JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
February 15, 2007
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 6:45 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 (a) (2) Collective Bargaining. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the general meeting to order at 7:12 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: All present.
Public Forum: Michelle Wagner spoke in favor of the special education process of transitioning to the school system. She praised the transitioning team being so accommodating. She thought this should be considered when funding was being discussed.
Tracie Shea expressed gratitude to the people in Jamestown who do special education really well.
Pre-Deprivation Hearing - Statutory Non-Renewal Process for the 2007-2008 School Year: Dr. Power read a notice regarding non-renewal of positions. He said that the teachers who are affected have received non-renewal letters. He explained that the affected teachers or their representative may speak at tonight’s meeting. Teachers did not speak, and Mr. Gingras declined to speak. Dr. Power recommended adopting the resolution for non-renewal.
Correspondence: Mr. Brennan distributed a letter he had written regarding funding for the Student Assistance Counselor.
Ms. Kaiser had several pieces of correspondence. She referred to a letter and statistics that were sent by Ginny Perry. Mrs. Perry wanted the School Committee to take note of North Kingstown High School’s performance on test scores. Ms. Kaiser listed some of North Kingstown’s academic highlights. Mr. Brennan added that, in the top twenty students at North Kingstown, Jamestown has seven, or 30%. 2) Ms. Kaiser received a letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding teaching both abstinence-only and contraception in the school system. AAP is in favor of abstinence but also wants Rhode Island’s program to be realistic and offer contraception information. 3) Ms. Kaiser received a letter from DOE announcing a an information workshop for teachers on the subject of the statewide curriculum to be held on March 6.
Mrs. Kallfelz received an email regarding hand sanitizers from a sales representative. She forwarded it to Mrs. Alamanzor.
Dr. Power received a letter from the Rhode Island Arts Education Association regarding supporting arts education. They are looking for endorsement for Youth Art Month.
Consent Agenda: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the Consent Agenda: A) Approval of Minutes for January 18 and February 1, 2007; B) Payment of Bills of January 30, 2007; and C) Personnel - Acceptance of Resignations for Holly McMackin and Faith Kaplan; Request for Maternity Leave for Jeana Calise; and Non-renewal and/or Termination and/or Reduction of Teaching Staff for 2007-2008 for Kathleen Allen, Christine Bernardo (1.0 to .4), Julie Calise, Cynthia Cherney, Jennifer Clark, Erin Evans, Anne Gorman (.6 to .5), Faith Krause (1.0 to .75), Holly McMackin, Carole Melucci, Jane Mitchell, Mary Jane Moynihan, Kelly Speck, Joseph Ucci (.8 to .7), and Wendy Williams. All approved. So moved.
Final Reading of Home School Policy: Ms. Davis read the proposed policy. Mr. Brennan asked Ms. Pinto regarding testing and how administration knew that students should go to the next grade. Ms. Pinto explained that #5 concerns home-schooled students re-entering the school system, and #4 concerns testing of home-schooled students. Dr. Power added that one concerns how students are evaluated in their home school program, and the other concerns how students are placed when returning to the school system. He noted that, potentially, someone could have been let go from another school system and then come back to Jamestown/North Kingstown for graduation.
Ms. Held moved and Mrs. Kallfelz seconded a motion to approve the Home Instruction Policy as written. All approved. So moved.
Continued Discussion and Possible Vote on the FY08 School Budget: Dr. Power said that he and Mrs. Alfred had revisited some budget items. He said they did not want to go into the Fund Balance if it wasn’t needed. Dr. Power recommended the following cuts: 1) decrease physical education from 1.0 to .7; 2) reduce by 5 students the high school tuition for Grade 9; 3) decrease retiree health benefits from 12% to 10%; 4) reduce certified retirement; 5) reduce FICA; 6) reduce health insurance from 12% to 10%; 7) and reduce technology support in each school. The total decrease is about $78,000. Dr. Power cautioned against cutting the budget any lower.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked about the Blue Cross cuts to 10%. Mrs. Alfred explained that the health care increases have been 7-8% per year. Blue Cross sends final figures before the budget process ends at the Town Council level. Mrs. Kallfelz asked whether gym teachers have planning periods, and Dr. Power said yes.
Mr. Brennan asked about he cost of North Kingstown’s food service. Mrs. Alfred explained that the report goes to November and shows a three-month loss of $8,999 for Jamestown. She added that administrative fees were added to the contract, and these fees were not in the budget last year. She explained that Jamestown asked North Kingstown to put administrative fees in the contract rather than putting 25% on top of the bill. Mr. Brennan added that the loss will be about $36,000 for the year, plus about $16,000 that the lunch program is losing. Mrs. Alfred said that this does not count the addition 4% of income that is added on top of the bill. Mr. Brennan asked about a line item for salaries on page 6. Mrs. Alfred said the $32,000 is for purchased services; however, there are also two salaries that will be part of the bid. She added that she wanted to transfer one line to a special checking account for food services.
Ms. Kaiser suggested that the sub-committee meet with North Kingstown because it appears that Jamestown will be over budget. Mrs. Alfred added that Jamestown hasn’t beet getting the monthly reports that were sent last year. North Kingstown has not yet sent a bill for food services. The following members of the sub-committee will meet with North Kingstown: Dr. Power, Mrs. Alfred, Ms. Kaiser, and Mr. Brennan.
Mr. Brennan read a letter he had written regarding his rationale for not funding the $30,000 for the Student Assistance Counselor. He said that the school already had a social worker and a psychologist, and the town has a counselor for the Teen Center. He compared this position with the DARE program. Ms. Kaiser asked how many days the counselor was here. Mrs. Alamanzor said the average is 2.5 days here and 2.5 days in Little Compton. She said that Jamestown got a grant for the first year, and the Drug Abuse Task Force paid the rest. Dr. Power noted that the position costs $66,700. The school will use some federal funding to pay part of the cost. Mr. Brennan suggested that the federal money could be used to bring someone in to work with the current school staff.
Ms. Held thought there were good reasons to drop the DARE program and thought this was a separate issue. She said the district’s health curriculum has a lot of redundancies and doesn’t engage students the way a person would. Ms. Kaiser asked whether there is a regulatory requirement for a student assistance counselor, and Dr. Power said no. She added that when someone accepts a grant, it usually means signing up for financial commitment down the road. She saw benefits for the Student Assistance Counselor position in that 1) it would not be shared and one person could be here consistently; and 2) there is a cost to society for not having the position. She thought it was important to catch students early. She didn’t think it should be the school’s responsibility, but the school is where students can be reached.
Mrs. Kallfelz said she struggles with the philosophy that schools are used to solve society’s problems. However, there have been several years in which to test-drive this position and to see its benefits. Ms. Kaiser added that the press coverage said the Substance Abuse Task Force is lobbying for more money from the state. She suggested that the School Committee throw weight with them regarding their quest for money. Mr. Brennan asked who manages the Student Assistance Position. Dr. Power explained that Sarah Dinklage has a statewide contract to manage substance abuse groups in the state. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that Jamestown’s counselor makes her schedule available and keeps administration informed.
Ms. Held said she thinks there is a need for this position, and it is fulfilling a need that is benefitting students. She asked whether it was a year-to-year position. Dr. Power said it is a purchased service on a year-to-year basis. Ms. Held asked whether the funding given by other groups could change if the Substance Abuse Task Force got more money from the state. Mrs. Alamanzor said she thinks so, but Sarah could answer questions better. The idea for the position is to have the person be part of the community; for example, the SAC accompanied the 7th Grade to a Leadership Institute at Alton Jones.
Dr. Power pointed to bar graphs that showed the last three years for the school budget. He said that the School Committee needs to know that Jamestown 1) is one of five districts to see a decrease in special education costs, 2) has a decrease in certified staff, 3) has money for enrichment, and 4) has money for building maintenance. Last year’s increase was 5.19%; this year’s increase is 4.26%, so it is lower than last year’s request.
Mr. Brennan asked about the question a parent asked last week regarding climate control for the school in the summer. Dr. Power said that he and Mr. Kitts met regarding how to air condition two rooms by using either a split system or units in the windows. He said they would probably recommend putting units in the windows, and he though this could be done with the capital budget that is available now. He said they are looking for quiet equipment. Mrs. Alfred said that the charts came from the DOE and will be in Infoworks.
Ms. Held asked whether Dr. Power would use some of these figures for the presentation to Town Council. Dr. Power said yes, he would give an overview of where the district has been and where it is now. He said that he met with Bruce Keiser today regarding budget, and Mr. Keiser thinks the district is on target. Ms. Kaiser added that the current general fund contribution is 5.19% and thought it was interesting that towns are hovering around that cap. Mr. Brennan noted that the InSite cap figures differ. Mrs. Alfred explained that InSite includes all money and not just budget, so the figures are higher.
Ms. Kaiser requested that discussion and possible vote on a contribution to Rolling Agenda for FY 07 be placed on the Agenda for the meeting on February 27.
Mr. Brennan asked Ms. Pinto why high school resource tuition increased. Ms. Pinto said the formula is the same, but there are fewer students graduating than are entering. She noted that some students moved from resource to self-contained settings, and this is more expensive. Mrs. Alfred said that the total resource tuition was higher last year, and Jamestown has about half the FTEs as last year. Ms. Pinto said that the cost is twice as high if a student goes from resource to self-contained. Ms. Pinto said that she and Mrs. Alfred look at the bill carefully to make sure the students are supposed to be there. Mrs. Alfred said she used 2nd quarter tuition figures for North Kingstown: there were 224 students last year, and there are 219 projected for this year. Ms. Held expressed concern that Mrs. Alfred still has to make lots of corrections to the tuition bills. Dr. Power explained that North Kingstown does not look at bills to make sure the services are there. Jamestown pays the cost, so it should be Jamestown’s district that monitors carefully to make sure that costs are appropriate. He said that North Kingstown relies on Jamestown to monitor these costs.
Ms. Held moved to approve the updated FY 2008 school budget. Mr. Brennan seconded for discussion. Mr. Brennan said that, although he doesn’t have a line-item veto, he will support the budget this year. He thought it was a very good budget. Ms. Held said she appreciated administration’s work.
Ms. Held moved and Mr. Brennan seconded a motion to approve the FY 2008 school budget in the amount of $11,307,947, which is an increase of 4.73% in the operating and capital budget. All approved. So moved.
New Business: None.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Power presented several items. 1) Dr. Power referred to an email he had forwarded to committee members. He had a discussion with the Town Administrator regarding health care. The district is looking at ways to save money that are workable for Jamestown ant the union. Discussions are going on now. 2) Dr. Power met with superintendents from South County to discuss ways to save money. They are looking at the process of hiring substitutes. 3) Dr. Power and Mr. Kitts are looking at ways to solve the problem of air conditioning Melrose School in the summer without large costs to the district. 4) Dr. Power suggested that it was time to have Jamestown’s consultants back to look at the RPF for the lunch program before it goes out to bid. He is waiting for a call from one advisor. 5) Dr. Power is looking into the price for a scoreboard with a cage for the field. Coca Cola is willing to help. Dr. Power will return with more information later.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor presented several items. 1) Mrs. Alamanzor called attention to NECAP test results which are attached to her report. Results will be discussed at School Report Night on March 28. Letters will be sent to parents in advance so that they can discuss the results that night. This is the second year of the test. She said that some students are now in the “partially sufficient” category, and it is good to be able to show the students they are almost there. She said there was lots of good, helpful information the report. 2) Jan Kraus’ students in Grades K-4 will have art work on display at the Jamestown Philomenian Library from February 17-March 1. 3) Grade 3 held its annual Native American Show. 4) Grade 4 will go on a field trip to Ellis Island on May 18. 5) The statewide curriculum was released this week. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that districts do not have to adopt this curriculum in language arts, math, and science. The state wanted to have a curriculum that would be useful to school districts. 6) Grade 6 went to Alton Jones for their annual trip.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the committee discussed a late-in-May community project which will involve about ten students, a teacher, and community members. Mrs. Alamanzor added that this will include two 2.5-hour sessions. Letters are being sent to community members next week. Mrs. Kallfelz said the idea is to pair students’ interests with those of community members.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the SIT met with faculty regarding a pilot project on differentiation, especially in math. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that the SIT will attend the next faculty meeting.
SELAC: Ms. Pinto reported that the committee discussed Education Awareness Day, summer school, and a newspaper article.
Facilities Committee: None.
North Kingstown School Committee: None.
SORICO: Jamestown attendees at the legislative meeting performed a song.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser reported that she testified at the Adequacy hearing. Consultants gave a presentation about per-pupil costs at high-performing versus urban core schools. If costs for special education and ESL are removed, per-pupil costs are about the same. The consultants have a way of looking at basic costs with additions for special education and ESL, and they hope to have a formula in a year or two. Ms. Kaiser said that her major point was that it was nice that the state is looking at the cost of providing funds for high-performing education; however, since they put the cap and process for funding into place, school districts will only see money two years down the road.
Ms. Kaiser reported that she testified regarding 30/50 at the Office of Municipal Affairs. Their argument about unfunded mandates is that because schools already receive state funding, they have been partially reimbursed. Ms. Kaiser agreed that, yes, districts get some targeted funds and wouldn’t have to request those funds; however, they should be able to request reimbursements for other mandates.
Public Forum: Michaela Kennedy said that she is writing an article about SALT for the Jamestown Press.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date