2009-12-24 / Front Page

District mulls participation in ‘Race to the Top’ grants

By Eileen M. Daly

Rhode Island is one of eight states that has been invited to Washington to meet with consultants about the Race to the Top grant application, according to Superintendent Marcia Lukon, who recently attended a meeting with R.I. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

“The federal Race to the Top funds could bring unprecedented resources to Rhode Island to help us accomplish our goals,” Gist wrote on the state education dept.’s website. “The U.S. Department of Education will distribute these funds to states that have both made progress and shown promise in improving teacher effectiveness, accelerating the performance of low performing schools, establishing world-class standards and assessments and developing userfriendly data systems.”

Lukon said the commissioner has asked districts to endorse the RTTT plan as either a “participating local education agency,” or an “involved local education agency.” She also said that in order for the state to be considered for the first round of RTTT awards, the application will need to be completed early in 2010.

The school committee agreed to discuss the requirements of each level of commitment and vote on a level of participation at its Jan. 7 work session.

In other business:

• The committee received notifi cation from North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Thornton that U.S. News and World Report has recognized North Kingstown High School as a Silver Medalist school. Classical High School in Providence was the only other R.I. school to receive this distinction. Some of the reasons that were cited in recognizing N.K. High School were higher-thanaverage test scores and a high percentage of students’ taking and passing Advanced Placement courses.

Dr. Lukon also reported that the North Kingstown superintendent and business director have reviewed the proposed contract rollover language and that both sides will now submit the language to their respective attorneys before seeking the approval of the two school committees.

• School Committee Chairperson Cathy Kaiser reported attending a Dec. 5 meeting of the Shared Services Roundtable. In preparation for the next meeting, Kaiser said, participants were asked to seek input from their district’s business manager and special education director regarding their perspective on the easiest and most cost-effective areas in which services could be shared.

• Principal Carole Melucci reported on Melrose School activities, including recent kindergarten, first-and third-grade field trips. The kindergarten holiday musical performance was scheduled to be held yesterday, according to Melucci.

• Principal Kathy Almanzor shared the success of the fifthand sixth-grade chorus and band concert. Both the chorus and the band performed on the Lawn stage, Almanzor said, noting that the stage has not been used for the last 17 years.

“Lew Kitts was great in getting the stage painted and ready. We rented some spotlights and revived the use of the stage,” she said. “The kids really loved it and I think the parents loved it, too.”

• Almanzor also reported that the eighth-grade students completed the state tech literacy assessment and that 90% of the class met the Middle School Profi ciency Standard.

In committee reports:

• The Melrose School Improvement Team saw a “webinar” on preparing children for the workplace.

• The Lawn School Improvement Team discussed the success of advisories, updating of teacher websites and the positive feedback received on report cards and student-led conferences.

• Julia Held, liaison to the N.K. School Committee, reported that she was not able to attend the most recent meeting, but that the committee was scheduled to vote on course additions at the high school. Courses under consideration include Advanced Placement psychology, consumer/ business math and two German electives.

The next workshop meeting of the Jamestown School Committee will be held on Jan. 7. The next business meeting will be held on Jan. 21. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Lawn School library. On Jan. 8 at the Conanicut Grange, the school committee will hold a goal-setting retreat at 4 p.m. and will meet with the Town Council at 5:30 p.m.

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