In a time where funding and finances are a constant battle, the Coventry School Department caught a break in the form of the search for a new transportation provider contract.
The newly contracted provider, First Student will supplying the school district with 34 brand new full-size school busses and several mini-busses as well.
"The kids aren't going to know what hit them when these new 2011 busses roll up," said Jason Martin, Physical Plant Assistant Director.
Martin explained to the Committee that there was a definite bidding war going on but First Student offered the best equipment, the best fuel prices and the best overall cost.
The $3,022,446, five-year contract is $120,000 less than the previous contract and along with the new busses, includes DVR systems for each bus that will replace the outdated and unreliable VHS tape monitoring systems used previously and Zonar, a GPS tracking program in each bus that will record the vehicle's location, speed and other information that can be instantly recalled if necessary. The busses will also have upgraded radios that will eliminate the reception problem that Western Coventry busses frequently encounter.
Teacher Evaluation Update
During Michael Convery's Superintendent report, he and Assistant Superintendent, Jim Erinakes explained that nine teachers, three from the high school, three from the middle school and three from elementary schools have been chosen to take part in the pilot teacher evaluation program that was approved by the Department of Education on Feb. 11. The teachers will begin evaluation in the reflection and portfolio aspects of the curriculum between now and April.
FY12 Budget Adoption
The Committee adopted the Requested Budget for the 2012 Fiscal Year that will be submitted to the town Wednesday by Finance Director Robin Reasor. A summary of the budget will be made available to the public on Thursday.
Tiogue Elementary School Presentation
A presentation was given by Principal Louise Boyce and several Tiogue teachers to illustrate the implementation of the math curriculum and differentiated instruction as well as the importance of music education.
Music teacher Maria Dinitto-Wild directed the the fifth grade band in a performance of three songs, "Skip To My Lou", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Hard Rock Blues". This was the first time the group has played together in a concert setting after multiple snow days disrupted the regularly schedule performance.
Dinitto-Wild explained to the Committee and parents of the importance of music education in schools, including the fact that music helps with academic achievement, social development, and reading skills. She also pointed out that music students score an average of 57 points higher on the Verbal section of the SAT and 41 points higher on the Math portion.
The presentation also consisted of 10 third-graders who demonstrated the math lesson Unit 3, Target 2b: Finding the Perimeter. The students illustrated different ways that they solve math problems including a hands-on approach using physical objects (in this case paper clips) and a solution found by drawing the problem on paper.
These lessons are an example of Differentiated Instruction, in which teachers observe each student's skill levels using pre and post-tests then group them up in the classroom as needed. Third grade teachers Tara D'Aleno and Deborah Kolling also stressed the importance of knowing each student's individual learning style and how to utilize this information to it's highest potential.
Principal Boyce concluded the presentation by expressing how critical it is to establish norms within the school environment and having a strong curriculum. She also demonstrated how data collection and review of each classroom and student shows growth and achievement in a concise manner.
The next School Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m.