top of page
  • Kathleen Layton

North Kingstown School Committee Recap: October 2023-March 2024




The North Kingstown School Committee (NKSC) submitted the following summary of progress, made in partnership with North Kingstown School Department administration (NKSD), during the last six months. The school committee's "commitment to fostering collaboration, transparency, and open communication remains unwavering as we strive to meet the needs of students in the NKSD District."


For previous summaries of progress, refer to December 2022 to May 2023 and June 2023 to October 2023.


School Committee Members

This fall, the NKSC had two resignations. Jennifer Hoskins and Thomas Briody submitted their resignations to the Town Council in November 2023 and January 2024. NKSD thanks Jenni and Tom for their service to the students in the district. The town council solicited interested community members both times and voted to appoint James Sheehan and Debra Lukascko. The new committee members will serve in the roles until newly elected members are selected by the community in November. We appreciate their willingness to assist students in the district.


District Personnel

NKSC is responsible for approving new contracts for administrators, guided by recommendations from the Superintendent. We are incredibly pleased to welcome Lesli-Ann Powell, Director of Finance, and Julie Alfano, District Special Education Coordinator, who bring valuable expertise and dedication to their roles.


NKSC had the distinct privilege of honoring the dedication of two beloved district employees who passed away this fall, Patricia Saunders and Joseph Peck. We were deeply honored to host their families and friends at a NKSC meeting, where we listened to heartfelt tributes from their colleagues. Their contributions in transporting students to our schools left an indelible mark on our community. Patricia and Joe epitomized the caring, dedication, and kindness that define our district.


Honoring Accomplishments & Recognition

One of the highlights of NKSC meetings is when we welcome students and outstanding faculty and staff. Over the past six months we have recognized the NKHS GAPP (German American Partnership Program), Christina Lawrence Fulbright Award winner, Excellence in STEM Award Recipient - Brandon Medeiros - NKHS, Fishing Cove Grade 2 Students - Core Values, Boys Cross Country Students joined by Coach Mike Florio- DMS, Ryan Lukowicz and Braydon Blanchette, United States Senate Youth Program, and the WMS chorus joined by Jonathan Audette.



NKSC also had the pleasure of experiencing an electrifying and exhilarating moment as Malaree Shields was unveiled as a recipient of the Milken Award. Witnessing the high school students fill the gymnasium with exuberant cheers for a cherished teacher was undeniably remarkable and a source of immense pride for the entire district.


NKSC proudly stood alongside fellow local and state elected officials in the town's Veteran's Day parade, dedicated to honoring our veterans. It was a moment of profound pride as we watched the middle school bands, symbolizing the spirit and appreciation of our community, actively participating in the procession.


Budget

This spring, NKSC worked closely with the administration and finance department to develop and present the 2024-2025 budget to the town manager. NKSC spent six meetings learning more about resource needs and opportunities for the district. The administration paid particular attention to supporting student needs with the loss of ESSER funds. NKSC approved a budget of $79,838,066 on February 26, 2024. The Superintendent then forwarded that amount to the town manager to be included in the town's overall budget. NKSD and other town departments then met with the town council for a budget hearing. The Superintendent and NKSC explained the zero-based budgeting process during this meeting. It emphasized that ESSER funds are ending and that there is a continued need for the services. The final step in the budget process was a joint meeting with the town council on April 3, 2024, where the public was encouraged to speak, and the approval of the budget by the town council on April 29, 2024.


Additionally, NKSC received a presentation from the administration regarding ESSR III Funds. Based on this presentation, NKSC voted to adjust the ESSR Funds to ensure that they are maximized to help the district with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. All ESSR III funds need to be spent by September 2024.


In March, NKSC voted to approve a new advisory committee for the school committee. This advisory committee on budget and finance will advise the school committee on the financial aspects of the district, including budget planning, allocation of funds, financial reporting, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. The Superintendent will present the advisory committee description, goal, and membership makeup to the NKSC this spring.


Facilities

In November of 2023, a bond referendum was presented to the Town of North Kingstown for the amount of $247,460,000, which included $167,460,000 for a new combined middle school and renovations to school buildings in the district. NKSC and NKSD were disappointed to see the referendum not pass. Despite this setback, NKSC is highly committed to figuring out a path forward to ensure that the students and staff have educational facilities supporting learning. A survey was distributed to the community to learn more about people's perspectives regarding a future bond for the schools. The results of that survey can be found here.


In February, the School Committee approved the submission of a new Necessity of School Construction Stage I Application. Necessity of Construction Stage 1 Application


The Necessity of School Construction process is a multi-stage application that requires LEAs to conduct thorough facility assessments to create an efficient and prudent master plan. Once reviewed and vetted, the School Building Authority will recommend projects for approval by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. Approved projects are eligible for State aid through one of three mechanisms:

● Housing Aid reimbursement

● School Construction Bond pay-as-you-go funding

● SBA Capital Fund progress payments


The Stage II Application, which will outline the district plan in great detail, will be due September 15, 2024.


At the March 5, 2024, meeting, the school committee authorized Perkins Eastman to prepare a feasibility study associated with the Wickford Middle School and the Davisville Middle School improvement plan. The study intended to provide information to NKSD regarding potential capital improvements to the existing school buildings or replacing existing facilities with new school buildings. The study included the following options for each school site:


1. Renovations (and expansion, as needed to meet program) of existing schools to meet 21st-century learning and teaching environments

2. Replacement of existing schools with new facilities on existing school sites.


The results of this study were to be presented to the Building Subcommittee in April, which will, in turn, make a recommendation to the school committee. The school committee will vote on that recommendation and any corresponding bond language to be sent to the Town Council for approval at their April 29, 2024 meeting. The school committee will submit bond language for the November election to the town council at the end of April for new school construction and renovations.


The school committee approved the request for a proposal for a Softball Field at NKHS in December 2023. The necessary work has been completed, and the 2024 season will have its home games at the newly renovated high school field. NKSC is working with the administration to determine plans for the D Building on the NKHS campus, which is identified as a potential home for the Mechanic CTE program. The first step towards working towards this goal is upgrading the HVAC Work in this facility..


Policies

The policy subcommittee meets multiple times a month, and the following policies have been reviewed, revised, and approved by the full NKSC:

● DLB- Deferred Compensation (403b) Plan

● GCB-R Emergency Sick Bank Revised

● GCB Non-Unit Benefits Revised

● BCF Policy Manual Advisory Committees and Liaisons

● JBA - Prohibition Against Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Violence

● JICH - Chemical Health and Student Safety

● ACA.1 - Transgender and Non-Binary Students


Policy Subcommittee meetings are open to the public. The dates are listed on the NKSD website. The next one is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, at 5 pm. There is time for citizens to comment on policies on the agenda or policies they would like to be created or reviewed. Follow this link for a list of all NKSD policies.


Calendars

NKSC approved the 2024-2025 School Calendar which was presented by the NKSD. Every year this process is challenging as there are many competing priorities and calendar challenges.


Please note the major difference between this year and prior years is that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is not a day off. Including this day would push the end of the year (with no snow days) to Friday, June 20th (with the prior day, June 19th being a day off due to state holiday). Any snow days would push the last day of school into the week of June 24th. NKSC also approved its meeting calendar from August 2024-June 2025. School committee meetings occur every two weeks and are typically held on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. They are open to the public with the exception of the executive session which are typically held at 6:00 p.m.


School Safety

NKSD and NKSC have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the North Kingstown Police Department detailing the district's School Resource Officer (SRO) selection, training, and responsibilities. An SRO is a town law enforcement officer responsible for safety and crime prevention to create a safer environment. NKSD currently has one SRO at the high school.


The Rhode Island Legislation established a special legislative commission to evaluate and provide recommendations on mandated safety protocols for Rhode Island schools. The purpose of this commission was to determine what changes, if any, need to be made in Rhode Island General Law 16-21-4 in light of the national landscape of school shootings as well as recent swatting events. Two North Kingstown employees are members of the commission- Chief Scott Kettelle from the NKFD, participating on behalf of the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs, and Sherrie Monaco from the NKSD, participating on behalf of the Rhode Island Association of School Psychologists. Dr. Earle and Ms. Lima attended the 11/8 meeting of the unique and spoke at public comment, sharing their thoughts and concerns and saying thanks for the work.


Equity & Wellness

NKSC approved a funding request from the NKSD Employee Support and Wellbeing Committee for $10,000 for the 2023-2024 school year. The budget items reflect and address physical, intellectual, emotional, and social aspects of wellness, which in turn will create a more robust district culture across all schools.


On October 30, 2023, NKSC voted to establish the Temporary Advisory Committee on Disciplinary Policies, Practices, and Procedures. The purpose of this temporary advisory Committee is to review, with the express permission of the Superintendent or designee, RIDE, and non-identifiable discipline data, solicit student input about the current disciplinary system, and review and propose revisions to discipline policies and practices from an equity lens, and advise the school committee on actions needed to improve the disproportionate data reported in the Equity Audit. The creation of this temporary advisory committee resulted from the DEI subcommittee recommendation that findings and recommendations related to discipline in the District Wide Equity Audit published in February 2023 should be a priority for the NKSD.


NKSC voted to approve administering the Rhode Island Student Survey (RISS) to grades 6 to 12. The RISS is administered every other year and examines the risk and prevalence of substance use, bullying, depression, suicide, and violence among Rhode Island youth in middle and high schools. The RISS intends to identify areas where strengths can be built upon and to put additional resources into those areas that need improvement. Parents and guardians can utilize an opt-out option if they do not want their students to participate in the survey, and no question on the survey is mandatory.


Curriculum

Annually, NKSC approves an updated program of studies for the high school based on any RIDE graduation requirements, program updates, and course offerings. The presentation can be found here, starting on page 8.


NKSC approved a new K-5 Health Curriculum, the Great Body Shop, upon recommendation by the Wellness Subcommittee and the Health Curriculum Team. There has been no update since 2014 and no set curriculum. This new curriculum is aligned with RI Health Standards and has both a digital and print component. The print portion is available in Spanish.


Anti Harassment/Discrimination


NKSD has created a link off its main webpage that is a one-stop resource to get information, find policies, or file a report on any incident for yourself or on behalf of someone else. NK Stay Safe | North Kingstown School Department (nksd.net). Training and additional resources, as well as contact information for the district's Title IX coordinator, can also be found there. You can access the NKSD Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy here.


School Committee Documents

NKSC issues official correspondence as a body from time to time.


Recent examples are:


School Committee Communication

As a reminder, NKSC has a centralized email address, schoolcommittee@nksd.net, which will go to all school committee members. Emails sent to this address will be recapped during a "correspondence" section at each school committee meeting.


School Committee Meetings

NKSC generally meets at the Central Administration Building every other Tuesday at 7 pm. The dates and agenda are published on the NKSC Meeting Calendar Website. There is time for citizen comments (3 minutes on any subject), but you can attend and listen. You must not be a North Kingstown resident to speak at our meetings.


NKSC meetings are live-streamed and recorded if you cannot participate in a meeting but want to watch. Our next meeting is on Tuesday, May 7th at 7 pm. (Please note the May 7th meeting will be in the NKHS Auditorium)


School Committee "Office" Hours

NKSC also holds office hours throughout the year to allow community members to speak to two school committee members in a more casual setting. These will be posted on the NKSD website as scheduled, but they are not recorded or posted. The next "office hours" are on Wednesday, May 8, from 5 pm to 6 pm at the Stony Lane Elementary School gymnasium.


We look forward to continuing to work together to support the North Kingstown School District.


Sincerely,


Erin Earle, Robert Case, Jennifer Lima, James C. Sheehan, Debra Lukascko

North Kingstown School Committee


5 views

Comments


bottom of page