JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
January 24, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Jane Littlefield, Interim Business Manager
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
The School Committee returned to Open Session from a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 : Exception 2, Collective Bargaining Discussion. Ms. Kaiser announced that a vote was taken to endorse an agreement on JTA contract language. Roll call vote was taken: Mr. Brennan, Yes; Ms. Held, Yes; Ms. Kaiser, Yes; Mrs. Kallfelz, Yes; Mr. Whitehouse, Yes. All approved. So moved.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session to order at 7:03 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Brennan, Held, Kallfelz, Whitehouse. All present.
Recognition: Ms. Kaiser recognized the death of Ethel Kitts, who was a long-time employee and a beloved figure by generations of students. She will be missed by many in Jamestown. Mr. Whitehouse will send a card to the Kitts family.
Public Forum: None.
FY 2008 Budget Presentation:
Dr. Lukon gave copies of budget books to each School Committee member, and she presented the 2009 budget. She explained that the presentation is a team effort, and the plan is to present an overview of highlights this evening. She asked that committee members let her know if more information is needed, and she thanked Jane Littlefield for all her efforts.
Dr. Lukon presented figures for an operating budget of $11,841,895, which is an increase of $740,895 or 6.67% over last year’s budget . She listed factors that are driving the budget and ways that the budget is funded. Major cost increases impacting the budget include salaries ($139,919), benefits ($279,959), tuition ($369,611), and maintenance ($63,663) for a total of $853,152. Dr. Lukon showed a graph of the operating budget by category, summarized high school and out-of-district tuition, and broke down the school site and system-wide budget figures.
Mrs. Alamanzor discussed projected enrollment for next year. She explained the class numbers and changes by grade and by school. At least 10% of the students will come form military families. She added that Grades 7 and 8 will continue looping this year. Projected enrollment figures were 279 for Melrose, 198 for Lawn, and 477 total. Mrs. Alamanzor presented a chart of staffing changes. She explained the grades in which these changes would occur, said there was no net change in teachers in general education, and explained the special education staffing changes.
Dr. Lukon explained proposed the following staffing changes: 1) decreasing 3 FTE special education Teacher Assistants, 2) increasing one special education teaching position by .25 FTE, and 3) replacing the 190-day Assistant Principal with a full year Melrose Principal.
Dr. Fricklas presented the budget for the Department of Student Services. He explained the rationale for special education services and ways in which Jamestown is currently meeting students’ needs. He added that about 17.9% of the special education budget is for transportation. Key factors relating to the budget include federal and RI regulations, out-of-district tuitions, and initiatives for the coming year. Dr. Fricklas explained that the areas of greatest significance for the budget include students services personnel, contracted services, out-of-district tuitions, and materials/supplies/equipment; he provided facts that supported the budget in each of these significant areas. Proposed initiatives in the coming budget include the use of Lexier as part of a Response to Intervention improvement, 2) the Summer Computing Institute at University of Rhode Island, and 3) a community-based learning project initiative.
Mr. Brennan presented the Capital Reserve projects that will be funded in the coming budget. The total request of $141,800 is 19.43% lower than the amount requested last year. He listed specific renovations at both Melrose and Lawn; the cost of planned projects is $31,900 for Melrose and $54,900 for Lawn.
Dr. Lukon explained that the costs of a system-wide and state-mandated conversion to a new Chart of Accounts will be $55,000. She explained that this cost includes hardware, software, professional development, and electronic purchase ordering. Total cost for Capital Reserve projects is $141,800.
Mr. Brennan asked how student numbers were figured for budgeting tuition. Mrs. Alamanzor explained the process by which students are counted based on the current number of students in the high school plus the number moving up to Grade 9, plus three students who go to Compass School.
Ms. Littlefield presented the budget book and explained to School Committee members what each section included. Additional discussion on some of the sections is summarized.
1) An enterprise fund needs to be set up for food service. The cost of this line item is an estimate based on employee wages plus an adjustment of a percentage for purchased service. The program is anticipated to be self-funding; however, there is not enough data to predict, so it is not in the proposed budget for the town. Ms. Littlefield explained that figures are based on the worst-case scenario if the program were not self-supporting. Mr. Brennan requested year-to-date expenditures.
2) The section on enrollment showed present and projected numbers of students. Mr. Brennan commented about how the high school student numbers were projected in the past. Dr. Lukon explained that she was told to budget for the worst case and to decrease the figures as word was received about students going to private schools; students are applying to private schools now. She added that the special education figures include no contingency and are based only on the current enrollment.
3) Transportation has been budgeted for four buses this year rather than five from last year. Cheryl also hopes to eliminate a non-public bus run next year. Dr. Lukon added that the transportation budget assumed that it is being done independently; however, if SORICO participates in a pilot program, there may be additional savings for Jamestown.
4) Technology has been divided by areas. Mr. Brennan asked whether the operating software was listed as a capital project or a technology item. Dr. Lukon explained that this expense is part of hardware/software/installation; she will check to see if the figures can go in this section. Ms. Kaiser added that, philosophically, one could say that the operating software was a one-time expenditure and could be funded by a transfer from the Unreserved Fund.
5) Benefit rates and packages were adjusted using the prior year’s figures plus adding a 17% increase, Once Blue Cross gives final figures, these will be used in the final budget for the town.
6) Ways to fund the budget include state aid (level-funded at best), preschool tuition, transfer of $125,000 to the school fund balance, transfer to food service, Pathways tuition, and Medicaid. The general fund contribution is estimated to be $11,174,038; however, there are unknowns yet in the areas of health insurance, pensions, and retirement.
7) Maria Alfred updated the final page of the budget book. Based on the audit report, there is an unreserved fund balance of $835,725.
Ms. Kaiser commented that the district would need a huge capital fund balance transfer in order to come under the required cap. She asked for comments from members. Ms. Held asked whether preschool tuition was increased, and Ms. Littlefield said yes. Dr. Lukon explained that there are a number of areas where she anticipated lower numbers; however, with 30/50, the cap gets tighter each year, She added that there are other options that could be investigated in order to decrease cost. Ms. Kaiser said that, at the joint meeting with the Town Council last October, they explained that the town will have major needs in several areas. Dr. Lukon added that, if both state and federal funding are cut, this would impact Jamestown. The budget proposal was based on what is known now. Ms. Kaiser noted that there will be a meeting with SODEXHO on Tuesday regarding projected costs.
Ms. Kaiser asked about summer school costs and said the committee had talked about having this be self-supporting; the cost is $15,000 between the two schools. Dr. Fricklas explained that special education costs are kept in that line item. Dr. Lukon said she will develop a fee schedule. Mrs. Alamanzor added that she will look at the figures again. She thought the numbers were based on the number of students in the program for academic but not learning needs. She will bring the figures to the next meeting.
Ms. Kaiser asked about career/tech school. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that the numbers are based on the present figures. There could be 2-3 students going to MET School; the school is making a presentation to students in 8th Grade soon.
Mr. Whitehouse asked whether there were any capital improvements that needed to be done. Mr. Brennan explained that Mr. Kitts is both cost-conscious and cognizant of maintenance needs. Some projects, such as windows in the cafeteria, were put off. Mr. Brennan suggested that a workshop on capital improvements be planned. The Facilities Committee needs to brainstorm about the Capital Plan. Dr. Lukon added that the office renovation is a new cost this year, and she explained why it is needed.
Ms. Kaiser questioned the cost of the bridge tickets. She added that Mrs. Alfred had said that Jamestown pays for them. Jamestown was supposed to be reimbursed by the state for bridge tokens for school business. She suggested that administration call Bruce Long to ask about the legislation.
Dr. Lukon explained that the budget did not take Impact Aid into account because it is not awarded until October. She recommended that this amount be placed in the next budget year.
Mr. Brennan asked about outsourcing the occupational therapist fees. Dr. Fricklas said they were outsourced. Dr. Lukon explained that this was advertised as a union position to fill temporarily, but there were no applicants. If the occupational therapist returns from leave, this would remain a union position.
Ms. Held asked whether new Board of Regents regulations affected special education. Dr. Fricklas explained that regulations would affect Jamestown in 2009-10 but not for the coming year.
Mr. Whitehouse asked about the rationale for the .25 FTE special education increase. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that the increase was due to the need for more intensive resource programming. Dr. Lukon said that this was a one FTE position last year but was decreased. Dr. Fricklas noted that there is a need for more individualized programming for this student who is part resource and part self-contained. Mrs. Alamanzor said that administration looks at IEP needs vs staffing each year. Mr. Whitehouse asked about the increased cost for books. Ms. Littlefield said prices are rising, and more books per course are needed.
Dr. Lukon asked School Committee members to send questions to her by email so that administration can have the answers by the next meeting.
Mr. Whitehouse commended administration on their excellent presentation.
Public Forum: Tony Rafanelli, Chair of SELAC, stated that SELAC members have not had a chance to look at the budget. Members thought it was to be discussed in February. He said that SELAC cannot endorse the budget until members have had an opportunity to review it.
Adjourned: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date