November 30, 2023

In Seekonk We Trust, or Not


At our spring town meeting we heard Selectperson Hines say we trust people to serve because we voted for them to do so, and she is right.

We trust the person, their intellect, their actions, their decision making and their ability to serve the town only in the best interest of the town. Our town in its entirety.

We trust information provided to us to vote on is accurate, concise, and complete in detail.

We trust our voting directives are carried out as presented per voting results.

We trust the care in expending our tax dollars is given by everyone seated in office no matter what Board or Committee is acting.

Since the beginning of the Aitken School Expansion Project, we have lacked the accuracy account of spending millions affecting our tax dollars by way of “debt exclusions”. From the very first Town Meeting Warrants to the final/close out reports presented at the Select Board’s Meeting on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, information has been marred by inaccuracies.

Those sitting in office, including the former Superintendent of Schools, have made the claim of “misinformation” being put forth to the taxpayers by individuals such as myself. Information you needed to know. As it turns out, information that was not a miss at all.

Follow the timeline if you will for the Aitken School Expansion Project

11/18/2018 Warrant Article #11 To hire an OPM & Architect $1,000,000
05/13/2019 Warrant Article #22 To supplement Article #11 $9,700,000
Total Appropriation for AIT EX Proj $10,700,000

5/13/2019 Warrant Article #23 To design, renovate or reconstruct $1,750,000
Air Conditioning in the EXISTING building

There were (2) separate projects going on simultaneously at Aitken School with separate funding appropriated.

The original Request for Quotes (RFQ) included “replacement of the existing unit ventilators in the existing school, provision to central air conditioning in the existing, selected repair and restoration of the exterior envelope which is brick and CMU and replace sinks and counters in the existing building.”

The AC in the existing building was not an “add on” as stated the other night.

The questions are when it was part of the original plan why was the cost not included in the request of $10,700,000? If we were expecting to combine $1,750,000 with the original amount, why were we not given the opportunity to vote on the supplement as we did prior?

It would appear the only “misinformation” came from the School Department Designees who should not have touched any of this project at all because it was voted on Town Meeting Floor to go to the ballot in the charge of the Select Board.

The people we trusted:
Current Vice Chair of the School Committee:
Former Chair of the School Committee throughout the project
Member of the Adhoc Building Committee by self-inclusion
Member of the AIT Building Committee by self-inclusion

Current Vice Chair of the Select Board
Voting Member of the AIT Building Committee
Liaison to the Select Board for information.

Former School Superintendent of Schools
Proposed the 10-classroom expansion based on false information of higher enrollment and class size.

Current Member of the Select Board
Former Chair-ranking officer
Refusal to listen to concerns.
Dismissed email questions.
Openly Mocked Citizen Concerns

In closing it is very important when Town Meeting is presented with project money (capital expense) requests of any kind that the presentation must include complete purpose, funding source and who is in charge. Further, until a project of such magnitude is complete, monthly reporting to the Executive Board in this town is a requirement not a request. The report includes complete financial information in writing.

To the former Superintendent of Schools, thanks for departing. To all the others still sitting in a seat of authority who were involved in this mess, trust you? Never Again.

Exceptional thanks to the former Chairperson of the Select Board. You should have answered my many, many emails instead of telling me I only hear what I want. Being dismissive and judged by you was the wrong thing to do.

Happy Independence Day
Doreen Taylor, Seekonk


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