Charting the course 
        for public education...

Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association

From the Executive Director...

  • 14 Oct 2017 10:20 AM | Tom DiPaola (Administrator)

     please remind the Superintendents that they are invited to our GWB Board Retreat on October 19th at the Providence Marriott on Orms St, specifically the youth-focused session at 1:15-2:45pm?  The full agenda for the Retreat is below, as well as a link to register if they can please do that for attendance count purposes.






    Please join us

    for the

    Annual Board Retreat



    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

    Add to Calendar




    Providence Marriott Downtown

    One Orms Street

    Providence, Rhode Island


    Register Now!

  • 19 Dec 2016 10:59 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)

    Since the Commissioner announced his support for the massive expansion of Achievement First charter school in Providence, I have spoke numerous times about the concerns of RISSA members regarding charter schools. RISSA is not against charter schools, but we demand public schools have the same flexibility and funding levels as those privately run.  Someone asked me recently what is the difference between public and charter schools, which are funded by the public:

    • Charter schools don’t serve all kids. Their selection is based on a stratified random sample. Parents to take the initiative have more agency than parents who don’t apply
    • Charter schools don’t serve kids with involved special education needs
    • Charter schools don’t serve English Language Learners the same way as public schools: it’s different to have an ELL program for a kindergartner than it is for a 9 or 12 year old who walks in the door; charters only add new kids off their waiting lists, not new enrollees
    • Charter schools can control their populations, public schools can’t: once the kids are enrolled, they can stay at the charter regardless of residence. Public schools serve residents of the district and deal with high levels of mobility
    • Because charter schools are funded at a higher per pupil level than kids in the district (no Career and Technical Education, no out of district special education, and  in the case of Achievement First, no State pension contributions) they can offer extended day child care, a huge benefit to working parents: public schools can’t
    • Charter schools can demand behavior contracts, public schools can’t
    • Charter schools serve families that are better off than the sending districts (lower free lunch, higher reduced lunch eligibility)

    Three years ago, with NECAP, once IEP kids were disaggregated from the population, there was next to no difference between public schools and charters. In fact, public schools often did better. I’m in the process of asking RIDE for an APRA request to disaggregate the PARCC scores.


  • 22 Dec 2015 10:15 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)

    Last night I spoke at the Governor’s Fair Funding Working Group at the Northern Collaborative. I noted the following: 

    • Should Rhode Island allow two classes of public school students, one funded at a higher level than the other? Is the current funding model, where total district per pupil spending follows children to charter schools, sustainable to allow two systems of schooling?  I stated that RISSA wants one set of rules for the funding of school programs, and the Working Group needed to examine the data in an apples-to-apples manner. The current model:
    • Affects districts differently. Central Falls is funded almost entirely by the State and has productive working relationships with charters. Cumberland is funded primarily by local tax dollars which are diverted to the children attending charters.

    • Does not differentiate between the spending on student programs: Public schools’ per pupil costs include high need special education students, career and tech, retirement, preschool; charters do not bear the same costs.

    • Charter schools are not all the same. Mayoral Academies are not in the State Retirement System and do not have the same costs of the districts or regular charters.

    • Working group members mentioned the critical concept of money following the child. Money follows the child in only one direction: out of the district. There are no provisions for public schools to receive a comparable benefit.

    • Evidence was presented by RICAN (a shill for charters) that charters have debt service, rent, and capital costs in their budgets while public schools do not. Charters also continue to complain that they are shortchanged in the current practice of RIDE deducting charter school payments from the per pupil costs before transferring the funds to charters.Unbelievable: they want charter costs included in the per pupil payments so they can get a bonus on the payment. They also said that capital costs per charter were $1000/pupil in charters last year. Again unbelievable: this ”average” is based on a single new school (the Mayoral Academy in Cumberland) where the cost is $30,000/per pupil). To her credit Andrea Castaneda stated that capital costs were not annual and skewed spending in a single year, and this not included in the data under consideration.

    • Charter advocates state that parents must be dissatisfied with their district schools if they choose to leave. I stated that when I testified against the proposed charter in Woonsocket, the parents who spoke for the school said they wanted it so they could have the extended day and save on child care costs. The fact that the Mayoral Academy receives so much more per pupil allows them to offer services unavailable for those who remain in their home school.

    • Charter advocates expressed concern over the sustainability of their programs should the funding model change. I stated that West Warwick, East Providence, and Woonsocket had to be under State oversight because of their budget woes. Sustainability of public schools was in question unless the issue of parallel school systems was addressed.


    Our voice is heard on the Working Group with Georgia Fortunato and Patti DiCenso as members. Barry Ricci also attended the meeting.


  • 18 Nov 2015 11:44 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)

    I appeared on PBS’ “A Lively Experiment” 

    I have included the link to the show below:

  • 03 Sep 2015 10:59 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)


    There has been considerable public discussion regarding the start of school (both time of day and date), school vacations, and differences between districts. Below are two links regarding the subject I’m sure we’ll be dealing with this year.

  • 03 Sep 2015 10:57 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)


    Thank you to Carol Blanchette, who ran the summer General Meeting on August 18, and the Program Committee for all their hard work. The meeting was well-attended by active and retired RISSA members.  We had a chance to meet and hear from Commissioner Ken Wagner, and our 2015 Paul Crowley Award winner, our friend Tom DiPaola. The highlight was the announcement of our Superintendent of the Year, Georgia Fortunato.

    Thank you to Mia Flores and our business partners from McGraw Hill for their excellent presentation and sponsorship of the event.

  • 16 Mar 2015 9:55 AM | Judy Spremulli (Administrator)


    The Governor’s  budget was presented on March 12 to the Legislature. It is a very positive commitment to public schools. The highlights:


    ·         Funding formula is in the budget for 2016

    • ·         All day K will be mandatory in 2016, $1 million for transition costs

    • ·         $1 million for early childhood

    • ·         $1 million added to offset high cost special needs students

    • ·         Lift the housing aid moratorium, create revolving fund for low cost loans to districts

    • ·         Fully fund dual enrollment program

    • ·         Bussing to private schools is optional


    It remains to be seen what emerges from the 2015 Legislative Session, but with State revenues exceeding expectations in the last quarter of 2014, we remain optimistic.


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