Minutes- September 2010

School Improvement Team Meeting Minutes                                                                         Sept 9 2010


Mr Butler welcomed all:  It’s great to see so many new faces, including at least 9 new parents, 4 student representatives,  Mr Joe Renzi, our new teacher representative and Mr  Rafanelli from the school committee.   It’s great to have parents involved in our school, this will benefit everyone, especially the students.  Please sign in each meeting, so that we can stay in touch.  Minutes will be posted on the EWG district website:  Go to highschool  >School improvement team >minutes,   IF you see something in the minutes that is inaccurate or does not seem to be as it was presented, please contact Mr Butler directly.

Ideas from this group will be presented to the school committee, and will have an influence on the future of our school. 

District-wide SIT, volunteers needed: This will be a team that gathers information and  works with all schools K-12, to bring info to the school committee.  It is run by the Superintendant, Dr Geismar.  There are only 4 meetings/yr, and dinner will be provided.  This is critical for district funding and for the AYP.  AYP is the adequate yearly progress report,  it is a department of education measurement of school district quality.  Our ranking in this report depends in part on parents being actively involved in our school system.  Mr Butler is looking for parents interested in joining this group. The district-wide SIT must be made up of parents, teachers, administrators, students and the community at large.  If you can’t do it, can your child be involved?  If interested, contact Mr Butler.

School year off to a great start:  The ice cream social, which welcomed the freshman class, was very well attended and it was a great night.  The students and parents’ presence shows that they are serious about their education.  If parents and students are communicating, then the school can succeed and the students will succeed.

Opening of school went very smoothly, guidance and teachers did a great job, all kids had schedules, building was in great shape, couldn’t have gone better.    Mr Butler has made a commitment to go around  the school and sit in on classrooms at least twice daily, each day.

I-parent info: Mr Butler  urges all parents to become familiar with, and active on i- parent.  If you don’t have a user name and password, contact Katie Morgan in the guidance office, to get these.  It is very important to log onto i-parent on a regular basis to see what the assignments are and how the student is performing. You can upload your student’s teachers to your own user group, and then get in touch with them through this. 

Senior project report:                   On opening day, teachers were informed about all of the changes in the senior project.   The department of education has approved all of these changes. Among other things, the number of benchmarks was reduced from 31 to 16.  This makes the overall work for students easier. 

Parents of Seniors:  Letter of intent will be due in 2 wks.  Students must have these in.  If you have any questions related to the senior project, these must be directed to Mr Anthony (asst principal)

Senior project steering committee:  next meeting will take place on Thurs, Sept 16 at 6pm, in the library.  The steering committee’s purpose is to change things for the better, not just to change things to change them.  If the requirements are further reduced, then the Department of Education may begin to question the intent.  Accountability and Rigor: these are the two things that the DOE really wants to see from each school’s senior requirements.

Senior project handbook (on website) gives all the info required for students to complete their projects.  The Senior Seminar class is meant to keep them on task, but parents should be checking up on their seniors too!  Students with a gpa of 3.7 or above can opt out of the senior seminar class, but still need to turn in each requiredd assignment.  (this was one of the changes that the SPSC instituted)  This assumes that these students are responsible enough to go without the class, this will open up their schedules for other classes.  Pass/Fail vs grading of the senior project will be addressed at the next SPSC meeting.  The senior seminar class assignments are now done by email communication.  assignments need to be emailed, but a hard copy is still req’d for the portfolio(?)

Co-cirricular activities: SIT should be looking at the different groups within the school and look at ways to support them and promote them. (such as debate club,  math club, drama club, FFA, Deca, etc…) Mr Butler is planning to hold a “co-cirricular day”.  This will allow the various clubs and organizations to present information about their group during  an assembly of the students of the freshman class.   There will be a Big brother/big sister option, to help students meet members of groups, and mentor.   Next year:  this should be part of the freshman orientation.

Mr Butler is accessible:  If parents have any issues at all, or questions for Mr B, they should never hesitate to call, he will always return their calls. Students should also be aware that he is open and available to them if they have any concerns.

Question about the timing of the parent teacher conference.  It is late into the quarter before parents meet the teachers.  Mr Renzi commented that this would be a good idea, sometime after the 3rd week of school. Currently scheduled for the week before thanksgiving.   Mr Renzi suggested that an earlier meeting date would allow the parents to speak directly to the teacher, earlier in the year, so that even if the student has a B grade, ways in which to improve and any concerns from parent or teacher can be discussed. 

Mr Butler reminded us again that we need to use the i-parent system.  Performance issues can be discovered and addressed if the parents are actively checking the i-parent site.  Through this, we can make arrangements with the teacher for the student to get the extra help that they need.


Standardized testing:  Rhode Island Monthly published an article which compared RI schools.  EWG was rated #27 out of 40 schools in the state.  But, the criterion was based primarily on test scores, including the Necap.  Mr Butler pointed out that EWG actually scored among the best in the AP’s and SAT’s.  The Necap scores were low, because the students knew that the Necap scores didn’t count that year.  This year, the Necap test counts and all juniors must be partially proficient in order to graduate.  Therefore, the scores are expected to be much better.   Student input: a concern that some of the topics in the Necap test are not reflective of the science curricula at EWG. Mr B explained that the Necap topics are being reworked, and that the entire test is likely to be replaced in a few years with the “common core curriculum” and testing that addresses that cirriculum.  No matter what test is in place, it will concentrate on accountability and proficiency in each school system, to meet expectations at each grade level, in each school.  This requires that the schools in the district all coordinate and communicate as a cohesive system.

Currently, with the Necap testing and new rules in effect this year, if a student from the junior class does not pass with partial proficiency, they will not be able to graduate.  There will be an opportunity for students who don’t pass initial testing to retest in order to graduate.  Dept of Education meeting held in late August: discussed alternatives to partial proficiency on the Necap test that might be accepted.  GPA might be allowed to be used as an exemption. Graduation requirement is only for the ELA and math. Science is not included in the proficiency requirement.

 AYP: Adequate yearly progress: This is a system that the Dept of Education uses to evaluate each school system.  Each high school gets proficiency points according to test scores, culture, climate,  and demographics.  More information is available on this at the Dept of Education website, under community, look for “infoworks”.  Test scores affect the district funding and the school’s overall rating.  These ratings are also used by colleges to evaluate applicants and compare them to students from other schools.

Question: are seniors exempt from final exams if they have an A in the class (90 avg)?  - this is still being discussed

Weighted grading system: Changes in the grading sytem have been made in order to compare different types of courses more fairly.   (such as those that are pass/fail, AP, Honors, etc..) The more difficult the class, the more weighted the grade is. (??Mr B could you give an example here that would clarify this?)  This will help make class ranking and awards, such as valedictorian easier to calculate, and more fair.

Report on Sprt 4 Kids and the Track project: Sharon Pelser reported that the track is rubberized and will soon be striped.  EWG knights will be painted on one of the stripes.  EWG will be painted on the “D” which is the area where students run through to throw the javelin.  (right side of the field)

The lionshare of this project has been accomplished at a cost of $1.5 million.  This money was all raised through parent and student collaboration.  Week of Sept 20th is targeted for the track lane painting.  Then, it will be done.  We still cannot hold a track meet until there is an area built for shot-put, discus and pole-vaulting.  Once this is done, we can have track meets at our school. This will bring so much into our community: it will help to pay for the maintenance, booster groups and the meets themselves will help to pay for the track, plus, we will save money because the school will spend less to go to meets.

 There is no more money at this time to complete the project.  This will require community help to raise money and to prepare the site.  We’ll need to cut trees, and to enclose these areas with “cages” to contain the discs and shotputs for safety reasons.  This will cost approximately $20-30K.  Another grant is currently going out to try to get the additional funds. The sports 4 kids committee was formed over 8 years ago, and many of the members, including Mrs Pelser, no longer have kids at EWG.  There is a great need for new members to join the group and help to see that the projects reach completion.  Please contact Mrs. Pelser if you’d like to join!

  SCRIPS cards  These are available through Mrs. Pelser.  When you buy these, and use them for purchases at Stop and Shop, a portion of your purchase goes to the Sports 4 kids.  There are also many gift cards available that can be purchased through mrs P and part of these will go to Sports 4 kids.   Mrs Heaney recommends that we all use this program. Gift cards make great Christmas presents!  Please see the sports4 kids website, or contact Mrs Pelser at 294-9272 to get these cards. 

Upcoming events that help raise money for Sport 4 kids: Several larger non-profit groups help us financially if we provide them with volunteer support (such as signing up runners, manning water stations, preparing entry packages)  for their major fundraising events. Students that help out will receive community service hours.  Please help out by volunteering at some of these! These include:

Sept 19:  CVS downtown5K.    We have done this for 8 yrs now, we run a food court to help with this.

Sept 24 and 25:  CrossCountry Meet at Goddard park:  EWG is the sponsoring school for this event. 

Oct 15: Newport marathon:  we will be helping to register runners.

Oct 24: Steven J Anderson race:  This is our own community event.  This is to honor Mr Anderson, who was a dedicated teacher and coach at EWG.  The track project was started in his name after he died in 2003 of cancer.

Oct 24: Homecoming: It is hoped that the grand opening of the track can take place as part of the celebration of this day.  Details  are still being worked out.

Lights for the track and field???  Mrs. P’s committee is just about finished with their mission.  Lights are needed, but we need a new group of community members to be formed to tackle this project.  It is hoped that the new group to raise money for lights will do it as a way to commemorate Mike Messier, EWG football and Girls softball coach who died in accident last year.  The cost is 250-300K.  This project might be named:  Knights’ Lights, or Mike’s lights, or something similar.  This is especially appropriate since Mr Messier was an electrician by trade. 


Meeting concluded at approximately 7:30 pm.