2008-06-12 / Front Page

SALT survey critical of school

By Michaela Kennedy

Co-principal Carole Melucci admitted that she was shocked when she read the words of the School Accountability of Learning and Teaching Visit Team Report. The first line of the final advice read, "Melrose School is a star that hasn't yet shined as bright as it might."

The words of the SALT report stung, but Melucci embraced the criticism as a valuable tool for improvement. "I'm excited in having this report because it gave specific recommendations," she said at the June 5 School Committee meeting.

Melucci gave copies of the report on Melrose Avenue School to committee members. She talked about weaknesses and recommendations noted by the team of visiting educators who spent a week at the elementary school in February. Advice for improvements in teaching writing, reading and mathematics was outlined in the report.

Superintendent Marcia Lukon found the recommendations given by the outside team of evaluators to be valuable. "I think we need to have clearly articulated instructions for teachers," she said.

School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser said the report was "a great tool to point us in the right direction." She criticized, however, that inconsistencies appeared between the visitors' perspectives and her personal experience in classrooms. She reported seeing small group work on three different visits over recent years. "Clearly, SALT did not," Kaiser added.

Committee member Bruce "B.J." Whitehouse welcomed the outside opinion, calling the recommendations "gold." He suggested drafting an action plan and checking on the school's progress next spring.

In a report about a meeting with the school's food provider, Kaiser and committee member Julie Kallfelz urged the school department to pay attention to budget projections for the school food service. "Some districts are backtracking in their wellness strides due to budget crunches," Kallfelz said, adding that an increase of the management fee was a little over three percent. The committee is scheduled to vote on the contract renewal at the next meeting on June 18.

In other business, the committee:

• Voted 3 to 1 to approve a oneyear leave of absence.

• Approved a request for a public high school voucher for a student to attend Narragansett High School to participate in its Agri-Science program.

• Changed the next business meeting from Thursday, June 19, to Wednesday, June 18.

• Approved the personnel agenda, which included the appointments of Andrea Brayman as a part-time physical education/health teacher, Tara Higgins as fourth grade special education teacher, Jennifer Kittredge Clark, Chris Kent and Jennifer Caswell as teachers in sixth, fourth and third grades. Mary Jane Moynihan and Tara Toolan were appointed as special education teachers, with Jamie Ordway and Jennifer Francis assigned as first grade teachers.

• Approved the recall of special education teachers Kristen Bennett and Denise Fiorio. Colleen MacIntyre was recalled as a kindergarten teacher and Faith Krause as a second grade teacher.

• Appointed summer school teachers Kristen Bennett, Beverly Green, Faith Krause, Sandra Reynolds, and Michaela Shoemaker, and teacher assistants Anne Reilly, Lisa Clark, Jennifer Eagles and Leah McGowan.

• Approved extracurricular appointments, including Andrea Brayman as girls' basketball coach, Eric Bush as boys' basketball coach, Maureen McGuirl as yearbook advisor and North Kingstown High School coordinator, Kristen DeSantis as student council advisor, Renie Sullivan as wellness coach, and Nicholas Alfred as technology coach at Lawn and cross country coach.

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