Graniteville principal proposes tuition hike

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Graniteville School Principal Maria Petronio-McAfee proposed a 25-percent hike in tuition fees for the half-day preschool program during the Johnston School Committee’s meeting at Ferri Middle School on Tuesday.

Petronio-McAfee told the committee that the school charges $200 a month for five half-days, a total that includes bus transportation to and from Graniteville. The increase would bring tuition to $250 per month. She said this has been the rate since 2016, but detailed several reasons why raising it is necessary.

“We are incurring a rising cost of busing. Half-day programs in the city of Johnston are charging much more for their tuition, and we are providing a high quality education,” Petronio-McAfee said to a nearly full Ferri Middle School library. “We have not raised the tuition in three years.”

Petronio-McAfee also proposed a new late pickup policy, which would charge families $15 for every 15 minutes past the time they are due to pick up their child.

“This will continue to accrue as time elapses, charging $15 for every 15 minutes that the parent is late to pick up the child,” Petronio-McAfee said. “What we’re noticing is they’re using it as child care, instead of as a preschool, which it is. With the rising cost of busing, and the comparable prices of other preschools in the town, our fee is nominal compared to these schools.”

Petronio-McAfee noted that Graniteville has achieved a four-star rating out of five in the Rhode Island BrightStars continuum.

Superintendent Bernard DiLullo told the Sun Rise after the meeting that the matter will appear on the next School Committee agenda on April 9.

“She’s raised it as a new issue because, as you heard, expenses are becoming more increased at the school,” DiLullo said. Brown Avenue nominated for Blue Ribbon

During the superintendent’s report portion of the agenda, DiLullo announced that Brown Avenue Elementary School has been nominated for the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program “recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.”

The site indicates that more than 8,500 schools have been recognized through the program, which first began in 1982. DiLullo said Brown Avenue is in the process of filing its paperwork and submitting documentation.

“That is a significant honor for any school in any district, and it speaks to the hard work that happens up at Brown Avenue,” DiLullo said, with the library erupting with applause in response. “The teachers working together to get the students to achieve what they want them to achieve, and also the leadership there in terms of keeping everybody on track.” Other news and notes

The committee accepted the resignations of Winsor Hill Elementary School Principal Michele Zarcaro and Business Manager Fred Azar, effective later this year.

“She’s done a phenomenal job both at Graniteville and with the community at Winsor Hill,” DiLullo said of Zarcaro.

Azar, DiLullo said, is off to Florida, and the committee didn’t want to see him go, either. They jokingly tried to block his resignation and extend him until 2024.

DiLullo also mentioned during the meeting that the district is in the process of installing bulletproof film on the doors at every school.

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