PAWTUCKET — In what has been a busy week for school administrators, the transformation plan for Shea and Tolman high schools has been finalized and was expected to be submitted to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) today, while the process is underway to hire new principals at both troubled schools.
Last Tuesday, Schools Supt. Deborah Cylke had outlined to the School Committee her draft of the transformation plan for the two schools, both cited by RIDE for having persistently low graduation rates. The report was due Friday, but Cylke was granted a waiver to this Wednesday for completing the final document.
The plan involves a wide range of changes aimed at improving not only the graduation rates at the two schools, which have been consistently below the state average of 77 percent, but also to improve test scores in reading, writing, and math, and to foster a better “culture” of learning. The bulk of the changes are written in accordance with federal mandates that are described within the “transformation model” that has been adopted by RIDE, and the plan itself must be approved by state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.
The plan also requests about $1.7 million in grant money for the two schools to be spent over a three-year period, which will pay for additional personnel and extended work time for teachers, computer programs and equipment, educational materials and other costs. The Pawtucket School District will be competing with eight other Rhode Island schools that are in state intervention for the grant money.
Cylke was outlining the plan to high school teachers and school staff last Wednesday, and the Pawtucket Teachers Alliance had reportedly scheduled a vote on the “transformation agreement” that deals with mandatory contractual amendments as required by the transformation plan on Monday night.
As part of the transformation plan, both the principals of Shea and Tolman High School will be replaced. Patti Dicenso, secondary performance officers for the school district, said that some 30 applicants had applied for the principal jobs. She said that the candidates have been screened during the past few weeks by search teams of parents, teachers, students and community members, and finalists will be interviewed by Cylke. She added that she expects the principals to be named by early next month, with a start date of July 1.