School Committee Discusses Pension Plan Revision; Extended School Year Progress
The school volunteer policy and administrator evaluation system were both revisited.
The Coventry Schools' pension plan is not sustainable long-term and requires significant changes, Angel Pension Group and Merrill Lynch, investment companies that serve Coventry, warned the School Committee Tuesday.
Committee Chairwoman Kathy Patenaude, with the help of Gary Moore, Ruth Daniels and Denise Richtarik, members of the trustee board that governs the Supplementary Retirement Plan (SRP) pension, explained the reasoning behind revisions to the retirement plan, beginning with those retiring a year from now.
The changes include capping some retirement benefits and allowing people to only accrue up to 50 percent. Those that have reached 50 percent already will continue to pay in and the money is put aside. The cost of living consideration in the plan will be eliminated going forward in September 2012.
"We have made some serious changes to the plan and we've projected that these changes will cut our unfunded liability by about eight million dollars — a very substantial amount," explained Moore. "It took a couple of years to come up with this, but we wanted to make it fair and sustainable, and I think we've come a long way in doing that."
The committee will vote on the revisions at its Aug. 23 meeting.
Committee members approved the second reading of the school district's volunteer policy after several small points were amended for clarity. The policy can be found in full by clicking here.
Administrator Evaluation System
Superintendent Mike Convery and Assistant Superintendent Jim Erinakes explained to the committee that Coventry's evaluation system, which is required to be submitted in August to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has been clarified and streamlined, and is ready for adoption.
After collecting evidence during the system's pilot year, it has now been tweaked to provide more specific recommendations for administrators. A new section has been added to the system (Appendix F), that describes every standard being used to evaluate and what administrators need to submit in their portfolios as evidence of each standard.
"Administrators are getting a much clearer understanding of each standard and what they need to do to reach it," said Erinakes. "Not much has changed and what's been added was from guidance from RIDE and some updated language to provide clarity for our administrators."
Once the improved system is fully integrated into the school department, the results will be more reflective of the work that is being done. Administrators will also be given three main goals to focus on and those with similar goals and themes will work together as groups. An evaluation system for teachers is next on Convery and Erinakes' agenda.
"I commend you for doing things in the right order," commented Representative Tomasso. "Holding administrators accountable first before the teachers allows them to know that the person who evaluated them is also held to a standard."
Coventry is the only district in the state to create its own evaluation system, and other districts are becoming interested in replicating it for themselves.
"It's one of the best things I've done in my 40 years here," said Convery. "It is time intensive, absolutely, but it's time well spent. It keeps the focus where it should be."
- Enrollments: Convery stated that the status of enrollment within the Coventry School District remains tight, but still within contractual limits. He does expect more of both incoming and outgoing students during the month of August, the heaviest month for enrollment changes.
- Extended School Year: Convery reported that of the 25 CHS seniors that took part in the ESY program, 24 will be graduating on Tuesday, August 2.
The next School Committee meeting will be held on August 23 at 7 p.m.