Gist: New board won’t change agenda

Jun 12, 2012

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says her plan for improving Rhode Island’s public schools will not change, even if she is reporting to a new board of education.

The leadership change is part of the state budget that won approval last night from Senate lawmakers. It has already gotten a green light from the House of Representatives.

The budget calls for the current Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education to be dissolved and combined with the board that oversees public colleges and universities. Gist says she is ready to work with Governor Lincoln Chafee as he appoints a new board of education.

“It is important that all Rhode Islanders continue to focus on accelerating all schools toward greatness,” Gist said in a written statement issued yesterday. “My team at the R.I. Department of Education and I are prepared to continue to work together with our partners in higher education to ensure that we continue to improve teaching and learning across our state.”

Gist’s agenda for improving public schools has included some controversial measures like in-depth annual evaluations for all teachers and administrators. Some school officials have complained that the process is too time consuming.

She has also championed increasing the number of charter schools operating in Rhode Island, and her agenda helped the state garner a $75 million federal Race to the Top Grant, along with a second Race to the Top grant for early childhood education.

Gist is currently contracted to remain as the state’s education commissioner through June 30th of 2013.