The Town Council and educators pledge to work together to help students and residents in this increasingly complicated 21st century world.
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MIDDLETOWN MAKING STRIDES TOWARDS OFFERING
STUDENTS, RESIDENTS EXTRA HELP
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JULY 7, 2021) – The Town Council and schools are working together to see if there are ways to get students and residents the extra educational help they need.
During a meeting Tuesday night from Town Hall, council members approved a contract with Maryclaire Knight of Knight Consulting LLC to identify the gaps within existing programs and offerings.
As part of that agreement, Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger said the council and schools will receive a comprehensive report back from Knight no later than Aug. 15.
The move comes as the council and schools – led by Councilman Dennis Turano -- continue to investigate how to assist struggling students and residents succeed in the 21st century environment.
“All kids can use extra tutoring at some point in their careers or guidance counseling, so this is a service that’s going to be given by the Town working in conjunction with the schools,” Turano said. “It’s very important that we work closely with the schools. We can’t do it without them.”
“There are people out there who may need help finding a job,” Turano continued. “There might be people who need help learning how to speak English. There might be some people trying to start a business. Those are some of the things people have approached me on that they already feel we can offer through this department.”
As accountability for student ramps up across the country, schools are finding themselves increasingly responsible for their success both during school hours and outside the classroom.
At the same time, the community itself is talking about taking a multiprong approach to doing more for its residents. That includes everything from finding ways to make Middletown more affordable for families and seniors to job growth and similar programs.
Turano and Councilwoman Terri Flynn have said the new department would be modelled after a similar program run by the Town of Cumberland. It came about under the watch of then Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee, who is now governor of the state of Rhode Island.
Both Turano and Flynn have seen that program in action and said Middletown could benefit from something similar.
Recently, the council created a new town department – the Middletown Department for Further Education & Community Service -- to serve as a base of operations. In the Fiscal 2022 budget, the council got the ball rolling and set aside seed money to fund the Knight report.
Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger said the new department could help the community and its schools secure important grant, state and potentially federal money down the line to pay for the operation.
Once the Knight report is completed, Kraeger said the town and schools will have a better idea of where to focus their energies and avoid duplicating services.
“This will provide significant data, for both the council and the School Department to go forward with a plan…” Kraeger said. “The timing is really good for this because we will get the data and we’ll be able to forward cooperatively…”
Turano said based on recent discussions he’s had with officials upstate, Middletown might be at the front of the line to receive state money to support the program.
He also said he would be working with Town Solicitor Peter Regan in coming days to craft a resolution intended to formalize the agreement between the town and schools to support the new department.
“I’d just like to see if we could maybe take that next step and show that Middletown is making this commitment,” Turano said. “We are going to work with our schools to enhance our students and our residents…We’d put another stake in the ground towards this program because it is important that we work together.”
“It’s another step towards the goal,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said.