BMR schools OK kinder­garten re­or­ga­ni­za­tion

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSEPH FITZGER­ALD jfitzger­[email protected]­et­

BLACK­STONE — The Black­stone-Mil­lville Re­gional School Com­mit­tee Thurs­day ap­proved School Su­per­in­ten­dent Ja­son DeFalco’s pro­posal to re­or­ga­nize and unite the John F. Kennedy/Au­gus­tine F. Maloney com­plex, which, for the first time in the district’s his­tory, will have one kinder­garten through Grade 5 prin­ci­pal over­see­ing both schools be­gin­ning next year.

John F. Kennedy, which houses kinder­garten-Grade 3, and Au­gus­tine F. Maloney, which houses Grades 4-5, are lo­cated in the same build­ing at 200 Lin­coln St. The two schools have al­ways been iden­ti­fied as sep­a­rate schools with sep­a­rate prin­ci­pals and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff, but un­der one roof in the same com­plex.

DeFalco’s plan is to es­sen­tially unify the schools with one lead­er­ship and ad­min­is­tra­tive team for both schools. The goal is to not only save money, but re­move re­dun­dan­cies in ex­ist­ing ser- vices.

Right now at the JFK/AFM com­plex, there is a prin­ci­pal for kinder­garten through Grade 2; a prin­ci­pal for Grades 3-5; and two ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tants – one for kinder­garten-Grade 2 and one for Grades 3-5. The cur­rent staffing con­fig­u­ra­tion is cost­ing the district $305,531 a year.

DeFalco’s pro­posal is to a have a sin­gle K-Grade 5 prin­ci­pal; one as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal K-5;

one K-5 ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant; and one plan­ning, learn­ing and teach­ing coach.

Even with the ad­di­tion of the plan­ning, learn­ing and teach­ing coach, the district would be sav­ing $5,000 to $10,000 a year with the new staffing re­con­fig­u­ra­tion.

The new re­con­fig­u­ra­tion would go into ef­fect next year upon the re­tire­ment of AFM Prin­ci­pal Carol Brown. The prin­ci­pal at the Kennedy School is Steve Tringali.

“What we are do­ing is truly uni­fy­ing the two schools, mak­ing it one build­ing with one vi­sion and one mis­sion,” DeFalco said. “And we can’t do that with chil­dren and teach­ers un­der the same roof func­tion­ing as two sep­a­rate schools. That will not help us get to where we need to be.”

The com­mit­tee Wed­nes­day also ap­proved DeFalco’s pro­posed re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of the district cen­tral of­fice at the high school, which right now, has three fi­nan­cial as­sis­tants; an ad­min­is­tra­tive aide; a tech­nol­ogy aide; and a tech­nol­ogy ad­min­is­tra­tive con­sul­tant. That cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion is cost­ing the district $284,000 a year.

DeFalco’s plan, which would also go into ef­fect next year, is to elim­i­nate one of the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tant po­si­tions; the ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant po­si­tion; and the tech­nol­ogy and ad­min­is­tra­tive con­sul­tant, which would save the district $140,000 a year.

The plan would en­tail turn­ing one of the elim­i­nated fi­nan­cial as­sis­tant po­si­tions into the po­si­tion of hu­man re­source spe­cial­ist, which will help with re­cruit­ment, staff re­ten­tion and pro­vid­ing di­rect ser­vice to the district’s 250 fac­ulty mem­bers.

The two other elim­i­nated po­si­tions would be re­aligned as an ac­counts payable spe­cial­ist and a pay­roll spe­cial­ist. The of­fice would also have a new part-time, 15-hour per week book­keeper.

“None of this is new money,” DeFalco pointed out. “It’s sim­ply a re-align­ment of the po­si­tions that are there.”

DeFalco said the sav­ings re­al­ized from the cen­tral of­fice realign­ment would be re­as­signed to plan­ning, teach­ing and learn­ing coaches.

“The re­sult of all of this is

a true con­ti­nu­ity of sup­port for stu­dents and ser­vices,” he said.

This is the first ma­jor re­or­ga­ni­za­tion within the school district in re­cent mem­ory.

A few years ago, the district floated the con­cept of a uni­fied el­e­men­tary school sys­tem, which would al­low stu­dents in kinder­garten through Grade 5 to be ed­u­cated col­lec­tively with peers from both Black­stone and Mil­lville dur­ing the el­e­men­tary years.

Af­ter four years of ex­ten­sive study, meet­ings and sur­veys, a Re­gional Agree­ment Sub­com­mit­tee rec­om­mended two years ago that the Black­stone-Mil­lville Re­gional School Com­mit­tee amend the district’s re­gional school agree­ment pol­icy to al­low el­e­men­tary school stu­dents preschool through Grade 5, re­gard­less of which town they live, to be ed­u­cated to­gether. The school board voted to sup­port the con­cept and to sub­mit town meet­ing ar­ti­cles seek­ing voter ap­proval in both Mil­lville and Black­stone. Vot­ers in Black­stone ap­prove it, but it was re­jected in Mil­lville.

The Black­stone-Mil­lville Re­gional School District was es­tab­lished in 1967 and in­cludes one el­e­men­tary school in Mil­lville (Mil­lville El­e­men­tary School, preschool-Grade 5); two el­e­men­tary schools in Black­stone (John F. Kennedy, kinder­garten-Grade 3 and Au­gus­tine F. Maloney, Grades 4-5); and a mid­dle school and high school in Black­stone (Fred­er­ick W. Hart­nett Mid­dle School and Black­stone-Mil­lville Re­gional High School).

The district serves 1,882 stu­dents, has a 135-mem­ber teach­ing staff and is over­seen by an elected eight-mem­ber School Com­mit­tee, with four mem­bers from each town.

Right now, Mil­lville stu­dents only at­tend the Mil­lville El­e­men­tary School in Mil­lville, while only Black­stone stu­dents at­tend the John F. Kennedy and Au­gus­tine F. Maloney El­e­men­tary Schools in Black­stone.

Had Mil­lville ap­proved the new el­e­men­tary school con­fig­u­ra­tion, it would have al­lowed all stu­dents in prekinder­garten through grade 5, re­gard­less of which town they live in, to at­tend the as­signed school re­gard­less of where it is lo­cated based on grade level.

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