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March 7, 2019 | by bbennett
March 7, 2019
Dear TIMES2 Families and Community,
As we returned from winter break, I hope everyone is feeling recharged and ready to excel in the last part of the school year. Despite the recent snowstorms, spring will be right around the corner.
We are writing to update you regarding recent news about changes at our school and our recent TIMES2 Board of Directors Executive Committee meeting. Following our February 19th communication to parents and guardians regarding our charter renewal and staff changes, we have had four informational meetings and a meeting of our Board. There continues to be a lot of confusion about the improvements we plan for our school but TIMES2 is committed to updating the community regularly in order to provide everyone with the latest information that is truthful and accurate.
This year and next school year we are putting an additional focus on providing supports for our English Language Learners (ELL) and Special Education students. Some of our students need a little extra help in these areas to succeed, and we are committed to providing that help. To do this, we will be hiring additional teachers and support staff with expertise in those areas. We are also currently providing opportunities for current TIMES2 teachers to take courses to gain certifications in those areas funded by a grant we received from the R.I. Department of Education.
As our population of English Language Learners continues to grow, additional staff and training to support current staff will give our teachers the tools they need to meet the needs of these new students and familiarize them with our school community.
During the 2019/2020 school year, the middle-high school will be on a 4-class block schedule. Instead of six, 50-minute classes, students will have four 90-minute classes. We had discussions with some of our teachers about supports, interventions, and the class schedule in November, December and January. They were in support of the 4-class block schedule. Teachers also expressed that they would apply for the intervention, ELL, special education and other new positions.
To be clear, TIMES2 is not firing teachers and our school is not being shut down. Anyone or any communication that says that is simply untrue.
All educators with the appropriate certification will be able to apply for the new positions. We want our teachers to stay and continue the great work that they are doing. However, because they are new positions, there is a Providence Public Schools’ and Union process for determining seniority and for applying.
Personnel changes occur every year, in almost every school in the country. At TIMES2 we must notify the Providence School Department (PSD) of any staff changes before March 1st. We did so. The Providence Teacher’s Union then informed their members of the changes. Meanwhile, TIMES2 followed the PSD protocol for informing teachers of changes through a letter. We made these notifications at the end of the school day. In the future, we will likely ask for a waiver from the school department process, as it does not seem appropriate for a tight-knit school community like ours.
For over 20 years TIMES2 has been committed to educating ALL students. We will not let our Special Education, ELL or any other students learning be compromised when we can make changes to support them better. We will continue to provide a high-quality education for everyone that goes beyond a textbook and the classroom. We expect a lot from our students, teachers, and staff because in the end, when they walk across that stage at graduation, receive a college acceptance letter or land a job, it means our school community has done it right.
The R.I. Department of Education has renewed our charter for three years and has pointed out areas that TIMES2 needs to focus on and improve. We intend to do so but cannot respond to the areas of focus unless we have the proper supports and structures in place. As mentioned above, ELL’s and other students are part of that improvement process, as well as our curriculum. Elements of our plan have been vetted and approved under the PPSD consolidation process. We held meetings with our teachers and held meetings with the community on February 12, 13, 19 and 20th. We will be sharing that plan with RIDE for final approval in June. TIMES 2 will update you throughout the process.
Our Board's Executive Committee met again on March 5th to understand the timeline of events and communications, and to discuss steps to move us forward. We have confirmed that TIMES2 followed the appropriate process outlined by PPSD. We are also concerned about our students being put in the middle of an adult conversation. Our school team, at every level, should be professional with our students and our families at all times. The Board has made a commitment on their behalf and on behalf of the school to improve communications. To that end, TIMES2 will also be meeting with the Providence School Board to dispel some of the misinformation and discuss next steps.
The Board and I will continue to have an open dialogue with students, teachers, parents/guardians to gather input on the plan as we move forward. We hope that together we can keep our students focused on their work by providing them with a safe and supportive environment.
Maxford Foster, Board Chair
Dr. Rudolph A. Moseley Jr., Executive Director