JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
January 17, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
Representative Bruce Long
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:07 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Brennan, Held, Whitehouse.
Members absent: Kallfelz.
Public Forum: None.
Presentation: Laura Hosley on Energy Drinks: Ms. Hosley gave a presentation about different energy drinks, some of which have alcohol in them. She added that the cans are intentionally confusing, energy drinks are sold as beverages rather than alcohol, and they are not regulated by the FDA so there is no required list of ingredients on the label. Ms. Hosley explained the stages of priming, initiation, and experimentation. She added that these drinks are illegal in France, Denmark, and Norway. Ms. Hosley and Mr. Bruce Long have gone to the state with these issues. She suggested that Jamestown consider banning energy drinks at school.
Mr. Long talked about the amount of caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks. He explained how he met Ms. Hosley through the Drug Abuse Task Force. Mr. Long said that he is working on legislation now. He asked whether Jamestown would be willing to be the first in the state to prohibit the use of energy drinks year-round on school grounds. He explained that the NCAA has banned use of these drinks during sporting events. Mr. Long added that he is working on other bills regarding 1) display of tobacco/cigars and 2) barring advertising on billboards.
Mr. Whitehouse asked whether there is a definition of energy drinks containing certain amounts of caffeine. Ms. Hosley explained that there are more than 500 brands of energy drinks now. Mr. Long said he will come back to the next meeting and will bring particular language. Ms. Kaiser added that “school grounds” will have to be defined. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that letters be sent to vendors in town. Mr. Long suggested that the Town Council could do this through creating an ordinance.
Ms. Kaiser explained that a policy on energy drinks could not be voted upon this evening. Ms. Hosley will bring language from other policies. Mr. Brennan suggested that the School Committee could write a letter of support for Mr. Long. Dr. Lukon asked someone at Cumberland Farms whether students were buying energy drinks before school; she was told that this is not common, but it does happen. Mr. Long suggested that retailers be requested not to sell energy drinks during school hours.
Anne Wooley suggested that if Jamestown is to be the first community to ban energy drinks, then the district should consider an education piece with it. Mr. Long added that banning energy drinks on school property sends a strong message to parents. Ms. Held requested that Ms. Hosley send some links and other policies to her by email, and she will work on a proposed policy for Jamestown. Mr. Long reiterated his request for Jamestown’s consideration of support for his other bills. He will send copies of the proposed legislation.
Mr. Long explained the Governor’s proposal to help defray the state’s $154 million shortfall this year. He added that 10% of the cost would come from the cities and towns. He said that the Governor’s budget includes income from enforcement of cell phone use while driving, and this law has not yet been passed.
Ms. Kaiser reported that, at the Legislative meeting, Theresa Paiva-Weed said that the Budget Office has refused to send mandated reimbursement forward for 2009, even though this has already been approved. Ms, Kaiser suggested that it is possible that level-funding may be optimistic.
Consent Agenda: Dr. Lukon said she received a resignation from Jennifer Skazinski and recommended its approval even though it is not the 90 days specified in the contract. She added that Ms. Skazinski was hired as a one-year appointment. Ms. Held requested that Bills be exempted, and Mr. Brennan requested that Personnel also be exempted from the Consent Agenda.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Minutes of December 6 and 20, 2007. All approved. So moved.
Ms. Held asked several questions about bills. 1) Ms. Held referred to line items that were listed as “technology” and asked what was purchased. Ms. Littlefield said she will get the specifics. 2) Ms. Held referred to line items for payment of tutors and asked whether they were receiving the same rate. Ms. Littlefield said the hourly rate is the same for these special education tutors, and services are billed by the half-hour; however, some tutors may have more than one student. 3) Ms. Held asked how many Jamestown students attend Compass School, and Ms. Littlefield answered five. 4) Ms. Held questioned the cost of $1,200 for tokens. Ms. Littlefield answered that the district gets 1,200 tokens and signs them out to bus drivers. Ms. Kaiser added that Jamestown is reimbursed by the state for the cost of the tokens.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Bills of December 10 and 20, 2007. All approved. So moved.
Mr. Brennan questioned the 90-day notice for personnel, and Dr. Lukon explained it. Mr. Brennan said he thought the School Committee had talked about teachers not leaving in mid-year. Dr. Lukon explained that his phrase is in the contract; however, it is hard to keep people in the district when they don’t want to be here. Mr. Brennan questioned why there was a 90-day policy. Ms. Held said she thought the policy was a good idea so that staff would have to request a waiver. Mr. Whitehouse said he wanted to read the language of the contract. Ms. Held added that the School Committee could consider adding some sort of early-out penalty.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve Personnel. All approved. So moved.
Mr. Brennan referred to a newspaper article regarding funding cuts for communities. Ms. Kaiser added that, at a SORICO meeting, Theresa Paiva-Weed said she would push very hard for a funding formula.
Ms. Held received an invitation to the Rhode Island Interlocal Trust presentation, Media Savvy, Media Naive, which will be held on January 24, 2008.
Ms. Kaiser reported on several pieces of correspondence. 1) Ms. Kaiser received a letter from the original funding formula group, which is putting together a proposal. She added that the second funding formula group took its lead from the first group. 2) Ms. Kaiser received a letter from Theresa Paiva-Weed congratulating the district on receiving a $1,700 grant from the Rhode Island Council on the Arts to support “Jamestown Stories”. 3) Ms. Kaiser received an anonymous letter from a concerned citizen about awarding the school district supplies contract to WB Mason.
Food Service Update: Dr. Lukon reported that the meeting was cancelled, and there are no new data. Ms. Kaiser will touch base with the food service vendor.
Second Reading of the Policy on In-School Distribution of Materials from Outside Groups:
Ms. Davis read the proposed policy. Mr. Brennan suggested that political/partisan be added to the policy. He questioned whether materials of a political nature should be sent home with students, and he asked who sets the boundary on what is/isn’t “political”. Ms. Kaiser and Ms. Held both thought there may be valid reasons for sending home information to parents. Mr. Whitehouse called the question.
Mr. Whitehouse moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adopt the policy on In-School Distribution of Materials from Outside Groups as written. Mr. Brennan requested a roll call vote: Mr. Brennan, No; Ms. Held, Yes; Ms. Kaiser, Yes; Mr. Whitehouse, Yes. Vote was approved 3:1. So moved.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Lukon reported on several items. 1) Jamestown has been notified that RI DHS will be conducting an on-site direct service claims review of Medicaid students within the district. Dr. Lukon explained the process and said there will be four people here for two days. Dr. Fricklas added that the review date will be June 16. He added that all communities are being reviewed, and Jamestown is one of the last to be done. Dr. Fricklas explained that a DHS representative will come to Jamestown in early spring to preview the district, and then administration will put together an action plan.
2) Jamestown will be a co-sponsor of a Summer Computing Institute at URI for juniors and seniors who are on an IEP or 504 plan. Dr. Fricklas and Dr. Sun of URI will co-direct this program. It is funded by the National Science Foundation and is an attempt to interest students with disabilities in pursuing higher education/careers in science, technology, engineering, or math. Dr. Fricklas explained how the pilot program worked last year with eighteen students and talked about some of the students’ projects. He added that there will be about two dozen students attending this year, and he thought that all of Jamestown’s students on IEPs or 504s could participate if they wished.
3) Connect-Ed has been set up, and it worked well for school cancellation last week. Dr. Lukon added that there was a planned test of the emergency system on Wednesday. The system identified those who did not receive the message, and these people are being contacted individually. Kudos go to Janette, who has been inputting the data.
4) School was cancelled last Monday. Dr. Lukon complimented Mr. Kitts for his diligence in checking the roads at 4:00 a.m. Ms. Kaiser added that, in the past, there has been consideration of North Kingstown’s school cancellation because of the cost to Jamestown of having to transport students another day.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor and Ms. Melucci reported on several pieces of information. 1) The Grade 7/8 robotics enrichment class participated in the First Lego League Robotics championship at Roger Williams University on January 12. Jamestown’s three teams did very well. 2) Mrs. Alamanzor congratulated 4th Grade student Kelsey Coleman for winning the State Youth Art Month Promotional Postcard Competition. Postcards will be sent to superintendents and other dignitaries in RI. 3) Students from Grade 8 visited the RI statehouse today. Representative Long and Senator Paiva-Weed greeted them. 4) There will be Everyday Math workshops for parents on January 29 and 31. 5) Melrose School Spirit Week will be held February 11-15, and a number of programs are planned. 6) The After-School Enrichment Program schedule was distributed. Jamestown Education Foundation donated $6,000 for programs this year. 7) The PTO donated $200 for signs and cones. Ms. Melucci is responsible for traffic control. Dr. Fricklas said that this is truly a safety issue. Rolling Agenda recommended that buses be placed at the front of the building. Mr. Whitehouse asked what would fix the problem. Mrs. Alamanzor answered that it would help if more students were riding the bus and fewer students were dropped off at the door. 8) SALT visit preparations continue for next month’s visit. Mrs. Alamanzor added that if February 25 is a snow date, the whole SALT visit will be cancelled. There was a brief discussion of principals standing outside at the beginning of school. Mr. Whitehouse asked about AAA crossing guards, and Mrs. Alamanzor thought that perhaps Jamestown should consider this option.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Alamanzor reported that the December meeting was cancelled, and there will be two meetings in January. She explained that Island Treasures Day workshops will be held in May. The group is preparing for the workshops now and is also preparing for the SALT visit in February.
SIT/Melrose: Mr. Whitehouse reported that the group met today. Members discussed School Improvement Action Plans, reading programs, and common planning time. The bulk of the discussion concerned the behavioral part of the Action Plan. He added that faculty meetings and student Advisories will be used over the next few months to develop some behavioral expectations and agreement about what would be acceptable to all in the schools. A subcommittee will also look at canned behavioral programs. There will be work this summer by teacher and staff to iron out some details.
SELAC: Dr. Fricklas reported that the January meeting’s discussion focused on the results of the Board of Regents vote on new regulations and on the Summer Computing Institute.
Facilities Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that the group met on Monday. Members discussed the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, which will be modified in time for the budget. The group toured Lawn School and looked at things that should be done. He added that there may be a capital expense in the budget for one room for light filters for students with autism. Mr. Brennan requested figures on water and fuel use for one quarter so that cost savings from last year’s renovations could be assessed.
North Kingstown School Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that one of his daughters attended the most recent meeting as part of an assignment in her current events class. The meeting started 45 minutes late because of an Executive Session regarding the Special Education Director. The Committee was supposed to recognize students who had excelled in music, but there was not enough time.
SORICO: Ms. Kaiser reported that Jamestown School Committee members attended SORICO’s annual legislative meeting, and Jamestown sang well.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser reported that she attended the Commission on Mandate Review. The group was targeting bus monitors. There was a big discussion about the cost/benefit of SALT visits. A legislator was interested in changing the law regarding school committees’ publishing of their agenda and said that town councils do not have this requirement.
Policy: Ms. Held reported that there has been no meeting. Ms. Kaiser suggested that, except for one on energy drinks, work on policies be postponed until after budget discussions. Ms. Held added that the group has been talking about policies on bothsmoking/ tobacco and on summer school.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that there has been no meeting. She said that Kids First is sponsoring a Food Service Directors Roundtable, and two students have been invited to participate.
Ms. Kaiser said she will add discussions of energy drinks and budget to the February Agenda.
Dr. Lukon said that her contract specifies mid-term review. Ms. Kaiser suggested that this review be conducted in Executive Session before the meeting on February 7.
Dr. Fricklas reported from SELAC that Gail O’Brien, a valued member of the administrative team, passed away suddenly. Mr. Whitehouse added that the School Committee extends its condolences to the family of Gail O’Brien and to her coworkers, and she will be sorely missed.
Public Forum: Ms. Held reported that about twenty people attended the North Kingstown Orientation. It was a very informative two-hour program and was well received. Anne Wooley asked why there was no communication about it. Ms. Held explained the way this information was communicated. Mrs. Alamanzor added that there was communication in the Warrior before both meetings; however students from 8th Grade did not receive it. A message was send Friday evening through the 8th Grade email tree. Mrs. Alamanzor added that there will be two more orientations in March. Dr. Lukon added that she received feedback from a parent who was very impressed with North Kingstown.
Dr. Lukon recognized Jane Littlefield for her unbelievable job in assisting while Mrs. Alfred is on leave.
Ms. Kaiser asked about federal impact aid. Dr. Lukon explained that there has been a difference of opinion on whether Jamestown can ask for aid for students attending North Kingstown. Janette is very diligent about working with the families. Aid figures will not be out until next October.
Adjourned: Ms. Held moved and Mr. Brennan 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