Class notes: A quick look at stories that made news this week in education

Jan 4, 2013
  • Who’s overseeing the state’s public schools, colleges and universities? The answer… it’s not clear, and it’s complicated.

The State Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to delay creation of a State Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Schools and the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The vote comes after those two boards dissolved on January 1st, leaving a question mark about who is in charge of the state’s K-12 public schools and three institutions of higher education.

The merger of the two boards was part of a last-minute budget amendment, calling for better coordination of the state’s education systems. It gave Governor Lincoln Chafee power to appoint a new board, subject to approval by the State Senate.

Chafee initially tapped George Caruolo, a powerful former state lawmaker and the former chair of the K-12 board, to head the combined board, but Caruolo abruptly bowed out the Friday before Christmas. Chafee then nominated attorney and former higher education board member Eva Marie Mancuso. He has not named any other picks for the new board.

Supporters of the merger include House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Mello, who says he’s frustrated by the number of Rhode Island high school graduates who need remedial courses when they get to college. Critics, including University of Rhode Island President and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, say higher education and K-12 schools face different challenges, and there is concern that public school issues will overshadow higher education in a combined board because that system serves so many more students.

  • Sawyer School closes up shop.

A career training school based in Rhode Island shut down suddenly this week, taking students and state officials by surprise. The Sawyer School, based in Pawtucket, closed locations in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Roughly 1,500 students had already paid tuition and were working towards degrees at the school’s multiple locations, according to state officials.

More information on what’s behind the closure is expected today. The Sawyer School specializes in office worker and medical assistant training.

  • A solution for an age-old school problem: Canada Geese.

The Lincoln School Department may have found a way to keep Canada Geese off their playing fields.  School officials have installed hundreds of wooden stakes with a strand of aluminum tape hanging off each stake. So far, The Valley Breeze reports the new approach appears to be working.

The geese are a perennial problem, leaving guano and eating the roots of the grass, both of which destroy sports fields. Lincoln school officials say the wooden posts with aluminum flags seem to be keeping the geese at bay this year.

In the past, they've tried numerous Canada Goose deterrents, including yelling at the animals, using a bullhorn, and yes, even speaking French to them. Au revoir!