JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Melrose Avenue School
November 16, 2006
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
The School Committee returned from a 6:15 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5, Exception 2 - Collective Bargaining Discussions of JTA and JESPA Contract Negotiations. No votes were taken.
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, Brennan, Held, Kallfelz.
Members absent: Filkins.
Public Forum: None.
Recognition: Ms. Kaiser read a letter of appreciation that the School Committee sent to Ms. Elizabeth Murray two weeks ago.
Presentation: Art Enrichment Curriculum: Jan Krause explained her work with 4th Grade students on the links between math and art. She introduced two of her students, Matt and Kristen, who gave short presentations on their project about two- and three-dimensional shapes.
Correspondence: Dr. Power gave Ms. Kaiser correspondence from the Wellness Committee.
Consent Agenda: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: A) Approval of Minutes of October 6 and October 19, 2006 and B) Payment of Bills of October 30, 2006. All approved. So moved.
Continued Discussion of Home School Applications: Ms. Pinto distributed copies of Portsmouth’s policy on home schooling, as well as work that Jamestown had done earlier on this issue. Dr. Power noted that he recommended that Portsmouth’s information be brought to the School Committee, because Portsmouth had litigation some years ago on this topic. Ms. Kaiser said that this subject will be put on the Agenda for the December 21 meeting.
Mr. Brennan questioned whether Jamestown has revised all of its policies. Ms. Pinto said that many have been revised, particularly if there was a need or a state law. Dr. Power suggested that the committee might want to get policy manuals from other school departments in order to see if they have some policies that might be applicable in Jamestown. He added that it is easier to have discussions about policy if there is no immediate problem. Mr. Brennan noted that North Kingstown School Committee has 80 policies on their Agenda; some of these are based on state and federal law and may not be necessary. Ms. Pinto added that Jamestown has North Kingstown’s manual. Dr. Power added that South Kingstown’s manual is pretty up to date. He suggested that some problems are cyclical, and it is best to have the policy ahead of the problem. He gave an example of the discipline policy in which someone was restrained the policy and the policy wasn’t followed, this would open the school to liability. Ms. Held asked if Dr. Power could put together a list of policies that he thought were lacking in Jamestown. Dr. Power said he could sit with administration to look at issues that were important historically. Ms. Pinto added that the school vacation policy came about because of a need expressed by the teachers. She noted that the district also has access to Rhode Island’s school committee electronic policy manual. She suggested that policy revisions include transportation, athletic facilities, and retention/promotion.
Ms. Held suggested that Dr. Power prioritize areas that he thought Jamestown needed, and the School Committee can look at them. Dr. Power noted that he will have administration look at issues that have come up in the past.
Continued Discussion of Food Service Programs: Ms. Kaiser reported that she met with Dorothy Braley, Deb Pini, and Dr. Power. Their proposal is to go forward with food service goals. This will be discussed in more depth in December. The meeting on December 14 will be an intent to go to bid and to present direction to potential vendors. Ms. Kaiser said she was convinced that this project is doable, and this meeting would let vendors see facilities here.
Ms. Kaiser distributed draft goals for food service operations in Jamestown. She explained that these goals are based on a core list of draft goals that Ms. Braley and others are preparing for the DOE and to which all district will have to adhere. Jamestown will be the test case. Ms. Kaiser read and explained each goal. She said that, in the pre-bid meeting, Jamestown will consider with vendors two options: 1) hot meals that meet the explained criteria, and 2) cold meal choices which may depend on Jamestown’s kitchen facilities. Ms. Kaiser noted that, after discussions with the vendors, Jamestown will draw up a Request for Proposal and will put it out for bid in January.
Ms. Held added that she attended the Health and Wellness Committee meeting. Members have been informed of the meeting on December 14. She explained the rationale for this meeting and invited Wellness Committee members to attend.
Ms. Held distributed the proposed School Health Regulations and noted that definitions of terms were available. She said there was discussion about changing goals and looking at how other districts are handling the issues. She explained that there was lots of talk about snacks in the classroom. The committee considered whether to have one birthday party per month. Mrs. Alamanzor said that she does not want to have to police this, and she suggested rewards for classes that have healthy celebrations. She explained that lists of approved snacks were distributed. The school nurse is concerned about foods being brought to school with no lists of ingredients for students will allergies. Ms. Kaiser added that she thought the issue of celebrations should be a School Committee decision.
Mr. Brennan questioned the section of the policy concerning the amount of natural sugar in fruit juices vs sugars in sweetened drinks. Ms. Kaiser noted that the state committee has asked for opinions about this proposed policy and suggestions for changes. Ms. Kallfelz added that she saw a document that went into more detail about juice. She said that the idea was to wean students off high-sugar drinks. She added that naturally-occurring sugar in juice is different than added sugar, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Ms. Kaiser explained that this part of the policy was written specifically to eliminate some brands of chocolate milk.
Ms. Kaiser reiterated that the meeting on December 14 will be at 7:00 p.m. and is an extra meeting. She noted that North Kingstown will be invited to this meeting. She thought it might be in keeping with Jamestown’s collaborative efforts to invite other districts as well. Ms. Kaiser suggested that an invitation be sent to members of the SORICO district.
Continued Discussion of Tuitioning Students: Ms. Kaiser explained that there has been no word from the lawyer, so this discussion will be delayed.
Continued Pre-Budget Discussion: Ms. Kaiser asked for suggestions for budget discussion.
Ms. Kaiser said that Jamestown asked SORICO who in South County was renting school facilities to educational entities, and she listed a few specific organizations. She thought that Jamestown should talk with other districts and suggested that formal discussions begin on this issue. Ms. Held asked whether Jamestown anticipated extra space. Ms. Kaiser said it might be possible to move a grade to Melrose. She noted that there was concern about how to make the best use of space and to maximize resources.
Ms. Kaiser asked Mrs. Alfred if she could bring to the next meeting a figure on costs for all substitutes, broken down by the number of days used.
Dr. Power suggested that it made sense to have the early childhood center on school property. Ms. Held explained that the director of the center bought that building and renovated it. Dr. Power suggested that it might be for cost-effective for them to have the early childhood center in the school, and perhaps there could be future discussion about it. He explained that in Newport, Head Start was housed in Sullivan School, and there was a nice transition and support fo the children.
Mr. Brennan said he wanted to discuss more rigor in the curriculum by combining grades. He thought this was an interesting way to deal with enrollment numbers and said Jamestown should think about this opportunity. Mrs. Alamanzor said this comes down to a number situation. Mr. Brennan suggested that perhaps the School Committee should hear a proposal on this issue, regarding which classrooms could loop in this way. He wondered if administration could do a study, see if it made sense, and determine the cost of it.
Mrs. Alamanzor distributed the Principal’s Report on which there were enrollment figures and class size numbers for next year. She referred to the three groups in 7th Grade. Mr. Brennan thought that Grade 4-6 might be a place to start because Grade 4 has a smaller class. He thought it might be possible, by moving up or down, children who could get value from increased rigor, while others in the classroom might benefit from less rigor. Dr. Power suggested that it might be possible to loop Grades 1 and 2. Mrs. Kallfelz added that the School Committee looks to teachers and administration to make educational recommendations. Dr. Power added that it is more difficult to combine older grades. Ms. Kaiser thought it might be possible at Melrose to group between two grades in core courses so that there could be crossover, for example, in advanced math, this would help with the enrichment piece.
Ms. Held asked whether the present budget has to fall under the 5.25% cap. Ms. Kaiser said yes; this is an additional constraint this year. Ms. Kaiser suggested that the School Committee think of specific areas to discuss at the net meeting. For example, ideas concerning legislation need to be in concrete form by January. She questioned whether Jamestown would submit a bill for unfunded mandates. She thought there were other areas that could be discussed in more depth at the next workshop.
Dr. Power said he is interested in wind power and thought that Jamestown could be a leader. Mr. Brennan explained that the Town Council will write a grant for a feasibility study to look at the best site for wind power, and all town properties would be options. Dr. Power thought it would be possible for the school to save money on electric costs over which it has no control right now. Ms. Kaiser noted that two groups have been working on this topic for months. Mr. Brennan said there was potential to generate 50-75% of the island’s energy at peak wind times. Ms. Kaiser suggested that the school could not look at wind power without input from the town. Dr. Power suggested that the school volunteer to be the town’s test site.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Power reported on several items. 1) He walked the property with the Indians and the Historical Preservation Society of Providence. They will do a test excavation at no cost, for example, in an area for a new playground. One area to consider is the asphalted area where buses are kept. Dr. Power noted that he wrote a letter to Buddy Croft at the Bridge and Turnpike Authority regarding housing the buses. He explained that the playground cannot return to its old location. 2) Disney will be filming in the school on Saturday. Two 8th Grade students were chosen by lottery to attend the filming. 3) Dr. Power thought that there will be an interesting discussion about food service and said there are very knowledgeable people on Jamestown’s team.
Mr. Brennan questioned fees that the school will receive as a result of the filming. He referred to the impact of the filming on school property, especially at the corner by the Melrose School playground. He suggested that a letter be sent to Disney so that they will be responsible for making good on the damage to this area. Mrs. Alamanzor added that film crews will be here until January.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor reported on several items. 1) Sue Constable gave a presentation on autism for Professional Development Day. 2) The Second Step Program, concerning awareness of emotions, is being taught for ½ hour per week in grades K-4. It teaches a 4-step problem solving method. It has been well received. 3) Personal Literacy Plans are being done. 4) The 7th Grade has added a class three times per week that focuses on writing and language. 5) Advisories are going well. The Steering Committee has met. 6) The SALT survey is going out the first week in December. 7) After-school enrichment programs will be finished next week. 8) Mrs. Alamanzor distributed copies of 2nd Grade differentiated learning plans as examples, and she explained how they work. 9) Donna Drago visited the 2nd Grade and will be writing an article about it.
Mr. Brennan asked whether the Advisories move with the students. Mrs. Alamanzor said yes; this year’s advisors from 8th Grade will move to 5th Grade next year. She also explained the process for the 8th Grade portfolio and students’ involvement in their differentiated learning plans.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that there was a meeting today. The group discussed differentiated instruction. They recognized that there is a very small group of very bright “rocket scientists”, and they looked at a lot of options for feasible programs for the next level of students.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that there was a meeting last week. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that the group looked at comments on the electronic survey; they focused on needs and planning for next steps. They also discussed what it would look like to loop students for two years. Mrs. Alamanzor added that the goal is to have this in place by next month.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that SELAC met Tuesday. They discussed the Open House. They commended outgoing Chair, Terrie Tamase. Rick Lavoie will be the Education Awareness Day speaker on March 31. The committee discussed the possibility of co-sponsoring the speaker with another district. They also discussed participation in pre-budget discussions, more interactions among other school committees, and tuitioning students with special needs. Ms. Pinto added that they also discussed the Pre-K - 12 literacy policy.
Facilities Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that there has been no meeting. He requested that administration schedule a meeting, and he explained that Kate Shuhy used to email committee members about the meeting dates. He noted that Facilities Committee usually meets before the budget hearings in order to work on the Capital Plan. Mr. Brennan suggested that the committee meet during the first part of January. Mrs. Alfred added that the Facilities Committee worked on the 5-year Plan, and it was completed by February 1 last year. Mr. Brennan requested that each committee member have a copy of the Capital Plan, as well as water bills back to July-September 2005 to discover the impact of the waterless urinals.
North Kingstown School Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that there was controversy over whether the dance team was a sport or an activity. North Kingstown will be instituting a Chinese language program at Quidnesset School. Teachers will be coming from China to teach classes up through high school. There was a lot of discussion of this issue. Mr. Brennan said that the committee is in flux right now. The swearing in meeting is on December 4. There is jockeying for the Chair position. North Kingstown passed a vote on recall of elected officials. Mr. Mudge will not be on the committee; however, he is next in line if someone resigns.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that the committee is interested in School Committee members’ comments about the proposed school health policy. She explained that one of the action plans is to support healthier lifestyles for staff and includes how to provide staff education in this area. Ms. Kaiser said that this topic should come up under contract discussions. She recommended that comments on health and wellness be put on the Agenda for the December meeting.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date