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Parental group to address blemished dugouts at EGHS atheletic fields

July 5, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

While the athletic fields at East Greenwich High School have received a major facelift the bad two years, the dugouts on the baseball diamonds have remained lingering blemishes.
John Mahoney and the Diamond Baseball Club, a group of baseball team parents and boosters, are hoping to change that.
Mahoney briefed the School Committee Tuesday night on his group’s plans to improve the dugouts, lengthening them and building cinderblock structures and roofs. The current dugouts offer a fence, a bench and little else, or as Mahoney put it, “a metal cage.”
“It’s a great facility, but these dugouts don’t fit the bill right now,” he said.
Without taking a formal vote, the committee gave its blessing to the plan. Chairwoman Deidre Gifford referred Mahoney to the Fields Committee, which Superintendent Victor Mercurio plans to convene next month to review plans for the dugout construction with an eye toward School Committee approval at its Aug. 16 meeting.
Mahoney said if the go-ahead is given then and details such as a construction plan and liability insurance are finalized, he and a group of parents can have the varsity field dugouts built by the beginning of November. He said they have raised $2,500 already, with each dugout’s cost estimated between $4-5,000.
Gifford said use of the town impact fee fund, which is covering the cost of the new concession stand being built at the football field, is also a possibility.
The new dugouts are necessary for safety reasons, he said – from disturbances both climatological and parental.
“There’s no privacy in these dugouts for the coach to talk to a player. The first game we were able to use the varsity field last year, we had a situation where a parent got into it with a coach and the police had to be called,” said Mahoney.
Another reason covered dugouts are needed, he said, is the baseball fields’ location, about a quarter-mile from the school building.

Character does count in EG schools

July 1, 2011

It's called Character Ed, and it does contain some valuable life lessons.
But for fifth- and sixth-graders at Eldredge and Hanaford elementary schools, Bob Houghtaling is hoping to draw some character out of the students in preparation for the challenges they will soon be facing at Cole Middle School.

Eldredge students show their ‘senior buddies’ their innately inventive sides

June 29, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

Fourth-graders at Eldredge Elementary School may have heard a few stories from their “Senior Buddies” at Greenwich Bay Manor about the old days, when household tasks required more labor than simply pushing a button or manipulating handheld electronic gadgets.
In that spirit, students showed their elder pals their inventive side recently on their final visit of the 2011-12 school year to the senior residence.

EG’s Marine One rescues kayaker

June 27, 2011

By David Pepin

The recent rescue of a kayaker from a Narragansett Bay buoy wasn’t quite all in a day’s work for the East Greenwich Fire District’s Marine 1 crew.
“It was two guys with binoculars, looking for a needle in a haystack,” Deputy Chief Russell McGillivray said of the June 9 rescue of a North Kingstown kayaker whose boat capsized during a vicious thunderstorm that ripped through the bay.

Two EGHS students took two different paths, both leading toward excellence

June 3, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

One was born in China, and didn’t arrive in East Greenwich until he was in third grade. The other has spent her entire live here.
But East Greenwich High School Class of 2011 Valedictorian Han Xu and Salutatorian Julia Stevens have plenty in common: high achievement, friendship, and some podium time coming up Sunday.

School budget: $33 million

May 26, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

With a little final housekeeping Tuesday night, the East Greenwich School District completed its $32,988.353 overall budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
After agreeing to a $50,000 cut requested by the Town Council in the $30,551,077 school appropriation recommended by Town Manager William Sequino Jr. last week, school officials had some extra work to do after previously cutting $713,713 from the figure they had submitted to Sequino in March. The council’s completed budget will go before voters at the June 14 financial town meeting.
Mary Ann Crawford, school finance director, said the final $50,000 came from cutting $38,636 in the substitute teacher account and $11,364 in 1.5 percent raises scheduled for non-union professional personnel in the district.
The substitute funds could be cut, she said, because of federal Race to the Top money that would fund teachers’ professional development activities and also provide for substitutes on days those teachers miss class.
The previous cuts to the schools’ budget request came were made up by $287,287 in additional revenues, including $60,000 from the district’s fund balance, and $426,426 in expense reductions, over half of which came from teacher retirements and Blue Cross health coverage. Blue Cross did not raise the district’s premiums for the upcoming year.
With the FY12 budget, school officials looked with trepidation toward next year’s budget, which will be drastically effected by the state’s pension crisis. Crawford estimated that teacher pension contributions, which came to $1.3 million this year, could rise by 75 to 100 percent next year,
“The challenges for next year are like nothing I’ve ever seen. With the pension increases, we’ll be right at the cap (state-mandated 4.25 limit on tax levy increase), she said.
School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford said this year’s budget leans on the district’s fund balance and Race to the Top funding, sources that may not necessarily be available next year.
“We’re in the range of $150,000 we’re not going to have next year. We’re losing one-time supplements,” she said.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo met with the state’s school superintendents last Friday, and will meet with the R.I. Association of School Committees on Saturday in an attempt to let them know what lies ahead.
“She spoke to us in the most general terms,” Superintendent Victor Mercurio said of his peers’ audience with the treasurer, who is taking the lead on the state pension reform effort.
Committee member David Green will represent the town at Saturday’s meeting.
Also, the committee considered putting the district food service contract back up for bids after receiving the April financial report from Aramark, on the third year of a five-year contract. A decision will be placed on the agenda for the committee’s June 7 meeting.
Crawford said the service is running a $21,000 deficit through April, making it more likely the town will have to make up some of it at the end of the school year. Under terms of the contract, Aramark would eat the first $8,100 of any deficit as a management fee, with the district liable for the remainder.
“$13,000 is an awful lot to make up in two months,” said Crawford, who attributed the deficit to increased food and fuel costs, despite an increase in overall meals served throughout the district.
Gifford said the district would be willing to consider an increase in meal prices: $2 at elementary schools, $2.50 at Cole Middle School, $2.75 at East Greenwich High School and $3.50 for the daily premium meal selection.

Happy Hearts Preschool: 25 years in operation and going strong

May 20, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

Happy hearts, happy alumni, happy teachers.
They added up to plenty of smiles Saturday morning at the 25th anniversary celebration of Happy Hearts Learning Center, 2608 South County Trail, as the preschool’s current crop of pupils ages 2 to 5 mixed with their older predecessors, including a few young adults, and past and present faculty members.

Chafee delivers some good economic news to EG Chamber of Commerce

May 13, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

While some Rhode Islanders are panicking about the state’s budget and pension crises, Gov. Lincoln Chafee is hoping to win over the business community with a calm, I’ve-seen-this-before approach.

NEIT getting a break from town

May 2, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

Amendments to the town Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan to assist New England Institute of Technology received unanimous second reading approval from the Town Council Monday night after college representatives updated town officials on their plans for the growing campus on the former Rocky Hill Fairgrounds site.

When Guv comes to town

April 12, 2011

By DAVID PEPIN

National Reading Week brought plenty of guests to Meadowbrook Farms School last week, from local officials and media members to Olympic gymnasts and “The Amazing Race” contestants.
But the school’s biggest “get” may have been Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who left behind budget crunching and tax debates to play storyteller for a first-grade class.

 

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