JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Melrose Avenue School
January 18, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Michael Schnack, Town Council Liaison
The School Committee returned from a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-6-5, Exception (a)1, Personnel matter; Exception 2, Collective bargaining discussions of JTA and JESPA contract negotiations and personnel; and Exception 8, Home schooling request. Ms. Kaiser announced that a vote was taken on a home schooling request. Results of the vote were Mr. Brennan - Yes; Ms. Held - Yes; Mrs. Kallfelz - Yes; Ms. Kaiser - Yes. All approved. So moved.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the open general meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Brennan, Held, Kallfelz.
Members absent: Filkins.
Public Forum: Frances Goode requested the name of the compliance person regarding 504 and IDEA. Dr. Power said that person is Ms. Pinto, who is not here tonight. Ms. Goode stated that 504 covers civil rights issues, and she asked why it has taken 30 years for Jamestown to comply. She said that Jamestown’s school policy is worded wrong. Ms. Kaiser asked Ms. Goode to have this conversation with Ms. Pinto and said the School Committee will be happy to review the policy. Ms. Goode said that Jamestown has complied with the policy since Ms. Pinto has been employed. She asked that the issue of 504 be put on the Agenda. Ms. Kaiser will discuss this with Ms. Pinto and get information about it.
Melissa Barrett requested salaries, job classifications, and duties for the Superintendent, Principal, Director of Pupil Services, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, Human Resources Manager, and Business Manager. Ms. Kaiser explained that if Ms. Barrett requested this information in writing, administration would comply within ten days.
Kevin Barrett asked to give the School Committee a list of complaints. Ms. Kaiser explained that, if his complaints pertained to present personnel, then, by law, those employees could request that the discussion be held in closed session. Dr. Power asked that Mr. Barrett submit his complaints to Dr. Power in writing. Mr. Barrett said that he had submitted a letter on October 7, 2005, and there had been no answer. Ms. Kaiser cautioned that the School Committee hears things at the discretion of the Superintendent. Anything discussed in an open session of the School Committee is available as public record and would violate the rights of present employees if discussed without their permission. She added that, at the discretion of the Superintendent, the employee can request either Executive or Open Session discussion of the complaints.
Correspondence: Ms. Kaiser reported on two pieces of correspondence. 1) SORICO Keywork agenda for January 29 will be the annual legislative meeting. Mr. Brennan, Ms. Held, Ms. Kaiser, and Mrs. Kallfelz will attend. 2) Ms. Kaiser referred to the Walrus’ comments in the Jamestown Press, in which he pointed out the irony of having popcorn and candy at the PTO fundraiser, but the school has a focus on wellness.
Consent Agenda: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: A) Approval of Minutes for December 7, 14, and 21, 2006, and January 3, 2007; and B) Approval of Bills for December 10 and 15, 2006. All approved. So moved.
Continued Budget Discussion: Ms. Kaiser gave the schedule for budget discussions: February 1 (special education), February 8 (capital), February 15 (general) and February 27 (Tuesday) for final vote. The budget must be given to the town by March 1.
Regarding 30/50, Ms. Kaiser explained that she, Dr. Power, and Mr. Brennan went to a meeting in Barrington, where groups who lost state funding met. All agreed that the legislators are not going to change the cap but should be held accountable for mandates. On February 14, there will be hearings regarding the new law pertaining to mandates. Ms. Kaiser noted that she had a long conversation with the Office of Municipal Affairs regarding this law. The cap is in effect now, and mandates went into effect on January 1. Municipalities report on their mandates in April, and the first reimbursement will be in January 2008. According to OMA, the list reported in 2006 will not include school committees. By the time schools can be on the list in 2008, the legislature will have had time to amend the law. The hearing on February 14 covers mandates from 1992-2006 only. OMA says that school districts already receive state aid so they are reimbursed. Mr. Brennan asked whether Tim Duffy will be at the legislative meeting, and Ms. Kaiser thought so. Ms. Kaiser thought this group should be getting a lawyer about the January 1 date because there are conflicts over it. Ms. Kaiser distributed a list of mandates for 1992-2006 that impact educational costs. She has emailed Ken DiPietro. Dr. Power added that Ken DiPietro wrote a letter about how the cap affects Coventry. He thought that the letter could be rewritten to apply to Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser said she thought the letter should be ready for the legislative meeting on January 29.
Ms. Kaiser referred to an article in the Newport Daily News that described collaboration between the Middletown school district’s maintenance department and the town’s finance department.
Dr. Power said that, as of today, the general fund contribution is an increase of 5.85%. In order to meet the budget cap, the budget increase has to be decreased to 5.25%. Mr. Brennan asked whether the audit showed the final figure for the unreserved fund. Mrs. Alfred noted that this figure is on page 15 of the budget, and is approximately $664,000. She explained that the auditor will attend the next meeting and will answer questions. Mrs. Kallfelz thanked Mrs. Alfred for another well-managed year. Mr. Brennan noted that the unreserved fund is greater than 6% of the budget. He thought the amount was supposed to be 5% or a little under. Dr. Power added that enrollment is flat, health care costs are up, and there is a new cap. This means there is a buffer in the budget this year. Dr. Power said he spoke with the Commissioner today, and there are going to be problems all over the state because school districts can’t possibly make their budgets. Ms. Kaiser said it would be interesting to hear what happens in the legislative meeting. Right now, Jamestown has a tiny bit of breathing room, but it won’t last.
Ms. Kaiser said that the legislature thinks that if they force the budget, school districts will adjust. Dr. Power added that there are so many more things to spend time on, and the state is not taking anything off the plate. Ms. Kaiser said that people at the meeting in Barrington thought that districts need to hold the Regents accountable, because districts can’t do everything. Mr. Brennan suggested that district won’t get much help from town councils. He said he didn’t mind the cap, because the cap was the “stick” and the mandates were the “carrot”; however, now the carrot is being sliced smaller.
Ms. Kaiser asked about the letter being sent to parents to elicit their suggestions for cost savings. Mrs. Kallfelz will write the letter tomorrow and circulate a draft to the Committee. Ms. Kaiser asked when the next faculty meetings were scheduled. Ms. Alamanzor said meetings will be on February 5 for Melrose and February 12 for Lawn. By consensus, the Committee agreed that Ms. Kaiser will give a short statement at the end of these meetings regarding faculty suggestions for cost savings.
Continued Discussion of Food Service Programs and Vote on Request for Proposal: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that she and Ms. Kaiser spent time with the DOE today. RIDE was very supportive and allayed concerns regarding contract terminology. They discussed the performance bond, and RIDE will work on that piece. The RFP was written originally for a big school district. They appreciate Jamestown’s help in looking at this RFP in terms of a smaller district. Mrs. Kallfelz thought it was reasonable to vote on the RFP on February 1. Ms. Kaiser will put it on the Agenda for that meeting. She noted that the DOE is watching Jamestown very closely to see how the process goes. Mr. Brennan added that all vendors must come to the pre-proposal conference. Once Jamestown approves the RFP, the DOE approves it. Dr. Power suggested that Jamestown’s advisors look at the bid RFP.
Second Reading of Home School Policy: Ms. Davis read the policy. Ms. Held suggested a wording change regarding number of instructional days being substantially equal. Dr. Power said he thought that the word “substantially” was there because some private schools do not have 180 days. Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether this is an annual application. Dr. Power said that the request is approved once, and the parent writes a yearly letter to request continuing home schooling. Ms. Kaiser said that the policy will be returned to Ms. Pinto for changes regarding number of instructional days and also instructions regarding intention to home school for subsequent years. The policy will be placed on the Agenda in February.
New Business: None.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Power reported on several items. 1) Dr. Power met with Bruce Keiser and discussed health care. Jamestown will probably work with the same person. 2) A window company that did not receive the bid sent a letter to Dr. Power; he referred it to the school’s attorney. 3) Administration is moving closer to hiring a secretary. 4) Handwashing stations are in place. Installation took much longer than expected because state phone center numbers were inaccurate. 5) There was a meeting about high school/middle school regulations today. Jamestown students will benefit.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor reported on several items. 1) Enrollment has not changed. 2) Winter concerts were held in December, and many students participated. The faculty’s annual stage show was well received. 3) SALT surveys were done in December in both schools. SITs will study the results for improvement planning. 4) After-school enrichment activities started this week. Jamestown Education Foundation has been very generous in supporting these activities. Their fundraiser is on March 31. 5) Second quarter ends on January 26. The goal is for all grades to use School Max for report cards next year. Mr. Brennan asked whether there had been any thought about having Jamestown’s report cards look like North Kingstown’s. Mrs. Alamanzor thought that North Kingstown understands Jamestown’s report cards because theirs are also standards-based. 6) NECAP assessment results will be here the end of January and will be presented at School Report Night in the spring. 7) Three groups of students attended the First Lego League International this month at Roger Williams University. Mrs. Alamanzor referred to a newspaper article and said that Jamestown students did very well. She noted that the school is looking for ways to make participation more possible for grades 7 and 8. 8) Rudy Borgueta is working with a committee at Lawn School in order to develop a schedule for 7th and 8th Grades. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that she sees no down-side to having a 7th/8th Grade team, and scheduling is the biggest trick. Mr. Brennan requested a building schedule for next year, particularly for Lawn School.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Alamanzor reported that there are four new members. The committee discussed the development of Jamestown Days, which is a possibility for next year, and groupings for Grade 7 and 8.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Alamanzor reported that the group will be meeting with faculty on February 12 to get their input, particularly on differentiation.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that the group discussed the schedule for Education Awareness Day which will be held on March 31. Rick Lavoie will lead two workshops. Funding for the event was discussed. SELAC has applied to PTO and Jamestown Education Foundation for funding, and there have been private donations. Mrs. Alamanzor added that Article 31 money for professional development may also be used. SELAC also discussed updates to the website, their brochure, and budget hearings. Ms. Held noted that there are no out-of-district placements at Melrose this year.
Facilities Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that the committee met last Wednesday. They discussed the Capital Plan for the budget and decided to move two projects ahead: the windows project in order to improve energy and repair them, and water-saving units for both schools. He added that toilets and existing urinals meet existing code, but some have lower flow than code requires. Ms. Held asked about faucets. Mr. Brennan said that the committee wants to look at automatic faucets.
North Kingstown School Committee: Mr. Brennan reported on several items. 1) The Committee discussed having a civics course as part of the social studies curriculum. This has not been finalized. Since part of this is includes a community-based project, Mr. Brennan asked whether Jamestown students could do their work here, and he was told yes. 2) There will be a final vote tomorrow night on discussion of the bond issue for Davisville School. Mr. Brennan offered Jamestown’s assistance again. 3) Dance team funding was discussed. The team wants the same service that cheerleaders receive. 4) There was a big discussion about Dr. Halley’s not being clerk for the School Committee because of conflict of interest. He has assigned clerk’s duties to his assistant, and the Committee will have to pay her $3,500 for her work.
SORICO: Previously discussed.
Legislative: Previously discussed.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that a meeting will be held next week.
Public Forum: Michael Schnack reported that Maureen McGuirl asked him to visit the 6th Grade social studies class. Bill Kelley will also attend.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Mr. Brennan seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:43 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date