Elementary reconfiguration plans move forward in Smithfield

Elementary reconfiguration plans move forward in Smithfield

SMITHFIELD – With three people in attendance, the Smithfield School Committee kicked off the New Year by moving plans forward for an elementary school reconfiguration plan.

In the Smithfield High School media center Monday night, the School Committee approved the submission of the Stage II application to the Rhode Island Department of Education for the Smithfield Public Schools Elementary School Reconfiguration.

Supt. Judith Paolucci reminded the committee that the vote was not for the approval of the plans, but rather the permission to submit them to RIDE by the application deadline of Feb. 1.

Paolucci gave the committee a report on a discussion earlier in the day by the School Building Committee.

“The components of the actual application are consistent with all prior votes by the School Committee. So when you, for example, chose a preferred option, that option is what is being submitted to the Department of Education,” she said.

School officials are planning to renovate and expand Anna McCabe School, Old County Road Elementary School and LaPerche Elementary School, and close Winsor Elementary School, a project with an estimated total cost of $41.9 million.

“The buildings that will be reconditioned are structurally sound, we wouldn’t want to refurbish them if they weren’t,” said Paolucci.

The application will go to the Smithfield Town Council at its meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 16, for approval for submission as well.

Architects and engineers are continuing work on the plan in collaboration with RIDE, the Smithfield Building Committee and Elementary School Committee.

“This is a living, breathing document that is going to be changing in multiple iterations and it’s certainly not something that tonight, or next Tuesday when it’s before that council, that it’s going to be (a) definite, chiseled in stone,” Chairman Sean Clough said.

An analysis of historic information offered by the Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission will look at the Winsor facility to provide feedback on the oldest of the buildings.

Committee member Virginia Harnois said Winsor could be like the old historic schoolhouses.

“It will be our younger ‘old school house.’” Harnois said.

In other business, Old County Road Elementary School Principal Laurie Sullivan announced plans for retirement after nine years of service just before Christmas break. She plans to finish the school year, but the School Committee is now searching for her replacement. Posting for the opening will be made Feb. 7, eventually ending in an appointment on April 2, according to Paolucci.

“Those will be big shoes to fill, and it’s important that we have a good principal at the helm at Old County Road School,” Paolucci said.

Lastly, the committee tabled a proposal for new finance software until the next meeting. Paolucci presented her proposal for Tyler Technologies Infinite Visions cloud-based program iVisions.

Paolucci said the school’s current software is out of date and slow.

Committee members said they hope to have a contract with Tyler prepared for the next meeting so the board can move forward with the decision.

A suggested timeline has software purchased this month, with implementation beginning in July.

Paolucci said the finance department at the schools is full of hard-working and knowledgeable people, but is not given the best available resources.

“It’s sort of like giving Einstein an abacus when you could give him a calculator and let him do real work,” she said.