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School District Hoping to Add Staff and Courses Over Next Five Years

In a presentation to the school committee Monday night, the district schools explained their needs for the next five years.

The leaders of Seekonk's high school, middle school and elementary schools in Seekonk are hoping that programs and positions are restored to pre-budget cut levels over the next five years.

The previous years’ budgets have forced cuts to staffing, programs and materials. According to Superintendent Maddie Meyer, the district has just been treading water when they need to focus on improving.

 “We will have to cut programs, add fees," Meyer said. "I’m not sure what we will have to do, but it will be ugly-looking unless we have support for the parents and the town."

's Principal Marcia McGovern highlighted the need for a longer day and additional advanced placement courses.

“The next school in the South Coast Conference has 20 minutes more a day,” McGovern said.

Additionally, she showed that Seekonk only offered five AP courses, while most of the other schools in the SCC offered at least eight.

McGovern said additional AP courses are needed to allow students to challenge themselves as well as prepare them for college.

One possibility suggested by school committee member David Quinn was to look at of eliminating honors classes and replacing them with AP ones.

 Principal Dr. Joan Fargnoli showed the need for two additional teachers that would allow the school to return to smaller class sizes. As of now, most classes are at 27 or 28 students, whereas they are preferred to be closer to 20.

Additionally, Dr. Fargnoli would like to see a return to the foreign language program at the middle school, something that was eliminated in previous budget cuts.

In the elementary schools,  Principal Bart Lush and  Principal Nancy Gagliardi both said they would like to see a full time adjustment councilor at each school. Right now they share one councilor, which makes scheduling time difficult as well as gives the one councilor a large case load.

They would also like to see two additional library media aides to help with the implementation of technology as well as an additional special education teacher at each school.

Currently, they said their staffs are stretched thin and overtaxed.

These ideas are part of a five year plan to improve the schools and Superintendent Meyer said they still need to be prioritized by what can be down in each year.

“It’s not a simple fix. It’s all over the board and in every grade,” Meyer said. “We can’t afford to go backwards anymore.”

Carol Bragg January 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM
This has become a debate and adversarial. Everyone thinks they're right and that that's the only way of looking at the situation. But an "M" upside down looks like a "W." Is it possible that everyone has a piece of the truth and that all perspectives need to be integrated into the resolution? This is a complex problem and not a football game. How would you seek to reconcile the different points of view?
Dave Abbott January 27, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Carol there is nothing to be reconciled. Debate by its very nature is adversarial and you know what- that leads to spirited debate and is the American way. I have taken feedback from various debates and information/concerns from various posts over the past three years and some of it has aided me in my decision process. If you want to create actual changes to some of this issues discussed in this topic then you need to be prepared to get involved in politics at the state level. I have volunteered (no pun intended Joe) my time at the local level in many ways since moving here. I am now looking forward to taking a step back and spending more time being a parent who watches their child play a game, rather than coaching a game, running a league, or voting on behalf of the district.
Carol Bragg January 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Adversarial is the American Way, but so, too, is compromise. That's what the Founding Fathers did. We have difficulty compromising in this town. One side wins, the other side loses. When there are different points of view, they need to be reconciled so everyone feels they have been heard and are part of the solution. Please consider this as a possible approach to bringing together the concerns of taxpayers, schools, and other town departments. Debate may make our society great; compromise is what holds it together.
Dave Abbott February 01, 2012 at 01:05 PM
An interesting proposal on the part of RI Governor Chafee, a 2% hike in the meals tax to be distributed to local education. Nobody wants to see a tax increase, but I would rather have EVERYONE in the state pay towards education, particularly special education, than it fall squarely on the backs of a property owner. This should also be good for our local eateries, as that tax increase will make our own rates more attractive.
deb of see-attleboro February 01, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I think we should make Chafee an honorary citizen of Seekonk:)

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