East Providence School Committee talks high school, pool, Common Core at meeting
EAST PROVIDENCE — It wouldn't be an East Providence School Committee meeting of late if the on-going topic of improvements to East Providence High School wasn't discussed, so the board's Tuesday, Feb. 11, gathering followed form with talk of the delayed opening of the new science lab as well as a few other elements.
The project to rebuild the science lab, being constructed over two rooms on the second floor of the building, has been one of fits and starts. Nearly $200,000 was earmarked for the upgrades, which were necessitated for the school to meet its reaccreditation criteria. However, as the Committee found during a public walking tour of EPHS two weeks ago, it remains a work very much in progress with an anticipated completion date of sometime in late March early April.
City Facilities Manager Ed Catelli told the Committee a meeting of vendors (architects, contractors, etc.) was scheduled to be held on February 12 to update the status of the project and to iron out the latest details.
On a more positive note, Mr. Catelli informed the Committee the freshening up of the EPHS corridors will continue through the mid-winter vacation week. The hallway outside of the main office on the first floor of the building is due for some new red and white paint, a scheme that he said has brought some much-needed life to the walls of the 60-year-old structure.
In addition, Mr. Catelli said a few more touches are being added to the just-renovated EPHS gymnasium area. Two large screen television sets will be mounted at each end of the gym, the latest improvements from the money raised over the last few years by the John Carnevale-inspired "Townie Project" that helped secure most of the funds used to give the gym a facelift. The championship banners representing the success of EPHS athletic teams will be rehung as well. Also, exercise mats will be ready for use in the small gym adjacent to the larger space.
Lastly, Mr. Catelli offered his gratitude to Public Works Director Steve Coutu and Highway Department supervisor Rob Walker for their assistance with sanding and snow removal during the many periods of trying weather to date this winter.
Staying with the high school, Superintendent Kim Mercer briefly addressed the status of the pool, currently closed pending renovations.
Mrs. Mercer, after reaching out to parties of interest and citing the cost of repairs, said the pool, shut down for the better part of the last six months, will remain shuttered until further notice.
"We felt at this time, with so many other things that need to be done, to put the pool on hold," Mrs. Mercer said.
When asked by Ward 1 member Elizabeth Clupny for a definitive date on when a final decision would be made on the pool's future, Mrs. Mercer said it would be best to readdress the situation in six month's time.
Mrs. Mercer, in response to a question from Ward 4 member Tim Conley, noted the pool was locked, access was limited, the pool was empty of water and no further deterioration of important parts was expected.
Prompted by Ward 2 member Tony Ferreira about possibly selling some recently installed assets (pool cover, dehumidifying system) to recoup some money, Mrs. Mercer said that may be a bit premature.
"We have a school (Whiteknact Elementary) that needs a new roof. We have buildings that need windows," Mrs. Mercer added. "It's not forgotten. It's there, but we have other priorities where we need to spend."
Following a brief explanation by its sponsor in the General Assembly, East Providence Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65), the School Committee unanimously threw its support behind a move to halt the implementation of Common Core standards in the Rhode Island.
Rep. Amore's bill (2014-H 7095) would create "a task force to evaluate the system so students, teachers, parents and administrators can, at the very least, fully understand the implications of the new system."
Rep. Amore said issues pertaining to student privacy, the appropriateness of the standards and the cost to financially challenged districts like East Providence were some of concerns with the Common Core system. He also noted the Tiverton School Committee has recently voiced its support for the delay while six other school committees were in the process of considering their stance on the issue.