NARRAGANSETT—The Narragansett School Committee announced Wednesday evening that they have re-appointed Superintendent Katherine Sipala for another term of three years. Sipala, who has served as Superintendent of Schools in Narragansett for the past six years, has received warm praise from her colleagues, from teachers of all grade levels to members of the school committee.
“The entire School Committee is extremely pleased with the work and level of dedication that Katherine has brought to our schools,” said Tammy McNeiece, Chair of the School Committee. “She is very committed, and her vision for the district reflects her principles.”
McNeiece cited Sipala’s leadership among students and their parents as a particularly important quality of her tenure as Superintendent, along with her communication of the School Committee’s recommendations to the town council.
“Katherine’s visibility in the schools and at community events has been great,” said McNeiece. “She is everywhere, at fundraisers, on the soccer field, at pasta dinners and concerts, and she makes the effort to communicate with students and families.”
“She has fostered a good relationship with the town council and town manager,” she added. “Our goal as a School Committee is to communicate often and in different ways. We might not always agree, but Katherine helps us to work together.”
As Superintendent, Sipala has also worked towards making the school budget and school expenditures fit within the town’s overall vision of making Narragansett a safe and enjoyable place for residents to live in. Most recently, Sipala has directed the School Committee through the consultation process for the development of a new athletic fields complex at Narragansett High School.
“Katherine’s knowledge of finances and the budget is one of her strengths, and she is able to guide the School Committee towards making smart decisions for the town,” said McNeiece.
Sipala has made education a career for 36 years, beginning as a primary school teacher in Walpole, Massachusetts. She later served as Principal at Coggeshall School in Newport and Assistant Superintendent in Lincoln, Rhode Island. From 2002 through 2006, Sipala worked as Superintendent in Jamestown.
Sipala has also served on a number of educational boards throughout the state, most recently as the Chair of the Southern Rhode Island Collaborative Education and Training Center (SORICO) from 2006 to 2010. She was the Rhode Island Board Representative to the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), along with serving as a member on the Executive Board for the Master’s Program in Special Education at the University of Rhode Island.
Last Fall, Sipala was awarded the Superintendent of the Year Award from the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association, and credits many of her colleagues for their hard work and dedication as a prime reason for her own success.
“I am very fortunate and happy to extend my contract,” said Sipala. “I have a terrific School Committee that supports our students’ achievement, and it is a great school district and town that I work in.”
The School Committee is required by law to review the Superintendent’s position and decide upon any extension of the person’s contract, which, in Sipala’s case, they did unanimously.
“It was a pretty thorough process,” said McNeiece. “We have a protocol by which each School Committee member evaluates the Superintendent independently. We then got together twice in executive session to discuss our views.”
“We are pleased that [Sipala] received outstanding and excellent ratings in every single area, and are all appreciative for the work that she has done for our district.”
Because of the economic uncertainty and the looming fiscal decisions regarding state teachers’ pension reform, the School Committee was unable to give Sipala a salary raise.
“Kathy has taken the lead with our teachers to guide them through a very difficult period with our fiscal crisis and the upcoming pension reform,” said McNeiece. “It is unfortunate that we cannot reward her outstanding work financially.”
Sipala stressed that not taking a pay raise in order that the school community can continue to be more economically sound was a decision easily made.
“It was an easy agreement on my part,” said Sipala. “Not taking a raise is a fit for the community and I hope that people feel that it is a guarantee of consistency on my part.”