The untold story of the sacrifice of Hope Valley Elementary School

The bureaucrats of the Chariho school district are once again using Hope Valley Elementary School (HVES) as a hostage to extract more money from taxpayers.

They first used this emotional blackmail to pass the school budget in 2023. Pass the budget or we will close HVES! Just months after this budget passed, they were actively planning the closure of the school anyway. Then, this month, HVES was used as leverage once again to approve the 2024 budget increase. Pass this budget or we will close your precious school even faster. Now, the emotional witch doctors are saying, pass the megabond, or we will close your school next year.

Superintendent Gina Picard said at the January 16th Richmond Town Council meeting, “I was asked to do this last year by the school committee…I was asked to bring the Hope Valley decommission to the school committee in March of last year….they paused because we were not level funded.”

I happened to be on the school committee in March 2023, and I did not remember this discussion, so I submitted a request for public records. The first mention of this was NOT from the school committee, it was between the Director of Finance and the School Committee’s lawyer. Picard was copied on the emails. The emails were withheld from you and me under the guise of attorney-client communications.

So, it wasn’t the public discussion that you would expect regarding a community issue of this importance. Instead, it was a “protected” conversation. Following their long pattern, this conversation was initiated by Superintendent Picard and Chairman Catherine Giusti. They were careful not to put their request in writing. They view us, the parents, taxpayers, and voters, as the common folks who can be manipulated with a little sleight of hand and a well-turned threat.

When I was on the school committee, I recommended using our underutilized building square footage to expand our Chariho Tech program. Seats in this program bring dollars into the district and would offset the costs of running a $70 million district with enrollment that is down by 25%. This would have been a welcome relief for taxpayers of the district.

But alas, they didn’t really want to save HVES. They need to close a school in order to get another few percentages of state reimbursement for the Rhode Island Department of Education “newer and fewer” boondoggle.

The best-case interpretation is that the school district is being led by incompetents. The worst case, they are actively manipulating us to advance their tax-and-spend, tear-it-down-and-build-it-all-over again, reward-their-cronies-in-the-business-trades agenda. They want to grow their empire.

You still get a say. Vote NO on this ill-conceived mega-bond today thru May 7th at your local town hall. Visit for more information.

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