PHILLIPSTON - The Narragansett Regional School Committee met Wednesday night at the Phillipston Memorial School to discuss the implementation of the new SchoolBrains online communication system rather than the previously used system IParent, which was utilized up until the end of the last school year.
According to Ruth Miller, Superintendent of Schools, SchoolBrains will be up and running by Friday, Aug. 22 and all schedules for students should be ready for the start of school on Monday, Aug. 25. However it has also been reported that there are currently scheduling issues.
Committee member Andrew Robinson reported that he had received many issues from concerned high school seniors about their schedules as they prepare for college and making sure they are assigned the correct courses. Miller responded that all schedules will be released in time for the start of school on Monday.
Teachers Union President Erick Iben raised a concern about the new system not performing the same functions as the previous system had to offer, such as class head counts being automatically displayed to teachers.
Miller responded that all issues will be taken care of during the first weeks of the new school year and that a plan is in place for the start of school. Miller also stated that staff will be trained on the new software later this week.
NDEA Teachers Union - President's Report
Iben reported that in preparation for the start of school on Monday the biggest concern they are faced with is making sure all technology will be setup for the first day such as computers and printers to allow technology enhanced presentations such as PowerPoints among other things to be utilized. Iben said the IT department is hard at work to make sure all technology is in good working order for the first week of school
New Templeton Police
School Resource Officer
Templeton Chief of Police Michael Bennett, and the current School Resource Officer Sergeant Steven Flis, presented Patrolman Brian Rosengren as the new school resource officer. Sgt. Flis also announced he will be training Rosengren throughout the year and help him adjust to his new position.
Committee member Deborrah Koziol raised concern about enough attention from the Resource Officer at the elementary schools. Chief Bennett stated that Rosengren will have a second office at the elementary schools and will spend time at each school.
Koziol also asked if there is a plan for addressing safety around technology, such as cell phones, this year. Sgt. Flis said that technology will be something they address in the second half of the school year.
Committee Chairwoman Rae-Ann Trifilo questioned Rosengren's lack of experience working with children. Sgt. Flis assured the committee that he will be working with Rosengren to train him for the job and that Rosengren will indeed be prepared to best serve the students.
Dan Haynes, Scanlon & Associates, LLC, gave a brief presentation on what is new with the annual Financial Statements for 2013. According to a Financial Summary report given by Haynes, there was a reported $373, 637 increase in the Unassigned Fund Balance - General Fund account. Sources of revenue. There was also a 2.11 percent increase in budgetary expenditures.
The total revenue of all funds was estimated at $19,286,824. Major revenue sources were reported to be town assessments, Federal and State Aid, and charges for services. The amount debt increased slightly from 2012 at 2.6 percent of the budget to 3.27 percent. Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) had a bigger increase in 2013, to $1,389,907 compared $1,215, 512 in 2012. Haynes cited that plan experience is what caused the increase and that the increase is in accordance with their plan expectations.
Haynes said that the district is in good shape and is in compliance with financial regulations. A reported factor for this was good control of cost effective internal controls.
Koziol asked Miller about the requested numbers of enrollment for each district school. Miller said that the requested numbers were not yet available as there are a few new enrollments for the upcoming school year that are still being processed and the enrollment numbers will be available soon.
Open House Events
Committee member Hank Mason raised the question of why there were no open house events held for families with children starting at new schools to come in for a tour and get to know the principals for their respective schools prior to the start of school as held in years past.
Miller said there were scheduling issues, especially with schools that share principals. It was said that some open house events would take place after the start of school this year. It was stated by Trifilo that there was a lapse in communication between the community and the councils for each school about whether or not these open house events would take place.