October 22, 2019

Response to Mr. Crandall, Ms. McBride, and Mr. Fleming


As Co-Coordinator of the Save Our Schools Initiative, I have been the target of many boisterous and slanderous statements not only while holding this role, but also last year when I was Media Director. I have heard words from current and former elected officials, residents of Dighton and Rehoboth, and also non-residents who wish to voice their opinions regarding our town's business, and let me say that I'm quite disheartened. Lately, I have been quite skeptical of the reliability of some local news outlets, as they have been publishing a high number of opinion articles all from the same side of the FY20 budget issue. Personally, I have submitted two or three op-eds to the Rehoboth Reporter that have not been published on the site. Within one day, three opinion articles were published on the site, all with the same theme: "Save Our Town, Not Our Schools."

It is a common misconception that all of us who were in support of the override last year (https://drive.google.com/file/d/12M6RisdtoPDkRVaRFoXTogBP4ktWL92Z/view?usp=sharing ) are "against the town," which is just quite ridiculous in my opinion. In an article by Rehoboth Now last July, members of the Board of Selectmen were quoted expressing their frustration about people not understanding why the town (as a whole!) needed the 2 1/2 override. Gerry Schwall, now Chairman of that board, even waved at the corner of 118 and 44 with the Save Our Schools team (myself included) in support of the override on the day of the election. So, first misinformative remark squashed: the Selectmen were in support of an override that was not only intended to help school funding, but the whole municipal government's funding.

Next, let's talk about another possible 2 1/2 Override, since many citizens (especially those who voice their opinions on social media and in editorials) seem to think we, Save Our Schools, and the school department are advocating for one. To clarify, WE ARE NOT. There, I said it. Quote me. Now, if you'll indulge me, please watch the 6/25/19 School Committee meeting. You can find it either on Save Our Schools' Facebook page or on Rehoboth Community TV's website. Mike Deignan, Chair of the Rehoboth Finance Committee, can be quoted advocating for another 2 1/2 Override contingent on the town or the district (at a tent meeting, but we'll get to that later) approving the district's FY20 budget. Mr. Deignan stated that an override would be the "most fiscally responsible" way to keep our budget balanced. So, if the district is to continue to thrive with the minimum amount needed to do so (which is, in fact, the 1.32% increase), then you can thank Mr. Deignan if a 2 1/2 Override ballot question is contested in the Town of Rehoboth...again.

Next rumor to squash is that the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Anthony Azar, will be benefitting off of this 1.32% budget. This is an easy one, since it is 100% dealing with numbers clearly outlined in the budget report (link above). Although it is quite against my nature as an Eagle Scout to publish personal salaries, I feel that this time I need to in order to illustrate to some folks in town how absurd this claim is. A Scout is trustworthy and kind, but he is also brave and loyal. In fiscal year 19, Dr. Azar's salary was $167,000. In the proposed FY20 budget, Dr. Azar's salary is $167,000. Full stop.

Now that all of the facts have been cleared up, I'll get into some more opinionated statements. If you scroll down on the Rehoboth Reporter page to the 'Share!' category, you will see an article entitled "Actions on Rehoboth Talk" written by myself. This was an email sent to Lorraine Botts, who is the moderator of the RehobothTalk Facebook page, where she has allowed harassment, slander, libel, misinformation, and threats to be posted. This email, however, was to criticize her use of her moderator position to post videos of her making on a YouTube account called "Fire Anthony Azar," on which she makes false and slanderous statements like the ones disproven above. I've tried to keep my head down this year, but enough is enough. Mrs. Botts used this email in a post on RehobothTalk, making fun of me for my word choice and claiming that I was comparing her to Darth Vader. Since then, she has been referring to herself as Darth Vader, and other officials and citizens have been in on this rather immature joke. Mike Deignan, Chair of the Finance Committee, even signed a recent email to School Committee members "Grand Moff Tarkin," another 'Star Wars' reference, and wore a shirt with a Darth Vader illustration to the 6/25 School Committee meeting. It's rather concerning that our public officials have stooped to the level of middle schoolers, isn't it?

I hope to see all Rehoboth voters at the July 16th Special Town Meeting to vote in support of the school district's already decreased FY20 budget assessment. This 1.32% budget will be keeping the district right where it is now, and any lower amount will be setting the district on a declining path, resulting in a poor quality of education for our students, who really are what matters in this town. If town meeting decides not to approve of the budget, then a tent meeting will be scheduled, which will be a combined town meeting style meeting with both member towns of the regional school district. However, if we let it get that far, even more staff and faculty members who are worried about their job security may leave our district, and fall sports will be put way behind other schools (let's not forget our football team's championship game at Gillette Stadium, the numerous consecutive SCC wins for track and softball, or the marching band's trip to play for President Obama in DC).

If you've made it this far, I'd just like to thank you for your efforts trying to get information on this year's budget process. Now, not everything I would have liked to say is written above, but I didn't want to write a dissertation! Therefore, if you have any questions that you would like me to answer, please feel free to send me an email (see below!). Some other great resources are the district's website ( drregional.org ) or any school official's email address, which can be found on the district's site.

Chris Hoskins


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