WARWICK, RI — The Warwick School Committee voted to turn the former school administration building at 34 Warwick Lake Ave. back over to the city Tuesday night, the latest move in the district’s years-long building consolidation process.
The district has been moving forward with consolidating schools and office space, said Anthony Ferrucci, executive director of finance and operations for the district, in a letter dated Aug. 16.Ferruci noted that with the completion of the superintendent’s new offices at the Gorton Building, it was the administration’s recommendation to return the school property to the city. The cost estimate to operate the building was $75,000 annually.In other news that night, the Committee tabled a vote on a new social media policy.This was to be the second reading of the policy, which offered guidelines for use of social media for school employees.In part, it reads:
The line between professional and personal relationships is blurred within a social media context. When employees chose to join or engage with students, families or fellow employees in a social media context that exists outside those approved by the WPS, they are advised to maintain their professionalism as WPS employees and have responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these networks, including requirements for mandated reporting.
- Employees should refrain from creating “personal” web pages or social networking pages that permit social interaction with current students. This does not include “professional” pages that may be used for work related reasons (homework blogs, school sports teams, etc.) It is recommended that employees not connect with former students until at least five years after high school graduation.
- Employees should notify parents of their intention to use social media to communicate with the students and the intended purpose of such communications. All ethical expectations for appropriate employee/student relationships should be followed. Employees should only provide their official work e-mail addresses as a way to communicate with students or parents regarding WPS and/or related business.
- During the work day, employees should refrain from participating on any social networking web site for personal reasons, even from personal equipment (i.e. their own smartphone, iPhone, laptop, tablet, etc.)
- Employees should avoid posting personal comments – on their page or someone else’s page – no matter whose equipment it is during lunch time and/or breaks since such activities will leave time-stamps that could be misinterpreted by others.
An employee who is responsible for a social media network posting that fails to comply with the rules and guidelines set forth in this policy may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
Committee member David Testa was pleased with the revised policy.
“This is what happens when we sit around a table and talk to each other like adults,” said Testa. “You get something done.”
Committee member Karen Bachus noted the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had some concerns and wanted further review of the revised policy.
Bachus said the committee needs to make sure the policy will “protect our employees, our (students), and everybody else as much as possible.”
The policy will be discussed again in October.
The Committee also approved a contract with Cintas for new fire extinguishers and maintenance of the equipment.
In April, at least two fire extinguishers expired since 2015 were discovered at Winman Junior High. The Warwick School Department’s previous vendor for the extinguishers, Keane Fire & Safety, reported they had warned the district about the need to replace the equipment for years. Ferrucci held the vendor responsible for the lapse.
The Warwick School Department ordered checks at multiple schools following WarwickPost.com inquiries about the equipment with the School Department last April.
District Construction Manager Robert Corrente said there would be a full analysis of the schools and his department would make sure everyone has coverage with fire extinguishers.
Gothberg recommended CINTAS as the low bidder in a letter to the School Committee. “CINTAS was low on 4 out the 5 bid categories, per unit inspection cost of $4.00, per unit hydro testing cost of $28.00, per unit common repair cost of $20.00 and a no charge for initial assessment. CINTAS was 2nd low bidder on cost for common size replacement
of $65.00 per unit, Gothberg wrote.
A copy of the bid comparison and Gothberg’s letter is embedded below.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, angry parents and teachers criticized the school committee for eliminating elementary school guidance counselor positions in the current school department budget.
“You have no problems eliminating elementary guidance but for some reason you have big problems eliminating bloated administration,” said Darlene Netcoh, president of the Warwick teachers union.Fire Extinguisher Service bids