LITTLE COMPTON — The new school year that starts here next Tuesday, Sept. 3, promises to be eventful, on many fronts — construction, technological innovation, curriculum change and assessment. And a few more students may enroll.
“Renovation of the Wilbur & McMahon School is about 50 percent done,” said School Committee Chairman Donald Gomez, “with about 40 percent of the funding spent.” “We’re still on schedule and pretty much within budget, with no problems and no significant changes.”
Mr. Gomez said, “we’re very hopeful the kids will be back in the renovated school by the end of the February vacation.”
He said that he anticipates giving a tour of the work completed thus far to Rhode Island Department of Education officials. Much of the work done to date is between the walls and not easily noticeable.
The temporary modulars are cleaned and ready, he said, with moisture and bacteria issues, largely attributable to the heat and closed conditions of the facilities, completely resolved.
Modular One, used over the summer on a daily basis, is fine.
In Modular Two, used less than One, the bacteria count inside at one point was higher than outside, but not significantly so, he said. “We don’t envision any problems.”
School Superintendent Kathryn Cowley said, “ModSpace has been impeccable. The modulars are all set and ready to roll.”
Technology and innovation
Technology is one of the areas in which the schools are moving fast. Ms. Crowley has announced that the school is hiring a new director of information technology (IT). He is Paul Benjamin, former director of IT for the East Bay Educational Collaborative.
Mr. Benjamin, who has a background in private industry, she said, will divide his time between assisting the school with its IT needs and the town with its. He will be housed temporarily in the public safety complex until renovation of the old school building is completed.
Mr. Benjamin will handle all data collection and state reporting functions, and will help guide professional development of teachers in the area of technology. They’ll need to be prepared.
“Every student will have an iPad,” Ms. Crowley said. “Within the next year we’ll have enough iPads for every student in the building. We want to really utilize them. We haven’t used them to the extent we should.” Funds for the iPads have come from grants over the past three years, she said.
“As we move into the 21st century, we want our kids to learn to use the technology that’s available, especially as they move into Portsmouth High School.”
Superintendent Crowley said,”electronic textbooks are coming down the pike. We need to look into planning for the future, so we’re ahead of the curve.”
Curriculum and assessment
The school will be moving ahead with adjustments to the curriculum to conform it to common core requirements established at the state and national level, Ms. Crowley said.
Along with that, she said, the school will be moving ahead with its teacher evaluation model. The NECAP test, she said, will not be used this year in teacher evaluation, a decision made at the state level.
Student formative assessment will also move ahead, she said, as “the school tests what students should be able to do at each level.”
Census and more
The student population may be growing. Superintendent Crowley said, “we could end up with a few more students in the fall. We don’t know yet who won’t be returning, but kindergarten went up to 26 from 20.” (Tiverton, too, reports an increase in first graders this fall.)
Ms. Crowley said a part-time speech pathologist replacement teacher will be hired before school starts.
The status quo from last year, regarding the number of bus runs and meals served, will be continued this fall, Ms. Crowley said.