By ANGELENA CHAPMAN
Special to the Standard
WEST GREENWICH—At Tuesday night’s school committee meeting, a request for a district-funded indoor track program was sent back to the creative funding skills of those involved.
The Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School Committee cited both hockey and gymnastics’ previous desires to have programs funded by the district in their decision.
According to School Committee Clerk Valerie Zuercher, the hockey team had made a request to the school committee, a request they had to deny. The gymnastics team, when hearing of the financial situation of the district, had not officially requested funding.
Both teams now fundraise to run the programs. The hockey team made a three-year agreement with West Warwick for a joint program and School Committee Vice Chair Mark Rafanelli, said that at the end of three years, the hockey team can come back to the committee to again seek funding, if they desire.
Rafanelli said that if the group of staff and students representing indoor track had something to present by the next meeting, they could return and present.
Zuercher also suggested that they work with the superintendent and director of administration on items such as insurance.
“We are not in shape to fund much of anything,” Zuercher said.
In other news Tuesday, a discussion was held on the frequency and scope of Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) background checks for employees and a separate debate was held on those for volunteers, but there was overlap in the items talked about.
Committee member Paul McFadden considered the idea “closing the gap of liability” for the school district.
However, member Claudine Pande said the policy committee would need a little more guidance before they revisited it, due to concerns of “opening up a can of worms” and “American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ramifications,” which might arise from “picking and choosing” offenses to look at and for. She also mentioned the issue of allegations versus convictions.
Pande asked EWG Superintendent James Erinakes to research if there were cases where districts had ever been sued when items other than just those considered “non-qualifying” were used in background checks.
She asked him to also look into if there were any districts in the state that “go beyond” Rhode Island general law in their policies.
Erinakes also asked the school committee for feedback on adding two early-release days for students to the calendar. The time would be used to accomplish some of the training the district has signed on for as a part of the Race to the Top initiative.
He explained that at the high school, for example, there are 331 minutes of instruction time each day, one minute more than the 330 minutes required. That gives 108 minutes extra over the course of the year, he said, giving them the opportunity to have two 90-minute early release days for students, while allowing training to go on when teachers are already being paid.
The committee was in favor of the idea.
Meanwhile, a school committee reimbursement request for School Committee Chairperson Teri Maia-Cicero was approved 5-0. Maia-Cicero was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting but at Zuercher’s request she had submitted a letter explaining her request for reimbursement.
It was for $300.00 in cell phone overages during the months of April and May due to school committee-related phone calls and a request to be reimbursed $30 on a monthly basis for the additional cost she has now added by upgrading to an unlimited cell phone plan. She stated at previous school committee meeting that a district phone would be $35.00 a month.
Pande abstained from the vote.