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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I.— The North Kingstown School Committee unanimously approved the hiring of Lori Clark as the district’s new coordinator of curriculum in their virtual meeting Tuesday night held over the video chat program Zoom.

Clark, a 20-year veteran of the Portsmouth School District as both a teacher and literacy coordinator, comes to the district from the Rhode Island Department of Education as a teaching and learning fellow, where she has assisted in the rollout of the Race to the Top program as well as assisting teachers throughout the state, including North Kingstown, in developing high-quality literacy programs.

Her hiring is in part assisted by Frontline Educational Professional Learning Management “PLUs” grants, which were also approved by the district during the meeting, and she will assist the district in raising the bar for literacy and English Language Arts.

“(Dr.) Clark is as qualified as anyone in the state I can think of,” Superintendent Phil Auger said. “In fact, she’s writing the laws about these very grants with the (Rhode Island) Department of Education, so she is the right person for the job and we are thrilled to have her in the district helping us with this work.”

“We’re really rolling out the English Language Arts at the middle school level next year while at the same time going for really high-quality curriculum for the elementary level next year,” Assistant Superintendent Denise Mancieri said. “I’m just over the moon thrilled that we have this additional person to help us get us to where we need to be and help bring North Kingstown to the next level.”

In addition to approving the hiring of Clark, the committee also heard from Auger on the status of be able to return to in-person classes for the start of the 2020/21 school year. Auger said that the district is moving towards a model where they can offer both in-person and distance learning classes depending on the comfort levels of the students and their families, while adding some classes may need to stay online.

“There may be some courses we’ll just have to do through distance learning,” Auger said.

In order to gauge what families are feeling in regards to in-person classes, Auger said the district is working on sending out a survey sometime in the coming weeks, and acknowledged that distance learning could become a permanent fixture in North Kingstown schools in students and their families so choose for health or other reasons.

In terms of releasing a 2020/21 academic calendar, Auger said that the district was waiting on word from Governor Gina Raimondo and the state to proceed, and that an announcement could come as early as their next meeting and that he hopes to have a model in place for how to operate the district in the upcoming school year for the start of Fiscal Year 2021 next month.

“Hopefully by July 1 I can report out the model to the community that we intend to use,” Auger said. 

In terms of the re-opening committee, North Kingstown Student Union President Joe Vento asked Auger if he would be welcome to having students on the committee to assist with decision making, something Auger said he would “absolutely love,” leading Vento to volunteer his service for it. 

Auger also took time to congratulate the North Kingstown High School Class of 2020, noting that a virtual graduation event will take place all day on Saturday with the opportunity for students to individually receive their diplomas and be able to have their picture taken in their cap and gown without a mask, which will be followed on Sunday by what he labeled as “North Kingstown’s biggest car parade,” in which all graduating seniors and their families are invited to parade the graduate in their car through town on a route from NKHS to Davisville Middle School and back. The parade is set to begin Sunday at 3 p.m.

The next regular meeting for the committee is scheduled for June 23.

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