The Little Compton School Committee must soon find temporary facilities to house Wilbur-McMahon students during a year-long renovation period. On Wednesday night, school officials agreed that putting the students in the churches around the Commons as the best idea yet.
School Building Committee Chairman Tom Allder reported that since the Town Council gave their support to the bonding proposal, Little Compton now needs approval from the General Assembly to hold the referendum. He said they are tentatively setting a referendum date of March 29, given the 50-day window needed to advertise once it's approved by the state legislature.
"We're trying to shorten the duration of this project to encompass one whole school year, with two summers," Allder said. "We have to clear the school out completely."
Superintendent Kathy Crowley said she's reaching out to the three churches in the Commons to pitch the idea of housing the students: United Congregational Church (kindergarten through third grade), St. Andrews by-the-Sea (fourth through sixth grade) and St. Catherine of Siena (seventh and eighth grade). Crowley said all the churches are up to code, are handicap accessible and have a "great set-up" for the appropriate grades, as well as individual rooms for special education students.
"If the bond passes, we have everything lined up and do all these steps in advance," she said, noting they can move the Smart Boards, iPads and books to the various churches. Crowley added she spoke with the union president, who said their learning specialist, school nurse and guidance counselor would travel to the temporary school facilties. "It won't disrupt curriculum."
The superintendent said they are examining all areas of temporary housing for the students if the churches don't work out, including purchasing portable classrooms to go on the land behind Wilbur-McMahon, which could be pricier than the churches. Crowley added they visited the old Nonquit and Ranger schools in Tiverton as a possibility, but said they would rather keep Little Compton students in town.
Allder said their community outreach efforts will increase, as he is working to draft a newsletter to send out to all taxpayers about the school renovation and the referendum question. Also, he said they will look to draft a request-for-qualification to hire a project manager.
Cafeteria egress almost complete
Allder said he's been reassured that the cafeteria egress in Wilbur-McMahon will be completed by Friday and will receive a certificate of occupancy.
Approval of staff layoffs
The School Committee voted 4-1, with member Micah Shapiro voting no, to lay off all non-certified staff as they head into budget talks. Crowley said if the bond referendum passes, the part-time staffers will be recalled in June.
Business manager search narrows
Committee Chairman Donald Gomez said out of 15 or so candidates, they have narrowed down the search to three people for the district's business manager position, which was vacated recently.
Waiting on DEM grant
The committee learned that the Department of Environmental Management has delayed their decision to award a grant to the Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Commission to fix the ball fields for the end of February.
Grant received for a lift
Crowley announced they received a $1,000 grant from the Interlocal Trust to purchase a left for the special education student who needs to use the ramp in the school commons area.