Council and schools seek consensus on plans, projects

Council and schools seek consensus on plans, projects

SMITHFIELD – With budget season in full swing, the Town Council and School Committee will hold a joint meeting tonight, Thursday, Feb. 13, to discuss projects and initiatives for the upcoming year.

The joint meeting was coordinated by School Committee Chairwoman Rose Marie Cipriano and Town Council President Suzy Alba to build a stronger working relationship between the entities and to prepare the 2020-2021 budget.

The vague nature on the agenda, which states simply that discussion about town and school projects and initiatives, and a discussion of preliminary budgets from both departments will take place, is intentional said School Committee Vice-Chairman Richard Iannitelli.

In the past, agendas were over-structured and other times not structured enough, he said. This way, each side has a chance to tell one another what each of their problems is and where they can meet, he said.

Topics most likely to be discussed by the school include the upcoming accreditation process with the New England Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges, the forming of the Boyle Athletic Complex Committee, and the elementary school reconfiguration process.

Iannitelli said he was a member of the School Committee during the last NEASC accreditation process 10 years ago and the time before and is ready for a “revamped” method.

He said accreditation is a stamp of approval for colleges that indicates Smithfield High School graduates are prepared for secondary schooling. He said the process will look for policy and building deficiencies, if any, and strategic plans to fix those problems.

“It gives you that housekeeping seal of approval that the school is on the right track and using best practices,” he said.

Iannitelli said it is important for the council to be on the same page with the committee through the accreditation process and future projects.

Iannitelli said it is essential to go over the implications of adding development that could mean population growth and increased student enrollment, referencing town officials’ stated goal in last week’s Valley Breeze & Observer of promoting new development and a stronger local economy.

“We need to try to connect some dots here and say don’t turn around and be surprised if there are more people in the schools,” he said.

Tonight’s joint meeting will start at 5 p.m. at Town Hall, 64 Farnum Pike.