— East Greenwich —

May 24, 2012

East Greenwich Looks to Stay on Top

Marc Comtois

Yes, East Greenwich has economic advantages that Central Falls doesn't have. It also has parents, teachers and a community that is involved in the school. These are all reasons for why East Greenwich High School has been ranked as the best high school in the state and one of the top schools in the nation. But, over and above all that, it is a willingness to continue to push boundaries and have a dialogue about re-shaping what it means to have an education.

During the second “Excellence in Education” forum held on Monday, School Superintendent Dr. Victor Mercurio told a group of about 25 residents that the state’s minimum requirements for a 180-day school year and 330 minutes of instruction per school day may inhibit student performance and teaching efficiency.

Mercurio said the School Department is exploring several alternative plans for creating a year-round academic schedule including the use of a four-day school week.

According to Mercurio, other school districts that have shortened their school weeks in an effort to reduce spending witnessed beneficial results relating to student achievement....In addition to a year-round schedule, Mercurio said the department is also examining the use of longer school days and alternative methods of instruction, such as digital devices and social media.

“The bricks and mortar part of school is no longer the essential piece of the relationship between a teacher and a student,” he said.

The idea of "flipping the classroom" (mentioned here before) was also discussed:
...[Assistant School Superintendent Paula] Dillon said other districts have found success by “flipping the classroom,” which essentially means that students use digital devices to experience the lecturing part of their coursework while at home. They then go to school to work hands-on with teachers for problem solving and review work. The educational model is the opposite of how most districts operate with teachers lecturing during the school day, and students working on the subject matter at home, she said.
The overall goal is to make actual instructional hours more efficient and effective. It sounds like it was an interesting and worthwhile dialogue, but it's really just shooting the breeze until it is actually put into effect.

December 3, 2009

About That Status Quo

Justin Katz

Meeting with East Greenwich town officials, Sen. Leonidas Raptakis (D, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick) spoke against state mandates:

"We have so many archaic statutes, contracts and mandates, unless we start deleting these mandates or give cities and towns latitude, we're going to start this revolving circle again, and it's going to get worse," he said. "If we don't get tough this year and next year, things are going to get worse for many years to come."

And House Minority Leader Bob Watson (R, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) made this interesting suggestion:

He also said he was intrigued by the idea of cities and towns protesting by withholding the funds they collect on behalf of the state.

That, he said, would get the General Assembly's attention. "I think that would create a great dynamic."

But missing from their comments — or at least reportage of them — is an explanation of what they would do to make up the difference for the cuts to municipalities that they oppose:

"I do not support any idea of taking monies off the table that have been earmarked for communities. I take that as irresponsible, particularly because we didn't give any relief from state mandates," said Watson. "I think there will be enough pressure to at least preserve the status quo."

The "status quo" is a deficit. It's a state with insufficient funds to pay its bills. Senators and representatives, especially, have a responsibility, if they oppose cutting one area of spending, to explain what area ought to see the cuts instead. When they meet with local officials, they ought to take the opportunity to explain the reality of that situation; perhaps they'll begin to loosen the logjam of apathy and ideology that's flooding the state.

January 6, 2009

Three Communities Work Towards Consolidation

Marc Comtois

In anticipation of the Governor's address tomorrow, in which it is likely he'll announce some pretty deep cuts in aid to cities and towns, it seems like a good idea for communities to embark on the sort of potential cost-saving projects that Warwick, East Greenwich and North Kingstown appear ready to try (couldn't find link to Warwick Beacon article online):

Consolidation efforts between Warwick, East Greenwich and North Kingstown appear to offer the three municipalities the best of all worlds--reduced costs, improved services and even lower costs for the homeowner.

Mayor Scott Avedisian disclosed last week that talks are being held between the fire departments of the the three municipalities with the thought that Warwick would handle dispatch operations for East Greenwich and North Kingstown. Revenues generated by the service would offset Warwick costs while freeing personnel in the other two departments.

The article goes on to explain that some infrastructure differences still need to be figured out and that, at least in East Greenwich, upgrades to 911 dispatch (for instance) could lead to lower homeowner insurance rates. Hopefully, ideas like these will bear fruit. There really isn't much of an alternative.