By Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D.
About a year ago, the East Greenwich School Committee and I finalized the agreement for me to come and serve in this wonderful community. While I didn’t officially start until July 1, I worked with year-round employees throughout the summer. However, it felt like I truly got started when we welcomed all employees on Monday, Aug. 29, and all students on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Since then, I’ve been welcomed by students and staff, faculty and families, Town Councilors and School Committee Members, and the greater East Greenwich community.
I’ve learned how to build a budget for our schools in the context of a 4 percent cap while our largest bargaining unit agreed to a 3 percent raise the summer before. That reflects the leadership of Maggie Baker, our director of finance, administration, and operations, her staff, and the entire leadership team. I’ve worked with our Building Committee to engage the public on a master plan that will breathe new life into the buildings that comprise the East Greenwich Public Schools. That work began long before I started serving in East Greenwich and grew through a partnership with Derek Osterman, our project manager from Colliers. I’ve spent time listening during community office hours (thank you to Julie DeCesare and the staff at Felicia’s Coffee), individual school office hours, and virtual office hours. My commitment for this year is to be curious, not judgmental, in honor of the hit Apple+ TV show Ted Lasso. Click here for the link to that moment in that show, courtesy of YouTube.
In these handful of months that I’ve been serving as superintendent of schools in East Greenwich, one thing is crystal clear to me: we are better together.
This was made clear to me during our community forums when our Town Manager Andy Nota stated that he wished we could build six new schools and then quickly noted that wasn’t financially possible. This was made clear to me when the Town Council committed to a “not-to-exceed” amount for our bond at $180 million. This was done in the hopes that during this legislative session, the reimbursement amount for school construction will be increased, perhaps even more than 60 percent. This was made clear to me during thoughtful conversations with members of the community who came to both forums and stayed open to new ideas, despite not agreeing with all of them.
We still have about eight weeks of teaching and learning with the students and adults in East Greenwich Public Schools this year. Our budget for FY24 has not been finalized, and we still do not know how much the bond will be for the master plan. While I still have plenty to learn, I know for sure what’s good for the Town of East Greenwich is good for the schools of East Greenwich. And what’s good for the schools of East Greenwich is good for the Town of East Greenwich.
We are better together.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.