2017-03-23 / Front Page

Goss to Step Down as Rogers Principal

By James Merolla

Jeffrey Goss was named Rogers Principal in 2014. Jeffrey Goss was named Rogers Principal in 2014. Jeffrey Goss, who has handled multiple challenges in his role as principal over the past two years, will be leaving Rogers High School at the end of the school year.

Newport School Committee member Kathy Sylvia announced Goss’ resignation at the Tuesday, March 21 meeting. Sylvia and Newport School Supt. Colleen Jermain thanked Goss for his service to Rogers High School.

“He will finish out the year,” School Committee Chairman David Hanos said. "We felt that he would leave, but we were trying to find out officially. We wanted to start the search as soon as we could.”

Hanos said that Goss, with school directives, “Tried to do good things, but they came at a cost, and that cost was mainly on Jeff and what he had to do and was attempting to do. The school continues to get a bad rep, which is unfair. We are trying to change the culture, trying to change the climate. Whoever does take the job, they will have the complete support of the School Committee."

Hanos said the position will be opened to all qualified candidates. “It's a high school that has had a bad reputation for a very long time. We need to do a lot of work and the next principal will have to do a lot of work. At the end of the day, we want a better high school for the kids.”

Goss was at the center of a controversial vote last summer that would have made him Assistant Superintendent, but the School Committee rescinded that declaration when the legality of the appointment was questioned.

“We need to find his replacement as soon as possible,” committee member Rebecca Bolan said. “We need a committee to really help us with this search. This is the time that other districts are interviewing (the good candidates). We have to act now.”

In Other News:

The School Committee voted 6-1 to reduce the total credits, from 24 to 20, that Rogers High School students need to graduate. The proposal struck one school committee member as making graduation an easier carrot to obtain.

“Why are we making this less hard? Why are we reducing the necessary work to graduate from Rogers High School?” asked committee member David Carlin, who cast the lone opposing vote.

Jermain pointed out that Rhode Island’s current standard is 20 credits, thus the reason for her recommendation. “[It is so] we can meet those requirements and afford opportunities for mentorships for our students,” she said.

Linda Moitoza, who has decades of experience in education and high school guidance, said that shifting to 20 credits would align Rogers High with the new State Commissioner of Education’s guidelines. On average, students take seven credits per year and have 21 by their junior year, she said. “This is really to open things up, to make for better opportunities for students, not (to) weaken it.”

Bolan said that the fewer mandatory credits “upped the rigors,” meaning that students would have to concentrate harder on the required credits, which would still include four years of math, English and science. There would not be a change in the minimum core requirements, and students would have fewer pass/fail credit courses.

“It also gives kids the chance to get out into the work force, if they so choose, plus graduate,” committee member Jo Eva Gaines said.

The School Committee also voted 6-1 to reappoint current legal counsel Neil Galvin for another term. Once again, Carlin cast the only opposing vote.

In a tense exchange, Carlin attempted to ask Galvin a series of questions, but he was overruled by Hanos.

“I cannot ask someone we are proposed to contract with a question?” Carlin asked.

“Mr. Carlin, you are done,” Hanos said.

The arguments between Hanos and Carlin escalated to the point where Hanos would not allow Carlin to ask questions on any agenda item.

Finally, Carlin shouted, “Mr. Chairman, I will leave the meetings tonight, as my attendance is not required as I am no longer allowed to (function) as a member of the Newport School Committee.”

Carlin walked out as Jermain read her monthly reports.

After the meeting, Hanos refused comment on the testy exchange, which he said other committee members found embarrassing. He said he would meet privately with Galvin to see what could be done about the contentious exchanges.

By a 5-2 vote, the committee voted for a school calendar in 2017- 2018 as follows:

Tuesday, Sept. 5 is the first day back for teachers, with students returning on Wednesday, Sept. 5;

There will be a full day off on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving;

There will be two full vacation weeks, one each in February and April;

The end date for the school year is June 21, barring snow days.

“Middletown and Portsmouth have not yet formalized their calendar, but I have been told they are going to have full weeks (off) as well,” Jermain said.

Little Compton has also opted for the longer calendar, but Tiverton went with a shortened February vacation, with students having only two days off.

The calendar passed 5-2, with Carlin and Raymond Gomes opposing.

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