We are putting the cart before the horse.
At more than one meeting, SC Chair Earle advised those present that it would be prudent to wait for our new superintendent, Dr. Ken Duva, to begin so as to both include him in the decision-making process and garner advice from him; after all, they hired him precisely due to his expertise as an educational leader.
She was right. Dr. Duva has already brought a lot to the table.
In just a few short months he has assessed the issues facing the district and is devising a comprehensive plan to remedy those issues – but with long-term solutions. He is not putting band-aids on things or trying to kick the can. And unlike any of our SC members, his professional background is in K-12 education. He has been both an educator and an administrator. So he knows his stuff.
That said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Dr. Duva walked into quite a state of disarray including the very important job of fixes to the district’s messed-up finances with the help of a new Finance Director and new Controller.
Thus far, he has mentioned that the NKSD/SC must tackle the following:
—Creation of a District-wide vision (that we don’t have one already is inexcusable)
—Capital Improvement Plans (CIPs) outlining all of the necessary maintenance requirements on all district buildings and their costs
—Projected enrollment numbers & school usage capacities, which will directly effect the need to continue redistricting or even shuttering elementary schools for consolidation purposes
—Preparations for what will become of Wickford Middle School and Davisville Academy if they are closed due to the construction of a new middle school and town recreation center.
—A comprehensive plan for construction of a new middle school (including a definitive answer on location, which we do not yet have).
—A study of the transportation consequences as a result of the closure of WMS by moving to a consolidated school at the north end of town (possibly the site of Davisville Middle School, although this remains another unknown)
—A thorough explanation to the public for exactly which RIDE incentives the district will, in fact, actually qualify
As you can imagine, all of these things take a great deal of time to sort out. Dr. Duva and the other NKSD decision-makers have other responsibilities as well. None of this should be rushed.
BUT HOW DOES THIS EFFECT EACH OF US?
Early voting begins on October 18, and election day is November 7. How can we be expected to vote on a $222 million megabond ($167.4 million middle school bond combined on a ballot line with a $55 million public safety bond) PLUS a $25 million Rec Center bond without having any of the above worked out? Especially when the biggest bond ($167.4 million) is earmarked for the largely undefined middle school project.
So, while our SC and TC members push to make sure the public gives them approval to get one big, new building built for our middle school-aged population, Dr. Duva is working on a long-term plan that will benefit every student in this district and the NKSD students of the future.
Instead of allocating up to $25,000 of OUR TAX MONEY to convince NK residents on the merits of this existing “plan,” the powers-that-be should take the advice of Dr. Earle and “Wait for Dr. Duva.”