2013-08-01 / Front Page

Names of schools decided

Committee votes to uphold decision made by ’92 board
By Tim Riel

Shortly after the construction of Jamestown’s second school, the 1992 School Committee learned there was confusion about what to call each building. There were two facilities with only one name.

Until the building was built on Melrose Avenue, the facility on Lawn Avenue was home to all island children attending public school. It was called Jamestown School.

However, with the full-time population on the rise, the town decided it needed another building. The new facility would be used to house elementary students, while the Lawn Avenue building would be home to middle schoolers.

But for some reason, no official names were given to the schools to differentiate them. Although there were two buildings, it was still Jamestown School: “A certified K though 8 facility housed in two buildings.” The ’92 committee recommended to keep Jamestown School, but to include a dash and the street name at the end.

That confusion still existed 21 years later, up until two weeks ago.

At its July 18 meeting, the 2013 School Committee voted to endorse the 1992 board’s decision. The signs going up on the buildings will read “Jamestown School – Lawn” and “Jamestown School – Melrose.” No mention of “avenue,” “middle” or “elementary” will be in the primary logos.

While the committee didn’t elect to officially name the schools, it did vote unanimously to put the 1992 designations on the outside of each building.

The issue returned to the agenda after more than two decades because Lew Kitts, director of buildings and maintenance for the schools, said he wanted to paint the school logo on the outside of the Lawn Avenue building. Kitts hopes to paint the white logo over the green wall.

But when he approached the School Committee on June 20, there was a stumbling block. “Is it Lawn or middle?” asked Kitts. “What is it?”

The board members didn’t have an answer for him.

More problems arose. Committee members weren’t sure they could use the word “middle” to describe the Lawn Avenue facility. Lawn Principal Deb Dibiase was tasked with checking with the state Department of Education to see if the school met the criteria to be considered a middle school. Also, according to Committeeman B.J. Whitehouse, a “can of worms” was opened when a Jamestown Press editorial suggested other options, like George Washington School, to honor the nation’s first president who once traveled down Narragansett Avenue on his way to Newport.

“The more we talk about it, the more complex it gets,” said Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser.

In the end, the committee decided to stick with the 1992 decision. “Throw the blame on the earlier School Committee,” Kaiser quipped.

Kitts said naming the schools is important because having an official logo painted on the building incites school pride. “School spirit is big,” he said.

According to Melrose Principal Carrie Melucci, there are more obvious reasons the ’92 school board wanted to differentiate the buildings. For mailing purposes, she said, and in the case of an emergency, the Fire Department needs to know which Jamestown School to respond to.

In other school news, Rhode Island Kids Count last month released its Jamestown data. Kids Count is a children’s policy organization that works to improve the health, education and safety of children statewide.

According to the report, Jamestown students stacked up well against the rest of the state. In 2012:

• 80 percent of Melrose fourthgraders read at a proficient level, 11 percent better than the state average;

• 84 percent of Melrose fourthgraders are proficient or better in math, 20 percent better than the state average;

• 94 percent of Lawn eighthgraders read at a proficient level, 17 percent better than the state average;

• 92 percent of Lawn eightgraders are proficient or better in math, 34 percent better than the state average.

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