they are protecting you from the consequences of a bad decision by thinking you’re too stupid to realize they are just taking your money from a different pocket.

Just the fact that a state employee is visiting Richmond Rhode Island to sell the spending of state money is concerning. Do we really want our bureaucrats pushing for more state spending? The state budget when I graduated college was just topping $1 Billion. It is now approaching $15 BILLION. This is showing growth WAY beyond inflation. This program should be completely halted.

If the State of Rhode Island wants to support improved educational outcomes they should get out of the way – eliminate all unfunded mandates, and block-grant money to the districts based on student population. The moral hazard should be removed to prevent other towns from falling prey. “Everybody is doing it” is a line for teenagers, not responsible public servants.

Carreno, from RIDE also said “You also have buildings turning 90, and if you issue a bond and commit another 20 years to it, likely more, is that the most prudent use of your dollars to prop up an old building?” Well, Harvard has buildings over 300 years old. They are sitting on an endowment of almost $50 billion, but they made the decision to maintain their buildings in place.

As to the state of our schools in Chariho, they are warm, safe, and dry. There has been a continued commitment of operational and capital dollars allocated annually for their upkeep. We should not be distracted by massive building projects. Our focus should be squarely focused on improving the performance of our students in reading and math.

Clay Johnson is a resident of Richmond, RI and is Treasurer of He is also a former Chariho School Committee member.

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