JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
March 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 to Open Session from a 6:00 p.m. Executive Session pursuant to RIGL 42-46-5 Exception (a) (2) Contract Negotiations. Ms. Kaiser announced that no vote was 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: All present.
Public Forum: None.
Recognition: Ms. Kaiser welcomed David Dolce as the new member of the School Committee.
Correspondence: Mr. Brennan received correspondence from a Jamestown resident which written on behalf of the high school, which is trying to start a boys swim team.
Ms. Kaiser received several pieces of correspondence. 1) Ms. Kaiser received an email about an article on drug testing. Dr. Power said he attended the New England Conference where this topic was discussed. A parent alerted him to this article, which is clearly against random drug testing. 2) Ms. Kaiser received a letter from the Jamestown Historical Society’s Vice President, Harry Wright. She explained that a representative of the Historical Society had talked with Mrs. Sipala about the possibility of opening a historical display adjacent to the school library. Ms. Kaiser said she told Mr. Wright that the district is in negotiation with other groups about the space at this time. Dr. Power said that he and Ms. Pinto met with a private school regarding their having space in Jamestown. They have some of Jamestown’s students in their school. Jamestown is looking into having their program here next year. It would bring money into the school and would also provide services to Jamestown students so that they would remain in the district. Dr. Power said he also spoke with the Historical Society. The other group does behavioral intervention, and Jamestown would have professional development at no cost if that group were here. Ms. Pinto said the group hoped to come to the April meeting to make a presentation. 3) Ms. Kaiser forwarded to School Committee members the responses from February 14 regarding 30/50 and also the DOE’s interpretation of the law. She also forwarded these emails to Theresa Paiva-Weed. Senator Paiva-Weed will be vigilant as the education funding formula is drafted to assure that there is no Robin-Hood-type scheme.
Consent Agenda: Mr. Brennan requested that Minutes of February 25, 2007 and bills of February 8, 2007 be exempted. Mr. Brennan clarified an item under Correspondence in the Minutes of February 25, 2007 regarding Jamestown’s representation in the top 20 students at North Kingstown High School. Ms. Held requested a spelling change for “deprivation.
Ms. Held moved and Mr. Dolce seconded a motion to approve the Minutes of February 15 and February 27, 2007. All approved. So moved.
Mr. Brennan requested clarification regarding expenditure for Music in the Park. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that Karen Kauffman is taking the band students to Six Flags. The reservation needed to be made, and students are repaying this amount. Mr. Brennan asked about money sent to Newport Public Schools. Mrs. Alfred explained that this is for their Career Tech Center. Mr. Brennan asked about a TASC debit card fee. Mrs. Alfred explained that this is for the flex system for a café plan, and this is in the teacher contract. Ms. Held asked about the line for a bus contract consultant. Dr. Power explained that this figure was for the consultant who put together Jamestown’s proposal.
Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to approve the bills of March 8, 2007. All approved. So moved.
Budget FY 08 Continued - Discussion of Presentation to Town Council: Ms. Kaiser said she went to the first Town Council budget workshop. She thought the budget was pretty straightforward this year. They made a few comments about the school budget, but they are waiting for a few more figures. Ms. Kaiser said she gave to Dr. Power a copy of the narrative that Bruce Keiser wrote to go along with the budget. It was a very under-attended hearing.
Ms. Kaiser explained that for presentation of the school district budget to the Town Council, she usually gives a two-minute introduction and then turns the meeting over to the Superintendent to discuss the budget. She noted that she will discuss the need for continuing rigor and continued response to declining and/or flat enrollment. Mrs. Kallfelz suggested that 30/50 be included as part of Ms. Kaiser’s presentation to set the stage for the budget. Ms. Held suggested that information from the parent survey be included. Mrs. Kallfelz added that data is driving academic rigor. She suggested that Ms. Kaiser discuss legislative issues that impact Jamestown. Mrs. Kallfelz thought that Ms. Kaiser should mention the change in teaching staff and structure/reductions to show that the district is increasing rigor but is also responding to decreased enrollment.
Dr. Power said he attended a meeting at which David Abbott said he did not expect an increase in state budget this year. Mr. Abbott thought that the landscape would change next year, because there is pressure all over the state. Ms. Kaiser added that there was a conversation at an ad hoc committee on the education funding formula. She said that bottom line is that there is nothing on the table right now that will benefit Jamestown. Ms. Kaiser explained the state’s position on increasing state aid to suburban communities. Ms. Kaiser explained the process by which town and schools get aid. She said that when she testified before the committee, she suggested that one can’t look at state aid with the same lens as the one that viewed it in 1979 when it was created but must look at it the way it is today. She explained that districts receive two levels of state aid: general and committed funds. She added that cities and town are tasked with providing public education and can’t refuse to accept state aid and become a non-public school; they are ruled by state mandates regardless of whether or not they are receiving state funding.
Update on Food Service RFP: Mrs.. Kallfelz explained that Mrs. Alfred and Mrs. Littlefield put the RFP together. Mrs. Alfred said that the RFP was advertised a week ago Sunday. Mrs. Kallfelz added that there was a mandatory meeting on Monday, and two vendors attended. Bids will open on April 2, and Jamestown will start evaluating them at that time. Ms. Kaiser thanked Mrs. Alfred and Mrs. Kallfelz for all of their work on the RFP.
Mrs. Alfred said that there is a standardized statewide bid for food services. Dr. Power said that vendors are looking at this as a bid for the whole state food service program, and they don’t know what to do with it. Mrs. Kallfelz explained that this is a standardized RFP format and not a statewide bid.
Mr. Brennan explained that Jamestown representatives had a meeting with North Kingstown to determine how their food services were billed last quarter. He added that the group came up with a figure of $14,000, and now it is back up to a higher figure. Mrs. Alfred said she thought the higher figure was because commodities fees were included. She did not think that Jamestown could do anything more about decreasing the bill. She explained that this is a bill for six months of food service. Ms. Kaiser said that, under the new contract, Jamestown is responsible for picking up any loss as well as the maintenance fee. She said bills will be watched this spring. Bids will be discussed at the April meeting.
Discussion of Possible Provision of Special Education Oversight to North Kingstown: Dr. Power explained that he had talked with Ms. Pinto and Dr. Halley in North Kingstown. Dr. Power asked if Dan MacGregor could meet with Ms. Pinto. Dr. Power also met with SELAC and parents. Dr. Halley said that they will be interviewing to fill the position shortly. Mr. Brennan suggested that someone from Jamestown should be on the search committee. Dr. Power will contact Dr. Halley to relay this request. Ms. Held said she thought it was good to get an idea of where North Kingstown is going and whether Jamestown has a future in their program. Ms. Kaiser added that, because North Kingstown is in the midst of the hiring process, it gives Jamestown more time to look at how their students would benefit. Dr. Power agreed that Jamestown has very legitimate reasons for having representation on this search committee.
Information & Proposals:
Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Power visited Barrington Schools, and their staff visited Jamestown. They were impressed by Jamestown’s special education program and want their teachers to visit. He said that Jamestown’s model is the one toward which the state is working. Dr. Power explained that Barrington has had people trained in looping and multi-age classrooms. He added that he looked at Barrington’s student scores. He found that a lot of children there get private tutoring, and that brings up their scores. He referred to the Japanese public school’s system of attending public schools and then having private tutors from 3-5 p.m. He explained that students want to be admitted to Japanese universities, and admission is highly competitive. He said he suspected that some schools in Rhode Island had students that were privately tutored.
Mrs. Alamanzor explained that Jamestown will look at Grades 7 and 8 next year. She added that Jim Grant at Barrington uses multi-aging, and this is almost a culture there. She noted that with looping, one teacher works with students for two years, and multi-aging is not working so well now. She said that if Jamestown used multi-aging in science, for example, the whole program would have to be redone. She added that the one program in Middletown where multi-aging works is in a class where there are two teachers in a double classroom. Dr. Power noted that the Principal in Barrington came from lots of different school systems in Massachusetts. Dr. Power said he wanted to talk with him and to have him look at Jamestown’s program. He explained that Barrington has self-contained classrooms, and they are resistant to changing this arrangement.
Dr. Power received a letter from a parent regarding the safety of traffic flow at the schools and also about dogs on school grounds. He said there is a town ordnance about dogs on school property. He will send a letter to the parent. Dr. Power said that Jamestown’s Chief of Police will find someone to do a low-cost traffic study to assess safety and to see if the process could be done better. Mr. Brennan added that the Facilities Committee had a lot of discussion on this topic several years ago. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that she was a policeman at Melrose School; however, she is not doing this now and there have been problems. She said that the district is trying to keep everyone safe. Mr. Brennan added that rainy days in particular are problems. Mrs. Kallfelz noted that the traffic study also goes along with Rolling Agenda’s work. Dr. Power said that charts of the school property will be given to the person doing the safety study. Mr. Brennan added that Eric Galle did a sketch of the school grounds.
Dr. Power said that he met with South County superintendents. They discussed health care and will engage Jamestown’s health care consultant. Ms. Kaiser asked whether the school would update the budget to account for changes in health care figures before the presentation tot the Town Council. Dr. Power explained that there are two pieces of potential litigation that Jamestown may have to pay. He suggested that if changes are made to the Blue Cross figures, then the committee needs to remember that there may be these two pieces of litigation. Ms. Kaiser said she thought that the corrected Blue Cross figure should be given to Town Council, but money not received from the Governor should be removed from the budget. Mrs. Alfred added that she did not have actual figures for Blue Cross increases but only the percentage of increase. She said the district would not know the actual numbers until April. She added that this tends to average out.
Dr. Power reported that RFPs for the school lunch program have gone out, and vendors have toured both buildings.
Principal’s Report: Mrs. Alamanzor discussed several items. 1) Traffic patterns and dogs were discussed earlier by Dr. Power. 2) Mrs. Alamanzor will be part of the SALT team visiting Old County School in Smithfield. Jamestown is preparing for a SALT visit next year. 2) After-school enrichment begins the week of April 9. Activities will include a Zoomobile at Melrose School. Two high school students will teach in winter programs at Lawn School: Jason Gorelick will teach violin, and Alicia Lane will teach drawing and design. 3) Individual NECAP assessment results went home with students today. 4) The Scheduling Committee is meeting regularly; members are they are working on the schedule for Lawn School for next year. They are looking at 55-minutes academic courses and a combined team for Grade 7 and 8. 5) There will be a Professional Development Day tomorrow. Peggy Gordon will teach Melrose and Lawn teachers about explicit reading comprehension strategies. Dana Osowiecki will present information about neuropsychological evaluation to the special education team. 6) Mr. Brennan asked how enrollment figures were generated. Mrs. Alamanzor explained that this report is for projected student numbers.
SIT/Melrose: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the SIT met with the faculty on Monday regarding challenging upper-level learners. The group also discussed a yard sale on May 12 which will benefit Payton Watson.
SIT/Lawn: Mrs. Kallfelz reported that the SIT is planning for a community day on May 24, and she explained how this event will work. Mrs. Alamanzor added that there have been eighteen very positive responses from the community. Some of the topics and/or participating groups include someone to discuss bees, two artists, a group of farmers, the Land Trust will discuss open space, fire department and emergency response groups, and possibly the glassblower. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that SIT is working on logistics for the event.
SELAC: Ms. Held reported that there was a special meeting to plan for the March 31st Education Awareness Day. Ms. Pinto added that Carol West, Special Education Coordinator at North Kingstown High School, came to the last meeting and answered questions for parents. Rick Lavoie will be the keynote speaker on March 31st. Education Awareness Day will be supported by Jamestown Education Foundation and the school district. There was also discussion at the last meeting regarding the possibility of the provision of shared special education services by North Kingstown.
Facilities Committee: No report.
North Kingstown School Committee: Mr. Brennan reported that North Kingstown changed its elementary curriculum to Everyday Math. They discussed the new School Committee lawyer and are submitting two names to their Town Council. They also moved for a charge for the superintendent search committee. Mr. Brennan said that he asked that Jamestown have a volunteer to sit on the search committee. He noted that North Kingstown wants a name as soon as possible; they are advertising in North Kingstown for members for this 25-person committee. Mr. Brennan will write a letter to the Editor of the Jamestown Press asking for Jamestown volunteers for this search committee. Mr. Brennan said that the North Kingstown School Committee also discussed graduation by proficiencies as it affects special education certificates of attendance for students who attend the high school for more than four years.
SORICO: No report. Dr. Power reported that he will be getting SORICO’s Strategic Plan so that Jamestown cam make comments about it.
Legislative: Ms. Kaiser reported that four representatives from Jamestown School Committee attended Theresa Paiva-Weed’s legislative meeting.
Wellness: Ms. Held reported that there has been no meeting. She has been in communication with Rennie Sullivan. There is a need to align the district’s Strategic Plan with the Wellness Plan. Ms. Sullivan will forward some things that she will receive from RIDE. Ms. Held will present an update at the April meeting. Dr. Power added that the Strategic Plan should be updated next year; it was done in September 2002, so 2007 is Year Five. Mrs. Alamanzor noted that this process should begin in the fall of 2007.
Public Forum: Beth Garcia asked why the School Committee wanted to share a special education director. Ms. Kaiser explained that this is only being investigated and not being done now. The Committee is looking at opportunities for Jamestown’s children and is exploring possibilities. Ms. Garcia thought it would be devastating if this became a reality. Ms. Kaiser added that the School Committee did not do things if they did not sincerely think the decisions were in the best interests of Jamestown children.
Mark Barclay-DeTolay suggested that the outcome of sharing special education services impacts the quality of the school system. He thought one should not break something that does not need fixing.
Tony Rafanelli, Co-Chair of SELAC, assured the audience that SELAC would be part of any discussion of collaboration for shared special education services.
Chris Perotti asked which school system was responsible for IEPs when a student was educated off the island. Ms. Pinto explained that the IEP stays in Jamestown. Mr. Perotti added that he has seen the community make positive changes to save money and has saved good people. He said he was torn because he has an autistic son, and he is also a businessman. As a businessman, enrollment numbers are going down, and for business reasons, this battle of sharing special education services may be lost someday. He added that if this is going to happen, he wants Ms. Pinto to run the program; he did not want North Kingstown to tell Jamestown that the two programs were combining. He suggested that Jamestown should be proactive; there maybe an opportunity to put the star, Ms. Pinto, in that position and make sure that the program benefits Jamestown. He added that there were 150 more children in the district five years ago.
Adjourned: Mr. Brennan moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:38 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date