NEW BEDFORD —The Renaissance Community School for the Arts is adding to its curriculum, so it might as well add onto its name too.

The School Committee unanimously voted on Monday to authorize the approval of a new innovation plan for the Renaissance Community School for the Arts. It includes a five-year re-authorization of the plan, which starts at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, and also proposes to rename the school to the Renaissance Community Innovation School.

The plan calls for a shift in the curriculum that seeks to integrate the elements of the STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) with the core content areas, which focus on literacy and mathematics.

Renaissance Community School Principal Jennifer Mainelli spoke in front of the committee alongside a two teachers, a parent with three kids attending the school, and NBPS Director of Supplemental Services Jennifer Furland. The group explained to the committee the learning opportunity for students attending in the new innovation plan.

“The core content areas being around literacy and mathematics, we plan to enhance those curriculum areas with those five elements to provide a unique learning opportunity for our students, but to still support them in developing grade level expectations for literacy and mathematics,” Mainelli said.

While School Committee member Chris Cotter was part of the unanimous vote to approve the plan, he explained his skepticism of the plan to Mainelli and the group representing Renaissance Community School before voting. Cotter says his concerns are based on the previous five year plan the committee approved for the school, which resulted in the dissipation of its governing body.

“The reason why I’m weary on the five years is because we had a five year plan initially and that board kind of fell by the wayside and now it just picked back up because we’re looking to renew. The concerns of the first five-year plan we had were some issues where the governing board just dissipated and the School Committee wasn’t made aware. So the school was essentially running on its own unbeknownst to the committee,” Cotter explained. “I do want to make note that based on the five years I believe that we the committee should be fully included. I honestly believe that the School Committee, although were not the governing board of the school, should be made aware of what’s going on.”

Mainelli says that the group from Renaissance is “thrilled” with the unanimous vote to approve innovation plan.

“We’re absolutely thrilled. I think they had great questions and I’m glad we were able to clarify some of them. Being a community school we really value our community input. We know that the community has a lot to offer our students and our families and so we continue everyday to work to foster those relationships,” Mainelli said.

Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jason DeFalco, Mayor Jon Mitchell, and School Committee member John Oliveira were all absent from the meeting due to various personal obligations.

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