Lisa Wilson, a former Narragansett Elementary School administrator, was named principal of Peace Dale Elementary School during the South Kingstown School Committee meeting Tuesday at South Kingstown High School.
Wilson was one of 38 people considered for the position vacated by Susan Martin, who resigned Aug. 3.
“I’m very excited,” Wilson said after the School Committee’s unanimous vote. “I can’t wait to start. I’m anxious to meet with the parents, faculty and staff."
The Wakefield resident has taught in the Dominican Republic, Brazil and California, said Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow. She was assistant principal at Narragansett Elementary School for the last seven years.
In other business:
Dual language immersion program
Seventy of the district's 206 kindergarten students, or 35 percent, have enrolled in dual language immersion, 21 of which enrolled outside of their neighborhood school. Fifteen Wakefield Elementary students will attend the bilingual program at Peace Dale Elementary and one will to West Kingston Elementary. Four from Matunuck will attend West Kingston, Stringfellow said.
The district received multiple requests from families from Matunuck and Wakefield asking the district to expand the program to “three or possibly all” of the schools in the future, Stringfellow said, and kindergarten enrollment is approximately 10 percent higher than predicted.
The district received a $46,000 Rhode Island Foundation grant for the program. The grant, a collaboration with International Charter School, the Pawtucket School Department, the state Department of Education and Rhode Island College, that will pay for collaborative professional development and make South Kingstown the International Charter School's suburban site.
Parents in Warwick and Narragansett have asked to enroll students in the program, and if their school districts would pay tuition to South Kingstown. The district asked RIDE for an advisory position on that matter. Acting Commissioner David Abbott, according to Stringfellow, said there is “no provision of law or regulation” for sending districts to pay tuition, but the sending district or parent could “enter into an agreement” with South Kingstown to pay tuition to attend. Stringfellow said South Kingstown was under “no obligation” to accept out-of-district students.
School calendar change
A Dec. 4 professional development day will be moved to Sept. 22, so students will not attend school the day of the special election for the South Kingstown Town Council.
The last day of classes, barring no-school days, will be June 14. As approved by the Committee in February, students will attend school on Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 14), Yom Kippur (Sept. 23) and Good Friday (March 25). Stringfellow gave the Committee the option to close school on those days and extend the school year to June 17, but members opted against that.
Stringfellow said she wanted to avoid the situation that occurred in Cranston when a large number teachers requested Good Friday off for religious reasons, forcing one school to close for the day. The district surveyed teachers about the school calendar last year, and 59 of 229 responses wanted to continue the practice of no school on those religious holidays.
Stringfellow said SKNEA President Mike Farley planned to anonymously ask teachers about their plans to observe the holidays and report the results during the Sept. 8 School Committee meeting, to allow the district to prepare for any staffing issues.
Support staff agree to new contract
There is a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with the support staff union, SKESP, that will run through 2017.
The 100-plus union employees will receive a 2.25-percent salary increase each year. According to the financial impact statement. The contract will add $96,595 for the 2015-16 fiscal year - $32,150 from step increases and $64,445 from the contracted raises, and $78,957 in 2016-17 - $11,969 in step increases and $66,988 in contracted raises.
Laptop roll-out sessions coming
As of Monday, 70 percent of South Kingstown High School freshman registered for the laptop roll-out sessions, which are scheduled for Monday through Wednesday from 3 to 8 p.m. and Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, after freshman orientation. Stringfellow stated the families were notified they are “not responsible” for any financial obligations associated with the laptops, including insurance costs.