Governor Gina Raimondo’s pick to lead the State Board of Education faces a hearing Wednesday. Barbara Cottam is scheduled to appear before the Senate Education Committee.
Cottam, who currently works as an executive vice president for Citizens Bank Financial Group, has a background in politics. She worked for governors Bruce Sundlun and Joseph Garrahy, and she’s married to Garrahy’s son, John Garrahy. The couple has two daughters, who attend a private school in Providence.
December has come and gone, along with the deadline for the State Board of Education to give notice of its intent to renew the contract for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.
The current contract, which expires in June, contains a six-month notification requirement if the board plans to renew. State Department of Education Spokesman Elliot Krieger says the state can still retain Gist, if the board chooses to negotiate a new contract.
The full Board of Education votes Monday on tuition increases for students at the university of Rhode Island, Rhode Island college and the state's community college system. State higher education officials call it a modest increase. They say it is necessary after two years with no increases at URI, and three years with no increase at CCRI.
A parent in Cumberland filed has filed a lawsuit against the Cumberland School District and the State Board of Education, challenging the practice of charging tuition for summer school.
In a complaint filed last week, parent Susan Giannini alleges the fees are unfair to students with learning disabilities and low income families. Her attorneys argue they fly in the face of longstanding state policy that prohibits public schools from charging fees for other programs, like afterschool sports and AP classes.
Rhode Island’s Board of Education has voted to give preliminary approval to a new charter school in Woonsocket. The RISE Mayoral Academy would start out with a kindergarten class and grow to a K-8 school serving more than 700 students from Woonsocket, Burrillville and North Smithfield.
Critics say charter schools draw money away from regular public schools, a particular problem in Woonsocket, where school officials are working under severe budget constraints.