David Green is running for a second term on the School Committee because he said much of what was done during his four years in office – finishing school construction projects, hiring new school administrators, negotiating employee contracts – has set the stage for change on the classroom level.
“What I’d like to be able to do is take advantage of that really solid foundation to focus on what we can do in the classroom,” he said in a phone interview Sunday.
Green, 63, a retired business executive, has been chairman of the committee for the past two years. His wife, Kathy, has been a teacher her entire career, currently teaching at Cole Middle School.
His areas of emphasis going forward include aligning school start times (right now the district has three different start times), ensuring the effectiveness of the high school’s recent move to a “1:1” computer-student environment, and collaborating more with the town.
“I look at aligning our start times as having multiple benefits,” Green said. One benefit, he said, would be the more effective use of “itinerant staff” (such as music and physical education teachers, therapists and social workers). Another would be the ability to able to offer students more advanced course work.
With regard to 1:1, Green said, “We’re just in the beginning stages of establishing a 1:1 environment in the high school. We need to review outcomes, to make sure it’s effective.”
When it comes to all-day kindergarten, Green said he didn’t think anyone would be against “early-childhood learning.” But he said he was waiting to hear what the ad hoc all-day K committee finds out. In particular, he said, he wanted to hear the benefit and the cost.
“One of the interesting factoids you pick up in the Kid’s Count Factbook is that East Greenwich has 11 early-childhood centers that are Bright Star compliant 11 early childhood centers that are Bright Stars compliant,” he said. Bright Stars is a childcare and early learning rating system. “What’s our current state and what is the value you’re going to be adding to it?”
Green noted that all-day kindergarten is already offered to those students with a demonstrated need for additional support.
“I suspect it’s not going to be an easy discussion,” he said of the all-day kindergarten issue. “You still have to deal with the financial reality of what the town and all the taxpayers can afford.”
While some people have complained that the School Committee could improve its communication with parents and residents, Green said no one had talked to him about that. He said the superintendent’s weekly “field memos,” started earlier this year, had been a positive step in terms of communication. He said he wasn’t sure how many people would watch if School Committee meetings were videotaped and noted that decision, also, would come with a price tag.
Looking back over the past four years, Green said, “We have made a tremendous amount of progress” in the areas of teacher contract concessions as well as putting together a “realistic but aggressive strategic plan.”
He acknowledged work on the strategic plan has been delayed.
“We’re unfortunately behind where I wanted to be but other things – external factors – came up. I had to allow the administration to shift their focus to keep the lights on and the wheels turning.” Green was referring to the loss of both the director of technology and the director of administration earlier this year.
“Now we’re back,” he said. “We’re already building on a very strong base but how do you make it even better – that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
David Green was unable to attend the East Greenwich News Candidates Forum Oct. 16. Here is a link to videos from that forum.