2006-08-10 / Front Page

Superintendent of schools appointed, began job Monday

By Donna K. Drago

During an Aug. 3 meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes, the School Committee made appointments to the administrative and special education staff.

Held in the stifling heat of the Lawn Avenue library, no one complained when School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser adjourned the meeting not long after it was convened.

About 10 people showed up to greet the newly appointed Superintendent Dr. Robert Power, the replacement for Kathy Sipala, who left the Jamestown district on July 28 to take over the helm at the Narragansett School Department.

Sipala was at the meeting to introduce the new school chief to the community.

Sipala described Power as being "dedicated to education," and noted that she had worked closely with him when she was a principal in Newport for seven years.

"He believes in kids," Sipala said, adding, "It makes me feel so good about this transfer" of positions.

Power retired from Newport in 2005 and will work part-time in the Jamestown district. According to state pension board rules, Power will be able to work a maximum of 90 8-hour days and be paid $500 per day with no benefits, for a total of $45,000 per year.

This is less than half of what the town paid the most recent superintendent.

Power was the assistant superintendent in Newport from 2001 to 2005 and served as the acting superintendent from May to July 2005, when he retired.

Prior to being an administrator, Power was the director of special education in Newport, Bristol, and Narragansett, beginning his special education teaching career in 1974.

Power addressed the three members of the School Committee present at the meeting. Julia Held and William "Bucky" Brennan were absent.

In researching everything he could about the Jamestown schools, Power said he concluded that the schools "are one of the best kept secrets in the state."

"A lot of great stuff goes on here," Power said, adding, "I hope I don't screw it up."

Power began his post Monday, Aug. 7.

Appointed to the position of assistant principal was Michael Franco, who spent 30 years teaching in the South Kingstown School District.

Franco was unable to attend the Aug. 3 meeting due to a prior commitment teaching at a summer gymnastics camp.

Sipala noted that Franco was her daughter's gymnastic coach many years ago.

Franco is due to begin his position next Monday, Aug. 15, and will draw a salary of $76,000 for the 195-day-per-year post.

Wendy Williams, a severe/profound educator, was appointed to replace Peggy Wark, who moved to the pre-school.

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