By Elizabeth F. McNamara
After a summer of significant challenges – starting with COVID-19 and capped by the departure of several school administrators – Supt. Alexis Meyer had some good news to share during an interview Friday. She’s found an assistant principal for the high school, the new finance director starts Monday, and first round interviews took place last week for the Cole principal position. She said she hopes to have a new middle school principal in place by the first day of school, Sept. 14.
The School Committee will vote Tuesday on the contract for Jonathan Mendelsohn to serve as EGHS assistant principal. Mendelsohn has been principal of E3 Academy, a Providence public high school. If, as expected, the School Committee approves Mendelsohn’s contract, he will join fellow EGSD newcomer Ken Hopkins, who was hired as principal earlier this month.
The only administrative job Meyer is not actively focused on filling is the athletic director position, which was vacated earlier this month when Chris Cobain took the AD job in North Kingstown.
Meyer said she’s waiting to hear what the R.I. Interscholastic League is going to do regarding the fall sports season. A limited season is anticipated, in which case, Meyer said, there might be some breathing room to fill the athletic director position.
Most of Meyer’s time, not surprisingly, is being spent on the start of school three weeks from now. It’s still unclear what exactly school will look like – in person, distance, or a mix of the two – but Meyer is following Gov. Gina Raimondo’s lead, working hard to be prepared for in-person learning.
“I remain committed and hopeful that we will reopen our schools,” Meyer said Friday. “We are well prepared and we have done the work that needs to be done. We’re fine-tuning the details. People have worked incredibly hard.”
Based on survey results, Meyer said the district anticipates 20 percent of students will stay home and participate in distance learning. In a couple of cases, she said, there are enough students to be able to fill an entire distance-learning classroom. At the middle school and high school, there will be classes that include both in-person and remote students. Videotaping classes, however, will take agreement from the union.
“We’re working on some agreement at this time, how that will work,” said Meyer. “They have been extraordinary partners in this work. They really have. We’ve just worked together collaboratively trying to figure this out.”
Ultimately, she said, “it’s a moment in time for all of us. While school like we thought about it prior to COVID is going to be different this year … everybody is committed to creating every opportunity for our students to have the same experience learning.”
There’s lots happening this week, starting with a School Committee meeting Tuesday evening: School Committee Agenda, Aug. 25, 2020. On Wednesday, the district will host a private forum for EGSD staff with district pediatrician Howard Silversmith, Megan Ranney (EG parent and RIH Emergency Dept. doctor), school nurses, and Director of Facilities Bob Wilmarth. The same panelists addressed a wide range of parent concerns earlier this month.
On Friday, the EGSD leadership team will have a special retreat at Faith Hill Farm, a horse farm in East Greenwich.
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