JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Melrose Avenue School
February 8, 2007
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Elizabeth Pinto, Director of Pupil Services
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Kathleen Alamanzor, Principal
Lewis Kitts, Director of Buildings and Grounds
The School Committee returned from a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5, Exception 2, Collective Bargaining Discussion. Ms. Kaiser announced that no votes were taken.
Ms. Kaiser asked for a moment of silence in memory of Jim Filkins. She listed some of his invaluable contributions. Jim will be sorely missed!
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session 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: Donna Perry, Co-Chair of SELAC, spoke in favor of the proposed 2007/2008 special education budget. She gave rationale for her support for an integrated model, noted that special education has been only 16% of the total budget for the past five years, and said there are no out-of-district students in grades Pre-K through 7.
Jill Harrison spoke in favor of the special education budget. She appreciates the care her son receives.
Information & Proposals:
Presentation of Capital Budget: Dr. Power said that Jamestown has been a model for capital expenditures. For this budget, there will be heavy expenditures for energy-saving improvements. He said that the students have benefitted greatly from Mr. Kitts and his crew.
Mr. Kitts explained that he attended the Rhode Island Energy Summit today. Many of the recommendations made there are items that are already in place or will be done in Jamestown. The district has tried to save money and fuel by doing things that are necessary to the building anyway.
Proposed capital expenditures for Melrose School for the coming year include interior refurbishing, painting and carpeting, resealing of joints and roof edge, Multipurpose Room bi-fold door covering, chimney repointing and recapping, landscaping and fencing for the generator, fire alarm upgrade, engineering fees for the fire alarm, and water-saving devices for the bathrooms. Mr. Kitts explained his rationale for each upgrade and answered questions.
Proposed capital expenditures for Lawn School for the coming year include interior refurbishing, painting and carpeting, exterior windows for the cafeteria, HVAC and ventilation Phase 2, gym floor resurfacing, attic insulation and cleaning, library renovation, light filters, water-saving urinals for the bathrooms, and 45 exterior classroom windows and treatments. Mr. Kitts explained his rationale for each upgrade and answered questions. Mr. Kitts said that replacements are for working windows only; four windows have already been tested and have done a good job. Mr. Brennan explained that, due to the food service discussion, proposed kitchen refurbishing has been moved down on the list of projects.
Mr. Brennan asked about the reason for a 13% increase in a salary budget item. Mrs. Alfred explained that this is contracted for increases. Mrs. Kallfelz asked about the number of custodians. Mr. Kitts said that there are two daytime custodians and three at night. Ms. Held questioned whether electricity rates have increased. Mr. Kitts said he looked at the figures with Mrs. Alfred. The rates have gone up, but he is trying to hold the budget line by having staff be more energy-conscious in shutting off lights.
Donna Perry expressed concern regarding the uncomfortably warm temperatures in Melrose School during the past summer’s heat wave, and she said that some of the students cannot express when they are getting dehydrated. Mr. Kitts explained which rooms are air conditioned. He said that it is not full air conditioning, but the school meets the standards for air flow. Ms. Perry suggested that the district consider a shut-down policy when temperatures get too high because the students are not in the areas where there is air conditioning.
Mr. Brennan asked about the number of summer students. Ms. Pinto explained that there are about 100 students in the summer: 80-85 attend school 3 hours per day on 3 days per week, and the rest attend for 5.5 hours on 5 days per week. She added that the air conditioned rooms are used for the 3-day/3-hour program. Mr. Brennan suggested that it might make more sense to use the air conditioned rooms for the students that were there the longest. Terrie Tamase said that some of the parents were discussing donating an air conditioner. Mr. Kitts said that the school’s windows will not take a regular air conditioner; however portable units are available but noisy. Mr. Brennan questioned whether it would be possible to rent a portable unit. Dr. Power suggested that perhaps a split unit could be used. Dr. Power and Mr. Kitts will look into costs for both portable and split unit options.
Continued Discussion of 2007/2008 School Budget: Committee members asked about specific line items in the budget.
Ms. Held asked about the increase for substitutes (page 13). Dr. Power explained that this had been under-budgeted in the past, and he asked to put in the appropriate amount spent. Ms. Kaiser requested actual figures on substitutes used to date. Mrs. Alfred will provide the figures on number of substitutes and the categories for which they were used.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked about the increase for after-school programming. Dr. Power answered that it increased because, if the district is working on enrichment, this could bolster the program for students without taking things away from the classroom. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that the increase is mostly for materials. She said there was more Rhode Island Foundation funding in previous years. Jamestown Education Foundation continues to support this program.
Mrs. Kallfelz asked about the level-funded figure for high school tuition. Dr. Power explained that he is waiting for private school transfers, so he budgeted a conservative figure for this line. Mrs. Alfred added that she used the billing amount for the second quarter. As in the past, once the district knows how many students are applying to private schools, this line will be reduced. Mrs. Alfred said that she and Ms. Pinto go over the North Kingstown tuition bill name by name to make sure that all students are there. She added that the figure fluctuate every quarter. In the past, the budget used the current figures for students and changes were made as needed. Ms. Kaiser said she thought these changes came at the Council level of discussion last year, and at that time, the figures were decreased.
Ms. Held asked about the student assistance salary (page 17). Dr. Power explained that this was paid under grants last year; this year, the cost will be paid by the Recreation Department, Drug Task Force, police, and the school. Mr. Brennan stated that he was not in favor of this position when it was initially funded because he knew the school would have to pay for it later. He is not is favor of it now. Mrs. Alamanzor said there is a substance abuse problem, there is a need, and this is an important position. Fifty students in SADD are helped by this position. It has become a community partnership now, and each group is providing funds. This is a part-time position now. Mrs. Alfred added that this is a purchased service for 2.5 days per week and is not a salaried position. Mrs. Alamanzor said that this is a request for an extra day, to make a total of 3.5 days per week for the position. Ms. Kaiser asked whether there is flexibility in time and whether it could be done in less than 3.5 days this year. Mrs. Alamanzor will clarify this for the next meeting.
Ms. Held asked about the use of Purell and whether it was an OSHA requirement. Mr. Kitts said yes, and there is quite a bit of controversy. This is not yet a mandate, but it is coming.
Ms. Held asked about advertising (page 21). Mrs. Alfred noted that the Jamestown Press charges now.
Ms. Held asked about the increase in cost of non-public textbooks. Mrs. Alfred said costs have increased.
Mr. Brennan asked about the cost of transportation (page 19). Dr. Power explained that the district is going out to bid on the bus contract this year. Mrs. Alfred said she is working on the bid. Bob Jencks is coming to the school tomorrow to go over the contract. Ms. Kaiser added that he will need numbers for the high school. Mrs. Alfred explained that the contract does allow for collaboration. Ms. Kaiser said that the district has to make sure the contract allows for increased collaboration with North Kingstown. All regular and special education bussing is done together. Dr. Power suggested that Jamestown might be able to save some money by meeting at a central place. The idea is to have fewer buses for fewer students; the question is how many buses are going over the bridge. Mrs. Alfred added that if the bus goes to Jamestown or to Jamestown/North Kingstown, the rate is still the same. Ms. Kaiser suggested that it must be made clear to Mr. Jencks that once the buses drop off Jamestown students, the buses would go to North Kingstown to help with their elementary students. Mrs. Alfred said the bus people will want to know the mileage for this extra run.
Mr. Brennan asked about the change in business operations salary figure (page 20). Mrs. Alfred explained that this position is not totally with Human Resources but also with the Superintendent, so the figures reflect that change.
Mr. Brennan asked about the salaries for the social worker and the psychologist (page 17). He questioned whether these two positions could be consolidated into one. Dr. Power explained that there are two different certifications for these positions. Mr. Brennan suggested that the district think about combining the two positions. Ms. Kaiser suggested that the Committee could look at this from a philosophical, information-gathering perspective and not a budget question right now.
Mrs. Kallfelz questioned the amount for purchased service for technology (page 15). She asked whether the contract with North Kingstown was being fulfilled. Dr. Power explained that the figures in this line are those that Jamestown is currently being charged by North Kingstown. He said he is having talks with people at RINet, and their costs for service are lower. He said administration is looking at other venues than North Kingstown for these services; however, he used the figure that is being used at present.
Mr. Brennan asked why the line item for computers has almost doubled even though price of computers and number of students are both lower. He questioned whether computers should be part of the capital budget. Mrs. Alfred answered that the capital reserve fund is reimbursed at 30% by the state, but this is only for buildings. Mr. Brennan questioned whether the cost could be rolled in because of decreased contribution by the town. Ms. Kaiser answered that the district is already spending $70,000 to come under the cap. Dr. Power said his opinion was that some computers are quite old and need to be upgraded and/or replaced, and this is the time to do it. Mr. Kitts added that computers are being used more so they are wearing out faster.
Mr. Brennan said he thought students spent too much time on computers and thought this should be taught in the high school. He is not in favor of using them in the classroom. Ms. Kaiser agreed to look at this line item next week. She said she has problems with putting $70,000 into the fund to get it below the cap. She suggested that the district will have to prioritize items; perhaps ½ of the cost of computers and half of the enrichment program could be funded next year. She said that computers are very useful tools for some segments of the student population. Ms. Pinto added that some computers still use Windows 98 and will not run all programs that are necessary. The tech staff is very good and is tight with the budget; however, demands on staff also demand reliable equipment. Someone from the audience asked whether grant funding was available for computers. Dr. Power answered that Champlin Foundation funds computers; however, they are funding only high schools this year. Ms. Kaiser noted that the district does look closely and find grants when possible.
Public Forum: Donna Perry reiterated that she hoped the Committee looked into the issue of air conditioning during summer school.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:43 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date