JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
December 18, 2008
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Marcia Lukon, Superintendent
Dr. Robert Fricklas, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Jane Littlefield, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal at Lawn School
Carole Melucci, Principal at Melrose School
Michael White, Town Council Liaison
The School Committee returned to Open Session following a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 Exception 9, Level III Grievance and Exception 2, Contract Negotiations. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Kallfelz, Whitehouse.
Members absent: Brennan, Held.
Recognition: Retirement of Maria Alfred: Mrs. Alfred was recognized for her years of service to Jamestown School. School Committee members and Dr. Lukon sang a song in Mrs. Alfred’s honor.
Public Forum: Madison Hodrick, a 4 th Grade student, discussed problems going on at lunch where people are taking food that they didn’t order. She described the process she used to identify the problem, and to communicate changes to each classroom. She has been working with Ms. Melucci. Dr. Lukon suggested that the process that is in place and working now at Melrose should also be adopted at Lawn. School Committee members commended Ms. Hodrick for her leadership.
Consent Agenda: Mr. Whitehouse asked to exclude Payment of Bills from the Consent Agenda vote.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Mr. Whitehouse seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: Minutes of November 6 and 20, 2008, and Personnel, appointment of Polly Beth Yoder Alfonso as part-time Speech/Language Pathologist, Christopher Swistak as part-time Math Tutor, and Margaret Gordon as part-time Reading Tutor. All approved. So moved.
Mr. Whitehouse requested explanation of payments to Island Therapy, Sax Arts and Crafts, and Zones. He also questioned amounts for heating oil. Mrs. Alfred and Mrs. Littlefield explained each payment.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Mr. Whitehouse seconded a motion to approve Payment of Bills for November 7, 10,12, and 25, 2008. All approved. So moved.
Correspondence: Ms. Kaiser reported that the school received a letter from the Department of Labor and Training; it informed the school of rectification of an error in payment to an employee. Dr. Lukon reported that the employee has now been paid.
Food Service Update: Dr. Lukon presented information that was sent by Solange Morrisette. 1) The new NutriKids Point-of-Sale system “went live” on November 10, 2008. About 60-78% of students at Melrose and 60-65% of students at Lawn are using the system to pre-pay for lunch. Mr. Whitehouse asked whether it is taking less staff time now; his understanding was that the system was instituted in an effort to streamline the process. Mrs. Alfred answered that the new system is more efficient. 2) New menu items have been instituted, and they are being well received. 3) On November 19, eighty-five parents of Melrose students came to celebrate Thanksgiving at the school with their children. 4) Graphs of meal count comparisons with last year demonstrate that, overall, the number of meals at Lawn are down this year, and the number of meals at Melrose are up this year. Dr. Lukon commented that one of the mothers said that some children do not know what the names of the food mean. She will suggest to Ms. Morrisette that some food names be changed to describe more clearly what is being served.
Liaison to North Kingstown School Committee: Ms. Kaiser explained that North Kingstown School Committee responded to Jamestown’s letter regarding the appointment of an alternate liaison when Mr. Brennan is unable to attend. They thought having an alternate was a good idea. Ms. Kaiser will notify the School Committee that Ms. Held will attend meetings when Mr. Brennan is unavailable.
Teacher Seniority Lottery: Dr. Lukon explained that the seniority lottery process occurs when teachers are hired on the same date. Cynthia Cherney drew teacher names in the following order: #1 - Tara Higgins, #2 - Jennifer Caswell, and #3 - Tara Toolan.
Transfer of Unrestricted Funds: Mrs. Alfred explained that she had a meeting with Mr. Keiser and reread School Committee Minutes to determine the amount of the school’s unreserved fund balance that is to be returned to the town. Her two proposals included 1) returning $170,000, as stated in the Minutes of April 24, 2008 or 2) returning a 5% cap, or $280,675. Ms. Kaiser explained that, regarding capping the budget, the Town Administrator had recommended that the most recently audited budget should be used to determine the 5% cap. Mr. Whitehouse added that the agreement included that part of the total transfer amount would be earmarked for Rolling Agenda improvements. Mr. White agreed that a total of $170,000 would be transferred to the town, and the town has agreed to earmark the funds for Rolling Agenda.
Dr. Lukon added that the School Committee chose not to make transfer of a 5% cap a policy this year but to see how the process worked. Members discussed which amount was appropriate to transfer.
Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Kaiser seconded a motion to approve a transfer of $170,000 from the school’s unreserved fund balance to the town. Motion was approved 2 Ayes to 1 Nay, with Mr. Whitehouse voting Nay. So moved.
Timeline for FY ‘10 Budget Process: Dr. Lukon distributed the timeline for the FY ‘10 budget and explained the process. Administration has been meeting to prepare the budget. She added that the sessions on January 22 and February 12 are not regular School Committee meeting dates.
Dr. Lukon explained that she received word that visitors from China will be in Jamestown the first week in March. She asked Mr. Keiser if he could schedule a joint meeting for the Town Council and the School Committee during that week so that the visitors could attend. Mr. Keiser will try to schedule the meeting for Tuesday, March 3, 2009.
Mr. Whitehouse added that he has found sheet music and words to the Chinese National Anthem.
Ms. Kaiser asked whether Town Council meetings have been changed permanently to the first and third Mondays; Mr. White explained the new Town Council meeting schedule.
Discussion of Economic Outlook, State and Local: Ms. Kaiser reported on a meeting she attended at which Gary Sasse, Director of the R.I. Department of Revenue, discussed the state economic outlook. Mr. Sasse reported that Rhode Island’s current unemployment rate is over 9% and is not expected to drop below 8% before the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. He said he thought that 2/3 of the unemployment rate is related to the state’s economic problem, and the other 1/3 is due to the state’s failure to make structural changes from a goods-centered to a service-centered economy. He talked about how R.I. can position itself and emerge as competitive, and he added that education is at the center of this process. Mr. Sasse warned that communities should expect cuts for the next two years.
Mr. Sasse asked school committee Chairs to identify tools to assist in coping with possible mid-year budget cuts in state aid. School committee Chairs proposed that the following tools be included in the Governor’s supplemental budget: 1) a legislative change to permit districts to lay off staff at mid-year, 2) a legislative change to require districts to bus students to parochial and private schools only on days that the districts are in session, 3) a change in regulations from the 180-day requirement to an hourly requirement that would allow districts to opt for four-day school weeks, 4) codification of case law of the last three months concerning management rights, 5) repeal of legislation requiring steps in teacher salaries, and 6) a legislative change to require that all contract negotiations be independent of the previous contract.
Mr. Sasse said that legislators cannot regionalize school systems because of individual town charters; however, they can regionalize administration of the districts. Attendees at the meeting discussed how much would it would take to regionalize administration and whether it would work. They suggested that perhaps one superintendent per seven districts might work. The group also targeted purchasing and health insurance. Mr. Sasse said that there would be a commission to formulate a plan.
Mr. Sasse added that President-Elect Obama has highlighted a stimulus package for school and highway renovations. He recommended that each school district look at what needs to be done and prepare proposals now. Dr. Lukon added that she has spoken with Mr. Kitts. Projects would not receive full financing. Mr. Whitehouse suggested that it might be prudent to look at capital projects planned over the next five years and to decide what could be done. Ms. Kaiser said districts will need to stay informed about these topics; however, they need more details.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Lukon reported on a number of items. 1) The R.I. Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is recommending that schools be closed tomorrow, December 19, due to a winter storm. Dr. Lukon explained that school has been cancelled. A ConnectED message was sent to parents and staff this afternoon. 2) The budget process was previously discussed. 3) Both schools have conducted lock-down drills, and they went very well. A number of questions came up as a result of these drills. Administration has decided to invite Sergeant Alan Garcia, who is an expert in school emergency management, to meet Jamestown’s team. Mr. Whitehouse questioned whether Jamestown’s present communication system at Melrose is effective. He said he wants to make sure students are safe. Ms. Melucci explained the two-step process the school uses for communicating during an emergency. 4) The district has implemented SchoolSpring, which is an online service for hiring, screening and posting jobs. Dr. Lukon explained that Jamestown will no longer be accepting paper applications. The system verifies accuracy of the information in the applications. She said she anticipates that the school will have greater efficiency in the hiring process and will save substantially more than the $1,200 per year that the system costs. She added that one ad in the Providence Journal could cost more than $1,200.
Principals’ Report: Mrs. Alamanzor and Ms. Melucci reported on a number of items. 1) Parent conference were held on November 20 and 21. The conferences in Grades 7 and 8 were student-led. 2) The 2 nd Grade Thanksgiving Musical was held on November 26 and was well done. 3) Lock-down drills were held on December 2nd and 16th in both schools. Administration was happy with the way the drills were conducted. 4) Lawn School band and chorus concerts were held on December 17 and 18. The 5 th Grade chorus performed for the first time. 5) The following Jamestown students were selected to receive music honors: Emma Vogel for Rhode Island All-State Band; Mady Brown, Christina Evans, Dana Larkin, and Jan Trousilek for Rhode Island Honors Chorus; and Nick Delmonico for Rhode Island Honors Band. 6) The Jazz Band performed at the State House on December 11. 7) 8 th Graders from Jamestown and North Kingstown will visit the high school on December 23 to learn about visual and performing arts opportunities. 8) The 5 th Grade class attended a presentation on fair housing. 9) The Preschool is having “After Dark” tonight in which twinkle lights are used to decorate their room. 10) The Kindergarten musical is next Tuesday.
Mr. Whitehouse noted that 62.5% of the Principals’ Report concerned music or was performance-based.
Director of Student Services’ Report: Dr. Fricklas reported on a number of items. 1) The RIDE School Support System Administrative Team Interviews phase occurred on December 12. 2) Alison Lowery, Jamestown’s CompuClaim representative, will train the remainder of the staff who are not familiar with MaxCapture. 3) Ms. Schoemaker and Ms. Fiorio will attend the RIDE and RITAP-hosted IEP Training of Trainers workshop. 4) Jamestown has submitted the Title III ELL Services Desk Audit to RIDE in advance of the new ELL regulations which will be announced soon. 5) Melrose School has been awarded a grant to be a demonstration site for the Lexia Reading Program. Dr. Fricklas described the program and said he hopes it will be used as a primary intervention for at-risk literacy students. 6) The Special Education Manual has been completed and duplicated. It will be presented to the team at the RIDE SSS LEA Presentation on January 14, 2009.
SIT/Melrose: Mr. Whitehouse reported that the group is working on the SIP Action Plan. The foreign language questionnaire results are in and will be presented to Dr. Lukon soon. The group also discussed the lock-down drills and professional development funding.
SELAC: Dr. Fricklas reported that there was a short business meeting. A committee was formed to discuss the extended school year. The group also discussed upcoming monitoring and space issues. The meeting was followed by a quick potluck dinner.
Facilities Committee: None.
North Kingstown School Committee: Ms. Kaiser reported for Mr. Brennan. The committee discussed additional courses in accounting, French, wellness/PE classes, provided they have the correct number of students who register. They also discussed the policy on students keeping cell phones in their lockers. Mr. Brennan attended an all-day Superintendent Search Committee meeting in North Kingstown. They have narrowed the choice to the Burrillville Superintendent; however, they may discuss re-advertising for candidates or they may wait to see what happens regarding state administrative structure.
SORICO: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the group met and had a good Keywork session at South Kingstown High School. Dr. Lukon added that the joint superintendents/school committee group met, and Ms. Held attended for Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser noted that SORICO will meet with legislators in January.
Policy: Mr. Whitehouse reported that the group is working on an illegal harassment policy and a hiring policy. He displayed the hiring manual. Ms. Held is also reviewing the tobacco policy, which will be brought to the full committee at the next meeting.
Public Forum: None.
Adjourned: Mr. Whitehouse moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m. All approved. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date