2012-06-28 / Front Page

Middle school gets new principal

Deborah DeBiase hired to top post at Lawn Avenue

Superintendent Marcia Lukon announced at last week’s School Committee meeting that Deborah DiBiase would be the new principal at Lawn Avenue School. On hand for the announcement where DiBiase’s children, Kimberly Maynard and Devon Jervis. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Superintendent Marcia Lukon announced at last week’s School Committee meeting that Deborah DiBiase would be the new principal at Lawn Avenue School. On hand for the announcement where DiBiase’s children, Kimberly Maynard and Devon Jervis. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN With an all-in-favor vote at its June 21 meeting, the School Committee appointed Deborah DeBiase to be the new principal at Lawn Avenue School as of July 1.

Superintendent Marcia Lukon presented a long list of DeBiase’s accomplishments while reciting her recommendation. The list included DeBiase’s beginning as a math teacher at both the middleand high-school levels, a temporary fellowship with the state Department of Education as a secondary redesign specialist, and her current work at the Segue Institute for Learning where she is the director of instruction and professional development.

DeBiase received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary education from Rhode Is- land College, and master’s degree in mathematics from Providence College. She is currently studying for her doctorate in educational leadership at Johnson and Wales.

Committee members applauded DeBiase as Lukon presented her with a vase of pink flowers, which she said was “a small token of our appreciation.”

Sav Rebecci noted that during the recent Special Education Local Advisory Committee meeting, members had expressed concern that they were not involved in the hiring process for the new principal. They said it was partially due to receiving late notification about opportunities for involvement.

“Everyone was invited but, like you said, the notice was short,” Lukon said. “We will try to give them more notice but sometimes it’s hard.”

Other appointments were also made during the committee’s meeting. Cornelia Connelly was appointed to the position of eighthgrade English language arts teacher for one year; Stephanie Conrad received an appointment as a speech and language pathologist; Sandra Reynolds will be the North Kingstown High school coordinator; and Philip Capaldi will be the technology coach at Melrose Avenue School.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working on hiring,” said Lukon. “Before we post a position, we establish very specific criteria.”

She said that she was still going over resumes. Lukon noted that there were over 100 applicants for a fourth-grade teacher position. “We’re really hoping to find an elementary teacher who has strength in science.”

During the principal’s report, Kathleen Almanzor explained that the eighth-grade dance, which took place at the new Fort Getty pavilion, went well.

“On the last day of school, Kathy and the team were told that the eighth-grade dance could not be held in the location that had been planned,” said Lukon. “So that day was a scramble to find a place that would be memorable for the students.”

She added, “It was a real community effort to pitch in to get the kids out to Fort Getty which, evidently, they loved.”

Almanzor also explained that one of the issues brought to her attention recently involved the amount of homework students were receiving. “I think that’s going to be a beginning-of-the-year topic for next year,” said Almanzor. She wants to know if it’s too much, and what the expectations are for homework.

During Julia Held’s report on a recent meeting at North Kingstown High School, she noted that the director of special education services, Rachel Santa, is leaving the district. According to Held, the superintendent and other officials had expressed concern that the reason might have been due to insuffi cient pay for the position.

Held said that she was the only female and was being compensated at a much lower rate than department heads who were male. “The [North Kingstown] School Committee chose not to increase her salary to what seemed to be reasonable,” said Held.

In other news, when the School Committee discussed the food-service budget, it was noted that, due to money being owed for services, the numbers were not yet accurate.

“I’d like to put a caveat on this report,” said Lukon. “We still have some outstanding balances for charges for lunch which this report does not reflect, and we continue to attempt to collect those.”

Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser noted that this situation was about parental obligations. Held asked if there was a limit for how much a lunch tab can accumulate.

“We attempted to put in a limit and had some difficulty enforcing that,” said Lukon, noting that the limit was five charges. “But the students come through the line and they have the lunch already and then they get to the checkout. They’ve already touched the food.”

She added, “We’re looking at what different procedure can we have for next year so that the business office isn’t spending so much time attempting to collect.”

Committee member B.J. Whitehouse brought up the idea of a keypad being put in so that students can check in before entering the lunch line. Lukon agreed it could be discussed.

When assessing the importance of the food-service-payment issue, Whitehouse inquired about how much money was owed. “It’s a significant amount of money,” said Lukon, though she did not provide an exact number.

Kaiser mentioned the current requirement at the high-school level for all bills to be paid in order to release a student’s transcript as a possible solution to having fewer lunch bills left unpaid.

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