Letter: School Committee Members Urge Residents to Support School Programs

Four of the seven school committee members are asking voters to support school programs in next year's budget.

The North Kingstown Town Council will be having several meetings at the end of this month and the beginning of next month to .  The agenda for these meetings has not been set as of this date but the meeting dates are April 30 at 7 p.m. and May 1, if needed, at noon.  Final certification of the budget will be on May 2.

So what can we expect this budget will hold for our taxpayers?  This is anyone's guess but we do know that the school budget – if funded at less than the 4 percent increase that has been requested – will result in reductions in many areas.  Some feel that these reductions are just a threat to get the parents’ attention to support the budget. Not so.  

Over the last three budgets, the school department has cut staffing, negotiated labor agreements that have saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, put in place an early retirement program that has already saved the district more than a million dollars, frozen the wages of all administrators for the past three years, frozen purchases and raised health insurance co-share payments to the highest level of any school district in Rhode Island.  All of this while our operating cost has increased in the last two years by approximately $2.4 million each year.

While all of this was going on, we had to work to keep our school programs intact and meet all of the state required mandates, many that are unfunded.  Yet with all of this we are a high performing school district.  Our teachers have received recognition for the student performance that is nationally recognized.   We’ve received awards in nationwide testing for results, , had more students of any school district in the Rhode Island All State Orchestra and Chorus,  won second place in statewide Science Olympiad for middle schools, won second place in state science testing, saw consistent growth and improvement in the NECAP scores, have a 94.5 percent graduation rate and an athletic program that is full of honor students.

The taxpayers are getting a bargain for their investment in the North Kingstown School District – high performance throughout the district and below average cost for operation and cost per student, 13th lowest in the state.  We have an administration that thinks out of the box and is working to motivate all students. The recent school audit done by the town council proved that we are meeting our Rhode Island Department of Education requirements in the Basic Education Programs while being under funded by almost $2 million. You just can't do much better than that.

We are still working to improve the operations of our district and won't stop until the job is finished, but we must protect the programs that we have to be able to continue to produce the excellent results that we have achieved to date.  We of course understand that times are hard on some of our taxpayers and that is why we are continuing to work to improve the operation of the district.  We have yet again frozen wages of all administrators, are looking into which will help underwrite the cost of operating that building and allow the additional uses for special needs students with state required transition services, all while adding revenue to the district.  We have recently added Block Island Schools to our IT department’s list of shared services and continue to look for revenue sources to help underwrite the cost of education in North Kingstown.

I ask for your support by attending the town council meetings listed above and/or calling your council members and ask that they continue to support our high performing education program in North Kingstown.  Our future is our students and what they can achieve.  Your voice is needed. Please don't let them down.

Kimberly Page, Chairwoman
Richard Welch, Vice Chairman
Larry Ceresi
Lynda Avanzato


Concerned Resident April 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM
The union would never accept camera's in the classroom......wonder why?
MeanE April 30, 2012 at 01:55 PM
@oranges - my thoughts are that if there are cameras in the classroom, principals can use them to assess the teachers classroom ability. As it stands right now, the teachers are informed when they will be observed, which in most cases does not give a true picture of how they interact on a daily basis with their students. In addition, it can be used as a training tool to point out ways in which teachers can engage students differently. The cameras can also be used as a deterrent to disruptive students. I feel that these video cameras would be a component to allow for more of a results/performane based pay scale and help to weed out the under performing teachers.
OrangesPoranges April 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
@MeanE -- how about if the parents could also observe via video feed to computer what is going on in the classroom? I think that would be empowering for parents to know whether their children are being treated fairly by teachers and to see whether any teacher is exercising undue political influence over their children. I had an experience at NK high school with a particular English teacher, who made fun of my religious beliefs in front of the entire class, and in fact got most of the other students to turn against me and mock me. I was a 15-year-old sophomore at the time and a good student, advanced college prep track, with no behavioral issues, and it made me despise her and dread going to class. I told my parents, who were outraged, but nothing ever came of it. She had tenure and was protected by her union. So, the video idea could be a good one, but I think would really only work as you suggested if, as CR intimated, the power of the union is diminished and tenure made a thing of the past.
MeanE April 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Agreed. Most of us have probably dealt with a similar situation in school. If I was a teacher, I would want a camera in my classroom. I am all about transparency.
Concerned Resident April 30, 2012 at 05:15 PM
@MeanE: if teachers had the same attitude as you regarding camera's it would seem that among many positive's, viewers could also learn much about our schools.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »