The Education Blog

The Education Blog is written by Elisabeth Harrison, Education Reporter and Morning Edition Host for Rhode Island Public Radio. Harrison’s work ranges from reporting on institutions like Brown University and the University of Rhode Island to efforts to reform low performing public schools in Central Falls and Providence.

Health officials say they have identified a second Providence College student who may have bacterial meningitis. The health department says the student is receiving treatment at a local hospital.

On Monday, health officials reported the first confirmed case of meningitis in a PC student. The student was reported to be improving at a Boston-area hospital.

Providence College officials have extended the hours at the campus health center, and say they are interviewing students who might have been exposed to the infection.

Governor Gina Raimondo has nominated new leadership for the State Board of Education. The governor has announced several new nominees, including her pick for a new chair: Barbara Cottam.

Cottam, the Executive Vice President for Citizens Financial Group, was a founding member of Kids Count RI. She also served as press secretary under former Governor Bruce Sundlun. Cottam will replace current board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso. Her appointment must be confirmed by the State Senate.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare took up a bill Wednesday to require schools to stock the anti-overdose drug naloxone.

Commonly referred to as Narcan, naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

The drug been hailed as a crucial tool in the fight against what health officials have termed an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.

A new bill introduced by East Providence Representative Helio Melo would double the state income tax deduction allowed for college savings accounts.

The bill would increase the maximum deduction from $500 to $1,000 for individuals, and up to $2,000 for couples filing jointly.

Melo, the former chair of the House Finance Committee, said he's hoping the added incentive will encourage families to set aside more money for college.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has gotten the votes to become Tulsa's superintendent of schools.

In a statement, Gist said it was a difficult decision, but she welcomed the opportunity to lead an urban school district.

She also noted that Tulsa is where her family lives.

"I know that Rhode Islanders can certainly recognize the attraction we have to our hometowns, and it would be a special honor for me to lead the district where I attended public school throughout my childhood," Gist wrote.

Providence College

A Providence College student is receiving treatment at a Boston-area hospital after being diagnosed with meningitis.

Providence College officials say they have been working with the state health department since the diagnosis. Several students who might have been exposed to the infection have been given antibiotics as a precaution.

Elisabeth Harrison

Looks like Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is headed back to her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa World reports today that the other candidate in the search for a new superintendent of schools has dropped out of contention.

The Tulsa School Board is expected to take an official vote on Monday.

81 percent of the class of 2014 earned a diploma within four years, according to the latest numbers from the Rhode Island Department of Education. The state's high school graduation rate ticked up one percentage point from 2013, and was up four percentage points from 2011.

Dropout rates dropped by one percentage point to 8 percent.

Here's how Moses Brown head Matt Glendinning announces a snow day:

Step one: put on striped beanie and matching gloves;

Step two: add a jaunty scarf;

Step three: sing it, baby, sing it!

Kudos to Glendinning for a great sense of humor and the most original snow day announcement I've ever seen.

Steve Emerson, a self-styled terrorism expert, who has drawn fire for comments about "no-go zones" in France and other European countries following the attacks in Paris, graduated from Brown University.

Tulsa education officials say they need more time to consider Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and one other finalist in their search for a new superintendent.

The board had scheduled a vote for Monday, but Tulsa World reports they’ve delayed the vote until at least February 2nd.

Gist, who is a Tulsa native, has said she would like to remain in Rhode Island, but the opportunity to return to her hometown was too good to pass up.

In response to recommendations from a university panel, Brown has announced it will immediately begin using trained investigators to look into allegations of sexual misconduct on campus.

The university said other changes include the assigning of a dean to any student involved in the campus hearing process, and a new website to provide resources on sexual assault.

Brown has been reviewing its policy for handling allegations of sexual assault after a student went public with her concerns about the process.

That's the question a legislative panel is investigating. Lawmakers are scheduled to hear from several local elected officials and school leaders on Friday.

Their concern is the impact of the state formula for funding public schools, and the way it calculates tuition for charter schools.

Cumberland Town Councilor Arthur Lambi, a Republican, is among those planning to testify. According to Lambi, Cumberland sends about $3 million to charter schools every year, and that number is expected to grow as charter schools add more seats.

Cranston will have to hire a new superintendent of schools. The current Superintendent Judith Lundsten plans to retire at the end of June. In a message on the district’s website, Lundsten says she looks forward to spending more time with her family.

The Rhode Island School of Design has started conducting "preliminary interviews" in the search for a new president, a little more than a year after the departure of Johhn Maeda in December of 2013.

In a post on the university web site, RISD says the search committee has received nominations from nearly 100 faculty and other interested parties. University Board Chair Michael Spalter confirmed that the interview process has begun.