Judith Liner and Katherine Patenaude were sworn in to the Coventry school committee by A. Ralph Mollis, Secretary of State.
The school committee approved the hiring of a new boys basketball coach at their meeting last Tuesday night. Superintendent of schools, Michael Convery said that Thomas Campbell scored the highest of four candidates for the position and that he was the only recommended candidate to the committee. The appointment is for one year only and was effective Nov. 23.
The boys’ basketball coach Stephen DeMeo, Jr. who was arrested on charges of indecent solicitation of a child, possession of child pornography and possession of marijuana was suspended indefinitely without pay on Nov. 9.
The school committee voted unanimously 5 to 0 to approve the appointment.
This was the school committee’s first vote with their two newly elected members.
The two newcomers, Lianne Russell and Judith Liner, did not vote on the consent agenda because they didn’t know the contents of those items.
The school committee members shared their experiences at the School Committee 101 seminar where members of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) presented.
School committee chair Kathy Patenaude said that they were one of the only communities that had their entire school committee present at the Nov. 15 event.
All school committees present heard a presentation from Deputy Commissioner David Abbott on Race to the Top. Other topics were open meeting laws, high school graduation requirements, school finances, their roles as elected officials and even an explanation of “conflict of interest.”
The general assembly passed a law that all school committee members must complete a certain number of hours of professional development. Other sessions will be held from now until May.
School committee member Thomas Hetherman said that he thought the seminar was “pretty positive” and that the outlook didn’t seem as bleak as it was two years ago.
Liner thought it was very, very informative and said that she was excited about the direction RIDE was heading.
Russell said that before the seminar she thought she knew everything about public education, but that that day told her she was the very uninformed. It was “extremely helpful,” she said.
Finance director, Robin Pelletier (Reasor) presented on tuition rates and the three-year budget projection.
Tuition bills need to be sent for students who are out of district.
Convery said that as far as he was concerned the three-year budget projection was nothing more than an exercise that they participate in because they have no idea as to the funding that the schools will receive. It is mandated by state law that this be presented to the town council, but Pelletier said that while there were some things they could grab onto and present as facts it was “definitely a moving target.”
Assistant superintendent James Erinakes said that the teacher and administrator evaluator tools that the district has been working on may be approved by RIDE by January. They are only one out of six communities that opted to create their own evaluation tool and have stuck with it.
Audrey Levy-Lachance, a parent and the acting secretary of the newly incorporated Coventry Public Education Foundation, mentioned that the foundation is currently recruiting a board of trustees. Their next meeting will be Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The foundation started over a year ago and at the next meeting they hope to bring in various representatives from athletics to look at how those can all fall under one umbrella instead of being fragmented when it comes to fundraising.