2018-10-11 / Around Town

City to Hire Salve Students as High School Monitors

By James Merolla

The Newport School Committee approved a plan at its Oct. 9 meeting to hire Salve Regina University students from the college’s Administration of Justice department as hall monitors in a quest to curtail student absences while trimming the school district budget.

The plan passed in a 5-1 vote, with David Carlin opposing. Carlin said the money would be better spent on a community police officer.

The monitors would earn $19 per hour, reducing costs from $55,000 to just over $46,000, according to figures provided by Rogers High principal Jared Vance, saving approximately $9,000 annually.

The school district hired a private firm to be monitors last year.

At the meeting, Vance told the School Committee that the plan would increase safety and security within the school.

“[We’re] trying to create a relationship [with] their Administration of Justice program to take over where our hall monitors were,” he said, adding that candidates would be carefully vetted before being selected.

Committee member Rebecca Bolan, who said she watched numerous students leaving early when she was at Rogers last week, asked, “Can we reuse [them] to watch people leaving the building?

“I would love to see something really work on this absenteeism. It’s pervasive,” she said. “I am just disappointed right now. Not with you, but with students and their attendance.”

Vance said that monitors will help alleviate the problem. “I wouldn’t say that attitude is pervasive,” he said. “The majority of our students attends class. Having more [monitors] available give us more eyes in the building.”

One parent voiced concern about how the monitors would interact with students, particularly special education students who may not understand their role.

Vance said they would be trained not to interact with students, but to only report issues. In other matters:

. During the public comment section of the meeting, eighth-grader Devin O’Brien, who has spoken out about this subject before, said that at its meetings the School Committee continuously refuses to discuss the deteriorating Rogers High School. “I am disappointed this was not discussed during the last meeting,” O’Brien said. “And [I am] enraged that it is not on the agenda of this meeting.”

. The committee voted unanimously to raise NACTC tuition rates for each non-resident student by $500 for each quarter, starting in the 2019-20 school year.

. The committee voted unanimously to spend $8,370 to repair the boiler at Rogers High, which engineers have described as “critical.” Tom Harrop, superintendent of facilities management, told the committee that engineers have warned him that the boiler “will blow” during cold weather if it’s not fixed.

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