2006-06-22 / Front Page

Sipala resigns to take Narragansett superintendent job

Jamestown will hire part-time school chief as her replacement
By Donna K. Drago

Superintendent Katherine Sipala Superintendent Katherine Sipala The School Committee announced the resignation of the school superintendent and unveiled a new plan for an administrative structure at its June 15 meeting.

Superintendent Katherine Sipala, who has served as Jamestown's head of schools for four years, will leave July 28 to become the superintendent for the town of Narragansett.

School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser read a statement at the meeting, calling Sipala "a strong leader and advocate for our schools." She said, "Our loss is Narragansett's gain."

Kaiser's statement outlined Sipala's many accomplishments since coming to work in Jamestown. "She led the School Committee in establishing a school-community partnership; guided a strategic planning team in drafting a five-year vision for the school department, and successfully advocated for a principal at Melrose to ensure building leadership at that school," Kaiser read.

In addition to being superintendent, Sipala also served as principal of the Lawn Avenue School.

Sipala said Monday the opening for the Narragansett school job was posted in the spring.

She applied for the job because the Jamestown School Committee had been in talks for months about reorganizing the administrative structure - a move that could include a part-time superintendent. Last winter, both the Narragansett and Jamestown school boards met to discuss ways they could collaborate with each other on many levels, including the possibility of having one superintendent serve both districts.

But Narragansett made it clear then that they only wanted a fulltime superintendent, Sipala said. Narragansett's current superintendent Al Honnen came out of retirement to take back the Narragansett job on a temporary basis. It has been common knowledge for some time that Honnen intended to retire again as soon as a good candidate could be found.

Sipala said that the Narragansett job was the best fit for her career at this time, and that she is excited about serving the larger school district that includes a high school, a middle school, and an elementary school. In all, Sipala said, there were about 1,600 students in Narragansett. The Narragansett school board was scheduled to announce her appointment at its meeting last night, she said. Among the highlights of her career in Jamestown, Sipala said she was instrumental in reorganizing the administrative structure to include a full-time principal at the Melrose school as well as a dean of students at Lawn Avenue School.

She also reorganized the business and clerical functions at the school, which she described now as being "a well-oiled machine."

When the state's new ranking system included a new tier, Sipala said she helped the Lawn school achieve the new rank of "commended," in addition to being high performing. This occurred because student scores in both language arts and math increased at Lawn, Sipala said.

Sipala said she will leave Jamestown on July 28 and begin her work in Narragansett on Aug. 7.

At the school board meeting on June 15, Chairwoman Kaiser said the board members had come to an agreement on a new administrative structure at their June 12 retreat.

The plan is to hire a part-time superintendent, and have both a principal and an assistant principal serve both schools. Kaiser said this model would be more cost effective than other models, "including our current administrative structure."

The position of the part-time superintendent appeared in Sunday's Providence Journal and the committee met on Tuesday to discuss posting the job of the assistant principal.

About the role of principal, Kaiser said that it was the intention of the School Committee to "expand the role" of current Melrose Avenue principal Kathleen Almanzor to cover all grades from kindergarten through 8.

"We're very pleased with the job she's doing," Kaiser said about Almanzor.

In other business, the School Committee:

+ Recognized three retiring teachers for their work with a reception and gifts of flowers. Leaving the school after many years of service are Harle Phelps, Mary Lou Dudley, and Peg Gordon.

+ Made personnel changes as follows: approved a job-share for Jeana Calise and Julie Calise, who will share their job as kindergarten intervention specialist; transferred Lark Goodyear to grade 2, Chris Kent to grade 3, and Peggy Wark to pre-school special educator. Approved oneyear appointments for Carole Melucci as a grade 2 special educator, Erin Covell as a grade 6 teacher, and Thomas Carney as a grade 7 teacher.

Summer school appointments were approved for Nick Alfred, Erin Covell, Kristen DeSantis, Norma Gervais, Erin Godfrin, Beverly Green, Jennifer Kitteridge, Faith Kraus, Patricia McDevitt, Carole Melucci, Jane Mitchell, Anne Reilly, Sandra Reynolds, and Michelle Smith.

+ Approved unanimously the school's new Student Nutrition and Physical Education Policy that dictates what types of foods and beverages may and may not be consumed in the schools.

+ Voted to support the recommendations made by the Start Time Committee at North Kingstown High School to start classes at the high school later than the current time of 7:05 a.m. It was discussed that NK classes could start as late as 7:30 a.m. with minimal impact to the Jamestown bus schedule.

+ Heard from Sipala that because kindergarten enrollment is lower than expected, she may decide to close a kindergarten classroom, and transfer the teacher to the grade 2 opening.

Return to top