Wednesday, April 10, 2013
State senator asks whether Education Commissioner Deborah Gist can tell school districts not to consider seniority when laying off teachers.
Wednesday, April 10
I write to express my concerns with the recent directive issued on Jan. 31 by RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist to school superintendents throughout the state. Commissioner Gist warned superintendents that she would take “severe action against any district that is using seniority, job fairs or bumping to assign, keep or lay off teachers." In a four-page letter, Commissioner Gist further threatened to impose sanctions "up to and including loss of certification," taking districts to court or withholding state education aid unless they comply with her interpretation of a key education regulation called the Basic Education Program. Taken aback by the substance and tone of her letter, I wrote to Commissioner Gist on Feb. 5 to request …
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Rhode Island Commissioner of Education has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, according to the Providence Journal. Doctors reportedly believe the growth to be benign and will operate on the commissioner in late September at an undisclosed hospital. Deputy Commissioner David V. Abbott will run the department in her absence. Gist is expected to be on medical leave for at least two months while she recovers. The tumor was reportedly discovered during a series of tests after Gist suffered a severe concussion in July while traveling to a conference in Atlanta. A suitcase placed in an overhead compartment on the plane slipped and hit her on the head, according to the Journal. Gist reduced her duties as the state's top education …
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and local legislators recently recognized the school and presented a proclamation from the General Assembly.
The Rhode Island Department of Education and local legislators honored Fort Barton School recently for its high test scores on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). According to Principal Suzette Wordell, State Sen. Walter Felag (D-Bristol, Tiverton, Warren) and Rep. John Edwards (D-Tiverton, Portsmouth), presented a proclamation to the school last Friday, May 11 from the General Assembly. Additionally, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist recognized the school during her May 1 State of Education address. Wordell said Fort Barton reportedly improved their NECAP reading scores by 15 percent over the past three years to 97 percent proficient, which is the top reading score in the state for elementary schools. Overall, Fort …
Thursday, April 5, 2012
There are two more public hearings this month before the May 1 vote. Signs telling voters to get out on May 1 have started to appear on Little Compton lawns.
More than 50 people attended the public hearing to renovate Wilbur-McMahon School on Tuesday night, where its proponents covered all facets of the project's history and potential impact to Little Compton. There are two more public hearings at the end of the month prior to the May 1 all-day referendum to vote on an $11.3 million bond to help finance the project. "I think they've done their homework," said resident Martha Souther as she was leaving the meeting with her husband. "Now it's up to the people." Little Compton residents Kate Madden and Betsy McKinnon agreed, adding that more parents should have attended the hearing. Madden added that, although the students will be in a different setting for their education for one whole year, kids…
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Instead, the Town Council voted to divide the local school spending figure from the state/federal aid figure on this year's financial town referendum docket.
The Tiverton School Committee demands the town return the disputed $367,000 back to its accounts, following the State Supreme Court's decision not to hear the town's appeal. To date, the town has not informed the schools whether it chooses to comply with decisions already made in the schools' favor by the Board of Regents and the education commissioner. At the School Committee's meeting Tuesday night, they voted 5-0 on two motions, authorizing the school's attorney to take "any and all legal action necessary" to enforce the state's decision against the town's "illegal attempt" to reduce the approved fiscal 2009-10 and fiscal 2010-11 spending plans. "We'll take it one step at a time," said Committee Chairwoman Sally Black on the phone …
Thursday, March 15, 2012
ACLU Attorney Karen Davidson said Thursday the complaint is still filed but the subpoenas have not been issued.
The attorney representing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island's open records lawsuit against the Little Compton School District said Thursday morning she still has not received the requested documents, and since the complaint's been filed in Rhode Island Superior Court, the lawsuit moves forward. "Everyone else responded no problem at all," said attorney Karen Davidson in a phone interview. "Little Compton and Pawtucket were the only ones. I think their reasons are curious." Davidson said they sent four letters to the district dating back to Nov. 21, and added there's a 10-day statutory requirement to respond, and the ACLU waited "months and months" for Pawtucket and Little Compton's response, so they filed the …
The Rhode Island Supreme Court declined to hear the town's petition for a new ruling on Wednesday.
A judge in the State Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to hear Tiverton's appeal for a ruling in its $367,000 funding dispute with the Tiverton School Committee. According to an email Wednesday night from Craig Berke, spokesman for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the court rejected the town's appeal, or writ of certiorari, for another ruling and the decision of the lower court stands. Last summer, the Rhode Island Department of Education and education commissioner sided with the schools in the case. The dispute started in Dec. 2010 when then-treasurer Philip DiMattia recommended the Town Council support adjusting $367,000 and placing it in the town's general fund. The town took the position that if there was a decrease in state aid, the …
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Little Compton School Building Committee Chairman Tom Allder writes a letter to the editor about the upcoming referendum vote to extensively renovate Wilbur-McMahon School.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
To the Editor: In March, Little Compton voters will be asked to authorize the borrowing of up to $11 million in the form of a school bond referendum to address health, safety and code deficiencies at the Wilbur McMahon School. After years of applying band-aids to keep the aging school building functioning, frequently moving students around to ensure safety codes are met, and trying to teach children in spaces that aren’t well suited or equipped for use as classrooms, the time has come to do more than “maintain." What are these deficiencies? Most of the mechanical systems in the building have exceeded their life expectancy. The costs of repairing and replacing these systems far exceed the town’s ability to “pay as you go”. The amount of …
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The 2011 audit revealed the town allegedly removed $243,000 from the schools' accounts, similar to the $367,000 removed from fiscal 2010, which is now in the hands of the State Supreme Court.
The Tiverton School Committee remains convinced the town took $243,000 from its fiscal 2011 surplus and placed it in the General Fund, based on its draft of the latest audit. The school district is also waiting to learn whether the State Supreme Court will hear the town's petition against the Rhode Island Department of Education's decision, which stated that $367,000 from fiscal 2010 was illegally adjusted from the schools' account to the town. The School Committee's attorney has petitioned the eduction commissioner on the latest alleged "take back" and requested a new meeting so it can be heard. At the School Committee meeting Tuesday night, Committee member Carol Hermann wondered why they have to keep notifying the state if the town …
Monday, January 23, 2012
A public outreach campaign to inform the town about the scale of the Wilbur-McMahon renovation is the next task.
The Little Compton Town Council voted 4-0 last week, in favor with the School Committee, to endorse the renovation plan for the Wilbur-McMahon School. It also decided to send the plan to voters in an all-day referendum, rather than at a financial town meeting (FTM). Councilor Gary Mataronas was absent. "We've taken a project that was in a broader scope to now addressing health, safety and [building] code issues within the school," Council President Bob Mushen said. "The School Committee has responded favorably to the recommendations we gave months ago, including a project that addresses those matters, and does it in a way that gives us a one-time solution to the problems at the school." School Committee Chairman Don Gomez provided a …