Michael St. Jean – North Smithfield School District
1. What’s the number one thing parents and students should know about this district this year?
The upcoming school year will be a year of community building. We have said our goodbyes to Halliwell Elementary School as it closed its doors after 62 years. North Smithfield Elementary School will open for a new school year with a new classroom addition and a new grade level. The Middle School staff is excited to greet the new incoming 5th and 6th grade students. At North Smithfield High School, the construction of new science labs are underway and will be completed during the school year. Across the district, we are renovating and repairing and growing pride in our schools.
We have completed our strategic planning process and go into the new school year with renewed goals and priorities ensuring that North Smithfield Public Schools will be even better, more responsive to the needs of all students, and even more engaged with our community.
North Smithfield Public Schools are high performing and we are dedicated to continuous improvement.
2. What is the biggest challenge your district faces?
North Smithfield’s challenge is the same as many school districts across the state and country as we continuously look for ways to maintain educationally supportive and safe facilities, maximize increasingly limited space, and build upon innovative programs that meet the needs of all students at all levels…while balancing costs.
3. What is the vaccination rate for your district and what is your policy for opting out? Have you seen a spike or decline in the number of parents opting out over the last two years?
Vaccination rates for every district in the state are found at http://www.health.ri.gov/data/schools/immunization/.
In grades seven and eight, the controversial HPV series is required (2 doses), to be completed by 9th grade. Many parents have opted to sign an exemption for that to either refuse or to further investigate and decide later. For students in grade 12 or after age 16 the state recommends an additional meningitis vaccination MC4.
It becomes increasingly difficult to get students vaccinated as they get older and don’t necessarily visit their healthcare provider as often as when they were younger.
Our school nurses do reach out to parents with phone calls, emails, and letters notifying them of need for updated immunizations. In addition, they schedule in-house, school day Vaccinate Before You Graduate (VBYG) Clinics multiple times a year where a nurse from the state will administer missing immunizations to the student at no out of pocket cost. This is done during school hours, so parents need not be present.
4. Some school districts in the state are banning electronic devices/cell phones. What is your current policy? Do you have plans to also ban electronic devices? If so, why?
Our High School and Middle School Student Handbook addresses Cell Phone usage. However, we will be reviewing our practices and procedures during the coming school year.
5. Tell us something nobody knows about your district.
North Smithfield High School continues to receive accolades as one of the State’s highest-ranked public high schools. This coming year will be our first full year offering of our Career and Technical Education programs in Engineering, Business and Finance, and Music.
In addition to our CTE’s, we offer 16 Career Pathways and are proud to announce the development of a new “High School to Workplace” Pathway.
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