By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Taking over for Dr. Phillip Thornton, who is now serving as the Cumberland School Department’s superintendent, North Kingstown resident Dr. Philip Auger, has officially begun his tenure as both the interim superintendent and assistant superintendent.
Monday was Auger's first day in the dual position and he took time to send out a letter to North Kingstown parents, students and community members, informing them of his educational background and the goals he’d like to accomplish for the district while he serves as the interim superintendent.
The School Committee plans to publically interview Auger next month as it considers appointing him for the superintendent job long term.
“I’m honored and deeply appreciate the confidence of the school committee to allow me to serve in this capacity, and I promise I will not approach this work lightly,” Auger said in his letter, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Standard Times' website at www.ricentral.com .
Auger has been the assistant superintendent for the past two years while working as curriculum director. He was an English teacher at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts and a college instructor at the Newport Naval Education and Training Center. He was also the assistant principal for teaching and learning at Chariho Regional High School in Richmond, R.I.
Auger received his Doctorate in English in 1995 from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s in School Administration in 2000 from Providence College.
If Auger is chosen as superintendent, he says he has many goals he’d like to see accomplished.
On the subject of teaching and learning, he acknowledges the “great deal of work” teachers and administrators have done to improve the learning goals of the district’s curriculum. He says he will work to continue to improve the curriculum.
“While our high school is relatively new and in great shape, it’s important that we keep our eye on maintaining all of our schools,” Auger stated. “There is real savings in doing regular maintenance as opposed to major projects when things get really bad.”
Auger hopes to find the resources in the near future so that all the schools receive the necessary updates.
Currently, 29 elementary school teachers have been participating in a grant-funded technology training program to increase the effectiveness of their instruction.
“I’ll continue to keep improving the use of technology to enhance the learning of our students and to communicate better with our parents and all of the community, as a priority” Auger added.
Auger says he will also work to keep the line of communication open between the district and students and parents.
The most vital and difficult goal he’ll have to overtake will be the budget process, something that has caused tumultuous tension among the school committee and community.
“I will do all I can to keep our school system running efficiently while keeping the quality of our programming strong and I will keep you informed about the budgetary issues facing us.” he said.
At the July 12 school committee meeting, it was decided to hold off in appointing Auger as the superintendent until he’s formally and publicly interviewed, a date that’s tentatively scheduled for the week of Aug. 8. He’s also in the process of setting up times throughout the day for people who would like to talk with him about his visions for the school district.
Then, depending on how the interviews go, at the Aug. 23 School Committee, Auger will either be appointed as superintendent or the school committee will debate its next course of action.