Warwick, RI – Terri Medeiros, 56, Warwick resident for 14 years, director of The Romerry School Early Childhood Center, is running for another Dist. 2 School Committee term Nov. 4 to continue shepherding the advances the district has made in technology learning, facility upgrades and to develop the Warwick Career & Tech Center into a full high school model.
1) In 2014, you said your goals as a School Committee member included putting technology in every classroom, “So the archaic computer labs are no longer needed. Students should not have to leave classrooms to use technology for learning,”
You also said you wanted to begin formal recording of school committee meetings for archival purposes, work to keep schools safe, and support students and staff during the transition to Common Core and the assessments associated with it.
How have these goals worked out during the last four years?
Medeiros: Those 2 goals have been met pretty well:
Audio- In late 2013 there was a discussion about video recording but because school committee meetings move from place to place we moved the discussion towards audio recording. In 2014 the district was able to work out a system and audio recordings of meetings are now taking place.
Technology in the Classroom- We’re now at a 1:1 in tech for grades 6-12. And we have Promethean boards in all of our core classrooms so I think we’re there. it would be nice to be 1:1 in elementary but that’s not as critical and we do have Chromecarts to supplement teaching and learning
2) Why are you interested in another term on the School Committee? What do you hope to accomplish during another term? What would you like to change?
Medeiros: There were so many things that needed addressing from dilapidated athletic tracks to PA systems not working to a weak technology based learning, to getting a middle school model, and adding more AP classes, just to name a few.
Our buildings had to have loads of ADA upgrades, fire code upgrades, repairs to heating, and sewer repair. We have accomplished most of that along with enhanced secondaryathletics, Career & Tech Center program growth, middle schools, better security systems and much more that we should all feel really good about. This was done with a lot, and I mean a lot, of team work from the district staff. It has to be noted that these improvements for our students were done with no increase in budget.
I want to see the results of all this, of continuing on with the students as they benefit from our district’s upgrades and improvements. Our district has the chance to really shine. I like serving my community in the educational area because that’s what I do. That’s my career. I’d like to see the Warwick Career & Tech Center be a full high school like every other community. I’ve been vocal about this since I have gotten on School Committee.
3) City Councilors attend School Committee meetings. Why has that not resulted in better communication between the two bodies? Why didn’t the boards meet about the budget ahead of time this year?
Medeiros: City Councilors rarely attend SC meetings. Actually, the Program audit placed blame on both the School Committee and the City Council for not meeting so I accept there’s blame on both sides, but that’s something that we can easily change going forward and I’m ready to do that. Since Superintendent Thornton has been in the district, there is regular communication with the city. Prior to our present superintendent, that was not the case.
4) The School Committee asked the City Council for $8 million, which would’ve required raising taxes beyond the legal maximum. Then the school department purchased a full-page ad in the Warwick Beacon threatening to sue the city if the Council didn’t agree to it. How would you explain these actions?
Medeiros: We asked for what we needed and have since had to cut that back considerably. The district put out an RFP for a Program Audit. That’s it.
5) Has the district been getting a good value out of its hiring of Martin & Associates to handle public relations and its web presence?
Medeiros: We stripped all funding for Martin & Associates in this past year’s budget and we didn’t fund it in this year’s budget.
6) The School Committee begins meetings by immediately entering executive session, leaving the public to wait for the regular meeting. Is this the best use of the public’s time and interest in the work of the Committee?
Medeiros: The School Committee needs to discuss things in Executive Session such as personnel issues, legal issues, etc., and it rarely takes more than one hour. It’s common to have an executive session before the public meeting and our agenda clearly states that executive session starts at 6 p.m.
7) Parents were dissatisfied with the School Department and School Committee’s failure to inform them of broken fire alarms in elementary schools and serious allegations of discrimination against a student at Cedar Hill Elementary School. What have you done and/or suggested to improve this?
Medeiros: We had fire alarms fail in two elementary schools. In one school, a large part of the school community was notified and in another that wasn’t the case. Out of that came a new protocol for how the School Committee is informed of things like this that has worked out well in subsequent issues like the Vets sewer issue. It should be noted, however, that actions were immediate, so that the safety of students and staff was not compromised.
The Cedar Hill issue was a personnel matter that has issues of confidentiality and privacy so there really can’t be a comparison between the two. I do realize how frustrating that can be but everyone’s privacy needs to be protected.