Pawtucket - School Superintendent Patricia “Patti” DiCenso announced today that she will be retiring from the Pawtucket School Department at the conclusion of the school fiscal year. Superintendent DiCenso has led the Department for the last five years, and served the district for three prior years as Secondary Performance Officer.
“Serving the children and parents of the Pawtucket School Department with my colleagues has been a distinguished honor in my life,” Patti said. “I am inspired daily by the great work that our students, teachers, administrators and staff do every day. After thirty-six years in education, now is the right time for me to transition to retired life to spend time with my family. This is beyond bitter sweet, and it is with a heavy heart that I leave service with the Pawtucket School Department. However, I am looking forward to having more time to spend with my husband, children, and granddaughter in this new chapter of our lives.”
During the time that Superintendent DiCenso has been with the Pawtucket School Department, the district has increased its high school graduation rates by 30 percent, instituted full day Pre – K programs, invested tens of millions of dollars in and across all school buildings while successfully advocating for more than $200 million in additional future investment, fully renovated two elementary schools, established a dual language immersion program, and forged an ongoing, cooperative relationship with the City.
School Committee Chair Gerard “Jay” Charbonneau said, “Patti has been a joy to work with. Her leadership has helped the Pawtucket School Committee achieve great things during her tenure. I’m proud to have worked with her as a member of this committee and as Chair. I wish her and her family all the happiness in the world as they enter this new chapter. The School Committee and entire Pawtucket School Community will miss her passion for the children of Pawtucket.”
The Pawtucket School Committee will begin the search for the School Department’s new Superintendent.
Statement from Mayor Grebien Regarding Retirement of Superintendent DiCenso
I would like to congratulate Superintendent Patricia ‘Patti’ DiCenso on her retirement. While this is definitely a huge loss for our school district and community, I am happy to hear that such a hard-working and wonderful individual like herself will now be taking the opportunity to spend time with her family. I thank her for her leadership and for her vision for our city’s youth.
Her passion and dedication to our students could be seen through her results. Since joining the department in 2011, both Tolman and Shea High Schools went from having been sanctioned by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act for successive years of low graduation rates under 60% to now well over 80% over the last three years. Furthermore, she championed the addition of Career and Technical Education Pathways as well as the possibility to earn college credits through Advanced Placement classes in the high schools.
Patti always understood that in order to continue the improvement at the high schools and for academic success beyond, the emphasis needed to begin when the students were young. The School Department implemented full day pre-K and expanded the number of programs from 90 children in 2014 to over 300 children currently in Pawtucket Preschools. 3 state funded pre-schools which have attained Bright Star status were added. The Superintendent had the goal to not only increase programs but ensure the programs were high quality and accountable. 70% of all kindergarten students are at grade level or above, which is attributed to the high quality preschools in Pawtucket and 100% of the early childhood education teachers are certified in the Rhode Island Early Learning Standards (RIELDS).
Other positive outcomes include the highlight of social emotional learning through a significant increase in social workers and social emotional support staff at schools from to support teachers, principals, and families, increased world language opportunities in Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish for grades K-12 including a Dual Language Spanish program, and a 1 to 1 Chromebook Initiative that provides Chromebooks for all students in grades 3-12.
The Superintendent has managed many improvements for our youth while remaining fiscally responsible. Together with my administration, City Council, and School Committee, the School Administration used annual surpluses to create a Capital Improvement Fund which allowed the School Department to improve school properties and support SAFE, DRY, WARM initiatives including the Governor’s “shovel ready” project state school building improvements. The Department also put into motion the $82 million of RIDE Approved Construction plan which includes health and safety projects district wide and two complete school renovations at Nathanael Greene and Potter Burns.
Now, Patti leaves a school district that is poised to succeed in the future thanks to her leadership. We have a $220 million construction plan in process for State II RIDE approval which will include a newly constructed STEAM Elementary school, a full ground up rebuild of Winters Elementary school, two fully renovated high schools, and continued district wide health and safety upgrades.
Once again, I thank Patti for her devotion and enthusiasm every single day for our kids and I wish her the best of luck in this next chapter of her life with her family.
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- Mayor Donald R. Grebien