Lawn Avenue School

October 30, 2008

School Committee Present:

Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson

Julia Held

Julie Kallfelz

Bruce Whitehouse

Administration Present:

Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent

Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services

Maria Alfred, Business Manager

Jane Littlefield, Interim Business Manager

Kathleen Almanzor, Lawn Principal

Carole Melucci, Melrose Principal

Town Council Present:

Julio DiGiando, President

William Kelly

Robert Sutton

Barbara Szepatowski

Michael White

Administration Present: Bruce Keiser, Town Administrator

Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.

Members present: Catherine Kaiser, Julie Kallfelz, Julia Held, B.J. Whitehouse. Absent: William Brennan

Joint Meeting Discussion Topics

School District Budget Drivers: Superintendent Lukon shared preliminary figures for anticipated FY10 increases stemming from three major budget drivers: salaries, benefits and special education tuitions. Other line items likely to increase include workers’ compensation, liability insurance, repairs, maintenance supplies, service contracts, purchased services, special education services, and tutoring. Dr. Lukon expressed concern that federal grants and state entitlement monies may not be forthcoming due to the current economic downturn. The FY09 budget relies on grants to fund $378,000 in salaries. The town administrator and school committee chair noted the possibility that aid to cities and towns will be reduced in the current budget and that state aid to schools will decrease in FY10. The two groups also discussed the likelihood that consolidation will be a hot topic during the upcoming legislative season. Ending with a piece of good news, the town administrator reported that as parties to the electricity contract negotiated by the League of Cities and Towns, both the town and school department will benefit from a three-year rate of 9.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Enrollments and Class Sizes: The superintendent provided current and projected enrollment figures, as well as current class sizes. The superintendent also shared the union contract language on class size and the administrators’ recommendations for maximum class size.

Budget Parameters: The superintendent invited the council to discuss budget parameters. While the 4.75% tax cap provides a legislated limit, the two groups agreed to defer any further discussion of parameters until clearer projections are available of the effect of the recessionary economy on grants, entitlements and state aid.

Possible Revenue Sources: Phil Thornton, Interim Superintendent of North Kingstown, reported to Dr. Lukon that some NK parents have voiced objections to the plan to send students to Jamestown Schools. The NK School Committee has decided to monitor enrollments for the next year with the hope that tuitioning students to another district will not be necessary. Dr. Lukon also reported that Pathways probably will not rent space at Lawn School next year because local students enrolled in the program will be moving to other programs (due to the students’ age).

Scope of Organizational/Management Study: The town administrator reported on his conversations with RIPEC concerning a current study involving the school districts of Aquidneck Island; and the possibility of a study of Jamestown town and school administrative structures and management systems to determine whether economies can be realized through restructuring. The two groups discussed expectations for such a study and anticipated outcomes. Having informally explored—and dismissed as impractical—a combining of business operations, the two groups expressed reservations about spending resources on a management study. However, both groups agreed to defer any decision until Mr. Keiser receives study cost figures from RIPEC.

Closing Comments: Mr. Kelly raised the question of closing Lawn School and tuitioning students to another district. Mr. Sutton cautioned the school committee not to approach the budget with the sole focus of maintaining the current level of programming. The committee reaffirmed its commitment to present a budget that meets the needs of all students while being responsive to the needs of the community. The two groups agreed to meet again in January.

Adjourned: Ms. Held moved and Ms. Kallfelz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m. So moved.


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Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date