Narragansett Regional School Committee Approves New Initiatives

The Narragansett Regional School Committee recently convened to discuss and approve several important initiatives, including the authorization of school choice openings for rising seventh and ninth graders, the adoption of a new middle school history curriculum, and the acceptance of the Shirley Regional School District into the Caps collaborative agreement. These decisions reflect the committee’s focus on expanding educational opportunities and fostering inter-district cooperation.

At the forefront of the meeting, the committee engaged in a debate on the subject of accepting new students through the school choice program for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year, particularly for the seventh and ninth grades. Concerns were voiced regarding the balance between meeting the needs of local students and the implications of welcoming school choice students, both financially and in terms of educational resources.

The committee also received an update on a new middle school history curriculum, which has been enhanced through a grant aligning with the Massachusetts history and social sciences Frameworks. This curriculum update includes open-source materials aimed at encouraging historical inquiry, civic responsibility, and culturally responsive teaching. The grant has facilitated partnerships with neighboring districts and offered comprehensive professional development for educators. The focus on engaging content and collaborative teacher practices underscores the committee’s dedication to improving educational quality.

Furthermore, the committee addressed the professional development related to the social studies curriculum, which has involved collaborative planning, the establishment of teacher learning communities, and specialized coaching. The curriculum focuses on a variety of historical and geographic topics across different grade levels, tailored to align with state frameworks. Teachers have reportedly provided positive feedback, although there have been challenges with pacing and integration, particularly for new teachers at the middle school level. The possibility of an expansion grant for the following year was also discussed, which would offer additional support and training for educators.

The meeting also saw the unanimous approval to include the Shirley Regional School District in the Caps collaborative agreement.

Public engagement at the meeting included input from two Templeton residents who advocated for a new track and field facility. They detailed their fundraising efforts and the support they had garnered for the project, including a preliminary quote of approximately $850,000. The committee showed support for the initiative and discussed involving the towns of Templeton and Phillipston to further the project.

In addition to the decisions and discussions around educational programs and facilities, the meeting addressed administrative matters, such as the appointment of Susan Bernie as the records access officer and the unanimous reappointment of Felicia Hu as the district treasurer and Lori Reed as the assistant treasurer for the upcoming fiscal year. Contracts with Cornerstone Family Medicine for physician services, Mirick O’Connell Law Firm for legal counsel, and Roselli Clark and Associates CPA for auditing services were all unanimously renewed.

The superintendent provided a report during the meeting, which included commendations for the school play and the Unified Track team, as well as a celebration of Principals’ Day. Additionally, the committee was briefed on the superintendent’s upcoming evaluation process, focusing on the importance of specific, goal-oriented feedback. A timeline for the review and voting on the evaluation was slated for an early June meeting.

The meeting concluded with updates on various subcommittee activities and a reminder of future meeting dates. Notably, there was no requirement for an executive session.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Chris Casavant
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