Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 04-04-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 4-10, 2019 CUMBERLAND 7 Kindergarten registrations way up over last year Changes to standards-based grading; budget approved CUMBERLAND – During open registration days March 19-20, school officials saw a far greater turnout of new kindergarten stu- dents than expected, says Supt. Bob Mitchell, meaning they'll have to closely monitor the situation in the months ahead. A total of 220 kindergarten students registered during that week, compared to 183 students during the same week a year earlier, a difference of 37 stu- dents. Preschool students automatically enrolled in addition to that number was 52, compared to 42 last year, for a total differential of 47 students over last year's figures. "It will be interesting to see what will happen between now and the start of the school year," Mitchell told the School Committee last Thursday. School administrators expect an additional 100 or so students to regis- ter between now and the beginning of the school year. Chairman Paul DiModica asked whether the schools have the space to accommodate the extra students, or if officials will need to move students. Mitchell responded that prelimi- nary information shows there is some space. Ashton School is at maximum capacity, and Community School is a little bit over capacity. B.F. Norton has some space, as does Cumberland Hill and Garvin. "The good news is there is some space as of right now, but as I men- tioned, we can expect another 100 or so registrations between now and the start of the school year," Mitchell said. That could require adding a teacher and a class in a school, he said. Standards-based grading changes The school board heard from Karen Freedman, of the achievement and communications subcommit- tee, on standards-based grading at Cumberland High School. This is year two of a six-year implementation, said Freedman, and a high school admin- istration team led by Principal Adolfo Costa is working behind the scenes to "improve rigor and consistency of grading." Under changes for next year, fami- lies can expect more consistent grad- ing based on specific rubrics from class to class and grade to grade, said Freedman. Students will be given spe- cific feedback throughout the year to help them know where they are. At the subcommittee meeting two days earlier, March 26, the commit- tee approved what former School Committee member Bill Dennen said is the most visible change for students and parents taking effect in the 2019- 2020 school year. The 1-4 scale will now have plus and minus categories added to each number, so there will be 12 overall categories. Report cards and transcripts will continue to have the traditional letter grades. This is all about consistency in how students are being graded and rigor of curriculum at the high school, said Freedman. The most important take- away for parents is that "letter grades are not going away." That prospect previously helped derail efforts at moving to standards-based grading, which is a process of identifying pro- ficiency levels in students based on whether they meet certain standards. Freedman said she's "more and more impressed with all the work that goes on behind the scenes," led by Costa, Assistant Supt. Antonio DiManna and others. She said staff members are doing a great job ensur- ing a consistent and rigorous curricu- lum and grading system that reflects it. School officials are planning a pair of town hall meetings in the near future to inform parents about the changes. Committee seeks 4 percent increase The School Committee last week passed a budget requesting a 4 percent overall increase from the town, and did not include funding needed for later start times at the high school. The $71.5 million budget represents nearly a 3 percent increase overall and seeks $1.8 million more from the town. Member Mark Fiorillo called it a "straightforward" budget that's based on the district's needs. Member Heidi Waters said she's "very confident in this budget." DiModica said the district didn't get to be top-five in the state by accident, and it will be important to keep that momentum going so officials don't have to make cuts. The committee agreed to Mayor Jeff Mutter's request that the schools cover some of their master lease payments typically covered by the municipal budget so the town can "stay legal" on its levy increase, as DiModica put it. DiModica later said that the request to the town would have exceeded the 4 percent legal limit if the later start time had been factored in at nearly $500,000 more. The school board is hopeful of getting the 4 percent ask, but weren't expecting it to be pro- posed by Mutter. The schools are also trying to add additional "buddy classes" to the high school and middle schools in math and English language arts. DiManna and Costa made a compelling presen- tation on how those classes are help- ing students pass core subject classes. Current buddy classes are only for 9th-graders. The proposal expands it to 10th-graders at the high school and to the middle school level. Buddy classes are an extension of math and English classes where stu- dents are sort of doubling up on core subjects. By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor New Location Periodontics Inc. 175 Nate Whipple Highway, Suite 210 Nate Whipple Medical Building Cumberland, RI 02864 | 401-658-2121 Specializing in Periodontics and Implant Surgery Participating Providers Delta Dental & Blue Cross 167 Gano Street, Providence, RI 02906 401-274-2600 Dr. Scott Fertik Dr. John Broderick

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