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I attended the March 9, 2017 meeting of the Cumberland, Rhode Island School Committee. There were six members present: Raymond Salvatore, Karen Freedman, Amy Goggin, Stephen Hess, William Dennen, and Paul DiModica. At the beginning of the meeting, it was announced that Mark Fiorillo was not in attendance. Unfortunately, though I grew up in Cumberland, I did not the public schools, so I was somewhat unfamiliar with the programs discussed.
Cumberland teacher Mrs. Tanya Rao discussed the recent middle school trip to Quebec and several of the students who attended spoke on the experience. Based on what I heard during the meeting, and from friends of mine who have been on the trip previously, it is a very worthwhile learning opportunity to
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The high school had a minor problem with some leaking in the auditorium, but it did not cause any problems with education or extracurricular activities. However, I am very concerned with what went on in the two other buildings. Cumberland Hill was closed for three days because a classroom was flooded and air quality testing had to be conducted in case of mold. Furthermore. BF Norton was closed for a week, in which walls were torn down and there was extremely significant damage. The Superintendent plans to write to the Commissioner asking for a waiver on these missed school days. He believes the time missed can adequately be made up during the rest of the school year. However, I do not agree with this and feel they should be treated as “snow days,” meaning they will be made up in the summer. This is a substantial amount of time and students should not have to miss out on instruction.
Next, the School Committee had numerous discussions on the budgets, payment of bills, and payroll/benefits for employees. There have been cuts in the Blue Cross program, but Councilwoman Beaulieu said they are working to find a solution that has the least impact. There was a vote to get approval for more funding overall for the students, and healthcare costs, and it was approved 6-0. The gap is growing larger so they will be implanting budget workshops for the staff and some employees will have to be laid off, which unfortunately included two social
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