WARWICK, RI – The Warwick School Committee approved 10 new “budget neutral” positions for the 2021-2022 school year.
They include seven math interventionists for one year only, a part-time math interventionist for the Scott school, a BIT (behavioral intervention team) teacher assistant, Title 1 funded, and a part-time ELL Coordinator.
Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said the math interventionists are sorely needed. “They’re not reaching the number of students that they really need to,” Dambruch said Tuesday. “They do work with the tier three students, who are students who are struggling the most. These students need specialized instruction the math interventionists can provide. They (the interventionists) also model best practices for teachers, they actually go in the classroom and teach the children and show the teachers the best way to do so. They also lead professional development at the schools. It really breaks my heart that some students who need this extra support are not getting it because the time isn’t there.”
The BIT position and the part-time math interventionist would have no additional costs to the school district, according to Human Resources Director Kim Ruggieri. The ELL Coordinator would be budget neutral due to some retirements in the departments. Those savings between the two retirements would fund the position, Ruggieri said.
Substitute teacher pay bump
The committee also approved an increase in pay for substitute teachers for the 2021-2022 school year.
“We started our year last year with an increase in our sub rates and then we had to increase it further,” Ruggieri explained. “We were the leader in the state for awhile. We attracted a lot of substitutes. It became a supply and demand issue, West Warwick then topped us by twenty-five dollars a day.”
Ruggieri said the district has had “great difficulty” over the years finding substitutes and RIDE-certified substitutes.
Tiered subs at the associate level will remain at $80 per day. Bachelor’s level subs that are not RIDE-certified will be paid $100 per day. RIDE-certified subs will now be paid $150 per day, which will increase to $175 per day after 30 days. Over two week RIDE-certified teachers in long-term assignments will be paid $200 per day and up to $225 per day after 30 days.
“I feel we need to commit to finding quality substitutes to give the students what they need,” Ruggieri said. “We have teachers who have accidents, surgeries, they are out long-term. We really need to provide quality instruction for our students.”
Warwick Veterans Cafeteria upgrade
The cafeteria and kitchen at Warwick Veterans Middle School is undergoing an extensive renovation.
Robert Baxter, the Chief Budget Officer, said the redesigned space would be “more useable for students.”
Baxter said the changes are part of an effort to increase enrollment, generate revenue, and to “optimize our expenses.”
The district has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain the two production kitchens at Winman Elementary and Pilgrim High School.
“The equipment, quite frankly, is decrepit,” Baxter said, noting the remodel of the kitchen at Vets would allow for the consolidation of the two production kitchens into one centralized production kitchen. All the food is being transported from the two kitchens now. Baxter said the consolidation will save the district money.
The School Committee gave their approval to the project, which is not costing the district any additional funds.
“I think this is definitely much better than what we have now,” said committee chair Judy Cobden. “I have gone through the school and seen the changes in the hallways and the tiles and it’s looking good. I think it’s exciting that we can do things that aren’t really costing us any money.”
This is a test