JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
November 15, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon , Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Dolce, Held, Kallfelz.
Members absent: Brennan.
Public Forum: None.
Consent Agenda: Dr. Lukon explained specifics about the position for which the new one-on-one Teacher Assistant was hired.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: A) Minutes of the meetings of August 23, and October 4, 18, and 25, 2007; B) Payment of Bills of October 16; and C) Personnel: Appointment of Kristie Wian as one-on-one Teacher Assistant for Grade 8 for the remainder of the school year. All approved. So moved.
Ms. Kaiser received a letter from a parent who expressed appreciation for the vastly improved school lunch program.
Mrs. Kallfelz received two pieces of correspondence. 1) Two Angry Moms sent an e-mail about revamping the school lunch program and recommending that school committees check with legislators regarding less stringent laws. 2) Kids First is screening a movie by Two Angry Moms on December 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theater. Ms. Kaiser will sit on a panel for discussion after the movie. Jamestown’s program is considered a success.
Mr. Dolce met with a family stationed at the Navy base. He learned that there are about 30 military families in Jamestown. There is a list of wives that get together. Dr. Lukon said that the moms are checking the list to help the school. She added that the procedure is being changed; after students register, they will be given the form at that time.
Food Service Update: Dr. Lukon reported that the district received the first invoice of $13,442 from SODEXHO (not including Jamestown’s personnel), and total sales on this report were $8,700; figures are not yet verified. When the October invoice has been received, the district will have a better idea of incoming and outgoing costs for the program. Dr. Lukon explained that there were startup costs but no sales in August. SODEXHO will be sending a more detailed invoice. Graphed data that they sent were unsatisfactory. Ms. Kaiser noted that this invoice and any other loose ends will also be discussed at the December 6 goal-setting meeting with SODEXHO.
Update: School Committee Retreat: 1) Ms. Kaiser reported on the School Committee retreat. The committee reviewed administrative structure, and administrators shared their thoughts about increased paperwork and requirements, as well as increased work load for supervision of the food service program. The result is that crucial work is not being done because administration is overtaxed. Administration was asked to review and prioritize the backlog of work and to make suggestions. Dr. Lukon said that she will put this issue on the business meeting agenda on December 20. Ms. Kaiser added that the committee took very seriously the burdens on administrative staff, and members are willing to listen to proposals. 2) The committee agreed to postpone strategic planning for one year so that SALT results can be incorporated into the planning process. 3) Ms. Kaiser distributed name tags to each committee member so that they may be identified when they attend school or community events.
School Committee Goals 2007-2008: Ms. Kaiser read the School Committee goals for 2007-2008. She added that the goals were discussed at length at the retreat.
1) To support structure and programming that allows maximum flexibility for administrators, teachers, support staff and students.
2) To improve student achievement at all levels, with particular emphasis on challenging all students to perform to their potential.
3) To continue to support and strengthen district- and school-level administration.
4) To advocate for district interests locally, regionally, and at the state house.
5) To support policies and programming that promote a respectful learning environment and emphasize zero tolerance for disruptive behavior.
6) To continue to support the development of district policies, procedures, and job descriptions.
7) To improve the level of safety and security of the school buildings.
Mr. Dolce suggested that Goal 7 might include efficiencies of school buildings in such areas as utilities. Dr. Lukon said that there is a plan specifically for buildings. Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that there be a goal concerning fiscal responsibility. Ms. Kaiser added that she thought this goal was in the Strategic Plan.
Ms. Kaiser moved that School Committee goals be endorsed, with the expectation that there be an eighth goal dealing with School Committee fiscal responsibility and using resources efficiently.
Dr. Fricklas questioned Goal #5. He said he attended a conference on school safety with Mr. Kitts and police representatives; one part of the program discussed school shooters and keeping the school safe. He explained that in the Columbine case, there was zero tolerance, and students were sent home for disruptive behavior. They discovered that when students were sent home, they ruminated on revenge. The presenters at the conference urged attendees to provide assistance/counseling rather than zero tolerance. Ms. Held said that the district should not tolerate disruptive behavior; it is how the district handles it that is the issue. Dr. Lukon suggested that the goal be changed to state “...all disruptive behavior will be appropriately addressed”. Mrs. Kallfelz will edit the goals. She added that School Committee and administrative goals should support each other.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a restated motion to endorse the School Committee goals, with the editorial change suggested to Goal #5, and with full knowledge that Goal 8 will be forthcoming pertaining to fiscal responsibility and using resources efficiently. All approved. So moved.
First Reading: Policy on Use of School Buildings by Non-School-Based Organizations:
Ms. Kaiser questioned in paragraph two the consistence in the types of organizations. She asked about the use of school buildings for elections/votes/referenda. Dr. Lukon explained that there are some elections for which there are no mandates to close. She suggested that “...when the schools are not closed...” be deleted from paragraph three. Ms. Kaiser questioned whether the Director of Buildings and Maintenance should approve the adult supervisor (paragraph seven). Ms. Held answered that Mr. Kitts wants that responsibility. Ms. Kaiser made additional editorial comments.
Dr. Lukon suggested alternate wording for the last paragraph of the policy regarding following the procedure followed in the policy and on the Building Use Application Form.
Mr. Dolce questioned where private tutors fit into the order of priority, for example, in the case of a teacher who used the school and charges for tutoring. Ms. Kaiser commented that these teachers would use their classrooms. Dr. Lukon explained that administration is more concerned with use of the larger rooms such as the gyms, libraries, or multipurpose rooms. Mr. Dolce said that organizations were allowed to use the school for free at one time. Dr. Lukon said that liability insurance is the issue now; if someone is working in the school but not for the school, the school’s insurance does not cover them.
Ms. Kaiser suggested changing the word “organizations” to “entities” throughout the document. Mrs. Kallfelz commented that in the event of conflicting requests, then the list of priority entities would be used to determine who would use the school.
Dr. Lukon will make corrections to the policy and will send the draft to committee members for review. Mr. Dolce questioned whether the use of school grounds should be included in the policy. This issue will be brought up for discussion at the business meeting on December 20.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Lukon reported on a number of issues. 1) It appears likely that action on NCLB will be delayed so that legislators can spend more time to do a good job with it. If there are no changes, then the present law still stands. 2) Steve Carey from RIDE visited the school on November 7 to review the food service audit which will be held on December 4. 3) Renie Sullivan and Mrs. Alfred met with Marc Gagnon from Blue Cross to discuss MuniBlue, a no-cost educational awareness program for the staff. Ms. Sullivan has surveyed the staff about this program. A staff member from MuniBlue will attend a Wellness Committee meeting . 4) The auditors have spent four days in the district this month. The fixed assets section of the financial audit is the only part that is incomplete, and Mrs. Alfred is working on it. The auditors are satisfied with all aspects of Mrs. Alfred’s accounting, and Dr. Lukon congratulated her publicly. 5) Dr. Lukon attended the first session of superintendents’ workshop, Leading the Learning. It focused on leadership styles. She explained that this session was for Rhode Island participants. The next session will be held at University of Connecticut in January and will include superintendents from Connecticut and Massachusetts. 6) Dr. Lukon met with Dr. Feir, the superintendent in North Kingstown. Both superintendents are enthusiastic and eager to collaborate. They hope to set some common goals for grade-level reading.
7) The new rate for North Kingstown High School tuition will be increased by 6.5% and is based on the InSite figures. Ms. Kaiser questioned whether facilities costs were included. Mrs. Alfred explained that there are three bonds: power, technology, and high school. Ms. Kaiser commented that, as enrollment goes up, per-pupil cost generally goes down. Mrs. Alfred answered that per-pupil cost is based on everyone. Ms. Kaiser questioned why this figure was 5% higher when special education and ESL was lower for Jamestown.
Dr. Fricklas suggested that administration should make sure that Jamestown does not get penalized for North Kingstown’s out-of-district costs. Ms. Kaiser added that these costs are generally listed under ”other commitments”, but it is worth investigating. Ms. Kaiser suggested that Mrs. Alfred ask North Kingstown to print their InSite figures for 2006-07 so that they can be reviewed. Jamestown cannot print North Kingstown’s reports.
Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that a 10% increase in special education costs is a big jump. Dr. Fricklas explained that if one of their students needed a piece of technology, then that expense would go into the per-pupil cost. He thought Jamestown needed to be vigilant. Ms. Held noted that Jamestown will have greater special education needs at the high school next year.
Ms. Kaiser summarized that Mrs. Alfred should request the 2003 InSite report. When she has it, the subcommittee of Ms. Kaiser and Mr. Brennan will meet with Mrs. Alfred to look at it.
8) Dr. Lukon attended the Conference on School Finances and Governance. She distributed documents from the conference. Ms. Kaiser that schools have been told that, not only will they be flat-funded, but they will probably get less funding. She added that Board of Regents Chair Judge Flanders outlined a program that was wonderful, but there is a problem because of the state’s $400 million budget shortfall, but he said that state revenues have risen by 5% per year. Judge Flanders has asked to move to the state ledger all teacher retirement costs, all out-of-district transportation, all extra special education costs over and above $55,000, and cost of group homes. There would also be a targeted aid package for the urban core. Ms. Kaiser said his plan made a lot of sense; then they could look at a funding formula based only instructional costs and could focus on accountability and student achievement. The legislators who attended this meeting got up and said that there is no money; however, they instituted the budget cap. She added that there was not a friendly atmosphere at this meeting. Judge Flanders also discussed more regulations. He endorsed a foundation-based formula. Regarding school consolidation, he suggested that money would not be saved in a district with greater than 2000 students.
9) Dr. Lukon reported that Ken DiPetro is the superintendent representative to the legislative committee on mandates. He has asked superintendents to list a) their top five most expensive mandates with which they are concerned and b) their bottom five “nuisance” mandates that they don’t value. Ms. Kaiser suggested that out-of-district bussing be added to the list. Mrs. Kallfelz said there are specific regulations about which she does not feel knowledgeable. Mrs. Alfred suggested that non-public textbooks be added to the list. She added that they change the publishing date on the texts, so the district ends up purchasing new textbooks every year. Ms. Held suggested that administration determine which mandates are the most costly. Mr. Dolce said he thought the School Committee should decide which mandates to fight and added that it is clear that the mandates are a burden on administration.
Ms. Kaiser said that when she sat on the commission in the spring, the group talked about issues like the senior portfolios. There was a suggestion that the DOE might be willing to listen to requests for waivers of regulations. Mr. Dolce suggested that textbook purchasing be contracted out to a book service vendor so as to remove this responsibility from administrative staff. Ms. Kaiser said that there was discussion about the Collaborative handling this process. Dr. Lukon will bring these suggestions to the superintendents’ meeting next week.
10) Mr. Kitts recruited three new members for the Facilities Committee. The new members are Fire Chief James Bryer, Brian Bryer and John Warner. Mr. Kitts is setting a first meeting for the committee, and members will tour the buildings at that time.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor reported on a number of topics. 1) The self-study reports are complete. They were read at a joint SIT meeting today. The teams did a great job, and Mrs. Alamanzor thanked them publicly. They have both commendations and recommendations that will help the district prepare for the SALT visit in February 2008. Staff will see the reports first, and then they will be shared with the School Committee. 2) End-of-term report cards will be distributed on November 19. Parent conferences will be held on November 29-30. Report cards were created on School Max. Mrs. Alamanzor commended tech coaches Phil Capaldi and Nick Alfred, as well as Mr. Kitts for keeping the school open on Saturday so that some teachers could complete report cards. 3) Lawn’s six-day schedule is being reviewed in order to look at its effectiveness. The schedule in Grade 7-8 appears more successful, and longer blocks for classes are working better. 4) The 2nd Grade’s Thanksgiving performance will be held on November 20 at 9:30 a.m. 5) The SODEXHO lunch program is running smoothly in both buildings. 6) There was a full professional development day for teachers on November 6. Morning sessions were devoted to science curriculum, and Charlene Tuttle and Sara Sweetman were presenters. The afternoon session on bullying was presented by John Reis. Dr. Lukon also spoke to the staff about budget. 7) Beth Pinto received the Paul Sherlock Award for a special educator. Jamestown recommended that she she be a candidate to receive this award.
SIT/Melrose and SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Alamanzor reported that the SITS met jointly, read the final report of the self-study group, and discussed the impact of the study on the schools. Mrs. Kallfelz added that crux of last month’s meeting was preparing for the self-study, and today’s meeting was to discuss the final report.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that there has been no meeting. Dr. Fricklas reported that there will be an Open House on December 13. Ms. Held said that the group seems very encouraged about parent support meetings, which was identified as needing a boost.
Ms. Held explained that she attended a Board of Regents hearing on special education regulations, and it was “standing room only”. The meeting had to be moved to a larger room. There were twelve pages of people who wished to speak. Ms. Held added that two additional meetings have been scheduled. Dr. Fricklas said that two people from Jamestown are going to the meeting in South Kingstown on December 3. Ms. Held noted that there was the most concern about two issues: class size and the reclassification of speech so it would no longer be a special education service. She reported that there was compelling testimony about changing things in times of financial problems. She added that RIASC had an opportunity to present rationale for changes, and in a couple of areas, the Board may reconsider the changes.
Dr. Fricklas suggested that he could present information about special education regulations at a future workshop. He explained that there are 6-7 areas in the draft that have changes that have a significant financial impact, and he could explain them. He added that, after the coming two meetings, the Board will begin revision of the draft. Dr. Fricklas explained that regulations must be on the books by June 30. He added that staff members in Jamestown are most worried about personnel because the changes will defer to the federal mandates regarding case sizes and class sizes. Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that Dr. Fricklas include this information as part of the special education budget presentation. Ms. Held added that there are lots of pros and cons regarding implications and unintended consequences. Dr. Fricklas will present the information at a school committee meeting on either or January 27 or February 7. He said that there is a draft now to be revised; he added that there needs to be some compelling reason to change the draft, or it will remain as it is now.
Facilities Committee: No report.
North Kingstown School Committee: Ms. Held attended the last meeting. Naomi Schick was honored as Teacher of the Year. There was talk about budget preparation, and there was discussion of plans for bond funding. Wickford Elementary was not included in the bond, and there was lots of discussion about why RIDE was not sending funding. There was discussion of tighter personnel policy regarding benefit categories. Jamestown did not come up as a topic. The committee also developed a budget schedule. Ms. Held said that the minutes stated that the joint meeting of North Kingstown and Jamestown was cancelled due to members from both school committees not being able to attend. The dance team was also discussed.
SORICO: Dr. Lukon reported that the recent meeting was not well attended. The meeting was supposed to be professional development regarding what the Collaborative is to be in the future. SORICO goals were re-crafted; however, the superintendents were unhappy with them. The group discussed the need for staff but not how to pay for them. Dr. Lukon said that two people are being hired. One person will be working with special education professional development, and the other will be working in the curriculum area on standards for algebra; SORICO hopes to hire a consultant with expertise in this subject.
Legislative: Discussed earlier in the meeting.
Policy: Ms. Held reported that Mr. Brennan had requested discussion of funding for the summer school program. She suggested that the topic be put on the agenda on an evening when Mr. Brennan is here to discuss it. Ms. Held, Mr. Brennan and Mrs. Alamanzor will meet as a summer school task force to discuss whether to rewrite the present policy and/or to implement costs for the program.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that the committee has not met. Mrs. Kallfelz said that the plan for the school grounds is going well. She explained that Jamestown got a grant for $250,000 for safe routes to school. The plan is moving along, and the group will be meeting within the next week to get input before working on the final budget and rolling roll out the plan.
Public Forum: None.
Ms. Kaiser thanked Mr. Dolce for his service on the School Committee and said he will be missed.
Adjourned: Ms. Held moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:05 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date