Members began Tuesday's School Committee meeting by introducing the newly elected members, incumbents Frank Hyde (not present) and Nancy Sprengelmeyer, and Dist. 1 newcomer Ann Dickson.
Nancy is beginning her third four-year term as a Committee member and said is honored to serve once again.
"I love our School Committee," she said. "It is a great way of advocating for kids."
Chairperson Kathy Patenaude welcomed Dickson, stating that the Committee is glad to have her expertise, opinions and advice and looks forward to helping her learn what it means to be a member.
"It's a pleasure to be here on this Committee," said Dickson. "I was elected by the residents of District 1, but I am part of a team that will work to provide the best education possible to the students and make the school community a safe environment for everyone involved."
Patenaude and Sprengelmeyer were also nominated and elected by fellow Committee members to their previously-held positions of Committee Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson respectively.
Revised 2012/2013 School Calendar
Because of the two school days that were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29 and 30, Coventry administrators have added two make-up days to the end of the school year, moving the final day of school for the district to June 20, as long as there are no additional cancellations.
Upon review of the calendar adjustment, Superintendent Mike Almeida proposed a half-day for students on March 26, 2013 in order to use the second half of the day for professional development to allow educators to become more comfortable with the new Educator Performance and Support System (EPSS) software and requirements from the RI Dept. of Education (RIDE).
Committee members approved both calendar revisions.
Technology Donation Policy
Jason Martin, Director of Technology, Buildings and Grounds, introduced the first reading of the School Department's Technology Donation Policy.
The policy pertains to the donation of used technology, including computers, monitors, printers, etc., that may be used in schools throughout the district. It summarizes the need for donations that are up to current technology standards, in good working order and fully equipped as to not cost the district extensive money for missing parts, repairs or upgrades. Equipment placement is also addressed, in that donations will be placed within the district based on its technology plan by the technology director.
"We need to be sure that the technology donations that we receive for the district are up to standard and can support our students and teachers," said Martin. "Without a policy, donations of non-standard equipment can cause stress, havoc and inefficiency. The upcoming assessments will require a certain level of technology, so for computers, a rule of thumb is that if it runs Windows 7, thank you and we're excited to have it, but if not, thank you anyways, the equipment just won't be useful to us.
FY 2013 Tuition Rates and Budget
The Committee approved the recommendation of Robin Pelletier, Director of Administration and Finance, to set the fiscal 2013 tuition rates in order to make budget adjustments and distribute invoices to the districts of students sent to Coventry. The School Department has been awaiting 'per pupil' guidance and information from RIDE since August, but needs to move forward and will apply the 3.8% overall budget increase as the tuition increase also.
Also approved was the FY13 amended budget which reflects actual state aid and outcome of union Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Steve Lopez of Birchwood Lane addressed the Committee to express his pride and appreciation for the work that was put into successfully getting all five of the School Improvement Bonds passed during the Nov. 6 election.
"I would just like to say how proud I am of this committee and this school district right now," said Lopez. "Regarding the bond issues, I'm very proud of this district's parents, school department, leadership, this school committee, present and past members, including Tom Hetherman who spearheaded and helped out immensely with them. There are so many people in this town who deserve a lot of credit."
Lopez, who has two daughters at Coventry High School, one who is a member of the track team, said he and his children look forward to the improvements that will be made with the bond money.
"The fact that citizens came out in these hard economic times and supported every bond is just incredible," he continued. "I would also like to applaud each person who helped make it happen, from the voters to each one of the committee members. It's a proud moment for this community and I just want you all to know that we notice what you're doing and keep up all the good work you do."
The next School Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Washington Oak Elementary School.